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Jage Re!
65 pc keep date with democracy
Turnout highest in 20 yrs; 71 pc in Dadu Majra
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Cocking a snook at the dismal voter turnout in the metros, about 65 per cent voters in the Chandigarh parliamentary constituency kept their date with democracy breaking a 20-year record in a largely-peaceful poll. The previous highest turnout was 66 per cent in 1984 general elections.

The fate of three major contenders Pawan Bansal (Congress), Satya Pal Jain (BJP) and Harmohan Dhawan (BSP), besides 11 other candidates, was sealed in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) by 3,39,140 voters (1,89,161 males and 1,49,979 females) out of a total of 5,22,650 voters. The jump in the voters’ turnout from a mere 52 per cent to 65 per cent this time is credited to an increased awareness among the people about the right to vote in the city, particularly in urban areas, officials said.

The voting commenced on a brisk note at 7 a.m. with almost one-fourth (120,782) voters exercising their right to vote in the first two hours. And by 11 a.m. almost 40 per cent of the city voters comprising 2,06,173 voters cast their votes.

A visit to the different polling stations revealed that voters, particularly young voters, turned in large numbers to cast their votes. The actual voting was preceded by mock poll in which 12 EVMs at various polling stations were found to be not fully functional due to low batteries. In fact, two of the EVMs allegedly developed a technical snag in Sector 22 sending poll officials in a tizzy.

Serpentine queues were witnessed at several places in the urban areas, colonies and villages. There were also reports of activists of various political parties ferrying voters to the polling stations and trying to influence the voters and resorting to impersonation.

Terming the polling as a "resounding success" chief electoral officer (CEO) Pradip Mehra thanked the electorate, polling staff and security forces for the "incident-free" voting which was one of the highest in the city's electoral history.

Even as several cases of minor altercations over bogus voting were reported between Congress and BJP activists, Bansal, Jain and Dhawan visited different polling stations to take a stock of the situation.

The polling was preceded by a high-pitched campaign launched by the major political parties with allegations and counter-allegation ruling the roost. While Bansal is seeking votes on development plank and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jain and Dhawan had made the anti-incumbency and failure of Bansal and UPA government on all fronts as major poll issues.

Given the importance of the lone seat, star campaigners of different parties, including AICC president Sonia Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati, RJD chief Lalu Yadav, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav and BJP general secretaries Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

Meanwhile, the EVMs have been stored at the four counting Government College for Girls, Sector 42,Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26, Government College, Sector 46, and Government College, Sector 11, and amid tight security.The counting will take place on May 16.

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Yet many denied chance to vote
Judges, VC, ex-Chief Secy return disappointed

GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Strange but true! Thousands of local residents, including former Punjab Chief Secretary Rajan Kashyap, High Court judges, Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rajan Gupta, Panjab University Vice-Chancellor RK Sobti and renowned painter RM Singh, could not exercise their right to vote today despite having photo identity card.

Reason: Their names were not present on the voter list.

Ironically, most of the affected residents, have been living in the city for the past over 30 years, were found to be approaching one official to another holding the “sacred” photo identity card issued.

Pradeep Mehra, Chief Electoral Officer, when apprised of this lapse, said, “This was not a phenomenon related to Chandigarh only. It was for all over the country. In the next 10 days, we will scrutinise the lapses.

Questions are being raised on the authenticity of the voter card.

“It’s ridiculous!”, remarked Rajan Kashyap, at present on board of various institutions and chairperson, CLTA. He has been a resident of Chandigarh since 1979 in Sector 10. He and his wife Meena, son Anurag and daughter-in-law Deepika, were deprieved of casting their vote.

“Only my gardener and cook were lucky enough to enjoy the privilege of voting their favourites. But it was very disappointing moment for me and my family”, said Kashyap.

Equally dejected was RM Singh, the renowned painter, who was honoured by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vice-President MH Ansari for his famous canvas of Prof Gurmukh Singh Musaffir, hanging in the Lok Sabha. Singh has been living in the city since 84 but today polling agents sent him back. “Despite having valid voter card, I was not allowed to vote. This seems to be a deliberate attempt, otherwise what was the need to temper with the original list as I have been casting votes earlier also on the same card”, he said.

