L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Family members had died before fire
Murder theory strengthened
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
Four members of a family, found charred to death yesterday, were allegedly killed before being set on fire, police and post-mortem examination revealed today. This has laid to rest all speculations that the members died in a suicide pact or were the victims of an accidental fire.

Though the final report would be available on the chemical examination report only, the post-mortem examination conducted by doctors at Civil Hospital sated that the bodies were set afire in a possible bid to destroy evidence and make it look like suicides or accidental fire.

The injuries were inflicted with blunt and sharp-edged weapons.

SSP AS Rai said the police was examining the case from different angles but personal enmity seems to be the main cause as per the investigation conducted so far. The police was also strongly exploring the theory that one of the family members could have killed others and later set the house and himself on fire. Sukhdev Singh, the deceased family head, was allegedly out of job and debt-ridden too.

However, the police has so far not been able to make any breakthrough regarding the personal enmity theory. It has learnt about a family dispute faced by the deceased but this dispute does not seem to be strong enough which could have lead to the murders with such brutality.

Meanwhile, neighbhours claimed that the deceased woman was pregnant also. This has not been confirmed in the post-mortem examination.

The house remained sealed today with only police and forensic officials allowed inside. The house remained a subject of immense interest as people from adjoining areas made a beeline to the spot.

The deceased identified as Sukhdev Singh (45), his wife Kuldeep Kaur (40) their sons, Davinder Singh (14) and Jatin alias Sachin (5) were found dead yesterday morning. While Sukhdev Singh's burnt body could be recognised as he had tried to escape, the bodies of his wife and children were charred beyond recognition.

The Salem Tabri police has registered a case of murder under Section 302, IPC, against unidentified persons. 



Election Observer recalled
Pleasure trip at government expense costs dear
KS Chawla

Ludhiana, February 3
While taking a serious view of the alleged pleasure trip by an Election Observer to Himachal Pradesh, the Election Commission of India has recalled the officer and warned that violation of the guidelines given to the Central Observers would not be tolerated.

Mr KK Khandelwala of Jharkhand, who was posted as Central Observer of Kum Kalan Vidhan Sabha segment of this district, had undertaken a tour of Himachal Pradesh allegedly at the expense of the state government. The Election Commission is further contemplating action against the said observer for violating the guidelines.

The Election Commission has been taking a serious note of the violation of the model code of conduct for the candidates seeking election to the Vidhan Sabha from various political parties and even Independent candidates.

The Commission has not spared any leader. Even the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, were censured by the Election Commission of India for violating the code of conduct while they had gone to file their nomination papers.

The Election Commission has conveyed its displeasure to both the senior leaders of the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal. The Election Commission has also conveyed its displeasure to Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the Akali Dal, for his aggressive campaigning.

The Election Commission, while briefing the observers before sending them to the states where Vidhan Sabha elections are being held on February 13, had directed them not to accept any favour from anybody.

The observers were also told to be cautious while discharging their duties as sting operations were being conducted and any observer caught accepting any favour on camera would be in trouble. In view of the Kum Kalan episode, the Election Commission has warned them that no leniency would be shown to the erring officers.

The Election Commission is fully competent to take any disciplinary action against the staff working under its supervision on election duty.

The Election Commission is also reported to be concerned over the election-related incident of violence which had taken place in Beas area in which one person was killed.

The Commission is keeping an eye on the campaigning in Punjab and particularly by the two major political parties, the Congress and the Akali Dal.

There are apprehensions of more violence taking place in Punjab because of the aggressive campaigning being carried out by the two parties.

The Election Commission is trying hard to ensure free and fair elections in the four states.

The election scene in Punjab is hotting up and both the Akali Dal and the Congress have high stakes and huge sums of money is being spent on advertisements and other election propaganda.



PM rally venue kicks up row
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
The scheduled rally of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on February 6 in the city to campaign for the Congress candidates, has kicked up a controversy with the selection of Government College for Girls, Rakh Bagh, as the venue.

Security drills for the rally took place at the venue today with a high-profile team of Special Protection Group (SPG) led by DIG Chaturvedi, and IG Jalandhar Range HS Dhillon supervising the security arrangements.

The Election Commission does not allow the use of educational institutions. MP Sukhbir Singh Badal has already been issued a notice for use of a college ground as helipad in Mansa.

