L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Poll code given the go-by
Work on road metalling in top gear
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
With elections to the municipal corporation just four days away, various candidates belonging to the ruling alliance seem to be leaving no chance to ensure a positive outcome, even if it means flouting the election code of conduct.

Roads are being metalled in Shastri Nagar and Bhagwan Nagar area of Basti Jodhewal (ward No. 6) in clear violation of the election code of conduct.

It is alleged that a former BJP councillor is getting the roads metalled in the area.

According to the complaint submitted to the state election commission, the metalling of roads started on August 2. It was still continuing as the former councillor wanted all roads in the ward metalled by the polling date i.e. on August 8.

Under the seat-sharing agreement between the SAD and the BJP, the ward was allotted to the latter. Sitting BJP councillor Harjinder Singh Gogi is seeking re-election from here.

However, the former BJP councillor, who is accused of getting the roads metalled, is reportedly supporting another party rebel.

A senior official of the corporation, however, expressed ignorance about the matter. He said he had no knowledge about the metalling of the road.

He assured that once he got the complaint in writing he would take action.

Earlier also, roads were recarpeted in some other areas in blatant violation of the code of conduct.

The ward is likely to have a keen contest since there are quite a number of strong candidates contesting from here this time.

Besides Gogi of the BJP, a party rebel Gurbaksh Singh Billa is also contesting from here. He is reportedly being supported by former councillor Harish Tandon.

The Congress has fielded Mohinderpal Pappa from here. Earlier, it had allotted the ticket to Makhan Singh. But it replaced Makhan Singh with Pappa at the last minute. Makhan is now supporting another Independent candidate, Harjinderpal Lali.

Meanwhile, the Congress has decided to lodge a formal complaint with the election authorities on the issue.

District Congress Committee president Jagmohan Sharma told Ludhiana Tribune that it substantiated their charges that official machinery was being misused.



Commandant retired compulsorily 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
In view of his poor service record over the years, the state government has prematurely retired district commandant, Home Guards, Ropar, Daljit Singh Grewal. He will be paid three months’ salary.

Orders to this effect were issued by Dr B.C. Gupta, principal secretary, home and justice, following sanction for the same by the Governor of Punjab in exercise of power conferred by clause (a) of the rule (1) of rule 3 of the Punjab Civil Service (Premature Retirement) Rules, 1975.

Sources in civil defence department, said he was a chronic litigant and was always in the limelight for filing cases against his superiors by name to harass and pressurise the former into condoning his various acts of omission and commission.

A resident of Threeke village, here, Grewal started as CPL instructor (constable) in Punjab Home Guards (PHG) in 1980.

During 1992-93, he was attached as a From page 1

gunman with Abjinder Singh Sibia, a close confident of the then CM Beant Singh.

With the help of Sibia and Gurmit Singh, political secretary to the then CM, Grewal managed direct appointment as district commandant, PHG, through the PPSC in l993.

On appointment, he was posted as district commandant, Ropar, without any formal training as a general officer or any acclimatisation with the work of the post of higher responsibility.

Thereafter, he was given additional charge of the office of Jalandhar where he was soon posted on regular basis within six months.

At Jalandhar, he was given additional charge of Ludhiana from February, 1995. In August, 1995, he was posted to Ludhiana on a regular basis.

By the end of 1995, he was hooked by the vigilance bureau at Jalandhar and Ludhiana along with others in two separate FIRs under the Prevention of Corruption Act and other Sections and remained under suspension for over one year but was subsequently reinstated and posted at Patiala in 1997.

He managed to duck charges but in 2002, he again was booked by the bureau for holding assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

He was arrested and later bailed out. He was yet again placed under suspension. On reinstatement, he was again posted at Patiala.

He was also allowed to cross his probation period of two years despite his facing two FIRs in corruption cases, both pertaining to his first two year of service.

Sources said he has been chargesheeted/served with show-cause notice in a number of cases pertaining to his involvement in acts of grave indiscipline and insubordination detrimental to good order and discipline of uniformed service.

The bureau has also recommended departmental action against him for running a dairy farm at Ludhiana and misusing PHG jawans at his dairy farm in violation of conduct rules and other rules governing civil servants.

His overall conduct has been unbecoming of good public servant through out, the sources added.



Ward Watch 57
Scientist’s experiment with politics
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

K.L. Chhabra
K.L. Chhabra

Ludhiana, August 4
Hari Singh Brar is a retired scientist from Punjab Agricultural University. However, he is not tired of taking up the issues of common interest.