Ex-Major BM Singh, a resident of Sector 9, has been living here for the past 37 years. While reaching the polling station he found that the names of his family members were missing from the voter list.

“We are around 20 members, including my domestic helpers, living in this house having valid photo voter cards. To my surprise, the voter list showed just two votes, that too were of our old staff members, who had quit us long ago. This implies that 20 members living in the house do not exist anywhere in the government’s records”, said BM Singh.

Over 25 members of HIG flats in Sector 45-A had to return without exercising vote. “We have been living here since 89 and voted in the past on this card, but this time they refused to recognise this card,” said AK Pahuja, standing outside polling station along with his neighbours Anil Sareen and BL Khanna, who also met the same fate.

Another group of doctors at the PGI were also denied the right to vote on same grounds. Dr Uttam Mete told that except for two flats, all doctors and their families living in other 22 flats were ignored by electoral officials.

Dr GS Sidhu, a 78-year-old Asian gold medallist in masters athletics, along with his wife and children, living in Sector 35-C since 83, too reached the polling station only to know that they were not valid to vote on same grounds.

Those who could not vote:

Narbir Singh, Madhu Sudan Sharma, Dr Sujata Grover, Dr Rishabh Grover, K Walia, Vinod Nanda, Shashi Nanda, Dr Ashok Saini, Dr Abha Saini, KS Brar, Yogeeta Brar, Col JB Singh, Brig RS Gill, NK Nanda, Navneet Gill, Kanya Mukhopaday, Dr Prashant, Jai Kumar, Darshan Kumar, Dr Rajinder Singh, Dr Meena Singh, Mohanbir Singh, Amanbir Singh, Nupun Singh, Vandana Singh, Kiran Singh, Mohini Singh, Dharam Singh, Shiv Ram, Tabi Ram, Shravan Kumar and Lalit Bhatia.

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Brawl between BJP, Cong supporters
BJP activists stage dharna at SSP’s residence
Ramanjit S Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Several BJP supporters staged a dharna at the residence of SSP Sudhanshu Shrivastava in Sector 24 late tonight. They were protesting against the registration of a criminal case against a party activist, who was allegedly involved in an altercation with Congress workers at Dadu Majra Colony during polling today.

The altercation, allegedly between BJP workers led by Narinder Chaudhary and Congress activists, including Bansarsi Das, husband of Mayor Kamlesh, and Ram Sarup, was perhaps the lone incident that happened during polling in the city.

The protesters, led by BJP leader Mukeh Mittal, alleged that everything happened on the behest of Pawan Kumar Bansal and Mayor Kamlesh.

After protesting for about half an hour, the agitating BJP workers were dispersed by cops after SHO and the SSP assured the protesters that the FIR lodged against Narinder Chauhdhray would be cancelled tomorrow.

According to police sources, the incident took place at Dadu Majra Colony after the polling this evening.

Sources said Narinder Chaudhary, a BJP activist manhandled Congress party agent Ram Sarup and dragged him out of the polling booth. He, along with his supporters, slapped Ram Sarup and also pushed a police constable Sube Singh.

The police registered a case against Chaudhary and others on a complaint lodged by Sube Singh. The accused, claimed the police, managed to give them the slip during the melee.

However, late in the evening, the police booked Chaudhary and seven others for assaulting a Congress agent.

Barring a few incidents of minor altercations and group clashes, polling passed off peacefully in the city.

Incidents of raising slogans, heated arguments, manhandling and minor clashes were reported from Mani Majra, Ram Darbar, Bapu Dham Colony and Colony No 5.

The police said the polling passed off peacefully in the city and no electionrelated incidents of violence reported from any part of the city. The SHO of the Industrial Area police station Yashpal Vinayak said Congress activist Shashi Shanker Tiwari and BSP activist Hari Shanker Mishra along with their supporters came face to face while campaigning in the colony. Both Tiwari and Mishra were members of the BJP and had parted ways and joined different parties. They had a heated debate, which turned violent when supporters on both the sides took out swords and attacked each other. Around four persons sustained minor injuries. The timely intervention by the police averted the clash from turning violent.

The police initiated preventive action against them under Sections 107 and 150 of the CrPC.

