P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Notification on poll today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Punjab, will issue a notification tomorrow to conduct the elections in the state on February 13. This will set the poll process rolling for the 117 assembly constituencies and the Amritsar Parliamentary seat.

The CEO, Mr Sundaram Krishna, has said The nomination papers can be presented on January 20 despite the same being a Saturday. However, on January 21 (Sunday) the nomination papers will not be entertained.

While the last date for making the nominations has been fixed for January 25, the scrutiny of papers will be held on January 27.

The candidates could withdraw their nomination papers on January 29. “The nomination papers are to be filed with the Returning Officers between 11 am and 3 pm on any day other than the public holiday from January 18 to 25”, the spokesman said.

The same programme stands good for the byelection to the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant due to the resignation of BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu after his conviction in a 1988 road rage case.


Feud delays decision on 19 seats
Sarbjit Dhaliwal and Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Tickets to several Congress heavyweights have been kept pending by the party high command owing to an intense tug-of-war among various factions within the party.

Tickets for Finance Minister Surinder Singla (Bathinda), Mr Bir Devinder Singh (Kharar) and former minister Brahm Mohindra ( Samana) have not been announced. Also, no decision could be taken on Sri Hargobindpur, Moga, Ludhiana - Rural, Nathana, Mansa, Sunam, Amritsar-West, Dhuri, Muktsar, Patti, Balachaur, Kotkapura, Talwandi Sabo, Jalandhar-Central, Badhaur and Phagwara seats.

At Kharar, the name of Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu is doing the rounds. Ticket for the Bathinda Assembly segment is linked to the allocation of ticket for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat. In case, Mr Singla chooses to contest the Lok Sabha seat from Amritsar, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi is likely to get the ticket from Bathinda.

At Samana, the president of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Vijay Inder Singla, is a strong candidate against Mr Mohindra. Mr Malwinder Singh, brother of the Chief Minister, is also in the race. Another keen race is for ticket for the Moga seat. Mr Vijay Sathi, a Jagmeet Brar loyalist, was tipped for the ticket but a senior Delhi-based leader proposed the name of Mr Joginder Jain, delaying a decision on the seat.

Another Jagmeet Brar loyalist, Mr Manjit Singh Jhalbutti’s name has been held back as Ms Ambika Soni is backing the case of Mr Rampal Dhaipee. The party high command is inclined to accommodate one of Mr Brar’s man at Mansa instead of Moga. However, Mr Brar is demanding seats for his loyalists at Moga, Mansa and Muktsar, it is learnt.

The Chief Minister and Punjab Pradesh Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo have differences over allocation of ticket for Patti. The Chief Minister is backing Mr Harminder Singh Gill, a former Sikh Students Federation leader. Almost similar difference have arisen between the two top leaders over the allocation of ticket for Talwandi-Sabo. While the CM, favours Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, a sitting Independent MLA, Mr Dullo is reluctant to support him.

Sri Hargobindpur is another seat where a decision could not be taken. Former trade union leader and Indira loyalist M.M. Cheema is demanding a ticket either for himself or his son. A brother of Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Mr Fateh Jung Bajwa, is also in the race.

For ticket at Nathana, PCS officer Ajaib Singh Bhatti, who resigned from service, is a frontrunner. However, the allotment has been delayed as a senior officer in the Indian Railways supported by Ms Mohsina Kidwai is also a contender. Another PCS officer, Mr Rakesh Ahir, who was trying for a ticket from Mahilpur has been ignored in today’s list.

At Dhuri, the race is between Mai Roop Kaur, a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission, and Mr Dhanwant Singh Dhuri, a former MLA. Mr Dullo has also ignored the claim of Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi for Ludhiana-Rural.


When all roads led to 24, Akbar Road

They spent the nights in the Union Capital and woke up at daybreak. Then , they would hasten towards 24, Akbar Road, New Delhi, the headquarters of the All-India Congress Committee, in the hope of meeting someone who could put in a word in their support for party nomination.

This was the story of hundreds of ticket aspirants camping in New Delhi for the past several days.

Even those who knew their prospects of getting the party nomination were slim, preferred to remain around the AICC headquarters. A senior Congress leader and a ticket aspirant from Ludhiana West, remarked: "it was like participating in the Maha Kumbh..., everybody wished to take a dip". "Some leaders did not want to be seen around in their hometowns or constituencies, lest they were considered too insignificant for party nomination".

