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64 pc polling in city
Rural voters fare better than urban counterparts
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
The fate of 30 candidates was sealed in 3,709 EVMs at polling stations across the Ludhiana Parliamentary constituency in a peaceful polling held here today.

The results would be declared on May 16 and the candidates are eagerly awaiting the outcome of polls that would ascertain a winner.

The city witnessed a record 64 per cent polling. Though it was not very encouraging in a democracy, it surpassed all past records and the final data was yet to be received till the filing of this report.

Despite campaigns by various NGOs and several advertisements on TV encouraging the voters to turn up, the overall response was not up to the mark.

Rural voters fared better than urban voters in today's poll as the rural-based segments observed more poll percentage than the urban segments.

At 10 am, merely 15 per cent of voters had turned out to vote in Ludhiana. For once, they felt that the residents would disappoint today. It rose to 26 per cent at 12 noon and went up to 41 per cent by 1 pm.

By that time, the political watchers started expecting a percentage of 50. Otherwise, they were thinking it would be difficult to cross 40-45 as the weather was turning hot in the afternoon. Still the urban voters did not turn up in that numbers.

A number of private organisations worked today despite it being a holiday for elections. Most of the shops were opened in busy bazaars. Though they did not witness business as usual, they did not shut down their shutters.

Many polling stations, especially in city areas, did not witness queues. Even the booths of political parties outside had scarce people.

In the morning, at a polling booth in Sarabha Nagar, only 2,50 persons had cast their votes out of 1,200.

Similar situation was witnessed in Indira Colony at 11.45 am, when 352 voters out of 915 had used their right and 645 voters out of 1,367 voted at polling booth number 61 in Shimlapuri. In this station, long queues of voters were witnessed. In polling station number 92 at Daba, 536 voters had cast votes out of 1,025 by 1 pm.

Mandi Ahmedgarh/ Payal/ Raikot: Contrary to apprehensions of large-scale rigging and violence by supporters of warring candidates during the Lok Sabha elections, polling passed off peacefully with no untoward incident.

However, minor incidents were reported from booths and villages which had not been declared sensitive by the administration.

Approximately 60 per cent people, including a record number of women and teenagers, cast their vote amid tight security arrangements.

Over 62 per cent of the total electorate in Raikot voted at 135 polling booths today.

A record-breaking 68 per cent voting was reported in Ahmedgarh block.

About 65 per cent polling was recorded at 170 polling booths falling under the newly organised Amargarh constituency.

The Payal constituency attracted around 56 per cent voters.

Despite scorching heat, there was great enthusiasm among voters.

At Jhordan, Pakhowal and Raikot, polling had to be stopped for some time due to technical snags in the EVMs. 

Though youngsters are being encouraged by all quarters to take active part in politics, it were elderly and disabled who defied age and frail bodies to take part in the democratic process. In almost all polling stations, the elderly and disabled were the ones who were found to be committed to their duty for nation. They braved hot sun and turned up at polling stations. Several of them came on wheelchairs, others with the help of crutches and several being carried by their relatives on shoulders

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Names of many residents deleted from electoral rolls
Questions raised on working of admn
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
Votes of hundreds of residents were deleted from electoral rolls in the Ludhiana parliamentary constituency, casting aspersions on the working of the election department here today.

Though the residents had voters’ ID cards, their names were not included in the list and they could not vote.

As many as 450 votes were deleted from Mair Colony and Gobind Nagar in Shimlapuri alone. A number of votes of residents of Daba Road, Khud Mohalla and several other areas also complained of deletion.

Residents of Mair Colony said though their names were there in the list of electoral rolls provided to them a fortnight ago, these were not found in the voters lists available with the presiding officer in polling station number 92 in Mukan Singh Senior Secondary School, Daba.

Angry voters protested outside the polling station and raised slogans against the election department. They said they smelt a rat in the entire process.

‘‘How come that 450 people of 100 families have not found their names? We are struggling here since morning but to no avail. Now we will not be allowed to elect a candidate. This is mockery of democracy, ’’ said Baldev Singh, a resident.

