L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Cong shoots off letter to Governor
Apprehends rigging
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Apprehending violence and booth-capturing by the SAD-BJP alliance during the civic body elections on August 8, the Congress has written to the election commission and the Punjab Governor to ensure that adequate security measures are in place.

Talking to The Tribune here, Avtar Singh Brar, chairman of the Ludhiana municipal corporation election commitee, said there were reports that the Akalis were mobilising workers from the countryside “who would intimidate voters on the polling day.”

He alleged that as part of a well-planned strategy, the Akalis had decided on employing muscle power to create disturbances. “Our party workers have been told that they should be ready for any eventuality.”

The former education minister, who was accompanied by PPCC general secretary Parminder Singh, said they had toured the wards and the response from the people was tremendous.

The Parkash Singh Badal government had failed to deliver and there was a sense of despondency among the people.

Poll promises, like the much-touted atta-dal scheme, had not been implemented and its criteria changed to benefit only a few.

The PPCC vice-president said there had been divisions in ranks but things were on a sound footing now. The leaders had sunk their differences to work towards success. “Our rallies are drawing huge crowds,” he added.

Senior leaders like former deputy CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Surinder Singla, Jagmeet Brar are Manish Tewari were all canvassing in earnest.

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2 labourers booked for defacement
But no action against candidate
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Spanking Tom for Jerry's wrongdoing, the Division No. 1 police has booked two persons for defacing public property by pasting posters of an Independent candidate on the wall of Government High School in ward No. 35.

The accused Ajay Kumar and Chanderpal, both migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, respectively, were arrested while they were pasting posters of Ajay Walia in the middle of the night yesterday. A case under the Defacement of Public Property Act was registered against them. Later, they were released on bail.

There was, however, no case against those who had hired them to paste the posters. Even the candidate, whose posters were put up, was spared.

Division No.1 SHO Sandeep Wadhera said as per their investigations these persons were told to paste posters on the walls of private buildings but they started defacing a school’s property. So, action had to be taken against them.

Though only a single case was registered, the entire city has been defaced by overzealous candidates, who are not willing to spare an inch.

‘‘We are now allowing the candidates to put posters. We will not remove them till the elections are over. Till that time we would bear with the defacement,’’ said Kapil Bhatia, a resident. 

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Poll Games
Sandwiched between 2 women
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Imagine the plight of a man trapped between two women, one being his wife. Mamta, the wife of Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Congress councillor from Ward No. 49, is contesting as an Independent and is pitted against Congress candidate Manjot Kaur from the same ward, represented by Bharat continuously for 10 years.

This time he has been allotted Ward No. 54.

After Ward No. 49 was reserved for women, he wanted ticket for his wife. However, the party did not want to field his wife and allotted the ticket to Manjot Kaur.

Since Bharat represented this ward consecutively for two terms, he enjoys considerable clout here. Manjot Kaur apparently wanted to convey the message that it was she who had his full support and not his wife. She has been using his photographs on posters to drive home the point.

On the other hand, his wife Mamta feels it her right to use her husband's name and pictures in her campaign. They wanted to ensure that some family member could retain the family hold on the ward, an idea the party did not like.

On his part, Bharat is trying to keep a distance. Being preoccupied with his own campaign, seems to be of help. 

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Friend turns foe, kills man
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 5
Sukhdeep Singh (19), a conductor of a private bus and a resident of Kartar Pur village in Ludhiana district, was stabbed to death in his bed allegedly by a youth of Lehal village last night.

The sister of the deceased who tried to nab the accused was also injured in the incident.

He was allegedly stabbed to death by Harjinder Singh at about 11 pm last night. According to Rattan Singh Brar, DSP, Payal, Sukhdeep and Harjinder were friends for more than five years but for some unknown reason, their relationship had become strained.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the accused had assaulted the victim after scaling the wall of the house and entering the room where he was sleeping alone.

“Harjinder woke him up and stabbed his heart with a kirpan,” family members of the deceased told the police. Sukhdeep’s sister Kulwinder tried to nab him but was injured.

Investigations revealed that they had an altercation last evening and Harjinder had threatened to eliminate Sukhdeep. As they were friends, Sukhdeep ignored the threat and went to sleep in his room.

At least four persons, including a paternal uncle of the deceased, were at home at the time of the attack.