The police said 2,724 police personnel and paramilitary forces were deployed in the city for the polls besides 12 DSPs, 30 inspectors, 225 non-gazetted officers, 504 head constables, 1,055 Constables, 446 home guard volunteers and 204 lady police personnel were also deployed.

Additionally, one company of CRPF, a company of RPF, two companies of Haryana Armed Police and Punjab Police Commandos were also deployed. The senior police officials, including the IG, SSP and SP (Traffic and Security) were seen making rounds to monitor the law and order situation.

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65 pc vote in Kharar, 63 pc Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 13
Keeping their date with the democracy, participation by the youth voters today resulted in high percentage of polling in the Mohali and Kharar segments of the Anandpur Sahib parliamentary seat. While, 65 per cent polling was recorded in the Kharar Vidhan Sabha segment, 63 per cent polling was reported from the SAS Nagar assembly segment.

The enthusiasm in the rural areas was comparatively more as compared to the urban area. Unmindful of the political affiliations, a number of rural voters admitted their liking for Dr Manmohan Singh.

Barring stray incidents of heating arguments between workers of SAD and the Congress, the polling was by and large peaceful. A large number of complaints poured in from Mohali wherein voters complained that despite the voter I cards they were not allowed to cast their votes.

At the polling station in Ajit Karam Singh School, the lunch break of the polling staff extended beyond half an hour, resulting in a long queue of voters. “The polling staff should have lunch in parts so that voters were not harassed”, said Balwinder Singh, a resident of Phase IX.

In Phase 11, heated arguments took place between Akali workers with one of them alleging that supporters of Capt Kanwaljit Singh were not allowed to come forward in managing the affairs.

At a number of polling stations in Mohali and surrounding villages, block level officers and micro officials lamented that no tea and food were served to them despite being told. While the officials in the urban areas were left to fend for themselves, their counterparts were taken care by the village panchayats. In Kambala, Bakarpur, Bari, Siau, Dairi and Landhran, around 50 per cent polling had been recorded till 1 pm.

Congress MLA Balbir Sidhu claimed that to disturb the peaceful polling, the Students Organisation of India (SOI) had reached the city. Election observer and the police intervened to check the movement of SOI state president Raju Khanna after the Congress complained to the election staff.

While Khanna managed to escape, a few of his supporters were apprehended and their vehicles were intercepted. Sources said the Akali leadership was upset with certain Akali leaders for not working with party candidate Daljit Singh Cheema.

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EC rules fail to enter Burail jail
Inmates deprived of voting rights

Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Contesting elections from jail may seem easier than casting votes. While criminals-turned-politicians are known to have contested and even won polls while behind the bars, there seems to be no precedence of prisoners exercising their right to vote at least in Chandigarh.

As per Election Commission rules, prisoners are entitled to cast their vote through postal ballot but, like before, no undertrial or convict, lodged in model jail, Burail, got a chance to participate in the process to elect the candidate for the 16th Lok Sabha this time.

Sources in the jail told TNS that no arrangement was made in anticipation of the jail authorities’ “belief” that no one among the 525 inmates would approach them seeking facility of casting vote. They added that the Burail jail had no history of any inmate ever approaching the authorities to exercise his or her franchise.

Meanwhile, citing the precedent prevailing in other jails in the neighbouring states, an officer said the issue was discussed with their counterparts, but none had any clue about making such arrangements. In the wake of absence of any such practice, the jail authorities had no such system or procedure in place to arrange for postal ballots for the inmates.

However, as per records, around 50 inmates lodged in district jail at Ambphalla cast their votes for the Jammu constituency in the first phase of parliamentary elections on April 16.

Talking to TNS, Additional Inspector-General of Prisons Navjot Singh Randhawa said out of the 525 inmates, 12 belonged to the city while a large number of inmates were migrant people from other states, particularly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

He added that they had also found that none of the city residents lodged in the jail had his name on the voting lists or had a voter’s identity card issued in his or her name.

“One can contest elections while being in the jail and become a legislator, but cannot exercise his franchise from the jail. The inmates are deprived of their right to vote in the absence of any efforts made by the authorities to facilitate the inmates to cast their votes through the postal ballots”, lamented a relative of an inmate.