Having served as president of the Punjab Agricultural University Teachers’ Association (PAUTA) for 15 years, Brar has decided to play another innings as the representative of people to solve their problems. He is contesting as an Independent from ward No. 57 (BRS Nagar).

Instead of lobbying with various political parties for the nomination, Brar decided to contest independently. He says: “Taking up the issues of public interest is not new for me, as I have led scientists and teachers of the PAU for 15 years.”

He says he has outlined his agenda to pursue. He is being supported by people of the area. He has not launched any high-profile campaign and prefers to meet people going from door to door seeking their support.

A doctorate in agronomy, Brar claims to be one of the first residents of BRS Nagar. He claims there were not more than five houses in the entire BRS Nagar when he moved in here. “I have nourished the area with my blood and sweat, as I set up a cooperative society to facilitate free sale to cement, which was otherwise sold on the black market,” he claims. He also spent money from his pocket to set up a primary school for the poor and needy children, he adds.

Brar is contesting against K.L. Chhabra of the SAD-BJP alliance. Chhabra is the sitting councillor from this ward.

He had contested the last elections successfully as an Independent candidate. In fact he had almost made it to the post of mayor as he was jointly fielded by the opposition for the post against Nahar Singh Gill, who won by just five votes.

Chhabra maintains that he has ensured a lot of development in the ward. He says he has brought various development projects to the tune of Rs 10 crore to his ward.

“People are with me and they acknowledge it with their support,” he claims. “Last year I won independently, this time I am the candidate of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance and I will flood the ward with funds.”

Congress has fielded Ranjit Singh Kannu from this ward. Since the party has its strong pockets of influence in the area, he is also expected to perform well. Since Brar is mainly cutting into the votes of Chhabra, he can always spring a surprise.



Vegetable Retailing
Residents cheer, vendors groan
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
The foray of corporates into the field of direct marketing of vegetables has made consumers happy while small shopkeepers in the field are beginning to feel the pinch.

These retail outlets, located in several parts of the city, are attracting people in large numbers due to quality, pricing and better shopping experience.

Big names like Reliance, Subhiksha, Spencers and the latest one, Namdhari Fresh, that have entered the field say they are able to offer better prices, as they have done away with middlemen.

“After the opening of an outlet in our area, I have been buying fruits and vegetables from there only. The quality is good, there is ample variety and one does not have to bargain as prices are low or on a par with local vendors,” said Sukhminder Kaur, a resident of BRS Nagar.

Residents said apart from fresh fruits and vegetables, these outlets store other products like consumable food products, etc. which gives them the convenience of buying everything under one roof.

For vendors, the entry of these companies is anything but pleasant. “Though there hasn’t been a significant decline in my daily sales, the scenario has definitely changed and we cannot overcharge consumers now. People prefer to go to these swanky outlets that offer cheaper vegetables,” said Khushi Ram, who runs a vegetable kiosk in Sarabha Nagar.

According to these companies, doing away with middlemen has helped them cut costs whereas the quality aspect has been taken care of by thorough checking.

“Most of the stuff we sell here is grown on our farms, which takes care of the quality aspect. The concept is bound to be a success in the long run here,” said Rashpal Singh, deputy general manager, north, Namdhari Fresh.

A section of commission agents is hoping that the companies do not run well. “One wonders how they would continue functioning in the long run by offering low rates on one hand and on the other by incurring heavy fixed expenses,” said Amarbir Singh, general secretary, Ludhiana Fruit and Vegetable Commission Agents Association.



Women flay inaction in molestation case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
A mahila panchayat yesterday flayed the administration for not pressing charges against Swami Shankaranand Bhuriwale, who is accused of allegedly molesting a woman besides beating her and her brother in a dera complex on July 25.

The police had registered a case against him and some of his followers after tension that lasted a whole day. About 500 persons, including large number of women, belonging to Mor Karima village had laid siege on the dera for nearly seven hours yesterday to protest the incident.

Yesterday, scores of women activists of the All India Progressive Women Organisation led by its general secretary Kumundini Pati assembled in front of the district administrative complex and warned that in case the self-styled swami was not brought to book they would be forced to take direct action against him.

A former security guard at the dera, Mihmal Singh, took the mike and said although he knew of many wrongdoings; more skeletons would tumble out if the case was handed over to the CBI or some other investigating agency.

He said he was so disgusted at the activities at the dera that he along with his family shifted out and underwent baptism to become Sikh.

Pati said it was a shame that such deras enjoyed political patronage. She said in case the government does not do anything, the organisation will chalk the future course of action at the all-India level women’s rally to be held in front of the Parliament on August 8.