Another senior leader and an aspirant from Ludhiana (Rural) was more cynical." It was humiliating to run after senior leaders and beg for support", he regretted.

"Everybody tried to avoid us as they knew what we expected of them...this was happening with every aspirant who arrived there for lobbying", he said. Said another aspirant, “ The entire action was in New Delhi, how could we have stayed away", admitting at the same time that their presence made little difference to the AICC decisions. Not every aspirant could afford to be close to the place of ‘action’. It cost thousands of rupees everyday on hotels rent, fuel charges, mobile phone charges etc. But whoever made it lucky, hopes to make a fortune by way of raising funds from supporters. — Vimal Sumbly


Badal to file papers on Jan 22
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The president of The Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will file his nomination papers on January 22. His nephew and member of the political affairs committee Manpreet Singh Badal will also file his papers on the same date at Gidderbaha.

According to SAD secretary, Dr Daljit Singh, senior vice-president of the party Ranjit Singh Brahmpura will file papers on January 23 in Tarn Taran. Former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Bibi Jagir Kaur will file nomination on the same date at Bholath. Member of the political affairs committee of the SAD Kuldeep Singh Vadala will submit his papers on January 24 at Nakodar. Former ministers Upinderjit Kaur and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan will file their papers on the same date at Sultanpur Lodhi and Gurdaspur, respectively.

Also filing their papers on January 24 are Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal at Payal, former minister Prem Singh Chandumajra at Moonak, former minister Tota Singh at Moga, Mr Sucha Singh Langah at Gurdaspur, Mr Sarwan Singh at Phillaur, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra at Samana and Mr Harmail Singh Tohra at Patiala.

On January 23, Mr Jagbir Singh Brar and Mr Sarbjit Singh Makkar will file their papers at Jalandhar while Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa will file his nomination at Sunam.


Parties ignore women
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, January 17
It seems the political parties dominated by men care two hoots for women. The Left parties, the CPI and the CPM, have announced a list of 45 candidates. However, not a single women figure on the list.

The CPM leader, Mrs Brinda Karat, has been on the forefront for getting the Bill passed in Parliament to ensure at least 30 per cent seats for women in the Lok Sabha. Her husband, Mr Prakash Karat, is general secretary of the party.

The CPI has announced 30 candidates, but there is no woman among them. The Lok Bhalai Party, another ally of the CPI and the CPM in Punjab, has not nominated single women. It has announced candidate for the 12 seats.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party, said it was true that no women candidate had been fielded by his party. “If we had got the Banur seat from our alliance partners, I am certain that one women candidate, Mrs Daljit Kaur, would have been nominated from that segment."

The BJP has announced candidates for 15 constituencies, but no women candidate figures among them. The BJP’s alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has nominated only five women candidates of the 94 candidates announced by it. The five women candidates are: Bibi Jagir Kaur from Bholath, Mrs Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal from Amloh, Mrs Satwant Kaur from Chamkaur Sahib, Mrs Upinderjit Kaur from Sultanpur and Mrs Mohinder Kaur from Sham Chaurasi.


Kar Sewa fraud: Rs 16 lakh recovered from Baba
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 17
A police team from Patiala led by Inspector Ravinder Singh today found Rs 16 lakh in different bank accounts of Amrik Singh, Kar Seva Baba.

Police officials were surprised when they found the Baba had emptied the locker of Centurion Bank, Golden Temple in July last year. His bank accounts have been sealed . Baba Amrik Singh has been facing charge of embezzling donation of over Rs 2 crore. He recently surrendered in Patiala’s district courts where he was booked under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The police team first took Amrik Singh to Canara Bank, Mall Road, in which Rs 10 lakh was found deposited in his name. The team also found Rs 5.30 lakh in HDFC Bank account, Court road.

Earlier, he fled from Dera Baba Jagtar Singh at Tarn Taran last year and went underground after allegedly embezzling donations worth crores on July 8. After giving the slip to activists of Kar Seva Wale, who had held him in captivity, Amrik Singh had operated the bank locker and got it emptied. Out of the embezzled money, Amrik Singh had distributed the amount among some ‘unscrupulous elements who used to give him shelter.

