L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Dhanda-Johar face-off in the offing
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
As election scene hots up in the city, the Congress and SAD candidates for Ludhiana West are all set for a one-on-one debate, with the latter daring the former to talk on development and the former agreeing to the invitation.

SAD candidate and lawyer Harish Rai Dhanda yesterday challenged Congress candidate and sitting MLA Harnam Dass Johar to debate with him over the issue of development.

In his reply, Mr Johar accepted the duel and said he was ready for the showdown.

If things boil down to this, residents of the constituency will see former lawyer Johar and practicing lawyer Dhanda on the same platform debating on the issue of development.

Mr Dhanda claimed that during his campaigning he was flooded with complaints from residents in Ludhiana West about the sitting MLA’s indifference to their concerns.

“While the lack of development is apparent in the constituency, Mr Johar has been exploiting the poor to make false claims,” Mr Dhanda alleged.

“It is a conspiracy to keep the poor in their miserable state to perpetuate his so-called vote bank,” he remarked.

Mr Dhanda had asked Mr Johar to come out with what he had done for the constituency in the past 15 years.

“It is high time people wake up to the reality,” Mr Dhanda said.

Replying to his call, Mr Johar today said he had accepted the challenge. Mr Johar said he had been “serving” the residents of the area for the past 35 years.

“Whatever development has taken place is there for all to see,” he said.

The Congress heavyweight added that Mr Dhanda qualified to debate with him only if he could name the areas falling in the segment.

“If he can tell me the exact population of the area, I can go on his invite to debate with him,” he said.

Mr Johar said he had served his electorate as Education Minister, Higher Education Minister, Excise and Taxation Minister, Local Bodies Minister and Public Health.

“Mr Dhanda should also release his bio data and tell people what he has done.”

On the other hand, Mr Dhanda said residents of the area were aptly putting their sentiments by saying that Mr Johar had never visited them.

“Faced with anti-incumbency factor, top local Congress leadership is in evasive mode. Their balance sheet of public welfare and development works is self-explanatory in terms of ground reality. Congress leaders don’t seem to have the courage to face any segment of the electorate, which was exemplified by the absence of local Congress leaders at the all-party interaction organised by the local industry a few days ago at a local hotel on the Ferozepore road,” said Mr Dhanda.



Naulakha cinema sealed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
The city police has sealed one of the oldest cinema halls in the city, Naulakha, for screening pornographic movies and other clips in violation of the Cinematography Act and orders of the District Magistrate.

Four persons, including cinema owner Jasbir Singh, were taken into custody after a raid carried out last night. The owner was later released on bail.

SP City-I Rakesh Aggarwal said the owner had been booked for violation of the Act and other charges along with cinema manager Ranjit Singh and two employees - Sant Ram and Jagrup Singh.

The police official said they had received complaints against the theatre for Act violation in the past. With the sealing of the theatre, the police has sent a warning to other theatres to stay away from screening such movies.

It is a common practice among theatres to screen pornographic movies or clips in the garb of screening adult Hindi movies.

Theatre owners argue that this is done to attract viewers, mainly migrant labourers, lest they should suffer huge losses.

Interestingly, Naulakha cinema is not the first one to be sealed. Earlier, Deepak and Raikhi cinemas were sealed on similar charges.

As theatres cannot remain under lock forever, seals are removed after owners gives undertaking that the Act will not be violated in future. However, they resort to Act violation sooner or later.



Sitting Congress MLAs put up show of unity
Senior leaders stay away
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
Four sitting MLAs and Congress candidates of the city today came up together in a bid to put up a united face under the shadow of simmering resentment, as senior Congress leaders, including District Congress Committee chief and city Mayor, ‘‘stayed away’’ from the entire exercise.

Joining issue of rebels with Congress MLA and Cabinet Minister Harnam Dass Johar, DCC president Jagmohan Sharma said an MLA had no right to expel anybody from the party.

He said as per the protocol, District Congress Committee chief was the seniormost leader in a district and only he had the powers to take action against rebels.

He added that Mr Johar could not do anything in this regard except make statements.

Flanked by a number of Congress leaders and councillors, who were also contenders for the party tickets from different Assembly segments, the sitting MLAs, including Mr Harnam Dass Johar (West), Mr Rakesh Pandey (North), Mr Surinder Dawar (East) and Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi (Rural), came up together and said they would form Congress government once again.

