L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

With fate sealed, candidates keep fingers crossed
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Independent candidate Madan Lal Bagga
Confidence personified: Independent candidate Madan Lal Bagga

Ludhiana February 14
If wishes were horses, all those contesting the elections would ride to victory. Despite knowing well that only one candidate would win from one constituency, all the contestants would make everyone believe that he or she was sure to win. Be it an Independent contestant or a candidate of a mainstream political party, everybody hopes, rather expects to make it to the final list of 115. And spending two long weeks till the votes are counted on February 27, is no mean task. Rather it is tense and torturous.

Most confident of all those who contested from Ludhiana appears to be Mr Madan Lal Bagga, contesting as an Independent from Ludhiana North considered to be a safe bet for the Congress. Mr Bagga, who is a sitting councillor belonging to the Congress only, rebelled against the official party nominee and the sitting legislator from here, Mr Rakesh Pandey. Until recently, Mr Bagga and his supporters would assert that he was going to win from the Ludhiana North. But now they (his supporters) seem to have come down a little to reconcile with the reality maintaining that it could be anyone from amongst the three, Mr Bagga, Mr Pandey and Mr Harish Bedi of the Bhartiya Janata Party.

Obviously none of these candidates is expected to concede defeat much ahead of the results, but by and large, each and every candidate is too aware of his prospects to nourish any illusions. That is why they want to keep their own morale and that of their supporters high by asserting that victory is surely theirs.

Another keenly contested constituency remains Ludhiana West where the sitting legislator and senior Congress leader, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, is pitted against Mr Harish Rai Dhanda of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bhartiya Janata Party alliance.

Even a clash, rather merciless manhandling of one of the supporters of Mr Dhanda, Mr Harish Narang, was witnessed from here, otherwise a peaceful constituency. If Mr Dhanda manages, as he is widely believed, to defeat Mr Johar, it would certainly be a great feat to celebrate because Mr Johar remains rooted amongst the big and the small, the elite and the ordinary alike.

In Ludhiana Rural, the sitting Congress legislator, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, his Akali-BJP opponent, Mr Hira Singh Gabria and Mr Gurmail Pehalwan of the Bahujan Samaj Party are all claiming to create history of sorts. Mr Birmi hopes to return from here while Mr Gabria asserts that he would oust Mr Birmi. Mr Pehalwan, with extra optimism, claims that he was going to spring a surprise by winning this time. Considered to be a safe bet for the SAD-BJP, Mr Birmi claims to prove everybody wrong.

In Ludhiana East, both Mr Surinder Dawar, the sitting legislator of the Congress, and his opponent, Mr Satpal Gosain, of the Akali-BJP alliance are sitting pretty confident about their victory. Mr Gosain despite an angioplasty only a couple of weeks ahead of the elections, has been putting up a brave front against a strong opponent that Mr Dawar might prove to be.



Rain takes its toll on city roads
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
The rain in the past three days has taken the toll on a number of city roads, thanks to the poor drainage system, leading to accumulation of water on the roads.

Due to flooding and subsequent movement of vehicles potholes have appeared on many busy roads in the city. Consequently, the bitumen layer has worn away and many roads, including Damoria Bridge, Pakhowal, Kailash Cinema Roads.

Incidentally, the Damoria Bridge road was recarpeted just a few months ago and it should have lasted for two years had rainwater not accumulated on it.

Being a very busy stretch, hundreds of vehicles, including heavy ones, move on it everyday.

Residents living in nearby areas said they do not know how long would it take now to repair it. “This road is always a cause of problem. Just an hour of rain leads to its flooding and it becomes very difficult to pass from here. The potholes will add to our woes,” said Mr Madan Lal, a resident of Nali Mohalla.

The authorities concerned tried to check further damage by filling the potholes with brick powder. But that did not help much. ‘‘Even the brick powder did not stay. It vanished just after a few hours due to the passing of heavy vehicles,’’ he said.