Amrik Singh who had supervised kar seva of the holy tank of the Golden Temple, gold plating of Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran and Sikh shrines in Pakistan and had collected huge donations was kept under captivity for many days in the dera. However, he had fled on the pretext of purchasing medicines from Amritsar.

Later, Patiala police registered a fresh case against the absconding Baba on the intervention of the Director-General Police yesterday when Baba Gurmit Singh submitted more documents pertaining to the purchase of land.

A perusal of the bank statements of this account revealed that Amrik Singh, Guriqbal Singh and Amandip Singh used to embezzle these funds. Amrik Singh had allegedly purchased land measuring 27 kanal five marlas at a village near Bahadurgarh near Patiala.

The FIR was registered under Sections 420, 406, 409,465, 467, 468, 470, 471 and 120 B of the Indian Penal Code against Amrik Singh , Mukhtar Singh , Harjit Kaur (wife of Mukhtiar Singh Amandip Singh (son), Kanwaljit Kaur (daughter) , all residents of Bakshiwala village, Harmohinder Singh Guriqbal Singh alias Rinku and Dharmjit Singh, both from Sanaur.

Baba Jagtar Singh, chief of the earlier Dera had cancelled general power of attorney, given to Amrik Singh after his disappearance. The dera chief has also given public notices, warning the Sikh Sangat against the activities of Amrik Singh.

Amrik Singh had succeeded in securing multiple visa for Pakistan to carry out ‘Kar Seva’ of Sikh shrines in Pakistan. He had supervised the construction of ‘golden palanquin’ taken to Pakistan by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.

Amrik Singh who is 38 joined the dera of Baba Jagtar Singh at the young age of 17. He had visited many developed countries including the USA to collect donations. 


Govt yet to decide on its sanctuary status
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 17
The wetland area spread across the district requires immediate attention. More than 50,000 migratory birds of different species have arrived in the wetland spread over 1,365 hectares on the bank of the Sutlej as per the Punjab Wildlife Department officials. However, despite being declared protected area, industrial pollutants continue to be released into the Sutlej, causing great harm to the habitant of birds.

The pollution being released into the river has affected the fish population, resulting in the decline of food for the birds. The cutting of the trees in the Shivalik hills for industrial units and residential plots has led to silt accumulation in the river. Moreover, as much as 40 per cent area of the wetland has been encroached upon.

The wetland here is home to more than 250 species of birds. Those from Central Asia had begun arriving here in October and can be seen flocking the Sutlej. These will stay here till March.

As The Tribune team took a round of the area, it became clear that in the absence of any specific policy to protect the area, the Shivalik hills along the river continued to be cut for the expansion of an industrial unit of an automobile company near the water headworks here. The private contractors were seen fishing in the area, threatening the birds.

The Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Punjab, Mr Praveen Kumar, said they had forwarded the case of getting the wetland and protected forest land in the district declared as sanctuary. “Once it get that status then we would be able to take action against the industrial units spreading pollution in the area. We can now take action under wildlife Acts only,” he added. 


Migrant muscle in Amritsar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are considered an important vote bank in the border district of Amritsar. Some villages in Amritsar have entire panchayats comprising Bihari migrants. They have made Punjab their 'first home' .

The sarpanches of Karnala, Dayalpur , Patalpuri, Kharaswala and Galowali are of Bihari origin. They speak chaste Punjabi and their children can write in the Gurmukhi script. These villages fall in the Majitha Assembly constituency .

The votes of these villages, where all sarpanches are of Bihari origin, are crucial. Politicians are making a beeline to these villages for votes.

They rule the roost in cluster of villages in the Majha heartland, which are frequently visited by senior leaders of various political parties, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, and even the current Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The labour from Bihar was brought by the British to lay the railway track and build the Kathunangal canal. Most of the labourers decided to settle in Punjab. “We have settled permanently in Punjab. We are here for the past five generations," says Mr Ramesh Lal.

The decade-old militancy had no effect on this new generation of ‘proud Punjabis.’ Today, they are proud owners of big houses as well as modern facilities, including tractors and motorised fodder cutters.

Their forefathers had come to Punjab penniless, but with hard work, they became prosperous. Now their villages have scooters, sleek motor bikes and tractor-trailers," says a Bihari sarpanch.

The migrants have made themselves indispensable as they are willing to work on jobs commonly considered " demeaning".