As per the rules laid down by the Election Commission," If government land is being used for campaigning then it has to be equal to all political parties." A senior official with the district election office said it was up to the Election Commission to take notice if the college ground can be used or not.

He said the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee was the organiser of the event and the administration was not aware if the college was charging any fee for use of the ground. Under the rules, if the college provides its ground on payment of certain fee to one political party, it has to provide it to others also.

IG HS Dhillon said the responsibility of the police was to provide security at the rally and especially to the Prime Minister. He said DIG Ishwar Singh had been made the in charge of the security arrangements. Several meetings chaired by senior officials, including SSP AS Rai, took place in the city today as part of the preparations.

The city police has now ample experience in providing security to the rallies or visits of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, as this is the third visit in 12 months. A visit to Halwara Air Force Station was cancelled at the last minute.



29 vehicles impounded for code violation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
The city police has tightened the noose around poll violators with as many as 29 vehicles confiscated today for violating the model code of conduct. A police spokesperson said 13 auto-rickshaws, four jeeps and 12 two-wheelers have been impounded, besides several flags and flagsticks used by the supporters of different parties.

The police had been issuing warnings to the political parties and the supporters in this regard. They impounded the vehicles amid protests by various parties.



40 companies to supervise city poll
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
As many as 40 companies of the police and paramilitary forces will be manning the Ludhiana Range in the elections.

Stating this here today, Mr H.S. Dhillon, IG, Jalandhar, said the companies would be of PAP (Jalandhar), CRPF, RPF, CISF and the police of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. These would be posted at sensitive and hyper-sensitive polling booths.



Kila Raipur: Vet staff accused of indifference
Mahesh Sharma

Gurjit Singh stares at the broken limb of his bullock at Jit Wal Khurad village near Ahmedgarh, on Friday.
Gurjit Singh stares at the broken limb of his bullock at Jit Wal Khurad village near Ahmedgarh, on Friday. — Photo by Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 3
Accusing the veterinary medical staff of indifferent attitude towards animals getting injured at Kila Raipur Games at Grewal Sports Stadium near here, the owner of a bullock that was injured in an accident during a race yesterday has urged the higher authorities to initiate action against the erring officials.

Dr Surinder Vahi, Veterinary Officer of Animal Husbandry Department, however, claimed that his staff had taken sufficient care to provide first-aid to the animal and had recommended its shifting to veterinary hospital at Punjab Agricultural University.

“As both radius and ulna of the bullock had been fractured, so we referred it to the hospital,” maintained Dr Vahi, but expressed ignorance about the latest position.

Gurjit Singh, a farmer of Jit Wal Khurad village, alleged that the veterinary staff deputed by the Animal Husbandry Department had not taken enough care in treating his bullock that was injured after colliding with stairs at the stadium at the start of a race.

“Instead of providing treatment or shifting the animal to a fully-equipped hospital, the paramedical staff of the department administered analgesic and asked us to shift it to a hospital,” rued Mr Gurjit, adding that the staff only tied a bandage around the broken leg.

The animal was shifted to Jit Wal in a tempo and a private doctor was engaged to dress the wound. “Though the doctor had assured that the animal would be able to walk after a few months, we know that it will not be able to participate in a race in the near future,” sighed Gurjit Singh. He claimed that an enthusiast had offered Rs 1.5 lakh for the bullock before the start of the race yesterday. The animal had fetched many prizes to the owners during the past year.



Election season on, voters' problems gone
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
For five years their demands fell on deaf ears but now in the election season they seem to be the cynosure of the political parties. Notwithstanding the enforcement of model code of conduct, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has started laying sewerage in Dr Ambedkar Nagar in the west Assembly segment.

Though the demands of residents like water supply and a new sewerage had been pending for quite some time, these are being met in the election season. The work of laying sewers is in progress in street No. 7 of Dr Ambedkar Nagar. Residents said the work commenced a few days ago and half of it had been completed. The workers said they would lay pipes in other streets of the area also.

‘‘Now the elections are around the corner and we know why they have started the work. They could have done it during the past five years. It had been our long-pending demand and they have found this time to fulfil it,’’ said Mr Jagmohan Singh, a resident.

He added that they all knew that once they would cast votes, everything would come to a standstill. ‘‘We understand them very well. This has been happening in the past. They are doing a face-saving exercise now as they would have to visit us asking for votes,’’ he said.