Sube Singh, a resident of Gali number 15, Daba Road, said 10 votes of his family were deleted without any reason. ‘‘They should be punished for this wrongdoing. Is there anybody to ask them?’’ he asked.

Similarly, residents of Khud Mohalla also complained of exclusion of their names in the list. Arvind Jain said names of his seven family members were excluded. K.L. Gupta of Durga Vishkarma Mandir Gali said names of 12 voters of his family were not there.

‘‘I found this at the last minute. Is there anybody to ask them why did they delete the names when we did not give an application? This is how they work, ’’ said Arvind Jain. Vallabh K. Kumaria, a resident of Dugri, said his name was also not there. He said his wife and daughter’s names were there, but his name had been deleted.

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Candidates ferry voters to polling stations
Violation of EC orders
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
In contravention of orders of Election Commission (EC), a number of residents were ferried by workers of various candidates to various polling stations here today.

Many voters, especially in rural, semi-rural and migrant-dominated areas were ferried to polling stations, asking them to cast vote in their favour.

A number of voters, The Tribune talked to, said they were taken to the polling stations in vehicles, but they were left to come back themselves.

Scared of low turnout in the first two hours that turned out to be 15 per cent only, the workers of candidates started sending vehicles in various areas to fetch the voters from their houses.

A number of buses, auto-rickshaws and other taxis were used for helping the people in violation of rules.

These vehicles were stopped at the doorsteps and electorates ferried on their respective polling station.

‘‘We had no option. We had to help the turn out. Otherwise, it could have been a bad day in the history of Ludhiana,’’ said a worker of a candidate, requesting anonymity.

‘‘We actually checked the voting lists and made another list of people that had to be pushed to cast a vote. We do not care who cast a vote, but we took them to the polling stations,’’ he said.

The migrants, however, rued the treatment meted out to them after they had franchised their right.

‘‘When we had cast our vote, they were not willing to drop us back home. We had to come back walking. This was not done. They knew their work was over, so they left us high and dry,’’ said Ganesh, a migrant at Sarabha Nagar.

Not only vehicles, but the voters were also provided with langar outside many polling stations. This was also against EC orders. It had directed that no candidate would be allowed to ferry people to polling stations.

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Leaders violate poll code openly
Rakesh Gupta

Jagraon, May 13
Once again leaders of the area proved today that they were above law and the code of conduct does not apply to them. Gurcharan Singh Galib went to cast his vote at his native village Galib Kalan near here along with his family. He was accompanied by more than a dozen photographers who clicked then “memorable” photograph of his casting vote and making the victory sign thereafter. Not only this, a photograph of his family was also clicked by the photographers. Interestingly, a presiding office was stationed there to ensure free and fair election as per Code of Elections Rules 1961.

A similar incident was seen at Talwandi Rai village near Raikot, where Jagdev Singh Talwandi, his sons Ranjit Singh Talwandi and Jagjit Singh Talwandi and their spouses had cast votes openly and their photographs were clicked in the polling booth by half a dozen photographers while casting their votes. Here also the presiding officer had no objection at all.

Similarly, Darshan Singh Shivalik cast his vote at Barewala Awana, near Ludhiana, Manpreet Singh Ayali at Ayali Khurd village, Amrik Singh Aliwal at Aliwal village openly with their photographs being clicked within the polling booth. Interestingly, all these leaders belong to the ruling party and it seemed that the presiding officers relaxed the rules for the leaders of the ruling party.

The violation was done not only by leaders and the presiding officers (for allowing the photographers shoot in the booth), but also by photographers who were issued strict instructions that photographing and video-shooting without authority in the polling booth was strictly prohibited. Photo P4

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Cong, SAD activists arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
As many as 29 supporters, 16 of the Congress and 13 of the SAD, were nabbed by the police here while campaigning in the old city and Shimlapuri area today.

Four vehicles of both the Congress and the SAD supporters were also impounded by the police.

According to the police, the Congress workers were distributing pamphlets of the party nominee Manish Tiwari and were influencing people to vote for him.