Their show of strength was, however, marred by the absence of DCC president Jagmohan Sharma and city Mayor Nahar Singh Gill, who were unsuccessful contenders for Ludhiana West and Rural constituencies, respectively. Later talking to the Tribune, both leaders said they did not know anything about the meeting.

‘‘I was not invited for the entire show. Otherwise, I would have been there. Maybe they do not want my support. If they do not require it, why should I go? I will sit at home unless somebody wants me with him, ’’ said Mr Sharma.

The Mayor also said that he was also not invited and did not know about any such programme. He refused to comment on his further course of action, stating that he was resting at home for the time being.

During the show of strength, the presence of many unsuccessful contenders, including Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal, Mr Sukhchain Gogi, Mr Rajinder Singh Basant, Deputy Mayor Sushil Gupta, Ms Usha Malhotra and many other Congress councillors, was ensured to send a message of unity across the electorate.

The president of the District Bar Association, Mr Hemant Kalia, was also present with his Bar members to send a message to Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, a lawyer and a SAD candidate from Ludhiana West.

MLA Johar claimed that the Congress will have a clean sweep this time.

Coming heavily on the rebels, Mr Johar said that they would not spare a rebel if he would work against the party. Criticising former general secretary of Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Rohit Sabharwal, who had burnt an effigy of Mr Johar in Kocchar market chowk today, the MLA concerned said he would be no more in the party.

Talking about Mr Komal Khanna, a Congress leader, Mr Johar said action would be taken against him also for working against Mr Dawar. For another rebel, Mr Madan Lal Bagga, Mr Johar said he was just wanting a ticket. ‘‘He would be back with us, ’’ he added.

On the Mayor’s resentment, Mr Birmi said that Mr Gill was upset. ‘‘He will join me within a few days. In fact he was with me only when we came back from Delhi after the announcement of ticket, ’’ said Mr Birmi. 



Jagdish Tytler summoned in defamation case
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, January 20
Senior Congress leader and former Cabinet minister Jagdish Tytler was summoned by Mr K.K. Bansal, JMIC, Ludhiana, in a defamation case filed by Mr H.S. Phoolka, senior advocate of the Supreme court, here.

Mr Phoolka had filed a complaint against Mr Tytler for making defamatory remarks during a discussion in a live news programme on the national channel when the latter was a Cabinet minister. As per the complaint, he had also threatened to eliminate Mr Phoolka during the said programme.

Taking cognisance of the complaint, the court summoned Mr Tytler to appear before it on April 25, 2007.

It may be mentioned here that during the pendency of the present complaint, Mr Tytler had to resign from the Cabinet due to his indictment by the Nanavati Commission, which was constituted to look into the anti-Sikh carnage of 1984 in Delhi. Mr Phoolka is a designated senior advocate in the Supreme Court and has been providing honorary legal aid and assistance to the families affected during anti-Sikh carnage in Delhi.



Bigwigs to visit city today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
A galaxy of bigwigs will descend on the city tomorrow to campaign for their respective candidates contesting the Assembly election.

While Bhartiya Jan Shakti president Uma Bharti will address a meeting of leaders of her party, Purvanchal Vikas Parishad national president V.P. Singh and Bollywood actor Raj Babbar will be in the city to garner votes for party candidate from Ludhiana Rural Shambhu Singh. They will hold a rally in Dasehra Grounds in the Jamalpur area.



Four file nominations in district on third day
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
Four candidates from this district filed their papers today on the third day of submitting nominations.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, disclosed that Mr Ravinder Pal Singh and Mr Jatinder Pal Singh, both Independent candidates from Jagraon constituency, filed their nominations today.

Two candidates from Dakha constituency also submitted their papers. These were Mr Parkash Singh from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Mr Sukhdev Singh, also from BSP as a covering candidate.



‘Do not fall prey to misleading propaganda’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 20
The political leadership of Punjab has betrayed the people of the state and thus they should use their right to vote with great wisdom. The state of Punjab, once the most prosperous state of the country, has come down to the 17th position and the agriculture growth rate in the state has come down to 2.4 from 6.4 per cent in 70s.

These concerns were expressed at the general body meeting of the People’s Awareness Forum, an NGO which met Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, former Pro Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University and president of the forum yesterday.

