L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



It’s sabotage: BJP leaders
 May surrender the post of senior deputy mayor
Disappointment over tally of just 13 seats
SAD votes were not transferred

Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
Things don’t seem to be going on smoothly for the SAD-BJP coalition in Ludhiana at least. The BJP leadership believes that the poor show by party candidates in the recently held MC elections was not for want of support from people, but due to betrayal by its own coalition partner, the SAD.

The party is even thinking of not sharing power with the SAD and may even surrender the post of the senior deputy mayor, that it is likely to get in the power-sharing agreement. Senior BJP leaders, including some ministers, met here informally today to chalk out the future course of action on the issue.

Senior BJP leaders told The Tribune that after reviewing the performance of the candidates and going into the details, it had been found that the party candidates had lost because of the "indifference, hostility and betrayal" by SAD leaders everywhere. They pointed out that in most of the wards where the alliance had performed extraordinarily well during the Assembly elections, the BJP contestants were "made
to lose".

The BJP leaders said, the tally of just 13 seats in Ludhiana is certainly disappointing for the party. But it is equally bad for the alliance. They pointed out that the SAD could win 24 out of 38 wards it contested. "They wanted to weaken us in our home turf, the urban areas, and they seem to have succeeded", remarked the party leaders.

They regretted that the SAD legislators tried to ensure that most of the BJP candidates in the wards falling in their constituencies had lost. They claimed, while the entire BJP vote was transferred to SAD, not many Akali votes were transferred to the BJP. "Rather there was an attempt to sabotage the chances of the winning candidates", they alleged, while listing examples of several wards.

The BJP leaders pointed out, the SAD did not expel even a single rebel. "The message was too clear and loud to contest against the BJP candidates", the BJP leaders rued, while adding that senior party leaders offered every sort of support, like moral, financial and official to all those rebels who were in some position to damage the prospects of the party candidates.

The BJP leadership is terribly upset that despite there being the alliance government, it could raise its tally only from 11 to 13. They remarked, "in the hindsight we feel the Congress was better than the SAD, because they never did what Akalis have done, sabotaging the prospects of their own partners". In the previous House the BJP had won 10 wards and one Independent had joined the party after elections. At that time the party had contested from 35 wards only, while now it contested from 37.

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Defeated candidate spews venom on minister Gabria
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
Bhupinder Kaur, the BJP nominee from Ward Number 1, today vent ire on the minister for jails, tourism, cultural affairs, printing and stationery, Hira Singh Gabria, holding him responsible for her defeat from the ward.

Bhupinder Kaur said Gabria and his supporters had worked against the coalition candidate and instead supported Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate, Ranjit Kaur Sibia, who won eventually.

Demanding that Gabria should be expelled from the Cabinet for working against the party high command's wishes.

“Gabria did not like that the ward was left for me. He wanted another candidate but when he could not have his way, he asked his supporters to work against me and the BJP-SAD alliance’’, she said.

She also alleged that during the Assembly elections just a few months ago, the SAD-BJP had registered a big lead over other candidates from her ward but this time their candidate was defeated.

She accused Gabria of trying to make Ranjit Kaur join the SAD in the MC House and added that she had even complained against him to the acting president of SAD, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, BJP state president, Rajinder Bhandari and BJP district president, Subhash Verma.

She also demanded that Sibia should not be allowed to join SAD. Gabria, however, denied all allegations levelled by her. He said he had campaigned for Bhupinder Kaur in the elections respecting the party's decision.

‘‘I addressed all her rallies whenever she invited me. How can she accuse me of working against her. In fact all my supporters worked for her,’’ he said adding that she herself was a weak candidate and belonged to other ward. Nobody knew her in the area.

About her demand for expelling him from the Cabinet, Gabria said she had no right to make such a demand. 

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Master Plan
Farmers to wait and watch
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The farming community in the district is perturbed over the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s decision of including 300 villages in the recently adopted master plan of Ludhiana. Though the farmers have adopted a wait and watch policy for the time being, they are adamant to go on a struggle if injustice is done to the community. The leaders feel that the government’s priority should be to watch the interests of the farmers.

Reacting to the state government’s notification on the master plan, Balbir Singh Rajjewal, general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), made it clear that if the government acquired the lands of the farmers they would resort to an agitation. He said the farmers had no problem if the government took up the development work of these villages but as far as selling the land was concerned, it would be the sole right of the landlord (the farmer).

He said the government took the land for Rs 5 lakh and sold the same for more than a crore. “We will never tolerate this injustice. It is in initial stage. Till now, they have come up with the decision of including 300 villages in the master plan. We have not received further information about the plan or development projects”, he added.