Kuldeep Singh, SHO, division No. 4, said case had been registered against the accused for violating the rules laid down by the Election Commission. Out of the 13 SAD supporters nabbed by the police, six were outsiders.

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Ludhiana Calling
It happens only in Ludhiana

A 30-year-old man was spotted zooming down the city lanes in his brand new car in top gear. As the car kissed the air at the speed of 100 km per hour, a barricade put up at one of the city's busiest crossings blocked its way. The man behind the wheel was so annoyed at the sudden obstruction that he stopped the car right in the middle of the road and alighted from the vehicle. With an exasperated expression on his face, he walked towards the barricade and pushed it aside. Swearing at the one who had put up the hurdle, the man got into his vehicle and zoomed past the way he had cleared, much to the amusement of the onlookers. This surely happens only in Ludhiana.

Expensive return gifts

There used to be times when birthdays of children were celebrated at homes in a simple and loving manner. With changing times, the trend has changed drastically with small kids demanding to celebrate their birthdays in hotels and prestigious clubs only. They want the parties to be lavish with stalls of cotton candies, jumping rides, magic games to be put up all around. As if it is not enough, the latest craze is of the return gifts. The more expensive the return gift, the more is the liking for the party by friends. Because of this "upmanship" among kids, a friend had to buy return gifts of Rs 4,000 for his son's birthday.

No work, its election time

With deployment of more than 12,000 employees of the government and semi-government departments, as well as commercial banks in the district having been deployed on election duty for the Lok Sabha polls to be held on May 13, most of the government offices wear a deserted look. Those visiting different offices to get their work done have to return disappointed, for a simple reason that the employees concerned are either gone for rehearsal or have been summoned by the superior officers for election related work. The fate of banks is no different. The city residents are eagerly waiting for the election to be over so that work in the government offices can resume in normal course and their pending works are disposed off.

Guru power

Recently my cousin came from Canada along with her friend. Her friend was an English lady who hardly knew anything about India and its culture. On her way to my home she came across several institutions and business establishments named after the first guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev. During her journey she came across Guru Nanak Engineering Works, Guru Nanak Motor Transport Company, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College and so on. Curiously she asked my cousin if Guru Nanak was a great and famous engineer from Ludhiana. Listening to this my cousin could not stopped laughing and explained her that Guru Nanak was the first guru of Sikhs and people named their establishments after the guru as a mark of respect. Later she brought a book on the history of Sikh gurus and today is well versed with all 10 gurus of Sikhs.

Laloo bashing

Union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav was bashed a number of times during the NDA maha rally. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar referred to him on stage when he said people had ousted his government from their state. Not to be left behind was Bimal Gurung, leader of the Gorkha Land Liberation Front, who made Laloo a laughing stock when he compared his fluency in Hindi with Laloo.

Horses’ plight

The bodies looking after welfare of animals prefer to observe silence when it comes to rescuing them from unwarranted labour or torture at the hands of their owners. Horses, the royal animals of yesteryears, have now been reduced to the cart pullers.

Stallions known for their carefree spirits and speed are not only reigned but are also subjected to torture, as they have to race with the high speed vehicles moving on the busy roads.

Their plight is inaudible to a majority, including their masters, who do not refrain from whipping the poor animal.

Contributed by: Charu Chibber, Shivani Bhakoo, Kuldip Bhatia, Manav Ghuman, Kanchan Vasdev and Anshu Seth. 

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Departments show poor coordination
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
When it comes to wastage of public money, it seems no one can beat Ludhiana as lack of coordination among departments is one of the reasons why the city still lacks basic infrastructure.

An example of it is Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, where the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB)officials are digging a road to add power cables on the left side, while the municipal corporation has been allowing the contractor to re-carpet the road, raising a question which department is at fault.

A visit to the site speaks for itself, where one can find newly built road on one side and heaps of mud on the other dug by the PSEB.

When the residents were enquired about it, they could not reveal exactly when both works were started, but were sure that the work by the board began first.