Hargunjit Kaur, assistant returning officer, stated that the election department got “nil report” from the IG, Prisons, regarding any application for postal ballot facility for inmates. She, however, confirmed that as per the Election Commission rules, the inmates had a voting right and could cast their vote through the postal ballots.

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Urban areas lead from front
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
In a clear departure from the past, urban Chandigarh led from the front in voting for electing its representative from the city.

In fact, the "Jago Re" and other campaigns exhorting people to vote seem to have struck a chord with urban voters of the Chandigarh parliamentary constituency with an impressive over 60 per cent urbanites turning out to vote in the sultry weather.

In a healthy sign for the democracy, enthusiastic first-time voters added "glamour" to voting turning out in large numbers to make a difference to the country's governance.

It was a steady flow of voters at almost all polling booths in the city with serpentine queues being witnessed.

The North-South divide was apparently blurred with voters of the affluent Northern sectors rising to the occasion and doing their bit for the formation of the next government at the Centre.

A random survey of the northern sectors, including Sector 4, 7,8,9,10,11,16,21, and 22, revealed that the educated voters thronged the polling booths to cast their right to franchise. The youth obviously formed the substantial part of those exercising their right to vote.

"It is better to vote than lament the state-of-affairs afterwards," quipped Amit, a first-timer, adding that he was inspired by the "Jago Re" campaign to vote.

"The impressive turnout is the result of the sustained campaign launched by the NGOs and government agencies to make the people aware about their democratic rights," MPS Chawla of the Chandigarh Citizens Council, which launched an awareness campaign in favour of voting, said.

In fact, in certain sectors, it was a "family responsibility" with the entire families thronging the venues to cast their votes. Help seemed to be at hand with poll managers of different political parties handing over the voting slips to the voters.

The helpful and smiling poll and security staff made voters' brush with democracy a pleasant experience. On their part, the voters, particularly the young, exhibited patience and civic sense and waited for their turns in the long queues at some of the polling stations.

A sense of camaraderie prevailed among activists of various political parties with the activists sharing notes on the current political scenario and sinning potential of the contesting candidates.

Political acitivists seem to be enthused by the large turnout. In fact, major candidates, including Pawan Bansal (Congress), Satya Pal Jain(BJP) and Harmohan Dhawan (BSP), had repeatedly urged the voters to vote.

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Rural voters not far behind
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
It was the day of mandate. And residents of the city came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.

After months of rigorous campaigning by various parties, city residents did justice to their hard work and left the comfort of their homes to vote for the next Member of Parliament.

Surprisingly, while urban voters trickled in throughout the day to cast their ballot, village and colony residents in and around the city turned out in large numbers.

Surprisingly, womenfolk outnumbered their male counterparts in the rural areas of the city.

The setting in almost all colonies and villages was like a fair with with tents pitched by parties lining up the streets on both sides.

Party workers not only helped residents find their names in the voters’ list and guide them to the polling station but also asked voters to press the button in front of their candidate’s name.

So much so that it was a virtual “number war” as party workers from opposite camps shouted the button number of their respective candidates on EVMs.

While Congress workers asked people to press “Ek number”, BJP workers urged voters to opt for “Do number”.

While children did not have the right to vote, their enthusiasm was nonetheless different as they wore party caps, waved party flags and even carried pamphlets of various candidates.

Polling stations at Mauli Jagran, Hallo Majra, Ram Darbar (Phases I and II), Palsora and colony Nos. 4 and 5 saw serpentine queues since morning and the situation remained so throughout the day.

A visit to polling stations in the periphery revealed the zeal among colony dwellers as some waited for their turn for more than two hours unmindful of the sweltering heat.

At Mauli Jagran women turned out in large numbers to vote.

“I came at 9 and am still waiting for my turn even after one and half hours,” said 40-year-old Santo Devi, who carried a toddler kid in her lap.

There were others at Vikas Nagar in Mauli Jagran, who waited for their turn for over an hour and did not leave their place even for water.

While at Ram Darbar around 40 per cent polling was recorded before noon, at Mauli Jagran it was nearly 45 per cent.

The situation was no different at colony Nos. 4 and 5, Palsora and others.

