L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Common man suffers as officials remain busy on poll duty
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
With elections less than two weeks away and the government machinery busy in preparations, routine functioning of the administration, banks, colleges, LIC offices etc seems to have come to a standstill. It is perhaps the common man who is suffering the most as a majority of the people coming to the mini secretariat, banks and other government offices for various purposes have to return disappointed, with officials as well as other staff "busy with election duties".

According to sources, more than 10,000 people have been appointed on election duties in the district. These government servants include teachers, lecturers, bank officials, LIC officials, people working at district administration office etc. More than 80 per cent of the staff working in these offices have been asked to perform election duties. With an increase on the workload, the routine work in the offices of Deputy Commissioner, SDMs, tehsildars and patwaris is taking a back seat. Those understanding the situation have postponed their works for the timebeing but unaware masses from far-off villages still make rounds to the offices at the mini secretariat daily.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the present working conditions, Mr Net Singh, a resident of Mandiani village, said that he had to get his land demarcated but the staff at the patwari’s office had told him to wait till the election process was over. "I wish this is cleared as soon as possible because delay in property matters is not desirable", he said.

Regular banking was disrupted today as most of the staff of banks like Punjab and Sind bank, FBI, UCO Bank, State Bank of India, State Cooperative Bank etc was busy performing rehearsal duties, which started here. Mr Vijay Sharma, a local resident, said he had to face a lot of problems while making a simple demand draft. "I have been asked to come tomorrow", he said.

One of the officials of a leading bank with 25 branches in the district, who has been appointed the District Coordinator of his bank, said that almost 23 branches of the bank were directly affected due to rehearsals today. He said the Administration had put 90 per cent of their supervisory staff on election duties. "Obviously, the common man will suffer but we cannot help in that. In the absence of proper staff, bank functioning has virtually come to a standstill today", he said, wishing not to be quoted.

It may be mentioned here that a delegation of bank officials had met the Deputy Commissioner yesterday, who had later exempted two persons per branch which did not solve much problem.

There was a low attendance in many of the city colleges with lecturers performing rehearsal duties at various venues. Palvika, a IInd year student of GCW, said that four out of six classes were not conducted today as teachers were busy on election duties. "I would have taken leave today if I knew about it earlier", she said.

Ms Amrit Kaur Gill, SDM, Ludhiana, when asked about this problem said officers in the district administration worked round the clock these days. She said a lot many intricacies were involved in the whole procedure (elections). "Though we try to clear as much work as we can in a day, still people complain. I feel people must understand and cooperate with us", she asserted.



Women set to stem flow of liquor, drugs
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 31
Determined to foil the efforts of supporters of certain candidates to woo voters by supplying liquor and poppy husk, the women here are up in arms against the elements who had allegedly been supplying these materials at their doorstep till now.

The women have warned the "suppliers" of dire consequences in case they were not taken seriously. Sensing that the women meant business, a majority of the men have also extended their unconditional support to their better halves.

Taking cognisance of reports that a section of voters was being wooed with liquor by supporters of candidates of national and regional parties, the village women launched a crusade against the evil and announced that they would adopt a ‘do or die’ policy to fight this trend which was a stigma on the fair name of a strata of society.

Inspired by a social activist Dr Jasbir Kaur, a group of women led by Gurdev Kaur and Jaswinder Kaur of this village vowed to save the youth and men from falling prey to the lure of illicit liquor and drugs, reportedly being supplied by supporters of candidates of almost all political parties in this Assembly segment.

"How can we see life of our wards and men being spoiled by those who want to grab power by hook or by crook," argued Gurdev Kaur and Jaswinder Kaur adding that they would resist all efforts to win votes by using such methods.

The activists said they would keep a watch at nights to keep such elements at bay. A group of men led by Gurcharan Singh and Darshan Singh endorsed the proposal of the women activists and assured that they would stand by them. "All men of the village should respect the sentiment of women and fight with forces that are out to exploit them for petty gains," said Gurcharan Singh. 



Travel agency told to pay Rs 25,000 as compensation
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, January 31
A Jalandhar-based travel agency, M/s Sondhi Travels, has been directed to pay Rs 25,000 as compensation to an aggrieved consumer for negligent services, by the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Ludhiana.

The orders were pronounced by Mr AS Narula, President, and Mr Daljit Singh Bakshi, member of the forum, while deciding the complaint filed by an NRI, Mr Jaspreet Singh Makkar.