Most of the migrants are voters and are in a position to tilt the balance in almost all Assembly constituencies. They are mainly concentrated in Verka (28,000 votes), Amritsar South (14,000 votes), Amritsar North (about 10,000 votes) and Chheharta (approximately 12,000 votes).

Colonies in Amritsar where the migrants dominate are Nehru Nagar, Sandhu Colony, Parkash Vihar, Mustafabad, Indira Colony, Kundewala Khuh and Jawahar Nagar. Thses migrants mostly work in processing units and embroidery shops.

The state president of the Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Parishad, Mr R.C. Yadav, claims that many migrants have obsorbed the Punjabi culture. Some of them are granthis in the SGPC-controlled gurdwaras. Many have married into Punjabi families.

Even when gun-wielding militants ruled the area, not a single case of migration was reported from the Tapprian cluster comprising six villages. Now, more than 15,000 migrant labourers, who have converted this interior of Majha into a mini Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, are likely to play a key role during the elections.


Sarna brothers may dent urban Sikh votes
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
“Our victory in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections is only a trailer of what is going to come in the ensuing Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections,” says Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi).

The defeat of the Shiromani Akali Dal during the just-concluded DSGMC elections has infused a fresh lease of life into the ruling Congress camp. It can now get over the defeat of its candidate for the post of Mayor of Chandigarh last week.

Ms Harjinder Kaur, one of two SAD councillors elected to the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, won the Mayoral election defeating Ms Anu Chatrath of the Congress by a single vote. The jubilation in the SAD camp has apparently been cut short by the DSGMC poll reverses.

Though the SAD leadership maintains that Delhi and Punjab are two different electoral playfields - one dominated by urban Sikh traders and the other by the rural peasantry - yet the Chandigarh and Delhi elections have given enough food for thought to the Congress and the SAD. For the two main political opponents, the electoral battle for the Punjab Assembly is a “war for survival”.

It is no secret that Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna and his brother Harwinder Singh Sarna have the unstinted support of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, as well as the tacit support of the Congress in the DSGMC elections.

The Sarna brothers will now try to woo urban Sikh voters, especially traders, away from the Shiromani Akali Dal.

“The Badals tried their best to get me defeated. But the Sikhs of Delhi have defeated their nefarious designs. My nearest rival fielded by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) could manage only 1,900 votes and lost to me by 2,100 votes. What could be a bigger endorsement of our stand against the traditional SAD leadership,” says Mr Sarna.

“I will be in Punjab next week to campaign in favour of the Panthic candidates against the Shiromani Akali Dal.”

One of the reasons for the reverses the SAD (Badal) suffered in Delhi was infighting and organisational failure. Its breakaway groups, headed by Mr Manjit Singh, cornered six seats. Delhi could have been an effective showcase for the SAD on the eve of Punjab elections. But the use of money power and other strategies proved to be ineffective against the Sarna brothers who were on the mat for taking a golden “palki” to the birthplace of Guru Nanak in Pakistan.


Businessmen go underground
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Call any prominent businessman or an industrialist, chances are his cell would be switched off or he would be out of station. All due to pressure from political parties and candidates for donations. Potential financiers have started doing the vanishing act, lest they are made to part with their money.

Ludhiana, the industrial and financial capital of the state, is the most sought after city during elections.

Leaders and representatives from all political parties and Independents make a beeline to industrial houses for donations.

While most industrial houses, both big and small, allocate some money for elections, it does not suffice as the number of donation-seekers keeps increasing by the day.

A leading industrialist changed his mobile number "for the time being" with the request to everybody not to reveal it "till the elections are completed".

He said he always kept “a particular amount” for "friends in politics", who mainly belonged to mainstream political parties. Leaders of these parties, he said, were not too demanding, but it were leaders of other parties, having a nominal presence in the state, who kept bothering them to the extent of harassment.

He said most businessmen like him would be "out of station", rather out of country, to avoid fund-seekers.

A leading exporter disclosed that he had prepared a list of 26 persons whom he had to offer donations. "This is of my own volition, but there are others who force themselves upon us and we have to donate something," he said, adding that it would have been better had he contested as an Independent as that would have saved him the money he has to donate to friends and strangers alike.

Businessmen disclosed that the expectations of the candidates were also increasing. Earlier, it was a matter of few thousand rupees. "But now the expectations are for several thousands and even lakhs,” another leading industrialist said.

Businessmen said they could identify a number of candidates who contested elections every time just to earn a few lakh rupees.