Though the cause of rivalry is not known, suspicion over illicit relations of the victim with a woman known to the accused is not ruled out. 

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Pre-poll, building bylaws go for a toss
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Violators of building bylaws are having a field day while the government machinery is “forced to sit tightlipped” as political leaders cannot afford to annoy voters in view of the civic poll.

A number of buildings coming up in the city are violating the bylaws blatantly but officials concerned cannot do anything as a “please-all’’ drive is under way.

Also, the city is witnessing pending work being done at a fast pace.

A house is coming up fast on a park in the Sarabha Nagar town planning scheme.

Officials admit that the construction was a stark violation, but say their hands were tied. “If we go to take action, we are told to go back. It is better not to do anything rather than face the ire of politicians,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

Several commercial buildings have come up in Ghumar Mandi. Owners have flouted the rules as a commercial building measuring 500 square yards is supposed to have parking space in the basement but many buildings do not have this provision.

Another building is coming up near DMC Hospital. Sources say that the site plan of the building has not been approved. Due to the elections, no action was being taken.

A demolition squad of the MC had gone to pull down a building on Vishawmitra road but had to come back following political pressure. An MLA, who was opposing violations before the Assembly elections, was said to be responsible for this.

The officials even said this particular encroachment was on the list of encroachments submitted to the high court some years ago and the court had directed the MC to take action.

Though the authorities say that the issue would be taken up after the elections, the violation might not be corrected as it is difficult to take action once a building is constructed. “Then we would be under fire from various quarters,” the officials say.

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  Sukhbir promises over Rs 5,000 cr to city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Close on the heels of the BJP promising to make Ludhiana like Shanghai, the acting president of the SAD, Sukhbir Badal, today promised over Rs 5,000 crore investment to Ludhiana in the next three years.

He also promised a metro rail, flyovers, an airport and massive infrastructure to make it look “world class”.

He addressed about 17 meetings all through the day. He told voters, “You formed your own government in the state, now you must have your own corporation for the overall, rather world-class development”.

He did not mention the aata-daal scheme during his speeches or at the press conference earlier during the day.

For the urban transportation he said, Rs 4,100 crore had been earmarked while over Rs 1,000 crore had been sanctioned for 100 per cent water supply to the city, besides a sewerage treatment plant. A sum of Rs 167 crore had been earmarked for slum development and Rs 140 crore for garbage disposal.

The Sahnewal airport was being upgraded and daily flights to Delhi and Mumbai would be started soon, he said.

Asked about the financial crunch being faced by the state, he remarked, “We know how to arrange finances and we do not need anybody’s advice.” 

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Congress jittery
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
While Congress candidates had to pay dearly for not performing well during the last Assembly poll, Congressmen in the city are jittery about their performance in the municipal corporation elections. All four Assembly seats in the urban areas of the city had gone to the SAD-BJP’s kitty during the February elections and non-performing bureaucrats were being blamed for the leaders’ poor show.

Though things have not changed much after the elections, the fact that residents might vote for the SAD-BJP alliance in the civic poll also is giving the Congress leadership sleepless nights.

Though they argue that as the SAD’s much hyped atta-dal scheme remained a non-starter, they are leaving no stone unturned to cash on it. All Congress candidates are repeating the same in their addresses to public.

The Congress leaders admit that they had accepted their defeat soon after the Assembly elections. But, the gap between two elections have given them plenty of time to recover.

‘‘They had garnered votes on the atta-dal issue. The poor, who go to cast their vote in numbers voted for them. But not any more. And if we talk about development it had not taken place during the new regime, ’’ claimed a senior Congress leader. The SAD-BJP leaders contest these claims. They say almost all roads were recarpeted and numerous other works were taken up within these months although they did not get much time.

To support them are people like office-bearers of the Traders and Property Owners Association, Feroze Gandhi Market, who have extended their support to the SAD-BJP. They claimed that the state of posh market remained such during the Congress regime that they wanted to elect the rivals this time.

‘‘Nobody listened to us during the Congress regime. We knocked at each door. Finally we had to take help from judiciary. And still they did not even take the High Court’s order seriously. We will give the SAD-BJP a chance and let us see if things change, ’’ said K.S. Monga, an office-bearer.