The Pakhowal road also developed potholes due to the rain. Things have come to such a pass that the entire stretch needs recarpeting. “It has become difficult to drive on it due to potholes. The rain has really caused a lot of damage,’’ said a commuter.

Residents of other parts also complained of formation of puddles on low-lying areas following the rain. In Ambedkar Nagar, residents said the roads had been converted into pools. Rainwater had entered chambers and residents were having a tough time in draining it. 



Drama in school over teacher’s sack
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
High drama was witnessed in GMT Public School, Jalandhar byepass chowk, this morning over the ouster of a teacher from the school, forcing the authorities to call the police when the teacher protested that she had not been given a month's notice.

Ms Manpreet Kaur Sethi, posted as child co-ordinator with the school, claimed that the school Principal misbehaved with her. She also complained to the cops at Salem Tabri police station that the school had no locus standi to treat her like this.

Mr Kashmira Singh, Director of the school management, said the teacher was on probation only and the management did not need to give her a prior notice.

Both the warring parties have recorded separate statements with the police.



Ludhiana (West) in limelight for mud-slinging
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
Though known for the most educated electorate and candidates, the Ludhiana (West) constituency hogged headlines for wrong reasons during these elections.

Excessive complaining, hitting below the belt and mud-slinging remained the order of the day as most of the candidates did not leave a chance to show each other in bad light.

All this muck left a bad taste among residents of the area, who said they did not expect this from the highly educated candidates fighting a democratic battle.

Just a few hours before the polling, Mr Harish Narang, a close aide of SAD candidate Harish Rai Dhanda, was beaten up allegedly by supporters of Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Congress candidate. An advocate by profession, Mr Narang is recuperating in a hospital after undergoing a jaw-repair surgery. On the eve of elections, supporters of Mr Dhanda had allegedly gathered outside the house of Mr Johar and raised slogans against him. The police had registered a case against 200 supporters of Mr Dhanda.

On the polling day, a scene was created at Sarabha Nagar convent in the morning when Mr Johar’s daughter-in-law was accused of bringing in some migrant women to cast votes in her father-in-law’s favour. She was allegedly detained by Mr Dhanda’s supporters along with the migrant women. The matter was reported to the Sarabha Nagar police station and a case was registered.

At the local Arya College for Women, a supporter of Mr Dhanda started raising slogans against Mr Johar when the latter happened to visit there.

Supporters of some candidates even inserted an advertisement against Mr Dhanda in a section of media to affect a section of voters. The latter had to make a complaint to the Election Commission.



Cupid strikes young hearts
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana February 14
The teenage passion about Valentine appears to be crossing all limits, at least when it comes to buying gifts for the loved ones. A random survey of some gift shops in Sarbaha Nagar, Ghumar Mandi and Mall Road by this reporter revealed that the youngsters were buying gifts as expensive as Rs 5,000. In some cases, even diamonds were gifted and presented to girlfriends. But those were only exceptions.

The hustle and bustle in the markets and outside educational institutions was seen to be believed. Dodging and zooming past the cops it was celebration time for youngsters who obviously did not mind bunking their classes.

Mr Harpreet Singh, a gift shop dealer in Sarabha Nagar, said: "Valentine's Day is turning out to be like any other festival, rather more intense and much more awaited for". He said the purchase of gifts and cards started about a week ago. Due to elections quite a number of youngsters were apprehensive that they may not be able to purchase their gifts on time, and, therefore, they bought these in advance. The rush continued even today as yesterday it remained a holiday.

Interestingly, a majority of those buying expensive gifts included young boys. Huge teddy-bears and cards were seen in their hands in Sarabha Nagar market. Even the chilling weather failed to dampen the spirits of young love birds, who, along with their Valentines, were taking rounds geri routes to find an appropriate cozy corner.

Well-dressed young girls, waiting for their “friends”, were seen sipping hot coffee in cafeterias. One of these cafeterias in Sarabha Nagar arranged separate cabins for the young hearts.