“It is not only the candidates themselves, but even their supporters who make hay while the proverbial election sun shines,” they said.


LJP to contest 70 seats
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 17
Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Ramvilas Paswan today announced that his party would contest the Assembly elections in the state from 70 constituencies.

Addressing a rally at Rama Mandi in support of his party candidate from Pakka Kalan Kiranjit Gehri, the LJP chief said his party would not garner votes with money power and its main agenda would be to improve the lot of the below-poverty-line families and development of the state.

He said his party was committed to the welfare of the poor and if voted to power it would launch a special health insurance scheme for children of the underprivileged.

He said they would also initiate measures to curb female foeticide and to help the farming community, which was in a debt trap. Party leaders Amar Singh Mehmi and D.C. Goyal were also present.


Projects: Badal for panel on land rates
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib, January 17
The SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today launched the campaign for SAD candidate Satwant Kaur Sandhu here. Mr Badal chose to address small gatherings instead of big rallies in this reserved constituency, which is considered an Akali stronghold. Ms Satwant Kaur has won the last two elections from this Assembly constituency.

Mr Badal addressed the gatherings at Amarali, Salimpur, Padiala, Bela, Purkhali and Behrampur.

He said farmers would be given market rate if their land was to be acquired for mega projects. A committee comprising the MP, MLA, panchayat representative and the Deputy Commissioner of the respective area would be set up to fix the market price.

Mr Satwant Kaur raised the cause of the Dalits who had been given agricultural land at low prices earlier, but were being asked to pay registration fee at the present rate.


Rebel Padiala to back Jasjit
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib, January 17
In a big relief to SAD candidate from the Kharar constituency, Mr Jasjit Singh, son of general secretary of the SAD Kanwaljit Singh, Rajbir Singh Padiala, a SAD rebel, today decided to support Jasjit. Earlier, Mr Padiala had decided to contest the elections as Independent having been denied ticket from Kharar.

Mr Padiala took the decision after SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal met him in the afternoon. Mr Badal has assured him to be made chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board and member of the PAC.

Meanwhile, Capt Kanwaljit Singh faced a protest by Padiala supporters while he was delivering a speech. Mr Padiala told The Tribune that the decision to grant ticket to Jasjit was not right, but in the interest of the party he had decided to support him.


BJP legislator garners support for ticket

Hoshiarpur, January 17
Though the BJP has yet to finalise its candidate for the Hoshiarpur seat, thousands of supporters of Mr Tikshan Sud, BJP MLA, assembled at his residence here today to assure him of their support. They raised slogans in his favour.

Later, Mr Sud told mediapersons booth-level committees consisting of at least 10 workers for all 168 polling booths of the segment had been constituted to ensure fair and free election. The stalwart said he had been the winner in the last two Assembly elections and the president of the BJP would certainly “favour the winning” candidate. — OC


Ex-services league not to support any party
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 17
The Indian Ex-services League, Punjab and Chandigarh, headed by Lt-Col Chanan Singh (retd), has decided in principle to support individual candidates and not any political party during the Assembly elections in Punjab unlike in the past.

The general secretary of the league, Mr Prabhjot Singh, said here yesterday while deciding the merit of a candidate factors such as status, family background, educational qualification, past and present performances, winnability of the candidate, party manifesto, if applicable, would be taken into consideration.

The views of the district and block presidents concerned would be solicited for this purpose.

It was imperative that the league would help only those candidates who would specifically ask for help in writing with a promise to look after the interests of the ex-servicemen and their widows.

It would announce the list of candidates to be supported in different constituencies by January end.


He banks on SAD, Cong dissension
Chitleen K Sethi

Mr Anil Kumar of Sector 68, Mohali, is the Bharatiya Jan Shakti Party’s candidate for the Kharar constituency. Standing for elections for the first time, he campaigned for “Uma didi’ in Madhya Pradesh and is the president of the district unit of the party.

A builder by profession, 26-year-old Anil is the youngest candidate from an important constituency currently represented by senior Congress leader Bir Devinder Singh in the Vidhan Sabha.

“Both the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress are a divided lot here. That is my main advantage . Both SAD and Congress have not been able to end corruption in the state. Unemployment has increased and the youth is taking to crime and drugs. Also, the two parties promote family dynasties ,” he says.