Hardev Singh, another farmer of Jhamat village on the Ferozpur Road, near Thrike, said earlier too various governments had fooled the farmers. “The government come up with the idea of initiating industries and acquire land, but after some years the land is sold to big corporates for vested interest. And farmers remain a mute spectator”, said Hardev Singh. He added that the farmers should be given 50 per cent rehabilitation allowance in case industrial projects were proposed.

A property dealer in the area said the property prices would come down in case restrictions were imposed on construction in the villages. It may be mentioned that development works, particularly construction, were haphazard and unregulated in the area.

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Ward 46
407 votes polled; counting withheld
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
Repolling in booth no. 12 of Ward 46 here today seemed reduced to a farce. Whereas only 407 voters cast their vote, SAD candidate Surjit Kaur is already “leading with 513 votes.”

The Surjit Kaur camp celebrated her “victory” even though the counting could not be held on account of the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

According to Additional Deputy Commissioner Priyank Bharti, the counting and results would be declared after the court directed the administration to do so.

He said it had been ordered that only repolling should be undertaken at this juncture.The next course would be decided later. The court had directed that the repoll be held in booth no. 9 alone instead of the entire ward, as ordered by the state election commission earlier.

SAD candidate Surjit Kaur had challenged this order. In her petition, she had claimed that repoll in the entire ward was not required as only one EVM had developed a snag.

All voters were not happy at the repoll. Some termed it as a waste of time. However, a few said they would do “anything for democracy.” The residents said today's exercise would have made no difference to Surjit Kaur as even if no vote had been polled in her favour today, she would still have been the winner. 

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Four cops held for extortion
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
Four cops were arrested late last evening on the charges of extorting money from truck drivers at a check post near Laddowal on Ludhiana-Jalandhar stretch of National Highway No 1. They were taking Rs 20 to 50 per truck.

With their arrest, the number of cops facing charges of corruption has reached six in less than a fortnight. Earlier, senior officials had taken action against two ASIs for alleged corruption.

An Akali Dal MLA had allegedly saw the four cops “in action” and reported the matter to the SSP R.K Jaiswal The cops, identified as Darshan Singh, Jabir Singh, Jaspal Singh and Darshan, all constables, were allegedly forcibly taking money from the drivers after threatening to book them in false cases or delay their journey.

Police sources said a truck driver, Surjit Singh, also lodged  a written complaint when a senior official nabbed the cops. They have been booked under various sections of the IPC besides the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In other cases, a police inquiry had even recommended dismissal from service for an accused cop, ASI Balwinder Saini, after it was established that he gave a car to a group of thieves who later struck at an under-construction factory. SP (City-II) Harish Kumar revealed that the police was writing to the DGP, Punjab, for dismissing the accused cop from service.

Another Punjab Police SI, posted as in-charge of a police post, was put behind bars in the last week of July in the police station where he worked after being booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly taking bribe of Rs 15,000. The accused cop, Tarlochan Singh, former in charge of Basant Park police post, had allegedly taken the money from Pankaj Verma, a resident of Street No 17, Shimla Puri, for releasing him from illegal detention.

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MC Labour Lost
Recarpeted, gone in 15 days
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
A fortnight after Shri Aggarsain Marg near Raikhy cinema was recarpeted under the ‘‘please all’’ drive just before municipal elections, the upper layer of the road has disappeared at several places pointing toward inferior quality material being used in the recarpeting.

The road was recarpeted in a hurry just before the elections. But the road developed potholes soon after the elections. The residents of the area are now seeing red.

They said the upper layer of the road had washed away during the last two-three rains as it was not levelled properly and rainwater could not be drained by storm sewerage. Allegations of poor quality material being used also surfaced as the residents said bitumen could not bind concrete.

A visit to the place revealed that the road was in a bad state. The upper layer had worn out and gravels were lying on the road.

‘‘If it rains once more, there would be no remains of the road. This is really shocking. Is there any check on the working of the contractors?’’ asked a resident.

The newly elected councillor of the area, Parminder Mehta, has demanded an inquiry into the erosion of the road. In a letter to the commissioner, he said the road material should be collected from the place, its quality be checked and the contractor penalised as public money had been wasted.

As per the rules, every recarpeted road should last for at least three years. The municipal corporation could not release any money before this period of time for redoing the same road. As this road had lasted only a few days what would the residents do now? asked Mehta.

‘‘Within a fortnight the road has worn out. Now, they would have to redo it. Whose money is being wasted?’’ he asked.

‘‘I will not rest till an action is taken against the contractor concerned. I also demand that all public woks done in my ward should be completed in a transparent manner.”

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Ludhiana Calling

Viruses are no longer restricted to computers. A lot of city residents are complaining of viruses hitting their mobile handsets. The result is software, in most cases that of text messages, getting corrupt. The virus comes through a text message from a strange number. The recipient then continues getting messages in large numbers. In most cases only after the receiver switches a set off that the messages stop coming. Technology, after all, does not only have boons!