Jagroop Singh, a retired government officer, said, “The layered road, along with heaps of mud on one side, is giving a harrowing time to the commuters, especially during the night. You may call it lack of coordination on part of government departments. That is why two opposite works are being run parallel in the same area.”

Amarjeet Kaur, a resident of the area, said, “These layered roads are dangerous not only for kids driving bicycles, but even youngsters who drive two-wheelers at great speed. Our neighbour’s son had a narrow escape as his scooter skidded few days ago.”

She added that there were three schools -- CFC, Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School and DAV Public School — in the area and the stretch had become dangerous for the school kids.

According to information, the PSEB should have sought permission from the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, before digging the road. Despite repeated attempts, officials from both departments could not be contacted.

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Petrol stations selling only premium variety of fuel
Manav Ghuman
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
Many petrol stations on the outskirts of the city are forcing consumers to shell out extra money for the premium variety of fuel. They do not give them other choice, making vehicle-owners to shell out extra money.

These days only a small fraction of customers who own luxury cars are going in for premium fuel, which is costlier. The difference between the ordinary and premium variety is around Rs 4-5.

Even as many consumers have failed efforts of oil companies to increase the sale of the premium fuel, they have now resorted to only providing the premium variety of fuel on the outskirts of the city.

In order to increase the sale of premium type fuel, some petrol pumps were given only the premium varieties.

This situation is more prevalent in the petrol stations which are situated on the outskirts of the city.

"Today obtaining normal fuel has become very difficult, especially outside city limits. Only yesterday, I wanted to get petrol filled in my car from a pump near village Aalamgir, but the petrol pump had only the premium variety. I had no other option but to buy the premium variety as no other petrol pump was nearby," said Jagtar Singh, a resident.

If figures are to be believed, the demand for the premium variety of fuel has gone down, while the demand for diesel has increased by nearly 30 per cent. Keeping in view the gap between the prices of petrol and diesel, people today prefer buying diesel cars, resulting in more demand.

“Initially I had a petrol-run car, but now I have bought a new car which runs on diesel. After switching over to diesel car, I save nearly Rs 1500 per month. Petrol is costly and most of the people are today going in for diesel cars," added Vikas Gupta, a businessman. 

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Power theft by Punjab Police continues 
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 13
The recent instance of a police post in Raghunath Encalve locality caught in the act of stealing power through two “kundi” connections is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg, and if highly placed sources in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) are to be believed, the Punjab Police has been indulging in massive power theft in the city as well as in the rural areas of the Central Zone, which included Ludhiana.

The indifferent attitude of the PSEB towards incidents of stealing power by the police force was evident when senior officials of the board feigned ignorance about the power theft by police post in Raghunath Enclave.

Unlike the other cases of power theft by the public, where power was immediately disconnected and a case was registered under the Electricity Act, the PSEB officials said a report would be sought from the sub-division concerned and suitable action would be taken against the defaulters.

The fact that the PSEB officials are fully aware of the undesirable and illegal act of the police cannot be denied, but they are turning a blind eye to such behaviour of the men in khaki and to the huge financial loss that the power theft by the police is causing to the PSEB.

Till a couple of months ago, a few police stations and police posts in the district had no power connections and drawing electricity through kundi connection was considered a standard procedure.

After the raids conducted by enforcement and operations wing of the PSEB, this act of the police personnel was exposed and immediately instructions were issued to the police stations to get regular power connections.

Sources in the PSEB said the Punjab Police was not only guilty of stealing power, but was also the biggest defaulter when it came to paying energy bills for authorised connections.

Till the end of last year, Punjab Police owed more than Rs 60 lakh by way of unpaid energy bills in the Central Zone alone.

It was the state government that came to the rescue of defaulting government departments, including the police, by clearing arrears in one go in March 2009, that too, in the wake of directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for disconnection of power supply of all defaulting government departments, if they failed to clear arrears by March 31, 2009.

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Airport project mired in controversy 
KS Chawla

Ludhiana, May 13
The establishment of Greenfield International Airport, Ludhiana, became a matter of controversy during the recent election campaigns. Both the Congress and SAD-BJP accused each other of failing to bring out the airport at the Ladowal seed farm.