A greenhorn, Mr Anil Kumar is banking on luck. “My party stands for invoking traditional values and I strongly believe in them. My strength lies in my faith in God and the fact that I am committed to working for the constituency,” he says .

Mr Anil Kumar had earlier organised the burning of Shivraj Chauhan’s effigy outside the PCA Stadium here during the ICC Champions Trophy to protest against the reported burning of Uma Bharati’s helicopter in Madhya Pradesh.

“I intend to make Kharar Punjab’s Paris. Every village will have a supermarket, pucca roads and proper sanitation. The village common land can be used for the common benefit of residents.”

Son of a government officer, Mr Anil Kumar and his two brothers are land promoters and have various building and housing projects in Zirakpur, Mohali and Kharar. Pitted against SAD candidate Jasjit Singh, son of veteran Akali leader, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Congress candidate Balbir Singh Sidhu and two Independent candidates, Mr Anil Kumar has days of hard work ahead.


Panchayat secy manhandled
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 17
The police has booked a resident of Badali village on a charge of manhandling a panchayat secretary working as a booth-level officer in connection with the Assembly elections at Badali village.

According to information available, Ram Kumar, alias, Dalla, had allegedly manhandled Mr Gurmeet Singh and even damaged election related documents.

The office of the SDM-cum-Electoral Registration Officer has asked the police to take action in this regard.


48 pc booths in Kharar declared sensitive
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, January 17
Despite there being by and large peaceful polling in the 2002 Assembly and the last Lok Sabha elections in the Kharar Assembly constituency, the police this time seems to have adopted an overcautious approach to the February 13 poll and declared around 48 per cent of the total number of booths as “sensitive” and 8 per cent as “very sensitive.”

Residents have been left wondering about the criteria that prompted the police to categorise the polling booths in such a fashion in a constituency not known for poll violence or booth capturing. The list of “sensitive” and “very sensitive” booths has been provided to the District Election Officer.

According to the list provided by the police, 12 “very sensitive” booths are in Mohali town. Five of these are located at Government Elementary School, Phase XI, two at Government Elementary School, Mataur, and five at Gian Jyoti Public School, Phase II here. The remaining six booths in this category are at Government High School, Pabhat (five booths), and the Panchayat Ghar, Padiala.

The 105 booths out of a total of 220 in the constituency which have been placed in the “sensitive” category are as follows (number given in brackets): Government High School, Gharuan (three); Government Elementary School, Gharuan (one); Government High School, Radiala (one); Government Elementary School, Mundi Kharar (four); Government Elementary School, Khanpur (three); the BDPO’s office, Kharar (four); Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Kharar (two); Christian High School, Kharar (one); Arya Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Kharar (four); Government Elementary School, Dasehra Ground, Kharar (four); Little Blossom Public School, Kharar (one); Nanu Mal Public High School, Kharar (one); Government High School, Desu Majra (two); Government Elementary School, Ballomajra (one); Government Elementary School, Balongi (five); Government Elementary School, Santemajra (one); Government Elementary School, Khoonimajra (one); Government Elementary School, Badala Nayanshahr (two); Government Elementary School , Badali (one); Government Elementary School, Daonmajra (one); Government Elementary School, Bajhedi (one); Government Elementary School, Garanga (one); Government Elementary School, Dhavali (one); Government Elementary School, Majat (one); Government Elementary School, Jhanjeri (two); Government Elementary School, Chapparchiri Khurd (one); Government Elementary School, Swara (one); Government Elementary School, Landran (one); Government Elementary School, Lakhnaur (one); Government High School, Gobindgarh (two); Government Elementary School, Saneta (one); Government Elementary School, Gigemajra (one); Government Elementary School, Kurda (one); Government Elementary School, Kurdi (one); Government High School, Manouli (two); Government High School, Bakarpur (two); Government Elementary School, Siau (one); Government Elementary School, Mauli Baidwan (two); BSM High School, Sohana ( two); Government Girls High School, Sohana ( two); Office Housefed, Phase X, Mohali ( three); House number 2442 , Phase X, Mohali (one); Mohali Public School, Mohali (three); Government Elementary School, Phase IX, Mohali ( three); Sant Isher Singh Public School, Phase VII, Mohali ( two); Saint Soldier International School, Phase VII, Mohali (two); Government Elementary School, Phase VII, Mohali (four); Shivalik Public School, Phase VI, Mohali (three); Government Senior Secondary School, Phase III B 1, Mohali (three); PSEB office, Phase III A, Mohali (two); Paragon Senior Secondary School, Sector 71, Mohali (four) and Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 68, Mohali (five). 