It was submitted by the complainant through his special attorney, Mr Harpreet Singh Makkar, that he was to go to Canada with his family, as he had got a job there. He booked four tickets through M/s Chopsun Travels and Tours, The Mall, Ludhiana. A payment of Rs 1,18,800 was made to the travel agency.

Thereafter, the tickets were issued by M/s Sondhi Travels, Civil Lines, Jalandhar. It was mentioned on the tickets that the tickets were confirmed for September 2, 2007. As per the confirmation, they started prepration for the journey.

A day before the flight, he was astonished to recieve a telephonic call from M/s Sondhi Travels that two of his tickets had been cancelled. It was informed that only his children could travel on the flight scheduled for September 2, 2005, added the complainant.

But the children could not have entered Canada without him, as he was the principal applicant for immigration. Despite requests, he could not go on the day fixed. It was condition precedent for him to join the job on Septemeber 7, 2005. Resultantly he lost the job. He got another job after a month and sufferred huge monetary loss. The illegal act of cancelling the confirmed air tickets amounted to unfair trade practice, added the complainant.

However, on the other side the travel agency strongly refuted the allegations levelled by the consumer. It was pleaded by officials of Sondhi Travels before the forum that they had no authority to cancel the booking of any person. The tickets were issued subject to the re-confirmation before 72 hours of scheduled flight. The consumer and his family members travelled after some days.

But after appreciating the evidence on record, the consumer forum observed: ''There is no explanantion forthcoming as to how it happened that two tickets were confirmed and two were cancelled. There is no rule or regulation showing that these tickets should have been got re-confirmed 72 hours prior to the flight''.



Post office records set on fire
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 31
The local police has registered an FIR under Sections 457, 380, 511, 436 and 427 of the IPC against some unidentified miscreants for breaking into a post office, stealing and harming its property and records by setting these on fire.

The authorities in the post office are yet to ascertain the loss incurred in the incident. As the cash and valuables are not kept in the building during night, miscreants seemingly did not have the robbery motive. The police was trying to establish if certain records pertaining to loans and advances were destroyed deliberately.

According to a complaint lodged on the statement of Manjit Singh, Sub Post Master, the fire was first noticed by residents of the area who informed Balbir Singh, another employee of the post office.

"It was around 5.30 that Balbir Singh informed me that smoke was emanating from the post office building. I immediately rushed to the office and got the fire extinguished with the help of police cops and residents of the area," Manjit Singh told police officials investigating the case.

Preliminary investigations by the police party led by Mr Yogi Raj revealed that almost all locks were found broken with hammers and files. The locks of main gate were found lying at a distance from the office at Railway road. The computer system of the office was also damaged in the incident.

The police called a dog squad and finger print experts from the SSP office at Sangrur. 



Poll boycott threat works where requests failed
Construction of urinal in Sarabha Nagar
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
What months of pleading with the local Municipal Corporation could not do, a threat to boycott elections accomplished within a few days. The demand was for constructing a urinal at Sarabha Nagar.

The MC dumped construction material in I-Block market of Sarabha Nagar two days ago for the construction of the much demanded urinal following reports in these columns.

Though the construction work has not started as yet, it remains to be seen whether the MC goes ahead with the work in view of the enforcement of model code of conduct or not.

Shopkeepers of the area, who had been demanding the construction of a urinal, said the construction material was sent to the place on the day a news report highlighting their demand was published. But no construction work has been started as yet.

The shopkeepers and residents had threatened to boycott the elections or vote for a candidate who promised to provide them this amenity. The threat worked well and authorities swung into action immediately.

‘‘We are happy that things have moved finally. But the place where the material lies is not proper. They should construct it on the rear side of the market, ’’ said Mr Rajnish Ahuja, an office-bearer of the market association.

He added that they were pleasantly surprised to see that vote-politics could make anything happen in the country. “Otherwise nobody listens to a common man”, he added.

The issue had come to light when the only urinal in the market, common to several other blocks of the posh Sarabha Nagar, was demolished five months ago by the Municipal Corporation. It forced the shop owners and their employees to answer nature's call along the boundary wall of a park.

This earned the ire of the residents who objected to it as they could not use the park for evening and morning walks due to the stench.

Since then, the shopkeepers had been requesting MC officials and political leaders to construct a new urinal for them at an appropriate place but to no avail. 



Badal vouches for Dhanda
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Mr Parkash Singh Badal addressed a rally in favour of Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, party candidate from the Ludhiana West constituency here last evening.