Facts gathered by this reporter indicate that both major political parties, which claim to serve the interests of the state, are equally responsible for the failure.

It was in 2004, under the leadership of Amarinder Singh, that a proposal was mooted to set up the Greenfield International Airport at Ladowal, near Ludhiana. Amarinder Singh met the Civil Aviation Minister and requested for deputing a team of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to visit the site.

According to an official document, a delegation of the AAI visited Chandigarh and Ludhiana on July 15, 2004. They held discussions with officials of the Punjab Government and also visited the site at Ladowal.

According to another official document, it was found that the site was considered good for the airport. The AAI team was of the view that an area of 6ks X 2.5ks with two runways, along with facilities and infrastructure of world-class standards, was essential. However, the project could be started with one runway of 3500m.

Formalities required for the establishment of the airport were- NOC from the Ministry of Environment and Pollution Control Board, NOC from the Ministry of Defence, approval from Director General of Civil Aviation, and approval from Director General, Aviation (Inspection).

The total land available at the Ladowal farm was 2,906 acres. Out of which 1,250 acres was with Punjab Agricultural University. The PAU was given the land in lieu of the land it had given for the BSP headquarters and Punjab Premier Medical Institute, Jalandhar, where the sugarcane farm of the university was located.

Dr KS Aulakh, ex-Vice-Chancellor, PAU, who also attended the meeting at Chandigarh, had agreed to give the land if the university was given suitable compensation and the amount spent on the establishment of the sugarcane which was estimated to be Rs 6 crore. He also wanted the 250 employees working at the farm to be absorbed in government service.

As the news of the proposal for the airport spread, the land prices sky-rocketed from Ladowal to Nurpur Bet and along the Jassian road. The land prices got up to Rs 1 crore per acre from Rs 25 lakh per acre.

However, the state government announced that the airport site had been shifted to Halwara, near the existing IAF station. There, the land prices touched an all time high of Rs 1.5 crore per acre.

The state government had almost succeeded in getting the airport sanctioned. The date of starting the flights was also announced. But the defence ministry did not grant clearance on the pretext of security reasons.

Before shifting the site to Halwara, Amarinder Singh leased out 300 acres of Ladowal farm land to a renowned cell company, deferring the airport proposal.

The SAD-BJP government which came to power in February 2007, instead of following the original proposal of the airport at Ladowal, laid stress on the Mohali airport.

The government tried to take advantage of the situation under the cover of lease of 300 acres to a cell company and asked the PAU authorities to vacate the land of Ladowal farm. There was resentment among the university faculty and employees. People opposed the move of the government. The media also took upon the state government and the matter was put in cold storage.

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‘Food prices were highest in 2008’
Sheetal Chawla
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
In 2008, normal prices of major food commodities reached highest level in nearly 50 years, while prices in real terms were the highest in early 30 years. This was revealed in a report of Bill and Melinda Foundation of USA. The report points out that the short-term visions were extreme, depletion of grain stocks, speculation, diversion of food crops for bio-fuels and the sky rocketing cost of energy and fertiliser. Behind these are long-term trends: changes the structure of food demands in rapidly growing economies, sluggish growth, emerging scarcity of water, continuing land degradation and the unfolding effect of climate change and decreasing investments in agriculture research. These factors suggest that high prices will continue for years to come.

The report highlights that the rising of food prices in South Asia devastate poor consumers. The reason is to home a large number of rural poor whose diet is centred on cereals and who spend a large proportion of their income on food. In India, the poorest 20 per cent spend 62 per cent of their income on food, mostly rice and wheat. In Bangladesh, the poorest 20 per cent spend 69 per cent of their income on food, with rice accounting for 38 per cent of the total (ADB 2008). Higher food prices drive more people into poverty and increase the distress among those who are already poor. Higher prices are catagrophic for rural and urban women because they must manage household activities and raise children.

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Theatres make hay as Bollywood strike on
Manav Ghuman
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
As the cinema halls had to bear a great loss after the multiplexes had eaten up their major business, luck has finally smiled on these single-screen theatres for a short span of time, as film producers have decided to screen films in cinema halls now.