Control room for poll set up
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 17
In accordance with the directions of the Election Commission, the Mohali district administration has set up control rooms in all three subdivisions in connection with the Assembly elections being held next month.

According to a press note issued here today, a control room has been set up in the office of the SDM , Kharar, for the Morinda constituency while another control room for the Banur constituency has been set up in the office of the Tehsildar, Dera Bassi.

The control room for the Kharar constituency has been set up at Municipal Bhavan, Sector 68, Mohali.


It’s poll shine for them
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
For them, election time is an opportunity to make a quick buck. Those dealing in publicity material like banners, bunting, badges, stickers, balloons and posters for candidates are working overtime these days.

As the election scene hots up in the state, hundreds of outlets providing publicity-related material have come up here.

While most of the material is procured from Delhi and places like Ahmedabad, the major activity here is related to printing and stitching. The trade has also witnessed modernisation as flex sheets, which are conducive to computerised printing, are being used.

Says Mr Bhupinder Singh, who has set up an outlet near Aarti Chowk, "Each candidate spends lakhs on election material which makes this work lucrative. Orders have started pouring in and in the coming few days, the business would reach its peak."

Apart from party workers, orders are also placed by supporters of candidates who sponsor this material for them.

Like other industries, this one is also not free of competition. Those engaged in the business have prepared lists of candidates who they are contacting to obtain orders. Despite the fact that many are first-timers in the trade, there is no dearth of those who have even engaged sales executives to promote their business.

They are also engaging in heavy advertising of their services. Classifieds in newspapers and boards displaying their contact numbers and e-mail ID in the city are a common sight these days.

Mr Lakhvir Singh, a Congress worker from Jira, who came to Ludhiana to procure publicity material, said: "We have travelled to Jalandhar and have now come to Ludhiana. Whoever gives us a good deal in terms of price and quality will get the order."

On the price front, the range hovers between Rs 6 and Rs 10 for flags, Re 1-3 for stickers, Rs 2-6 for badges and Rs 3-5 for bunting.


poll bYTES

Wont be misled, say 1984 riot victims

BATHINDA: A panel of ‘84 riot-hit families on Wednesday held a meeting here and decided to extend support to a party that put their demands on the top of its manifesto. The Secretary of the panel said political leaders had befooled them on several occasions in the past, but this time they would not be misled.—TNS

BJP observer meets aspirants

HOSHIARPUR: Mr Om Parkash Mathur, national general secretary of the BJP visited the city as party observer on Wednesday. He met a number of ticket aspirants. Mr Tikshan Sud, MLA, along with supporters staked claim for the party ticket but his opponents led by Mr Vijay Aggarwal, president of the district unit of the party, opposed his candidature.— OC

Anti-graft panel’s stand

HOSHIARPUR: The Public Anti-Corruption Board of India will oppose candidates who have defected and now got tickets from other parties. This was stated in a press note by Mr Sanjiv Walia, chairman of the board ,here. He said that board would support only those candidates who would ensure a package from the Central Government for the development of Punjab.— OC

SAD(1920) candidates

HOSHIARPUR: Mr Ravi Inder Singh, President SAD (1920),declared Mr Varinder Singh Bains as party candidate from Hoshiarpur here on Wednesday. Mr Anmol Singh Vaid, state executive member of the SAD , joined the SAD (1920) on the occasion. He declared party candidate from Mahilpur. — OC


Booze noose

Ludhiana, January 17
To woo Bacchus lovers, a liquor price war has begun with brands being smuggled here from Chandigarh. Liquor is cheaper in Chandigarh than Punjab. Several vend-owners in Ludhiana have been forced to cut prices of liquor to escape losses due to sale of smuggled brands.

The prices of boxes of different brands are: McDowell 1600-1700, 8PM 1500-1600, Bagpiper 1500-1600, Director Special and Officers Choice 1400-1500, Royal Stag 1900-2000, RC 3000, Blenders Pride 3000 and Peter Scot 3500. — TNS


Policemen ‘attack’ fruit sellers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 17
The police resorted to lathi charge when a fruit seller reportedly snatched a lathi from Surinder Kumar, a home guard and hit on his head making him unconscious near Dr Ambedkar’s statue in Ghanta Ghar chowk here in the evening.