Political efforts

Politicians and corruption, they say, go hand in hand. What does one say when these very politicians make all efforts to rouse people’s emotions by playing patriotic songs on their campaign vehicles? “That is the easiest way to fool people,” an irked resident commented.

Lifestyle blues

If you are still far away from middle age but are already feeling that your memory is fast giving away, then you are not alone. Thanks to fast paced lifestyles, leading to increased stress levels, such problems have become quite common. An employee of private insurance company said due to heavy work pressures, he had begun forgetting names of his clients too. Now unable to meet targets, he is trying hands at all techniques that can help curb stress!

Crossing fingers

Ludhianvis might not have their full share of rains due to a comparatively drier spell this year, there is no escape from the seasonal diseases. A large number of people have fallen prey to viral fever, gastroenteritis and eye flu also. Residents are now keeping their fingers crossed that they are spared of dengue fever, that spreads in this season every year.

Getting popular

Opening up of organised vegetable retail sector has seen the residents lapping up the idea with gusto. Sick of being dependent on kiosks, they have taken fancy to the outlets selling vegetables. While all this has the rehriwallas fuming, the residents are a happy lot as the middleman’s share has been transferred to their kitty as the goods are pocket friendly.

Cruelty

If plight of animals in the city is anything to go by, this industrial town is grossly short of animal lovers. Overloaded carts are a case in point. On the the road near Domoria Bridge horses being cruelly treated their inability to maintain their pace on the slanted road is a common scene. The poor animal, that one side carries heavy burden while the other is beaten by the cart rider, makes hard attempts to drag itself. Wish animal lovers came forward to save the mute ones.

Pain in the neck

As the MC elections are over and all hulabaloo has come to an end the residents have heaved a sigh of relief. Otherwise the candidates had left no stone unturned to get their candidature registered. The campaigning had witnessed such a steep rise this time that there was total chaos on the roads. No wonder that the commoners have started taking elections as a pain in the neck.

— Sentinel

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Democracy pride, corruption national shame: poll
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) today expressed its happiness over the verdict of Indian people who have said the Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh carnage of 1984 were a slur on the face of India.

The opinion poll across he country was conducted by a news channel for programme - India at 60.

IHRO chairperson D.S. Gill said the people in general were always right, it was the power that we should blame and accuse of such genocide and political blunders.

“We also appreciate the pollsters that have ranked the riots after Partition, the Babri Masjid demolition and the imposition of Emergency in the mid-1970s in that order and other political blunders for which the politicians of those days are to be cursed,” he said.

Terming Indian democracy as the national pride and rampant corruption as its worst shame, the pollsters found that secularism and judiciary, besides other things, were the basis of India’s achievements.

The personalities in the list of icons were Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, besides some others.

Unfortunately, the personalities projected by the managers of the opinion poll did not match with other factors and events mentioned in the poll, he added. 

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Diarrhoea deaths: MC president’s resignation sought
Our Correspondent

Mohali, August 12
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Jasjit Singh has demanded the resignation of president of the Mohali Municipal Council, Rajinder Singh Rana, for his alleged failure in providing sanitary conditions in the Shahimajra village, which resulted in the death of two siblings there.

Jasjit Singh, while visiting the village, said the conditions of the village were insanitary and the drinking water there was unsafe for consumption.

He said children had died due to diarrhoea at Madanpur village also but the council had failed to get its act together even after that.

He said the council president could have taken the steps to get Shahimajra and other villages cleaned after those diarrhoea deaths but he did not take responsibility.

The sanitation contractor was given a warning to clean the area in two days after the village lost two children. He said if timely action was not taken the disease might spread to other areas as well. He said he would try to persuade the government to give compensation to the family which had lost two 
children. 

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Move to demolish Ram Setu
VHP activists stage protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
Hundreds of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists today staged a demonstration against the Central government’s move to clear the Palk Straits of Ram Setu. The VHP activists alleged that the Central government was hurting the sentiments of the Hindus across the world for whom the Ram Setu remains a holy relic.

The governments of India and Sri Lanka have agreed to clear the Palk Straits of the rocks that formed the legendary bridge between India and Sri Lanka. It is believed that Lord Rama had got it constructed to reach Lanka during his war with Ravana.

The VHP leaders alleged that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was being pressured by the Left parties to demolish one of the ancient symbols of Hindu culture, which was thousands of years old.

They pointed out that the Central government launched a sustained campaign for Taj Mahal to ensure its place in the seven wonders of the world and that too for an unrecognised body.

But instead of preserving the Hindu symbols, the government seemed to be keen on demolishing them. 