Even flower sellers found maximum buyers today. However, it was not the big bouquets but small red single roses that sold like hot cakes. And cloudy weather added more charm to the romance in the air. Most of the enthusiastic were the newly married couples, who were dating in markets without any fear. “I am with my Valentine and I feel happy to be seen with him”, said Kanu, a newly-wedded girl.



Rain gods dampen love birds’ enthusiasm
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
Cupid came calling but it was rain gods that ruled the day keeping many love birds homebound on the occasion of Valentine’s Day. Most of the city markets, that are abuzz with activity even in routine, only waited for couples, most of whom stayed indoors due to rain that continued for most part of the day.

"Low turnout of people was quite disappointing. Even on routine days sales are more. Our earlier fear was that elections could be a dampening factor. Surprisingly, it was rain which deterred people," said Sanjay, a shopkeeper in Ghumar Mandi.

Markets of Sarabha Nagar, Ghumar Mandi and even old bazaars were flooded with gifts to mark Valentine’s Day. Even food joints could be seen decorated with heart-shaped balloons and roses. What was missing were florists who sit lined up on pavements in the open. Not only common haunts like parks remained void of couples, even restaurants and gift shops saw a few customers.

"I was planning a big celebration with my friends but in such weather I was not even able to venture out, what to talk of buying gifts," said Supriya, a student.

For businessmen the day was quite disappointing as post-festive season, it is this day when they expect sales to look up. "Last Valentine’s we recorded more than 100 per cent rise in sales. This time a similar trend was expected but the sale has been much lower than that," a shopkeeper in Sarabha Nagar said.

It was only around evening when rain came to a halt that people started venturing out. "Due to rain I did not even go out. Had it not been raining I would have got to celebrate with my girlfriend. But stepping out in such weather would have raised my parents' suspicion due to which I preferred staying at home. Besides, the only places to visit in such weather are restaurants," Mohit a college-goer lamented.

Among outlets that performed relatively better than others were florists, who home-delivered flowers, jewellery sellers and those engaged in selling expensive gift items. "People who send gifts to other places buy them in advance which is why our sale was not much. But it would certainly have been much better if the weather was good," a jeweller said.

It was couples staying at different geographical locations who remained unaffected. "My husband, who is in Dubai, had placed an order for flowers and a chocolate box that I received this morning," Shikha, a resident, said. "Despite the geographical distance, I celebrated Valentine's Day here. Love does not cease to exist even if your partner is not physically present with you."

To add sparkle to long-distance relationships, companies had come out with a wide variety of offers ranging from e-cards, bouquets, jewellery and music CDs et al. Many sent beautiful greetings, paintings and even poems that are available on the Internet to their partners.



Honour for city-based surgeon in USA
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 14
It was a proud moment for city-based cardiac surgeon Harinder Singh Bedi who was specially mentioned at the 43rd Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) Conference held from January 29 to February 1 at San Diego (USA).

Dr Bedi, chairman, Cardiac Sciences, Ludhiana Mediciti Hospital here, was the only doctor from India whose presentations were selected for submission before an international faculty at the STS conference.

Dr Bedi’s presentations on beating-heart surgery and on coronary angiography were chaired by none other than the president of the STS, Dr Frederick L. Grover of Colorado, USA. His papers were acclaimed as “papers of special interest” from among the 300 presentations made at the global conference.

According to Dr Bedi, the summary of his papers was also published by Internet medical portal Med Safe Today and also formed the part of the CME (continuing medical education) which was mandatory for all US surgeons attending the conference.

During his visit to the USA, Dr Bedi also took advanced training in the innovative field of percutaneous heart-valve replacement and advanced endovascular skills for cardiac surgeons. “India having the world's largest number of heart-valve patients will benefit immensely from this cutting-edge technology,” commented Dr Bedi.