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High turnout opens up contest
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

  • It is vote for UPA’s performance
    — Pawan Bansal
  • This vote is for change — SP Jain
  • High voting percentage will favour the BSP — Harmohan Dhawan

Chandigarh, May 13
It is a close call in Chandigarh. The high voting percentage of around 65 per cent in the Chandigarh parliamentary constituency has turned the contest into a neck-and-neck fight between the archrivals Congress and BJP, even as the contestants make claims and counter-claims. With people turning out in large numbers to vote in today’s elections, it is anybody’s game at the hustings with the BSP and RJD factor emerging as a crucial one.

In fact, this is in sharp contrast to the 2004 general election when Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal had a virtual walkover over his nearest rival Satya Pal Jain (BJP), winning by over 45,000 votes.

As claims and counter-claims ruled the day, the Congress was quick to term the high voting percentage as a favourable verdict for its unprecedented development all around the country.

“It is a pro-Congress vote for UPA’s performance and negative vote for the BJP’s regressive agenda,” Bansal claimed. The saffron party, on the other hand, had reason to smile as it saw the large voting percentage, particularly in the urban areas, as a verdict against incumbent government’s failure on all fronts. “This is certainly the vote for change,” a visibly-excited Jain quipped. Sources said while the Congress campaign had been going on the right track from the very beginning, the last-minute BJP surge seemed to have made the going tough for the sitting MP.

Sources said the polarisation of voters in colonies and village could make the BSP a force to reckon with and catapult it to the status of the kingmaker. In fact, diehard optimist and BSP candidate Harmohan Dhawan sees his victory in the backdrop of high voting percentage in colonies and villages. “Nobody can stop BSP’s march to victory,” Dhawan added.

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Anomaly in electoral roll at PU
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
While some genuine voters were deprived of casting their ballot in the absence of their names in the voters’ list, several frivolous votes continued to be part of the process at booth No. 97 in Sector 14, here today.

At least 15 votes (1,268 to 1,283), registered on bogus addresses, came to light when one of the university employees pointed out the “wrong addresses” at an information stall. A probe into the matter revealed that these votes were registered on fake addresses of teachers’ apartments on the Panjab University campus.

There are 43 apartments (house Nos 1 to 44) on the campus. Ironically, two votes each have been registered against two houses in two different names.

Lavjeet Lal, son of Laxmi Lal, and Jyoti Kumar, daughter of Ram Ashish, have been registered against house No. 521 at teachers’ apartments, a number that doesn’t exist on the campus. According to official records, Ramandeep Kaur, daughter of Gardur Singh, and Poonam, daughter of Hira Lal, live in house No. 425, which also doesn’t exist on the campus.

Several other discrepancies were found in the official list of voters. Sodhi Ram, former controller (examination), (voter No. 1,045) who retired over a year ago, still existed in the list of officials at the address of PU campus, whereas Prof BK Sharma, who occupied Sodhi’s house on the campus did not have his vote.

Similarly, voter No. 1,151 Dharam Pal Jindal, son of Narata Ram, has been registered with the PU wing but the house number was found missing from the official list.

Dr Madhuban Arya, PU professor, alleged that these votes were made just before April 7.

“Teachers who actually lived in the apartments left for their new postings outside the city. There are several others who have wrongly been named in their place,” he said. Former PU registrar Lajpat Rai said: “We will challenge the list in the court of law,” he said.

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LS Polls
Voting campaigns click with youth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Breaking the precedent set by their metro counterparts, the city youth not only exercised their right to franchise in large numbers today but also seemed confident of bringing in the “change” in the way city was being managed.

The response spells the success of campaigns like “Jago Re”, “Lead India” and various local initiatives like Yuva parliament, which had been emphasising the power of vote all through the election season.

Youngsters started trickling in at various polling stations since morning. Though they had to queue up for their turn, it failed to dampen their spirit. The environment was particularly exciting at polling stations in and around Panjab University and PEC campuses where they flocked in large numbers to cast their vote.

In spite of their persistent complaints of candidates not being in sync with their respective expectations, the youth voted in large numbers and seemed proud of it.