The residents said their houses used to get flooded during the rains for the past many years and they had been demanding re-laying of sewerage after raising its level. ‘‘Nobody listened to us. We had a bad time every monsoon. Now with elections coming it will be a happy monsoon for us this time,’’ said Seelo, another resident.

She hoped that the work got completed within 10 days before the elections. ‘‘If it is not finished by that time, it will never be,’’ she adds. 



Staff on poll duty reluctant to cast vote due to ‘’tedious’’ process
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana February 3
It seems that a majority of the employees of the state, Central governments and various banks, who have been deputed on election duties, may not be able to exercise their franchise because of the "tedious" arrangements made for them to cast their votes. Most of the voters, whom the district administration has put on election duties for the coming Assembly elections on February 13, feel that it is better not to cast votes rather than to first fill forms and then to cast votes through postal ballot paper.

These voters have been asked to fill the forms i.e. form number 12, which ask about their ward, constituency, address and other related details. Some of them have already been given these forms during their first rehearsals on January 31 whereas at some places, they have been asked to collect on their own. These government servants have further been told that they can cast their votes through postal ballot papers, which the concerned returning officer will send through post.

A number of people, whom Ludhiana Tribune spoke to, were not even aware about this process. Mr Sewa Ram Sharma, a senior clerk at a bank, said that he was put on election duty in the last Assembly elections also but he never cast his vote. "No one told me about it and I could not cast my vote. If this is the procedure, I will definitely ask for the form to exercise my vote", he said.

Another government servant who has been asked to report at Payal constituency said that there was no charm to go for voting through such a lengthy process. "I had filled form number 12 in the last elections also but did not receive any postal ballot paper.

No one can afford to make rounds to Returning Officers to ask about the same. Though the form is lying with me and I will fill the same this time also but I am sure this will again go waste", said Mr Manjit Inder Singh.

Mr S.R.Kler, Returning Officer, Ludhiana (north), said that he had distributed form number 12 on the first rehearsal day itself.The concerned Returning Officers will send them the postal ballot papers and they will return it to the same. He also said that the counting will begin with their (on duty voters) votes. "If somebody feels it is a tedious or lengthy process, it is his/her personal attitude. We cannot force people to cast their votes", he said.



Social organisations assure support to Congress candidate
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 3
The election campaign of Ms Razia Sultana, Congress nominee from Malerkotla, gained momentum with a substantial number of activists of various social and commercial organisations announcing to support her.

She was weighed against coins and sweets at many places in the town and surrounding villages today.

Acknowledging the role played by her in getting the long pending demands for a spacious grain market and a supplemented drainage system accepted, the office-bearers of various social and commercial organisations announced their support for Ms Sultana in the coming Assembly elections.

Addressing a function organised at the Chhapar road, Mr Raghbir Chand Maini, Director, Sainik Group of Industries and a close confidant of the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said he and his associates had decided to support Ms Sultana, keeping in view the massive development got done by her. SAD leaders, Ms Balbir Kaur and Hardial Singh Billa, son of former sarpanch Kanganwal village Bikker Singh, also announced to join the campaign of the Congress nominee.

Earlier, a section of the Jain fraternity of the town and Malerkotla showed solidarity with the Congress candidate.

Expressing gratitude to the residents of the area for the love and affection they had showered on her, Ms Sultana held that she had tried her best to come up to their expectations. “By bringing grants for the development of the area, I have performed my constitutional and moral duty, and have not done any favour to anyone.

It is all due to your blessings that the almighty enabled me to succeed in fulfilling long pending demands, including of the grain market and the drainage system supplementation,” said Ms Sultana while addressing a gathering after opening her campaign office opposite the Civil Hospital. 



I-card hassles disappoint 80-year-old
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
Eighty-year-old Jaswant Singh has never missed a chance to cast his vote. But this time he is unsure. Not that his disillusionment, like that of many others, is with politicians. He feels he might not be lucky enough to get his voter identity card.

A resident of Model Town Extension, where he says he has been residing for 15 years now, he left no stone unturned to get names of his seven family members corrected when they received their cards with all wrong names.

"We have seven votes. In October the photographs were clicked and we were shocked to see that all the names were wrong, after which I ran from pillar to post to get them corrected." Things were not to be so simple. All the running around fetched him names in supplementary list. But the family is yet to receive their voter I-cards.