Following the tiff between film producers and multiplex owners, no new films are being screened in these multiplexes after April 4.

At the same time when recession is taking a toll on the global market, owners of these cinema halls are happy over the screening of new films.

The United Producers and Distributors Forum had decided to thwart any new release in multiplexes due to the ongoing dispute over 50-50 sharing of the revenue between film producers and multiplexes.

Shahrukh Khan’s starred “Billu Barber” was the last movie to hit the screens.

Anil Puri, a film distributor said, “The decision of not releasing new films led to a major halt in the business. New releases are apparently to be screened on May 29,” he added.

“At last a new Hindi film would be released. I hope the tiff between the producers and multiplex owners gets resolved at the earliest so that I could watch my favourite movies in a multiplex,” said Poonam, a moviegoer.

It was for this cause that two rival stars Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan shared the dais and demanded the “Fair Rights for Friday Nights” recently in Mumbai.

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Villagers protest police inaction
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 13
Lamme Jatpura villagers today sat on a dharna at the Jagraon SSP office.

They were protesting against the police inaction in the alleged kidnapping and beating of a 17-year-old Congress worker by the sarpanch of the village and his accomplices belonging to the ruling party. They also raised slogans against the Punjab government and the police.

Jasvir Singh Pappa, the sarpanch, had reportedly kidnapped and beaten up the victim, Joginder Singh, after calling him out of his house over phone. At the time of kidnapping, he was at his uncle's house at Bassian. The sarpanch had allegedly threatened the victim not to campaign for the Congress and to join the SAD.

The villagers today gheraoed the SSP office.

Local police officials Navinpal Singh and Gurmeet Singh assured the protesters of adequate action against the guilty. SHO Gurmeet Singh said the village, where the incident took place, fell under the jurisdiction of the Raikot police station. They said they had informed the Raikot police about the incident.

Raikot DSP Narinder Pal Singh Ruby had said he got the information in the late afternoon. The Raikot police, after recording the statement of the accused, registered a case against sarpanch Jasbir Singh, Goldi, Happy, Jagraj Singh, all from Lamme Jatpura village, and Mitta from Jalaldiwal village and impounder Swift Car (PB-10-2357) used for kidnapping under Sections 365, 342, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of the victim himself last night. No arrest has been made so far.

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Villagers stay away from polling stations
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, Sahnewal, May 13
It seems that election campaigns undertaken by various candidates failed to fructify, as only a small number of voters bothered to exercise their franchise here.

“The failure of these politicians to keep their promises forced us to negate the idea of voting. Inflation has made it hard for the common man to make both ends meet.

In such times, what can these selfish politicians give us except fake reassurances and false promises,” said a resident.

“These politicians have never paid heed to our sufferings. Our faith in either of the parties, during all these years, has shaken badly,” said a resident.

Residents had appealed to the higher authorities for the provision of basic amenities, but to no avail. The area is still underdeveloped compared to nearby areas.

“The drainage system here has got choked, unhygienic conditions prevail, repair of damaged roads is neglected, clearance of blockages and timely evacuation of accumulated water has seldom taken place, power supply is almost nil,” rued residents.

A majority of the residents of Doraha village were in a defiant mood and refused to visit the polling station. At Dhandari, Kanganwal, Gobindgrah and Jugiana, residents refused to vote. Jugiana village of ward number 75 faces problems of filth and unhygienic conditions.

“The village is under municipal limits but we are still deprived of the basic facilities,” the residents rued.

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Admn puts best foot forward
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 13
Unlike previous years when the poll staff was treated like “bonded labour”, the administration treated them in a more humane manner this time.

Besides arranging proper transportation for poll officials, instead of stuffing them in trucks, the Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) organised langar for those who stayed at the subdivision level centres.

The officials who had not brought their vehicles were also dropped to their respective places, claimed the AROs.

Organisational measures taken by trade unions during previous elections and the Election Commission’s directions were reported to be the factors behind transformation of the authority’s attitude.