“The response is quite good. We earlier had apprehension about young voters, as candidates could never tap them. However, people went out and voted this time. I am sure the percentage of youth vote will play a big role in deciding the city’s fate,” said a volunteer of city-based NGO, We Volunteer.

“I have been a registered voter for some time but this is the first time that I have voted. Candidates as usual have nothing much to offer to the youth but the constant media campaign about the power of vote inspired me to go out and vote. It feels great to have answered my democratic responsibility,” said Arvind, an entrepreneur.

“For me polling day was nothing more than a public holiday but this time, having attended a couple of campaigns, I decided to vote. It’s through voting alone that we can make our contribution towards the revolution that everybody desires ,” added Ritika Puri, who cast her ballot at a Sector-46 booth.

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When snags hit EVMs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Technical snags in electronic voting machines (EVMs) were reported at some polling stations in the city today. EVMs suffered technical snags at two polling stations — booth No. 135 at Shishu Niketan School, Sectors 22-D, and booth No. 132 at GSSS-22-A.

At one of the polling booths, an EVM started from a “naught” after it was fixed. At least nine voters had already cast their ballot by then. The polling agents scrambled to locate the addresses and contact numbers of the nine voters and inform them to come back to vote “once again”.

Later, officials said “almost” all affected voters were informed well in time.

A serpentine queue was witnessed at booth No. 274 on the premises of GMSSS-44-B. However, people there complained of inefficiency on part of officials on duty as they found it a time-consuming exercise.

VS Ahluwalia, a resident Sector 44, said after waiting for over two hours many people preferred to go back without casting their ballot.

“I fail to understand why booth Nos. 273 and 275 were not being put in use. The entire load was put on at booth No. 274. This shows inefficiency on part of the organising officials,” he said.

Gursharan Kaur of Sector 44 A, after a wait of over an hour, was told that her vote had already been polled by someone else.

Her husband, Amarbir Singh, submitted a complaint with the Election Commission alleging misbehaviour by the ARO concerned.

“It was unfortunate to see such a behaviour from a person holding such a responsible post. Even a polling agent, Swaran Kumar, had confessed that he might have forgotten to mark the index finger of the imposter. I have reported the matter to the office of election commission in this regard,” said Amarbir Singh.

Similar cases of technical snag were reported from booths at Mouli Jagraon, Maloya and Dhanas.

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Fiza to join politics
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 13
Fiza, estranged wife of Chand Mohammed aka Chander Mohan, recently announced that she would join active politics. Addressing a press conference, she said she would announce the name of the party to be joined by her at the right time.

Mentioning to the court case filed against the local police and Chander Mohan in the local courts here, she said both failed to appear before the court. The next date of hearing has been fixed for June 10. “Neither the police nor Chander Mohan has any respect for the court,” she said.

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No day off for industry workers
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
While on one hand, renowned shops and city-based malls were closed following directions of the Election Commission, labourers were seen working in various industries on the election day.

Employees at Bhushan Power and Steel Industry were seen running when workers of the BJP reached there. The workers of the party raised hue and cry about it that alarmed the employees of the factory.

The employees, however, claimed that they had only come to visit the factory after casting their vote.

Soon after the incident, the employees at other factories of Bhushan industry were seen moving out in a hurry.

The correspondent tried to contact the in charge at the industry but he declined to comment on it.

However, the workers said they had already voted and had come to the factory for a while.

On the condition of anonymity, a labourer said they didn’t belong to the city and their voter ID card was from their hometown.

Most of the labourers are not from the city and come here for the employment. When Gurmail Singh, owner of the factory contacted, he said, “The labourers were given a half day leave today. They worked only till noon and after that they were allowed to go.”

Mohinder Kaur, labour commissioner, while talking to TNS said, “As per the notification, all factories were supposed to be closed today. The labour inspectors had conducted raids and details would be submitted tomorrow.”

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RTI Act
Education dept denies info to applicant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
A local resident, VB Khanna, has been denied information under the RTI by the Chandigarh education department here.

Khanna had filed an application under the RTI Act to get information pertaining to a school. When he went to the department, he had a heated argument with superintendent Suraj Bhan, who refused to accept his application.

Khanna alleged that he had earlier also filed an application under the RTI on March 31 to seek some information relating to a school principal and the staff on deputation.