The general body felt concerned that there was an alarming rise in the unemployment and the youth of the state was frustrated at the gimmickery of the political leadership. The leadership of two principal parties - Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal - could not be absolved from the present state of affairs in Punjab.

The body decided to organise a seminar before the Vidhan Sabha elections in the state to make the people aware of their rights and urge them not to fall prey to the misleading propaganda of the political parties.

In a resolution, the general body expressed its serious concern over the collapse of primary education, rural health and public health systems in the state and held both parties responsible for the same. The leadership of the parties had failed to discharge their duties towards the people of the state honestly, particularly after the end of militancy in the state. The people here needed proper guidance from the political leadership, which rather indulged in robbing the state of its most valuable resources.

The forum also expressed its concern over the rising use of drugs, particularly the free distribution drugs, including intoxicants and liquor at the time of the elections whether these were Vidhan Sabha elections or General elections. Not only this, drugs were also distributed during the SGPC elections. The people were urged to boycott such parties which were distributing free liquor and poppy and other intoxicants.

Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor while initiating the discussion, assailed the misleading advertisements by the political parties before the elections and also criticised mud slinging by them. The political parties were wasting crores of rupees on such useless advertisements, he observed.

Prof Kapoor appointed Dr P.S. Sohi as a coordinator to organise the seminar before the elections, preferably in the first week of February.

The forum welcomed the establishment of the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority and thanked the state government for the same.

The forum assailed the development of slums areas and unauthorised encroachments on government lands under the political patronage for the sake of raising the vote bank.

The forum thanked and congratulated the media - print and electronic - for mobilising support for Jessica Lal and Priyadarshani Matoo cases. The death of Prof Kapoor’s younger brother was also condoled.



Johar violated code of conduct: SAD
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has alleged violation of code of conduct by Mr Harnam Das Johar. In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner of India, the legal wing of SAD, while alleging that Mr Harnam Das Johar, Congress candidate from Ludhiana west constituency, had violated code of conduct, the complainant also said that the local administration had turned a blind eye towards the violation.

Mr Iqbal Singh Gill, secretary-general, legal wing of SAD (B), alleged that Mr Johar set up some illegal jhuggis on the Ludhiana Improvement Trust land in Block Y of Rishi Nagar, near Raman Enclave."He has brought these occupants with an assurance that he would permanently settle them on the government land and would manage to get this land allotted if they favoured him in the forthcoming elections."

On January 18, he also got a tubewell installed at his own cost and assured illegal occupants to provide them with other facilities also, the party alleged, adding, "not only this, a platform has also been raised on this government land and a tank has been installed there only to provide water to the jhuggi dwellers."

Urging the CEC to take serious action, SAD also alleged that the local administration had not taken any action against the erring candidate who is also a Cabinet minister.



Stress on efficient use of natural resources
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
"Efficient use of natural resources has not only caught the attention of scientists and environmentalists, masses, too, are realising its importance", according to Dr Wendy D. Graham, Director of Water Institute of University of Florida, USA. Dr Graham was in PAU recently as a member of the high- level delegation that came to explore areas of mutual collaboration between PAU and University of Florida.

Dr Graham said 'Water Institute' at the University of Florida was started in June, 2006, to create awareness about water use efficiency in agriculture as well in cities and homes. "The problem" she says, "has to be tackled on different fronts." For this combined efforts of agricultural engineers, plant breeders, soil scientists and environmentalists are required. If needed, a legislation would also be brought in so that every one is aware and makes serious effort to save water and environment."

Dr Graham said her institute had around 150 scientists representing different fields, who work voluntarily for this noble cause of saving water. The programme initiated less than a year ago has received tremendous response from all quarters. It will help in preserving our natural water resources in a healthy way. She told that her Water Institute will shortly prepare short modules on efficient water management. These modules will be put on the website to benefit the people worldwide.



Kashmiri, Persian, Afghani delicacies on one roof
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 20
The highest point of dining, Hills & Dunes, will serve food from Kashmir, Iran (hills) and Afghanistan (dunes) from today on the terrace of Park Plaza.

The new menu has specially been designed by the chef Siddanshu with assistance of Kashmiri master chef Mohammad Ramzan Wani to tempt the taste buds of Ludhianavis who are always ready to tickle their palates with new dishes.