Focus on epilepsy at Indo-Pak colloquium
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 14
The first ever Indo-Pak Neuroscience Colloquium and International Symposium on Epilepsy was held at Chandigarh on Monday. The Union Minister of State for Finance, Mr Pawan Bansal, inaugurated the conference while Prof Daljit Singh, Principal, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Ludhiana, was the guest of honour.

The conclave was jointly organised by the Departments of Neurology at the DMCH and Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. This Indo-Pak meeting was a historic occasion since it was the first time that neurologists from the two countries came together on the same platform and discussed common scientific issues.

In his address to the delegates, Dr Daljit Singh congratulated the organizers on the excellent efforts undertaken to make the conference a success. The main theme of the conference was epilepsy and infections.

The organising secretary of the meeting, Dr Gagandeep Singh, informed that infections of the central nervous system which caused epilepsy in a majority of cases could be prevented and the victims saved from lot of anguish and misery. Simple measures like vaccination and maintenance of personal hygiene could prevent a number of infections and their neurological sequelae. He remarked that bulk of epilepsy cases occurred in the developing countries due to infections. Simple and effective treatment were now available for such infections.

The meeting was attended by over 250 delegates. The delegation from Pakistan was 25-strong. Among other speakers at the conference were experts from the USA, the United Kingdom, Peru in South America, Gabon in South America and Bangladesh.



Recruitment rally
Tribune News

Ludhiana, February 14
Mr Rajiv Sah, Lieutenant Colonel, Adjutant for Commanding Officer, 103 Infantry Battalion (TA) Sikh LI, has informed that the battalion was carrying out a recruitment rally for the enrolment for 15 soldiers and three tradesmen (cook, safaiwala and washerman) at their unit located on GT Road, Miller Ganj, Ludhiana, from February 19 to 23 and those who are domiciles of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Delhi can report at 7 am on February 19.

Referring to the conditions for enrolment, Mr Sah informed that the persons should be between 18 and 42 years of age, with 50 kg weight, chest (minimum) 77-82 cm, height (minimum) 160 cm and should be matric pass with 45 per cent marks.

He further informed that the persons should possess certificates showing educational qualifications, employment, native/residence certificate, village character certificate signed by the sarpanch, school character certificate and six passport size coloured photographs from the same negative. He said persons desirous of enrolling as cook must have adequate knowledge and experience as cook.



Cong favoured over Akali-BJP alliance in cities: Survey
Our Correspondent

Doraha, February 14
Many interesting facts have surfaced in the election survey conducted by the Political Science Department of GNN College, Doraha, today.

The survey was conducted by the students of the college who were split in eight constituencies. Around 80 per cent students with whom the survey was conducted belonged to the rural constituencies.

The most interesting fact that has been discovered through this survey is that the voters are not divided on communal basis. In these rurally-dominated constituencies, the Akali-BJP alliance enjoys support of 48 per cent Sikhs and 47 per cent Hindus whereas 44 per cent Sikhs and 45 per cent Hindus are in favour of the Congress. However, 8 per cent of Hindus and 8 per cent of Sikhs have voted in favour of others, including the independents.

Meanwhile, in urban areas the Congress is more favoured than the Akali-BJP alliance. A total of 52 per cent voters favour the Congress, 35 per cent favour the Akali-BJP alliance while 13 per cent favour independent and the other parties.

In rural areas the Akali-BJP alliance enjoys 49 per cent, the Congress 43 per cent and others enjoy 8 per cent support. As far as the SC votes are concerned, 53 per cent favour the Congress and 41 per cent favour the Akali-BJP alliance while the rest favour independents and other parties. Backward Classes are, however, more inclined towards the Akali-BJP alliance.

Another interesting fact that has come to light is that 47 per cent women favour the Congress while 42 per cent are in favour of the Akali-BJP alliance.

However, a general view that was framed out of the survey was that out of eight constituencies four were broadly in favour of the Akali-BJP alliance and other four wanted to see the Congress in power.