Complaints about alleged maltreatment of polling staff at the hands of AROs and supervising staff have sharply declined in the Malwa region.

A visit to Raikot, Payal, Gill, and Samrala, assembly collection centers, revealed that the authorities had tried to make arrangement for providing food and drinking water. Emphasis was laid on the safety and comfort of the female staff.

Neeru Katyal, SDM, Payal, said she had directed Mandeep Singh Dhillon, executive magistrate, to ensure that female officials returning from poll duty in the evening reach their residences safely. “Despite the fact that a majority of officials have come in their own vehicles, we have arranged enough vehicles for the convenience of the staff.”

Jaspal Singh Jassie, SDM, Raikot, supervising the preparation of langar for the poll officials, said, “We have done no favour by providing these facilities to the staff. The gesture is going to help us in conducting polls during coming elections as more officials will be encouraged to perform the mandatory duty.”

He said he had arranged tuck shops and fruit vendors near the collection centre so that officials could also buy eatables of their choice.

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First-timers show excitement
Mohit Khanna/Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
People voting for the first time enthusiastically participated in the electoral process here today.

Parth, who voted for the first time, came out of the polling booth with a big smile on his face and told everyone about whom he had voted for.

He said, “It is a special day for me. I am feeling a part of the mainstream politics. I hope that the candidate whom I voted for wins.”

Contrary to the previous trend, this time the city youth enthusiastically took part in the electoral process. Except going for a holiday they stood in a queue to cast their vote.

“I compelled my mother to cast vote as she was reluctant to vote this time,” said Mohit Singla, another first-timer. The youth admitted that the advertisement on television such as ‘Jago Ray’ and a group of morning walkers in the rose garden played a big role in encouraging youngsters to cast votes in the elections.

Ankit Jain said, “If we can vote for a singer to make him Indian Idol, why are we hesitant in electing the politicians, who run our country?”

Rachna Sabharwal, a first-time voter, looked nervous at a polling station. She was waiting for her turn when she asked her mother, “Can I press EVM twice?” Her mother replied, ‘No.’

A woman standing in front of her gave asked her to vote for the first person on the EVM list, to which her mother said no and told her to vote for the third person on the list.

Other first-timers shared their experiences with one another through SMSes.

Nineteen-year-old Vaibhav reached the polling booth at 11 am along with his parents. After he voted, he messaged his friends about the candidate he voted for.

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Elderly suffer as poll station set up upstairs
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
While the Election Commission (EC) may have tried to help voters through various efforts, the elderly and some disabled, who had polling station at Public Model Senior Secondary School, Vishkarma colony, had a tough time climbing stairs.

The polling booth in this area was situated on the first floor and the voters had to climb stairs to exercise their franchise.

They complained that when most of the polling booths in Ludhiana constituency were on the ground floor, then why not such a provision could be made for them.

Talking to The Tribune, an electorate in 70's, who was suffering from arthritis said, "It's really tough for me to climb stairs due to my joint pain. But still, I have come to vote because I know the importance of it and I have been practising it since Independence."

She added that she had to depend on her son and daughter-in-law to climb the stairs. Had the polling station been on ground floor, I could have easily managed it by just coming in the car with my driver.

Similarly, another electorate complained that the stairs were so narrow that in case any mishap occurs, it would be tough for people to run.

"Most of the areas have opened spaces for polling booths, something like this too could have been provided for us," he said, adding that the area witnesses the same problem during every poll as the school is generally their polling station.

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Compulsory voting ‘not possible’
Sheetal Chawla
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
The low voter turnout in Mumbai and other urban constituencies has irked politicians. Prime ministerial candidate LK Advani has been reported to have said tha voting should be mandatory and those who do not vote should be fined.

Dr KS Aulakh, ex-Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, said in a country like India where the population has crossed one billion, it was not possible for every citizen to vote. “With enormity of illiteracy and inaccessibility in rural areas, people are not aware of the importance of electing their leaders democratically. Many Indians do not even have their voters' identity card. Regarding the imposition of fine, people living in far-flung areas cannot come just to cast their vote. Making voting compulsory is only possible in a country with a small population.”