She also handed over a memorandum to SDM (W) J.S. Grewal. Others who spoke on the occasion included former MLA Tarsem Jodhan, Paramjit Kaur Khalsa, Birpal Kaur, Jasbir Kaur and Kanwaljit Khanna.



Polio drive deferred
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 4
The pulse polio drive for children of migrant population in the district, which was scheduled for August 5, has been put off for the time being.

Stating this here yesterday, civil surgeon Dr Sat Pal Sharma said instructions to this effect were received from the directorate of health and family welfare, Punjab, through fax on Thursday evening. The new date for the drive would be announced later, he added.



6,090 blue cards distributed
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, August 4
As part of the atta-dal distribution scheme to be launched by Punjab government from August 15, 6,090 blue cards were distributed by former Lok Sabha MP Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal yesterday during a function organised by Cooperative Agriculture Service Society at Saunti village. Dhaliwal assured the gathering that the government will implement all the promises made in the SAD election manifesto.

As many as 5,350 families from rural areas and 740 from urban population below the income group of Rs 30,000 per annum have been covered under this scheme in Amloh block, said district food and supply officer Ajay Veer Singh.

The blue card campaign was launched under the supervision of ASFO Milap Singh. Wheat at Rs 4 per kg and dal for Rs 20 per kg will be made available at 44 rural and urban depots, he maintained. 



Campainging: Parties give their all
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana August 4
With just two more days left for the campaigning for the election to the municipal corporation, electioneering has reached its peak.

Senior BJP leaders, including ministers Manoranjan Kalia and Tikshen Sood, state president Rajinder Bhandari, and former minister Madan Mohan Mittal, are already camping here for past several days. They are going from ward to ward, addressing party meetings to seek votes.

Earlier, addressing a press conference, the BJP leaders claimed that the state was set to return the SAD-BJP majority houses in all municipal corporations.

Kalia observed that usually people voted for the party in power in the local body elections.

He pointed out that it had happened in the past that whichever party was in the power in the state was voted in the corporation elections.

On the issue of choosing the mayor, Bhandari said there was no difference with the SAD.

“Once we win the elections, the issue will be settled, like we shared the seats in the Assembly and the corporation,” he claimed.

Not to be left behind, the Congress is also maintaining its momentum here. Former minister Avtar Singh Brar is heading the campaign committee for the city. He has been addressing a series of meetings.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary Manish Tewari is also here to campaign in support of the candidates.

He will stay here till the completion of the campaign.

He addressed a series of meetings in various wards. Tewari said he would go to all wards in the city to boost the morale of the candidates.

Punjab Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla was also here today. He addressed a few meetings from where youth Congress leaders have been allotted tickets.

Acting SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal is expected to address a series of party meetings in different wards tomorrow.



Candidates must follow code of conduct: DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
The district administration has urged all the political parties to comply with the the directions of Model Code of Conduct enforced by State Election Commission during the electioneering for the municipal polls being held on August 8.

Priyank Bharti, officiating deputy commissioner-cum-district electoral officer, chaired a special joint meeting of the returning officers, representatives of political parties and candidates at the Circuit House here yesterday.

He said under the code no candidate will be allowed to create communal or caste divisions or criticise another candidate’s private life. The code also mentions that all the publicity material should bear the name of the publisher.

No publicity material like posters, flags etc should be put up at public property. If these are to be put up at private property then the permission of the owner must be taken for it. The identity slips given to voters shall be on plain paper and shall not contain any symbol or name of the candidate.

No party or candidate shall hold public meeting or procession and no party or candidate shall use loud speakers without obtaining necessary permission. Loud speakers shall be used only between 7 am to 10 pm.

Bharti said the contesting candidate shall maintain day-to-day expenditure record in the prescribed pro forma which will be supplied to him free of cost on the date of acceptance of his candidature. 



Ward Watch 48
Too much at stake for SGPC chief
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
Manvinderpal Singh Makkar, the SAD-BJP combine candidate from ward No. 48 (Model Town) may be sitting pretty about the fact that the ward he is contesting from has a predominantly urban Sikh and Akali-inclined population. But it is his father, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar, who has a lot to worry about.

Manvinderpal is being given a tough fight by Surinderpal Singh Bindra of the Congress.

Bindra is a former trustee of the Improvement Trust, Ludhiana, which was dissolved following the allegations of multi-crore City Centre scam.

However, none of the trustees had been named in the FIR, as they had not been taken into confidence when the project was approved.

Bindra is the brother of youth Congress leader Amarjit Singh Tikka. The family enjoys good influence and rapport with people of the area.