The survey was conducted by the Department in order to enable the students to understand the election procedure in depth. It was conducted with the assistance of Prof Gursharn Kaur, Head of the Political Science Department, Dr Kuldip Singh, Prof Tejinder Kaur and Prof Upasana Kaushal.



2,500 could not vote in Sarabha Nagar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
Mr Iqbal Singh Gill, an office-bearer of the legal cell of the Shiromani Akali Dal, has complained that around 2500 votes were not polled in J and K blocks of Sarabha Nagar as the district administration had allegedly changed the polling stations of those voters allegedly in connivance with the sitting MLA.

In a complaint to Election Commission, Mr Gill said these votes were to be polled at Sarabha Nagar but as the names of the residents were not included in the lists, they could not cast their votes there. He added that they found out later that their names were included in the KVM school polling station but the lists were not sent there.

Meanwhile, Mr Ajay Johar, son of Mr Johar, said their supporters were also not able to cast votes because of the same reason. 



Senior citizens denied voting right: Body
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 14
Dr S.K. Thaman, organising secretary of the All-India Senior Citizen Organisation, Rishi Nagar, through a press note sought to draw the attention of the Election Commission to the fact that despite having old and new voters I-cards several senior citizens were not allowed to cast their votes as their names were not in the voters' list. They were disappointed as in the past Assembly elections they had enjoyed their franchise but this time they found their names missing.

Dr Thaman pointed out that there were always variations in the lists supplied before every Municipal, MP and MLA elections. Although the lists of voters were compared and compiled again before releasing to public, it was strange that some errors still existed in names and addresses which needed to be reviewed before the declaration of elections.

He pointed out that the Election Commission was supreme and was performing duties in a sincerely but there was a dire need to post well-trained permanent staff for preparation of voters’ lists.

He further suggested that reviewing of these lists should be undertaken before elections to see that all names had been included so as not to create disappointment amidst masses, especially among senior citizens. The services of educated senior citizens be utilised in the election process so that the work of several departments did not suffer.



Man held, confesses to thefts
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 14
The local police has solved some theft cases, including burglaries committed in some mobile shops. Gulshan Kumar, a resident of Jagera Road area here, arrested by the local police at a naka, admitted to have committed many thefts, including burglaries in some mobile shops and the main branch of the post office here about a fortnight ago.

According to Mr Rachhpal Singh Hara, DSP, Malerkotla, Manjit Singh, Sub-Post Master at the main branch of the post office, had reported to the local police that some miscreants had broken into the building and stolen some vital records, besides damaging property by setting some material on fire on January 31. Two days later Munish Kumar, an owner of a mobile phone centre, reported burglary in his shop.

A special team led by Mr Bimal Sharma and Yogi Raj Sharma was constituted and a dog squad and fingerprint experts were called in for investigations.

Contrary to the police theory the suspect has been committing thefts alone till now.



SAD men booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 14
On the eve of the state Assembly elections Buta Singh, Gora Singh, Jagdev Singh, Balraj Singh, Raman Singh, Harminder Singh, Tej Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Meet Singh, all of Bruj Kulara, accompanied by 10 others allegedly entered the house of Bakhshish Singh of the same village and assaulted him with weapons. According to information, Bakhshish belonged to the Congress while the attackers belonged to the SAD. The local police has registered a case under Sections 452, 323, 506, 148 and 149, IPC.

In an another incident, the local police has booked Kamaljit Singh Malah, son of SAD candidate Nachhattar Singh, Simranjit Singh, Inderjit Singh, Satta and Manjit Singh of Jagraon along with 40 persons who allegedly attacked Congress polling station near Sarvahitkari School and assaulted Lakhwinder Singh and Pulwinder Singh of Kacha Malak Raod, Jagraon. They also damaged a Qualis. The local police has registered a case under Sections 323, 341, 427, 506, 148 and 149, IPC. 



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