Addressing the rally, Mr Badal vouched for Mr Dhanda. ‘‘We want educated and well-informed people like Mr Dhanda to be voted to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha so that they take up big development projects in their respective constituencies. All the Congress has done in its regime is fill its own coffers.”

Mr Dhanda assured the people of the area that their long-pending demands like that of infrastructure development, sanitation and hygiene were on his priority list.

In his appeal to his electorate, Mr Dhanda said:“ I know that not much work has been done in this area for years together but I assure you that all the neglected tasks will be taken care of.” He said a school and a hospital will also be opened.

The rally was also attended by the president, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, senior SAD(B) and Ludhiana rural candidate, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, senior Akali leader and campaign organiser Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla, Mr. Charanjeet Singh Pannu, Mr Iqbal Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang, Mr Rajinder Grewal, Mr Raj Khera, Mr Rajinder Kumar, Mr Kamal Chaitly, Mr Kashmir Singh Sher, Bibi Lakhwinder Kaur Grewal, Mr Jatinder Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, Mr Sandeep Kapoor, Mr Vijay Danav and Mr D.S. Chawla.



Gimmicks galore :Badal promises more relief for farmers 
Tribune News Service

Kum Kalan, January 31
SAD chief and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has promised that that if his party is voted to power he will ensure that the farmers, whose crops were damaged due to natural calamities, would be compensated and given the actual market price of their produce.

In a first of its kind poll promise made during an impressive rally organised by Kum Kalan candidate Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal at the grain market here this noon, he said the farmers were facing a crisis in the state and it was natural justice that they be paid the price at which they would have sold their crop.

He also announced that that this town, blessed with a visit by the 10th master, Guru Gobind Singh, would be accorded the status of a tehsil.

He said: We will ensure that all schemes and works promised by us take off so that the people could feel the difference in their daily lives. He said the infrastructure in the state was in a mess and would be revamped.

New schools, colleges and institutes of excellence would be established in the regions of the state. Special care would be taken to redress the aspirations of the youth of the state who were feeling despondent in the absence of any employment avenues.

Similarly, the problems of the farmers would be solved so they enjoy a better lifestyle, he said.

He also appealed to the people to vote for the SAD which always safeguarded the interests of Punjab. Addressing the gathering, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal said on the polling day the people should keep in mind the fact that their family had always stood by the people in their hour of need. SGPC chief Avtar Singh came down heavily on the BKU (Lakhowal) faction for playing with the sentiments of the farming community and playing in the hands of the Congress which was anti-Punjab.

Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal reiterated his resolve to work hard for the people of the constituency and said that in case the people again reposed their faith in him he would rise to their expectations.



SAD chief for action in Beas incident
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
SAD (B) president Parkash Singh Badal today termed the violence in the Beas Assembly segment as an indicator of the political scenario that would prevail during electioneering in the coming days.

He said the ruling party had become panicky because of “imminent defeat” in the elections and was resorting to violence as a last resort. Stating that the scenario that was emerging was posing a grave danger to the democratic norms, Mr Badal said that the Centre was preferring to look the other way instead of intervening.

‘‘The culprits should be brought to the book immediately. Otherwise it would send a wrong and damaging signal across. It is shocking that the banned AK-47 rifle was used freely in the incident, ’’ he said. Mr Badal said the video CD of the incident as was being shown on different TV channels was enough proof for the government to book the culprits.

Taking a dig at the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal said it was being shown on all the channels and the CM had given a clean chit to the culprits. ‘‘By doing so he is encouraging violence in the state.’



Youth Akali leader flays DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Youth Akali Dal leader Simarjit Singh Bains today accused the Deputy Commissioner of bias against Akali candidates stating that his machinery was removing banners of Akalis and was turning a blind eye towards the violation by Congress  candidates.

DC's version
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, said the model code of conduct had to be followed at all costs. He said Mr Bains was raising a hue and cry because he was booked for misbehaving with a returning officer when he had gone to correct a violation. The RO had complained to the Deputy Commissioner. He added that even an election Observer had taken notice of the same.

Addressing the media here today, Mr Bains said he would complain against the DC to the Chief Election Commissioner and demand his transfer from the district.

‘‘He is helping the ruling party blatantly. He should be shifted from the district if the Election Commission wants a fair election, ’’ said Mr Bains. He threatened that the Youth Akali Dal would sit on dharnas if he was not removed.

He added that the government machinery was removing all the hoardings put up by Akalis. ‘‘If they have to take action, they should take it against everybody. There should be no pick and choose policy, ’’ he said adding that they would take action against the DC once their party was elected.