At least six rehris and stalls were damaged in the melee.

After clearing some encroachments outside the bus stand the police advised rehriwallahs to not jam Ghanta Ghar chowk but a fruit seller allegedly snatched lathi from a home guard and hit him. He was taken to the civil hospital and was unable to get statement recorded.

Policemen in three vehicles stormed the Ghanta Ghar chowk and started hitting rehris and tea stalls etc breaking glasses. Rehriwallahs and customers ran in panic.

They however, reassembled after the police had left the area and held a demonstration raising anti-police slogans. Senior police officials also visited the area.

There had been complaints that rehriwallahs had virtually seized the Railway road linking Ghanta Ghar chowk making it difficult for residents to across Railway station to return home.

The Rani Jhansi market was mobbed by elements indulging in illicit lottery satta business. Presence of liquor shops near the chowk had aggravated the problem, as people were daily witness to the liquor being consumed in the open around rehris.

The police today restored possession of the autorickshaw shed to the union outside the main bus stand. Union leaders said hotel dhaba owners had grabbed the space meant for the parking of vehicles.

This forced them to use the roadside as shed. The authorities had permitted encroachers around Shaheed Udham Singh memorial, the union rued.


2-yr jail for doctor couple
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 17
A Talwandi Sabo court today sentenced a doctor couple to two-year imprisonment for their alleged negligence in the delivery of a pregnant woman that resulted in the death of a newborn.

The court also directed the husband-wife duo to pay a fine of Rs 15,000 apart from a compensation of Rs 50,000 each to the aggrieved family.

According to sources, Jagdeep Singh Gill of Bajakhana had lodged a complaint with the Rampura Phul police on October 10, 2000, in which he stated that he had admitted his wife, Amarjeet Kaur, to the clinic of Dr Gurdev Singh Brar and Dr Paramjeet Kaur Brar for delivery. He alleged that his newborn baby received cut marks in the ear and neck due to the doctor couple’s negligence in performing the operation. He said they referred the baby to a Kotkapura hospital where the child died. On the basis of his statement, the police booked the doctor couple under Section 304 A of the IPC and Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council Act. The hearing of the case started in a Rampura Phul court and the case was later shifted to Talwandi Sabo.


Suicide by gymnast in hostel for girls
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 17
State-level gymnast Manpreet Kaur, a student of plus two of Government Senior Secondary School, The Mall, committed suicide by hanging with her dupatta from ceiling fan in the Girls’ Hostel, here late yesterday evening .

However, her body was recovered from the room when her hostel mates broke open the door in absence of any response from inside despite repeated knockings.

The diary of the deceased reveals she had an affair with a Chandigarh-based boy. She had met her in a Sikh shrine here before coming to the hostel. Both had recited ‘Path’ in the gurdwara.

The police has taken her coach, Ish Devgan in custody for questioning, though he is not involved in the incident. However, Mr Darshan Kumar, S.P. (City) said preliminary investigation revealed the coach had not forced the girl to commit suicide. The diary of the girl reveals that her coach had told her that he would tell her parents about her affair with Gagan, a Chandigarh based boy. Her roommates, Ms Sonia and Ms Pinki who were initially reluctant to speak to the media said Manpreet appeared disturbed after coming to the hostel.

Police sources said Manpreet had attempted suicide in the past also.

District police chief, S.S. Srivastva said the diary of the deceased might give vital clues about the suicide. He said the police was looking for the boy she had met yesterday.

She hailed from a poor family of Rajasansi and was likely to be taken in the national Gymnastic team.

Principal of the school, Ms Neelam Bhagat who was on medical leave rushed to the school after hearing about the incident. She said Manpreet was brilliant sportsperson and school had great expectations from her.


Woman dies in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 17
A 26-year-old woman Monica Singla died in a road accident when her TVS Scooty was hit by a Punjab Roadways bus near police station on the busy Jhoke Road here this morning.

Monica, who was a teacher in Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 2, was going to attend the school when the accident occurred. The bus (PB 29 F 9218) belonged to the Moga depot.

A case has been registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by Sushil Kumar Singla, brother-in-law of the deceased. The police has impounded the bus, however, the driver and conductor are still at large.


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