He said the department did not send him any communiqué for a period of 28 days and on April 29 he received a letter in which he was asked to deposit Rs 1,030 to get the required information.

He said when he went to deposit the money on May 1 with a representative of the department and was assured that he would get information by evening.

In the meantime, he got another letter from the authorities in which he was asked to deposit Rs 280. On May 5, he wrote a letter to the education department questioning the reason behind asking for Rs 280.

In reply, he received a letter stating that if he wanted a reply to his RTI query, he had to deposit the money with the department.

Khanna said he also approached DPI Samwartak Singh over not getting a reply under the RTI.

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Records destroyed in GMADA office fire
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 13
A fire broke out in the public health branch of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) here today in which office records were destroyed. However, no loss of life was reported as the office was closed in connection with the Lok Sabha elections.

As soon as the fire broke out around 3.30 pm, an alarm started ringing and the area got engulfed with thick smoke. The smoke was so thick that it led to a lot of suffocation.

Three employees of security wing got suffocated and were taken to Fortis Hospital. The security swiftly swung into an action and activated the fire fighting system installed in the building. The fire brigade was also informed.

The security personnel and those of the fire brigade jointly doused the flames. Sources said the office records pertaining to sewerage and water connections, office correspondence and other old and new files were destroyed in the fire. While the GMADA employees said the fire was caused due to a short circuit while the employees of the fire brigade said the cause of the fire could not be ascertained immediately.

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DRDO develops kit to track infection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Tracking infection inside the body has become easier now with a new diagnostic kit of ciprofloxacin for bacterial infection imaging called “diagnobact” developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The PGI nuclear medicine department has tested the kit.

A recent study on “Efficacy of indigenously developed single vial kit preparation in the detection of bacterial infection” conducted by the nuclear medicine department of the PGI proved 100 per cent specificity of the kit for the detection of the bacterial infection.

Dr Baljinder Singh of nuclear medicine department said the kit gave specific detection, location and treatment response, which were useful in diagnosing various infections.

Dr Baljinder said the study was conducted on 77 patients, who visited the PGI for the treatment of diabetic foot osteomyelitis, tuberculosis of the bone and orthopedic device related infections.

The technique is superior to radiological techniques and the doctor at the PGI orthopedic department explained that the foot infection was the most severe complications of diabetes.

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Unqualified persons on selection panel
PU review meeting today
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
If claims of university officials are to be believed, Panjab University is all set to review the issue of unqualified persons sitting in the selection committee to appoint principals in various colleges of Punjab.

A meeting scheduled for tomorrow will be presided by SC Vaidya, DUI, PU, and will consider objections raised on inclusion of certain senators in the college principal’s selection committees whose educational qualifications do not fulfill the UGC requisites.

The issue that rocked the recent Syndicate meeting was highlighted around a month back by a former senator, Tarsem Bahia.

He in his complaint lodged at the Chancellor’s office accused the university of blatantly violating the selection norms by posting some unqualified persons in the selection committees.

Under the norms, the selection panel for the college principal comprising five members with two being from the governing body of the college, one being a college principal, another a professor and an eminent educationist. Their qualifications should not be less than that of a professor.

In case of the college seeking the government aid, two additional nominees from the DPI office are also present.

However, disclosure of the information sort by him under the RTI Act brought the inclusion of several names like MLA KPS Rana, Nangal, and a sitting senator Ashok Goyal under the scanner, as their educational qualifications were less than the required norms.

Though the university had defended the move on plea of the senators being equivalent to the professors, it was all set to discuss the issue again.

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Fruit feast marks pool party
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Hansraj Public School, Sector 6, Panchkula, organised a splash pool party to beat the scorching heat and to also brief students about their choice of food and necessary precautions to be taken during a change of weather.

The party coupled with a watermelon treat led to say cheese smiles on the broad faces of students, who enjoyed the sunny day while bursting bubbles in the school splash pool.

The students of junior wing of the school had a gala time playing various games in the pool.

But this was not without a regular dose of enlightenment on how to beat the heat and ailments relating to it.

A fruit feast marked the highlight of the day as tiny tots bit in their shares of the watermelon after the fun games.

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