"First they said that it was mandatory to have voter cards. Now they are claiming the cards would be sent soon. I feel I might not be able to get the identity card and this time may have to miss my chance to vote," he said. Irked with the entire hassle, he said the process of getting a voter identity card should have been easier.

Mr Singh blames the entire hassle caused to him to political rivalries between candidates. "In our area things are quite clear. There are candidates who are getting false votes prepared. Such people know they would not get any support from us. In a bid to spoil votes of their opponents, they are causing problems for us," he said.



Petroleum dealers not to back Singla
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
Sore over the fact that their demands are not being met, petroleum dealers said today that they would ask people not to support Mr Surinder Singla in the forthcoming elections.

“We are not happy with the performance of the Congress. But we would support Congress candidates who are petroleum dealers.

Eight dealers are contesting from different places in the state whom we would extend our support irrespective of the party. Our major grouse is with Mr Singla, who has ruined our trade,” Mr J.P. Khanna, president, Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association, said today.

Among the petroleum dealers who have entered the political arena are Joginder Dhingra from Amritsar (north), Sukhpal Singh from Ferozepore, Mahinder Rinwa, Congress candidate from Fazilka, and Hans Raj Josan, Congress candidate from 

“Our move against Mr Singla would be at a personal level and we would tell people we know not to support Mr Singla who turned a deaf ear to our demands. Instead, he imposed heavy taxes, as a result of which it has become difficult to carry petroleum trade in the state.”

The key issues troubling dealers in the state have been high VAT and octroi, apart from low commission and temperature variation allowance.

“Due to high VAT we lost sales to neighbouring states like Haryana and recorded at least 50 per cent decline within two years. We are now conducting a survey to find out petrol stations which are selling less than 50 kl a month.

For trade to be feasible under the present circumstances at least 100 kl of sale should be there on a monthly basis.”

They said they were expected to provide services on a par with international standards but low commission rates and a faulty formula for calculating temperature variation losses were acting as bottlenecks.



Shobha yatra marks Ravidass Jayanti
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 3
The 630th parkash diwas of Guru Ravidass was celebrated by the Vishwa Guru Ravidass Mission, here, yesterday. A huge shobha yatra was organised and tableaus depicting the life of Ravidass were the main attractions. The tableaus and kirtan Jathas were honoured by the mission. The people had lined up on both sides of roads to welcome the yatra. The national president of the mission, Mr Shiv Ram Saroy, said Guru Ravidass had brought a revolution by his message that all men were equal and that one should be free from all kinds of rituals.

Mr Saroy said the parkash diwas was celebrated in a religious spirit and no member of any political party was given any leverage.



Tributes to patriots through poster
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 3
The Shaheed Memorial Sewa Society has released a poster to honour the martyrs of the country. Mr Vajinder Singh, president of the trust, said the society had come out with the poster to inculcate the feeling of patriotism among youth.

The poster was released by Mr Jagdish Chander Dewan, a freedom fighter, at his residence amidst the presence of a number of freedom fighters here yesterday. Mr Dewan, after releasing the poster, said the Shaheed Sewa Society was doing yeoman service for society. It was aware of its social obligations and was trying to sow the seed of patriotism among youth. He said anti-national forces were always on the look out to break the nation, hence the nation had to make its young people love their country and be proud of it.

Printing of a poster to pay homage to the martyrs is a step in the right direction to fill the youth with patriotic feelings.



Kang seeks divine blessings
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 3
Congress candidate from Morinda constituency Jagmohan Singh Kang visited Mata Jayanti Devi temple with his family members to pay obeisance at the temple.

Hundreds of people from the area and other devotees also accompanied Kang. He addressed a huge gathering in the village and appealed to vote for the Congress for peace and overall development of the area.

Sarpanches and panches of the area announced their unflinching support to Kang during the elections and assured him that the Congress would win.

Kang said whatever promises the party had made during the last elections, they had fulfilled these.



Chamber opposes reservation in private sector
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry today condemned the Centre for putting "undue pressure on industry to ensure reservation in private sector". Mr P.D. Sharma, president of the chamber, said reservation would make private sector inefficient and politicised.

He also said that various social schemes, which are part of the political agenda, like cheaper loans by banks for certain segments of society, would make things tough for the industry."Small-scale sector is facing hardships due to costly and inadequate credit from banks. Further proposals of the government will only complicate things for SSIs."



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