The outburst of the youth Akali leader came in the wake of a case registered against him by the Shimlapuri police. He was booked for allegedly misbehaving with an Executive Magistrate on poll duty.

The action was taken after the District Magistrate, Mr Gupta, had ordered a probe into the incident taking cognizance of a complaint made by the Executive Magistrate, Mr Ram Lal, and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, Congress candidate from Dakha constituency.

Mr Dakha had complained that banners and posters of his rival candidate, Mr Darshan Singh Shivalik, were being pasted in violation of the code of conduct. The magistrate was manhandled when he intervened, according to the FIR.



Jhanjee joins SAD
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Senior advocate Mr Mohan Lal Jhanjee joined the Shirmonai Akali Dal (Badal) here today. SAD (B) President Parkash Singh Badal met Mr Jhanjee and congratulated him on joining the party. Mr Jhanjee has been nominated as a member of the Akali Dal working committee.

Mr Jhanjee is a well known public figure and has been former president of the District Bar Association, Ludhiana, Sarpanch of Virk village, trustee Police Public School Bharowal village and a patron of Saheed Sukhdev Public School, Virk village. Mr Jhanjee is a close relative of well-known freedom fighter Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar.

Speaking at the meeting Mr Jhanjee assured to give full support to Ludhiana West SAD (B)- BJP candidate Mr Harish Rai Dhandha.



Freedom fighters’ body to support Congress
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The Punjab Freedom Fighters Association led by Dewan Jagdish Chandra yesterday announced its support for the Congress in the coming elections.

Stating that the Congress was a secular party, Mr Chandra asked the freedom fighters, who had come from all over the state, to exercise their right to vote in favour of Congress candidates.

The freedom fighters had gathered to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary. 



Emulate Gandhi, leaders told
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 31
Office-bearers of educational and constitutional organisations called upon leaders of various social and political associations to emulate the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation.

The call came after mass observance of silence at a function organised by the civil administration at Sanatan Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School here yesterday. Other educational institutes also observed silence on the occasion.

According to Mr Jaskiran Singh, SDM, Malerkotla, the martyrdom anniversary of Bapu Gandhi was observed at the local town and Malerkotla. Besides observing silence at 11 am, various speakers called upon leaders of various political and social organisations to imbibe nationalistic character and non-violence policy on Gandhi.

Mr Mukesh Sharma, Executive Magistrate, Mr Jatinder Kumar Bhola, president, Municipal Council, Mr Charan Jit Singh Ubhi, Executive Officer, Mr Yogi Raj, SHO, City, Ms Kamla Devi Sharma, Director Schools, and Mr Pardeep Sharda, principal, illustrated various aspects of the life of Bapu Gandhi during their speeches.

Similar functions were organised at M G M N Senior Secondary School, Lal Bahadur Shastari Public School, Janta College for Women, Dyanand Adarsh Vidialya High School, Anand Isher Senior Secondary School, Guru Nanak Kanya Mahavidialya Senior Secondary School, Guru Har Krishan Public School, GHS Khalsa Senior Secondary School and Kennedy High School. 



Poll duties: Employees feel burdened
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The District Election Office has received a lot of complaints from varied sections, including banks and teachers and government departments, who said putting a lot of employees on poll duty had doubled their work load. A section of employees also said public work was suffering on account of election duties.

"With more than half the staff put on duty, work pressure is heavy. We are forced to do lot of extra work. However, there are departments where very few employees have been put on duty. Work distribution should have been fair so that employees are able to cope up with additional work , " rued Mr Naresh Gaur, general secretary, Punjab Bank Employees Federation.

The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, too, had complained that college lecturers had not been put on duty as per their salary basis.

A workforce of more than 10,000 persons, comprising more than 2,500 presiding officers, a similar number of assistant presiding officers and over 5,300 polling officers, have been put on election duty.These include employees from various fields like teaching, banks and other departments. The Election Office, however, has asked people to take it positively. "Instead of taking it negatively, people should honour the democratic set- up and work. Those who are not on duty should contribute by putting in double efforts," said Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, District Election Officer-cum- Deputy Commissioner, adding that :"Even senior officers are working in double shifts. Employees need to be co-operative."

Bank employees, who complained of excessive work, submitted their complaint to the DC office today. "In cases where we felt that the number of employees on duty was too high, we adjusted the same. Personal problems are being given due consideration but in other cases, employees will have to adjust."