The ever famous gushtaba, rista, dum aloo, pulwana chaman-e-seekh from Kashmir have found a place in the menu. The Persian cuisine sets itself apart by use of rice in almost every meal.

Pork is banned and very little sea food is used in the Irani cooking. The food is mildly seasoned with saffron, clove, cinnamon and cardamom. The delicacies like Iranian Mahi Kakab, Afghani Murg, Joojeh Kebab Kashk are certainly some of the dishes one can never miss.



Pensioners seek more interim relief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 20
The Punjab Government Pensioners’ Association has urged the newly-constituted Punjab Pay Commission to recommend at least 10 per cent interim relief of pay/pension for state employees and pensioners in addition to 5 per cent already granted by the state government.

It pointed out that prior to the submission of the 4th Punjab Pay Panel report, three installments of interim relief had been granted.

However, the state government had now granted only 5th interim relief, which was inadequate in comparison to the quantum of interim relief granted earlier.

It further pointed out that the pay panel had been given 18 months to submit its report and it might ask for some more time to submit it.

Keeping the current scenario in focus, the report was expected to be submitted only by the end of 2008. Thereafter, the government was expected to take some time to implement it. Hence, there was a need to give more interim relief, it said.



Pandey remembered
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 20
Nehru Sidhant Kender Trust commemorated the 20th death anniversary of Shaheed Joginder Pall Pandey here yesterday.

The ceremony was attended by family members, friends and admirers of the leader.

Minister of State Rakesh Pandey accompanied by his brother Deepak Pandey also attended the ceremony.

Tributes were paid by Nehru Sidhant Kender Trust general secretary Prem Aggarwal and other trustees.

He described Pandey as a dynamic leader who during the days of militancy had braved terrorists to protect the integrity of the country.

It was due to the sacrifices of men like Panday that Punjab had regained normalcy, he added.

He said the city had lost an exceptional leader in Pandey.

Dr Kewal Dheer recalled the qualities of the leader.



Servant decamps with cash
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 20
Raj Kumar Joshi, alias Raju, of Dhaiya (Nepal) allegedly mixed poison in food of the family members of the owner of the house where he worked. The Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case under Sections of the 328, 381 of the IPC on the complaint of the owner. Raju was employed in the house of Sikander Singh of Bhundri village and on Friday night he mixed poison in the food of the family and decamped with Rs 1,37,000 and two mobile sets. However, the members of the family had a miraculous escape and their was no casualty. A case has been registered.

Shop burgled: Some unknown persons burgled the shop of Mr Gopal Krishan in Rasulpur village on Friday night and stole a computer, an STD set and two telephones. The police has registered a case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far.

1 held with poppy husk: The Raikot police arrested Dev Singh of Burj Hari Singh from Tunga Heri village while he was going on cycle with 33 kg of poppy husk. A case has been registered under Sections 15, 6, 85 of the NDPS Act. The accused was remanded to judicial custody till February 2.

1 killed in mishap: Om, son of Chhottu of Agwar Ladhai, was killed when a Fiesta car UP-06F-2004 hit him near Basant Palace on the Sidhwan Bet road, 1 km from here. The Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case under Sections 279, 304-A of the IPC on the statement of Gian Chand of Agwar Ladhai. 9 booked for assault: Manvir Singh, Gursewak Singh and Devinder Singh of Sherpur Kalan allegedly assaulted Kamaljit Singh of Sidhwan Kalan in the area of Kothe Fatehdeen after they stopped and hit him with a sword. The police has booked the trio under Sections 324, 341, 34 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far.

Meanwhile, Gurdass Singh, Karamjit Singh Kammo, Iqbal Singh, Kulwinder Singh, Jagdip Singh and Soni of Akhara village allegedly assaulted Sahij Preet of Nathowal with an iron rod and sticks at Katial Palace, Raikot. The Raikot police has registered a case. The injured has been admitted in DMCH, Ludhiana. No arrest has been made so far.

Booked for fraud: Malkit Singh and Amrik Singh of Sahnewal have been booked by the Dehlon police under Section 420 of the IPC on the complaint of Samitri Devi of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Ludhiana, for committing fraud. No arrest has been made so far. The complainant lodged a complaint to SSP Jagraon about eight months ago, and after holding inquiry, the case has been registered now.



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