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PCCTU plans protest on Teachers’ Day
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana August 12
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has announced the launch of an agitation in the next few days. At a meeting of the office-bearers of the union held here today under the presidentship of Prof S.S Hundal, it was decided to observe Teachers' Day as protest day when teachers will hold a massive rally in Chandigarh. The teachers will also court-arrest that day.

Dr Kuldeep Singh, general secretary of PCCTU, warned the government that court arrest of teachers in groups will continue from September 5 till the time their demands are accepted. The union will also seek cooperation from other non-government employees union, principals’ federation and teacher unions of aided schools.

Initially, university-wise rallies will be organised. The first rally will be held on August 22 in Patiala. Teachers working in colleges affiliated to Punjabi University, Patiala, will participate in this rally. Teachers working in colleges affiliated to GNDU, Amritsar, will hold second protest rally on August 25 in Amritsar. The teachers of Panjab University will hold a rally at Ludhiana on August 29. Teachers of one university will hold rally while teachers of colleges affiliated to other two universities will observe a two-period strike and stage dharnas in front of office of principal in their respective colleges.

College teachers have been struggling for the acceptance of their demands since long. Dr Kuldeep Singh said they had already submitted a memorandum regarding their demands to education minister, education secretary and DPI Colleges on June 6 but no official response had been received till date.

"In its election manifesto, the ruling Akali-BJP Alliance had promised to fulfil the basic demands of teachers like pension and gratuity, 95 per cent grant-in-aid, lifting of ban on recruitment and leave encashment etc. But the alliance government had not only failed to keep its poll promises but it had further reduced the grant-in-aid scheme worth Rs 26 crore in the recent budget", alleged Kuldeep Singh.

The members further added that Punjab was the only state among the top 20 states of India which was not giving the benefit of pension, gratuity to college teachers working in non-government colleges. The pension scheme was already cleared by the Badal government on December 12, 2001, said teachers.

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Fear of cancer haunts Khamano residents
Gurminder Singh Grewal

Khamano, August 12
Four deaths in just a week due to cancer in Khamano town has created panic among the residents here. About fifteen patients of Khamano, village Ranwan and some other villages are suffering from this deadly disease.

Although there have been a large number of deaths in and around Khamano, since a year but deaths in a row has sent a shock wave in the town.

A lady in ward no. 3, a lady and a man in ward no. 2 and man in ward no. 5 have lost their lives in a past one week due to cancer.

There is no cancer specialist or private hospital here. Surprisingly there are no permanent doctors at the Civil Hospital, Khamano.

The cancer patients are at present being treated by the only single permanent doctor along with some doctors and staff who are on ad hoc basis.

There is no sufficient awareness about it and the patients often goes here and there in most of the cases and dies in few months.

According to sources, more than fifteen persons of Khamano, Ranwan village and some adjoining villages are suffering from this disease and they are forced to buy costly medicines.

Family members of dead person due to cancer said they spent more than one lakh rupees to cure the patient in last two months. When CMO, Fatehgarh Sahib, Dr Sidhu was contacted in this regard he expressed his ignorance about it. He said, “I will constitute a special team for survey in the town if specific cases come to my knowledge and we will try to inquire about the reasons of this disease in the area.”

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Letters
Aren’t we capable?

Your paper some time back wrote on the appointment of vice chancellor (VC), PAU from USA and incoming of S.S. Sandhu, IAS from Uttarakhand cadre. The paper highlighted the outstanding work, experience and him being a visionary. It is important to note that under what circumstances the PAU, VC Aulakh, was dispatched and many aspiring candidates for the post were sidelined. This reflects that in India there is no one competent enough to hold the position of vice chancellor of PAU Ludhiana. After that S.S. Gandhi, former commissioner of MC, Ludhiana was requested to come to Punjab.

Projects under taken by him were elevated road and flyover bridges for this city. In Jan to Feb 1999 I complained to the commissioner Municipal Cooperation to get the illegal wall behind my house demolished. He did not take any action. I think that IAS and PCS officials listen to political and influential people. Do we lack capability that we invite people from outside to hold posts?

Sher Singh, Ludhiana

Readers are invited to mail letters (not more than 200 words) at "ludhiana@tribunemail.com" or post the same to The Tribune, 1, 2 Improvement Trust Building, Badaur House, Clock Tower, Ludhiana.

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2 booked for bid to cheat youth of Rs 10 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
The Model Town police has booked a local resident and another person for allegedly attempting to cheat a youth by offering him a role in a film at the payment of Rs 10 lakh.

According to the police Gulshan Kumar lodged a complaint alleging that the accused not only tried to cheat him but also threatened him.

The police has identified one of the accused as Gurwinder Singh. The cops are conducting raids to nab him and his accomplice.

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