Regarding allegations of biases, senior officials in the department said there was no bias while selecting the names of employees as the process was carried on with the help of a special software. The software randomly selected names which rules out chances of any biases, they added.



Teachers resent poll duties
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Resentment prevails among college lecturers over their deployment on election duties that were “not in keeping with their status and pay scales”. They said they felt humiliated working as presiding or assistant presiding officers under Tesildars and Naib Tehsildars, who were appointed Returning Officers by the administration during elections. College lecturers said since they were also Class I officers and were getting better pay scales, and they should be given duties according to their status.

Prof Kuldeep Singh, area secretary, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), said lecturers were committed to performing election duties provided they were appointed as per their pay scale and status. He said since rehearsals were starting from tomorrow, they would make sure that lecturers were not put on duties under juniors. “We will bring it to the notice of the state Election Commission if we are asked to report to our juniors. As per Election Commission directions, teachers are to be given duties as per seniority and pay scales,” he said.

Criticising the “pick and choose” policy of the district administration, the lecturers complained that their seniority was totally ignored in the process. Dr Manjit Singh Komal, president of the district council, PCCTU, said colleges sent their staff list to the officers concerned, who picked them randomly for election duties.

The teachers further alleged that they had to face a lot of inconvenience during polling days. “Our TA/DA or refreshments are often delayed. Nor we are given any transportation facilities. We are asked to manage everything on our own,” said Prof Harpreet Dua, Senate and Syndicate Member, Panjab University, Chandigarh.

The district administration, however, rubbished these allegations. One of the officers said teachers always raised a hue and cry over the issue. He said conducting elections in a smooth manner was not an easy job. The administration had put over 10,000 officers on election duties which included teachers, lecturers, bank officials etc. “But everyone wants his/her duty to be cancelled which is not possible. It is a matter of a few days and they should cooperate in a dignified manner,” said the officer.



Longer working hours for GADVASU vet hospital
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The veterinary hospital at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) has extended its working hours. The OPD timings of the hospital will be from 9 am to 8 pm on all working days whereas on holidays the timings will be from 9 am to 12 noon. However, emergency services will be provided round the clock.



Book on Guru Ravidas’ bani released
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana January 31
Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister of Science and Technology, Punjab, today released ‘Sat Sahib’, a book about the divine bani of Guru Ravidas.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Pandey said Guru Ravidas devoted his life to the welfare and betterment of mankind and had respect for all religions. The book has been written and published by Mr Amarjit Bangar, DE (Phones), BSNL, after 15-year-long research in Punjabi language.

The bani of the Guru is divided into two parts in the book which has 101 shabads. The shabads are translated in simple language. Sant Sarwan Dass of Dera Sant Tehal Das congratulated Mr Bangar for writing the book.



SBI donates ambulance to bank
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 31
The Miller Ganj branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) on Monday presented an ambulance and medical equipment, imported from Germany, to Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Charitable Hospital authorities. The bank had donated Rs 5 lakh to the hospital for the same.

Mr B.S. Bhasin, General Manager of the SBI, accompanied by other officials of the bank and dignitaries, formally presented the abovesaid to Mr Bakshi Mohinder Singh, president of the hospital trust, at a function.

Bakshi Mohinder Singh appreciated the gesture and said the ambulance fitted with latest gadgets and life-saving equipment would form part of the existing fleet of ambulances and enhance the functioning of the hospital. 



Cyclists on peace mission to Lahore 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Aiming to spread a message of peace, Sidhhartha, Sanyukta and Benjamin are cycling all their way from Delhi to Lahore. The trio, who began their journey from Delhi, made a stopover in the city for a day. The trip is being sponsored by the Centurion Bank of Punjab.

The journey, that was flagged off by minister Mani Shankar Iyyer, will last around seven days. Covering Panipat, Ambala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, they will reach Amritsar from where they would proceed to their destination via Wagah border.



Havan performed at BVM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
A havan was performed on the premises of BVM, Kitchlu Nagar, for students who would be appearing for the forthcoming examinations of Classes X and XII here yesterday. A seminar was organised by Merchant Navy for the students of plus II (non-medical).

The Frankfinn Institute of Air Hostess Training also organised a seminar for students of plus II. The students were made aware on various aspects of making a choice about their career. 



Padma Shri for Trident CMD
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Mr Rajinder Kumar Gupta, CMD, Trident Group of Industries, was conferred with the Padma Shri on Republic Day.

He is a first generation entrepreneur possessing a varied exposure in promoting industrial growth. He got the award for his contribution to the industrial sector.



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