Makkar has personally not been campaigning for his son, since he remains preoccupied with other issues.

However, his stature as the SGPC president is certainly proving to be of immense help to Manvinderpal. Moreover, the area being predominantly Akali-inclined gives him much hope and confidence.

However, Bindra refuses to acknowledge any edge to his rival. He points out that Manvinderpal is not alone. He has to face two rebels, one from his own SAD and one from the BJP. While Gurpreet is an Akali rebel, Vivek Jindal is a BJP rebel.

The Congress candidate claims that the SAD has already lost its sheen and glory of the Assembly election results. He says the government has proved to be a disaster and people are disillusioned with it. “They want to vent their ire and are welcoming us,” he claims.

He says his family is rooted in the area. Moreover, he has the patronage of senior party leadership.

About the contest against a strong candidate, Bindra says he respects “Makkar sahib” as the SGPC president, but does not hesitate from criticising the “misuse of the SGPC machinery”.

Makkar says: “These are just frivolous charges as they do not have anything against us, while we can speak volumes about them.”

He adds that he does not want to expose them lest he should sound too small. Let the voters decide, he remarks.



Industrial town producing talent
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
Talented youths from the city, who are making a mark in several reality shows being aired on television channels, are drawing the relatively indifferent residents to voting for them.

The latest such contestants are Arshpreet Kaur, a student of Ramgharia Girls’ College and Ishmeet, a student of Government College for Boys. The two have managed to figure in 'Bemisaal 12' on Star Voice of India.

E-mails and text messages seeking votes for them are doing the rounds.

"I have got at least 10 text messages in the last three-four days seeking votes for these contestants from Ludhiana. While I would definitely vote, I am also asking people to vote for them. It is due to them that our city is getting mentioned at such a level," said Kriti Sharma, a student.

The e-mails or text messages that request recipients to vote also mention the code and telephone numbers with which they can do so.

City residents became particularly interested in talent hunt shows on television after a city-based painter Ravinder Ravi made it to Sony's Indian Idol. There were functions apart from mails and messages to get people to vote for him.

After that, several youngsters made it to these shows and even secured positions among the finalists. A girl from the city, Sudeepa, was a strong contender in a show scouting for actors, while recently, Harpreet Deol got into limelight after reaching the finals in Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma.

"The advent of these shows has greatly encouraged people from this city to participate and vote. Heavy rush at an audition that we conducted, proved it," said co-ordinator, Sangam Kala Kendra, Punjab, Radhika Jaitwani.

She said in the last few months, response to auditions for talent shows in all fields, be it acting or music, had recorded an increase.

"When the reality talent shows began on television we thought only those from metros would make it. However, when Ravinder Ravi reached the top five in Indian idol, I got quite interested in these shows. One really feels proud to see Ludhiana residents making it on the national level," an enthused Supriya, a college student said.



Dr Aggarwal not arrested: Khanna police
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
Khanna police today clarified that it did not require arresting Dr Nitin Aggarwal in a case related to the controversy about the Khanna Nursing Home.

A police spokesman told The Tribune that Dr Aggarwal had already joined the investigation. Moreover, there was no evidence against him in the case; hence there was no question of arresting him.

When contacted, Dr Aggarwal said, he had presented himself before the police and provided all the details related to the case. He said the police were satisfied with his version as he had no role in the entire episode. 



Poll Bol

With the campaign for the municipal corporation entering its final phase, Tribune reporter Vimal Sumbly talks to various leaders on the issue of development.

Only cooperation, not confrontation, can lead to development. It is the development agenda of the parties and not their ideology that influences the opinion of the voters.

Prof Rajinder Bhandari,state BJP president

The municipal corporation and councillors are primarily supposed to work for the development of their city, while politics should be left to the higher fora like Assembly and Parliament.

Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal,SAD general secretary

Past experience has shown that bureaucrats have used political differences between councillors to their own advantage. Let’s call an end to it and resolve to work for a new and great Ludhiana.

Jessi Khangura,Congress leader

It is always better to work out a consensus than resort to confrontation particularly, when the issues of development and common good are concerned.

Harish Rai Dhanda,chief parliamentary secretary



Youth killed

Ludhiana, August 4
A youth of Dholewal chowk was hacked to death by six youngsters near the railway line late Wednesday night. The assailants fled the scene after the crime.

The police said the deceased has been identified as Vicky Hans, a resident of one of the shanties along the line. While Vicky was declared brought dead at the hospital, Sunny was under treatment at a hospital.

Those identified included Nidh Bharti and Sonu, both brothers, Rohan, Raju and Ganga Ram. A case has been registered. — TNS



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