Principal DP Guleria, BCM School, Chandigarh road, said public should be educated enough to differentiate between good and bad politicians. Fines should be imposed on the politicians who do not fulfil their promises. People cannot be forced to vote.

Dr Jagtar Dhiman, additional director, Communications and International Linkages, said voting could be made compulsory provided voters’ names were on the list, they were issued voters’ identity cards and there was no tampering done with the list. 

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Cops heave sigh of relief
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
As the polling of the general Lok Sabha elections came to an end, the police heaved a sigh of relief.

Their efforts paid off, as except a grim situation in Shimlapuri no untoward incident was reported.

“We are proud of our men who ensured free and fair elections. Not a single incident of violence was reported from any part of the city,” said SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill. He added the paramilitary force was deployed in the city to assist the city police. Around 2820 policemen were deployed in polling booths across the city.

Except some arguments related to missing names and proper voters’ ID cards between voters and polling officials at some booths in the constituency, the polling ended peacefully.

ASI Jagdev Singh, deputed at GGN Khalsa College, said, “I have been on poll duties several times, but today it was an easy day. Voters here are educated and gentle. I did not hear about any tiff throughout the day,” he added.

“As the elections are over now, we can concentrate on the cases, which require immediate attention,” said an inspector Kuldeep Singh of division No. 4 area.

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Shops remain closed due to polls

Ludhiana, May 13
Business activity in the city came to a standstill due to the polling for the fifth phase of the general elections here today. Even the shopping malls and complexes remained closed throughout the day.

However, most markets and shopping complexes opened up after 5 pm.

"Closing down shops during polling is nothing unusual but this time the city wore a completely deserted look, which is quite unusual," said Kartar Singh, a stationery shop owner in Ghumar Mandi market. He added that he had not seen the city so calm and quite. "It was a refreshing change from the usual hustle-bustle of the city life." — TNS

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Journalists condemn attack on media
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, May 13
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh Patarkar Parishad today, in a meeting chaired by its president Bhushan Sood, condemned the attack on a team of journalists in Ludhiana yesterday.

The parishad said such action of the anti-social elements was a blot on the democracy, which should be checked with a strong hand. The incident exposed the hollowness of law and order situation in the state as the miscreants managed to escape in full public view in a city like Ludhiana.

Among press reporters, Dilbag Rai Sood, Swarn Singh Sethi, Lakhvir Singh, Ram Saran, Rajinder Jaidka, Narinder Mann, Jagir Singh Jagtar, Balbir Singh Shantpuri and Baljinder Mann Mansa expressed their views in the meeting and demanded strict action against the miscreants and to take suitable measures for the safety of the mediapersons.

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College farewell function
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, May 13
Students of MBA (part I) of the Desh Bhagat Institute of Management and Computer Sciences organised a farewell party for their seniors.

A cultural programme and a slide show reflecting various aspects of student life were presented on the occasion.

Shalini Gupta, director-general, Desh Bhagat Group of Institutes, expressed her hope that by their hard work, dedication and commitment, students would achieve glorious heights in life.

On the basis of different competitions, Onkar Singh and Shaminder Kaur were declared Mr and Miss Personality, whereas Tanveer Vani and Amandeep Kaur were declared Mr and Miss Farewell, respectively.

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Softball trials today, tomorrow
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, May 13
The Punjab Softball Association will conduct trials to select the Punjab women's softball team at Ramgarhia Educational Complex, Miller Ganj, Ludhiana tomorrow at 9 am and to select men's team at Amritsar on May 15 at 12 noon.

The selected players will represent the state in the forthcoming Softball Federation Cup Tournament, slated to be held at Indore from May 20 onwards.

Meanwhile, the Ludhiana District Softball Championship for the junior boys and girls will be held at the Ramgarhia Educational Complex here from May 14 to 17.

Players born on or after January 1, 1992, are eligible to take part in the district championship. They have been advised to bring their age-proof certificates along with one passport size photograph.

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