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PNB donates 15 PCs to college

Raikot, August 5
In an effort to contribute its share in area’s development the local branch of Punjab National Bank donated 15 computers to Swami Ganga Giri Janta College for Women. President of the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha Rajesh Sharma presided over the function and senior regional manager of the bank Isher Singh was the chief guest.

Secretary Rakesh Kumar thanked the financial institute for donating 15 computers for the computer 
laboratory. — OC

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Tough fight ahead for Mahila Cong chief
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
District Mahila Congress Committee president Usha Malhotra had to fight hard to get ticket from Ward No. 13. Initially, she had applied for Ward No. 14 which was allotted to former Mayor Nahar Singh Gill.

For Usha, the battle is far from over. She is pitted against two-time councillor, Sunita Aggarwal of the BJP in this ward that is reserved for women. She will face another opponent in Jaswinder Kaur Saini, a Congress rebel.

But that hardly deters her confidence. She says she knows the ward inside out as she had been working there for so many years. “I have lived with these people, shared their joys and sorrows for many years,” she claims.

“You know it better what a councillor gets, just an opportunity to serve the people in a better way,” she says, adding that she is aware of the problems of the people and knows how to get these solved.

Usha’s claims notwithstanding, Sunita Aggarwal will be a challenge. She has been serving as a councillor for the past 10 years. Last time she had got elected from Ward No. 16 which was a general ward. Winning elections, she says, is no big deal for her.

When she could win in 2002 when the Congress government was in power, she had all the reason to win now, 
she says.

“People are not that naive to vote for the party which is going to sit in the opposition for five years,” she says.

She ridicules Usha’s claims of knowing the ward and its people. She may have been in politics for long, but how long has she stayed in the ward, she asks.

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Rights body decries death penalty

Ludhiana, August 5
The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) has opposed the death penalty awarded by a Chandigarh court to Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh in the Beant Singh murder case, as execution violates the fundamental right of human to live.

IHRO chairperson D.S. Gill said: “It is a grave violation of fundamental rights (Article 21) enshrined in the Constitution and Articles 6 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party.”

Urging the government to take immediate steps to abolish the death penalty in the furtherance of the UN objective of ultimate abolition of capital punishment, he added that death penalty was being used to silence political resistance or eliminate opponents in a large number of countries. And for this purpose, laws such as TADA were used wherein fair trial was not possible. — TNS

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Shahi Imam favours SAD
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Shahi Imam of the local Jama Masjid and national president of the All-India Majlis Ahrar Islam Hind today urged local Muslims to vote for the SAD in municipal 
elections.

Addressing a press conference along with SAD’s acting president Sukhbir Badal, the Maulana said, immediately after coming to power the SAD had extended the shagun scheme to Muslim girls as well.

Besides this, he added, Badal had also promised to nominate one member in each of the grievances redressal committees and the district planning boards.

He said Badal had assured him that the Muslim youth would also be given government jobs. He pointed out, for the first time, the Muslims from all over the state had got representation in the state Haj Committee.

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SAD, BJP hijacking Cong agenda: Tewari
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Manish Tewari, secretary of the AICC, today said that the SAD-BJP alliance had forgotten its own issues and was trying to hijack the Congress agenda. Tewari, who has been camping here in connection with the elections, told The Tribune that the aata-dal scheme was thought of under the Jawahar Lal Nehru urban renewal mission. Also the idea of a greater Ludhiana area development authority had been conceived by the Congress.

“Have they ever spoken a single word about aata-dal? Instead, they are promising to change the face of Ludhiana. Earlier they would mention GLADA and JLNUR schemes freely in their speeches, but after somebody corrected them, they are now not mentioning them. They are just mentioning the amount to be spent under these schemes,” he pointed out.

He asked SAD-BJP alliance leaders to spell out when they would launch the subsidised aata-dal scheme. Although they had promised to launch it on August 15, everybody knows how serious they were, he said.

Tewari said he had apprehensions that the alliance government might misuse the official machinery, but the Congress cadres were prepared to meet the challenge. “If they think they can try foul means, they are mistakened,” he warned. 

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SAD, BJP may pay for atta-dal delay
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
The delay in providing subsidised “atta-dal” to the economically weaker sections of society in the state may weigh heavily against the ruling SAD-BJP alliance in the local municipal corporation elections.

Although the government has announced that the scheme will be launched from August 15, there is a lot of uncertainty as it has already been postponed on couple of occasions.

The success of the alliance in the Assembly elections has been largely attributed to the “atta-dal” scheme promised by the SAD during the campaign.

The scheme found a lot of appeal among the weaker sections of society, who are believed to have overwhelmingly voted for the alliance because of it.

Now, the Congress is using it as its trump card, alleging that the alliance had cheated people by seeking votes for a scheme that was never meant to be implemented.

Congress legislative party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had claimed that the government had no intention to implement the scheme on August 15, as it had no funds.

She pointed out that the state government had pleaded with the Centre for funds and these had been refused.

She said the government had advanced the elections since it knew it would be exposed as it would not be able to meet the August 15 deadline yet again.

However, SAD leader and chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda asserted that the scheme “would certainly be launched on August 15”.

He said it could not be launched for the time being due to the code of conduct. He alleged that the Congress was using propaganda against their alliance, as it had no other issue with which it could go to people.

About the delay, he pointed out that it was not an easy task to identify families that had to be provided with subsidised food grain. He assured that there would not be any dearth of funds for welfare schemes.

Moreover, he remarked that it was the dream project of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and he was doing everything to implement it on time “and it certainly would be”.

Dhanda’s assertions apart, people who are to benefit from this scheme are not sure about its implementation by August 15.

Since voting percentage of this section of the society (which is to benefit from this scheme) is usually high, this may prove damaging to the alliance prospects in the elections. Otherwise, the alliance had performed outstandingly well in the Assembly election, mainly for this scheme.

The alliance leaders are finding it difficult to convince people, who ask about the scheme, that it is “seriously and certainly” being implemented on August 15 itself and there will no further delay.

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Educationist Chokha Ram felicitated
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 5
Meritorious students of a large number of schools and distinguished personalities were felicitated at an installation ceremony of Swami Vivekanand branch of Bharat Vikas Parishad at M.G.M.N.Senior Secondary School here today.

Municipal council’s vice-president Jagwant Singh Jaggie and Hind Institute of Medial Science director Sunit Hind were guests of honour at the function presided over by Rakesh Sehgal.

Educationist Chokha Ram Kalra and freedom fighter Tek Chand Diwana were among others who were felicitated on the occasion. Students who had topped in Classe V, VIII and X examinations conducted by the PSEB were also felicitated. 

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Election duties leave many sulking
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Exempting women employees from duties in the forthcoming municipal corporation elections might have brought some cheer to those benefitting, but resentment is being expressed from various categories of employees and also residents.

In the 944 booths, over 4,000 employees from different state government departments have been put on duties. While the rehearsals took place yesterday and today, August 7 would also be spent in the process till the elections take place on August 8.

“The district administration has put over 90 per cent staff of the Ludhiana Central Cooperative Bank on election duties. Head office and most branches of the bank would remain closed during rehearsals and elections. Even yesterday, we were not able to withdraw or deposit money or conduct any other transactions,” complained residents of Sidhwan Bet.

Stating that banks function under the Negotiable Instruments Act and should not remain closed on any working day, the villagers also lodged a complaint with the RBI.

Condemning the DC, they said the authorities should have assigned duties proportionately.

A government employee resented the decision of not putting female staff on duty. “The very fact that women are given equal salaries means that they should be given equal duties too. Even last time during the Assembly elections, women were exempt. Why should male staff be made to do the duties? ” a government employee said.

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Employees want sundry expenses paid
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 5
Accusing the state government of infringing upon employee’s right to avail of various financial facilities according to the entitlement, the Food and Supply Ministerial Employees Union has urged higher authorities to impress upon treasury office functionaries to make payments of varied nature to employees concerned of their respective areas.

Payments of all types, except salaries and wages, had been withheld, alleged union leaders.

In a communique addressed to chief minister, finance minister and food and supply minister, union president Tarsem Lal Sharma, secretary Surinder Bhardwaj and functionary Manjit Singh have urged the higher authorities to lift “verbal ban” on the payment of bills of sundry nature to the employees of various government department including the state food and supply department.

Referring to information received from office-bearers of trade unions of various state government departments, the union leaders alleged that the administration had restricted payment of all types except salary and wages.

“What to talk of realisation of arrears and medical bills, the employees were not allowed to withdraw funds from their provident fund accounts.”

The leaders alleged that the government was trying to appease their vote bank at the cost of the rights of employees.

“On one hand the government is trying to appease certain sections of society by giving free electricity and water and implementing atta-daal scheme, on the other it was putting restrictions of payment of our dues,” rued the leaders, maintaining that thousands of families of the state government officials were suffering due the “verbal ban” on payment of arrears, medical bills and withdrawal of provident fund.

The leaders said they would launch a struggle in case the procedure was not regularised. 

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School toppers honoured
Our Correspondent

Doraha, August 5
Toppers of Government High School at Rampur village were honoured during the Gurdev Kaur Mangat Memorial Award ceremony organised on the school premises yesterday.

Harcharan Singh Mangat, who was the chief guest, congratulated the toppers, their parents and the school authorities.

Mandeep Singh of Class V, Kulwinder Kaur of Class VIII and Ramanjit Kaur of Class X, were awarded a cash prize along with mementos by the chief guest. Ramanjit Kaur had topped in her school for the third consecutive time.

Speaking on the occasion Surinder Rampuri, vice-president, Punjabi Writers Association (Rampur), said these awards were given every year to meritorious students in the memory of Gurdev Kaur Mangat. Head mistress Gurdeep Kaur read out the annual report of the school. Sarpanch of Rampur village Amar Singh, Harnek Rampuri, Chabeel Singh, Surjit Singh, and Baldev Singh were also present on the occasion.

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Letters
Vote for new face

Since 1992, the MC election are held every five years and the political parties try to adjust unwanted persons in the House.

Public is tired with the Congress, SAD and BJP as these parties have failed to stand by the promises they made at the time of election.

These parties made the city a slum, Mall Road has been converted into a commercial road while the residential colonies have been converted into commercial zones.

What is worse is that with more and more political clout in the MC House, municipal officers are never allowed to work impartially.

Now is the time for the voters to wake up and throw away the yoke of old folk and vote for new faces who are men/women of integrity and have the zeal to work for public. Only then, the city will grow.

Sher Singh, Gill road, Ludhiana

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Rationalise free power: Oswal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Local industry has urged the state government to rationalise subsidy on electricity to farmers. Pointing out that free power was leading to high wastage, industry said the benefit should be given only after duly considering various aspects.

“Farming sector should be given free power, but the same should be done rationally,” said S.P. Oswal of Vardhman Spinning and General Mills at a function organised by the Ludhiana Management Association here yesterday.

Oswal said rationalising the subsidy would make people use better equipment that saved the electricity and also help curb wastages. "Industry, for instance, happily gets energy audits done because it helps them save power. They want to save power as they are paying for it.”

Stating that the education sector was neglected, Oswal urged Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, who delivered a talk on 'Punjab on the path of progress-Issues and Challenges' to consider opening an university in the city.

“ Human resource is our advantage but when it comes to good education we are still lagging behind other states. It is time that the government set up a university in the city.”

Emphasising on better productivity, Oswal said the industry had on several occasions urged the government to convert the Labour department into labour and productivity department. "If we take care of productivity we would be able to emerge winners in highly-competitive economies today."

Industrialists also urged the Finance Minister to rationalise tax structure on various products like petroleum. "Due to high taxation petrol and a few other products in Punjab are more expensive here in comparison with other states. This renders us uncompetitive. The government should consider rationalising taxes,” and industrialist said.

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Industry resents free power to farmers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 5
Local industry representatives yesterday said that providing free power to farmers irrespective of farm size was unjust and was causing problems for other electricity consumers.

"The policy of giving free power to all farmers without taking into consideration their land holdings is not just. Such a benefit should be given only to those who deserve it," said Pradeep Wadhawan, secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers 
Association.

Stating that the industry was passing through a tough phase, Wadhawan said the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) should recommend a subsidy grant of Rs 1,023.4 crore from Punjab government instead of passing on the burden of losses of the electricity board on industrial consumers by increasing tariffs.

They said the PSEB should take steps to minimise its transmission and distribution losses and also reduce staff strength. "If the electricity board takes remedial measures to minimise these losses, there would be no need to raise tariffs and put undue burden on electricity consumers."

They said that any further increase in tariffs would only have an adverse impact on industry and could even result in closure of industrial units causing unemployment and hurting the economy of
the state.

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