C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Urban-rural divide blurs
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14
For a change, Chandigarh’s urban-rural divide has been blurred --at least in yesterday’s voting trends. Contrary to the general perception that colony and village voters decide the outcome of the Lok Sabha poll, the urban voters would call the shots in electing the MP from the city this time.

With approximately 1.7 lakh urban voters (65 per cent) exercising their franchise in the urban areas, the domination of this segment would clearly be visible on the results of the seat. Incidentally, the percentage of urban voters comes to almost 50 per cent of the total about 3.42 lakh votes polled.

On the other hand, about 68,000 village voters (around 65 per cent) comprising 19.8 per cent of the total polled votes turned up at the polling stations. The situation in the colonies was worse with 1.04 lakh voters (62 per cent) casting their votes.

This segment constituted 30.5 per cent of the votes, belying the notion that colony and village voters elect the city's representative.

This was in sharp contrast to the urban voting in 2004 elections when only 1.59 lakh voters (52 per cent) exercised their right to voting. In the backdrop of the lower voting of 52 per cent, villages and colonies also did not fare better than their urban counterparts.

Though the number of urban voters had come down from 3.05 lakh in 2004 to 2.6 lakh in 2009, a sharp increase in the voting percentage had catapulted the urban voters to the driver’s seat.

In the previous elections, the colony and village voters dominated the electoral scene with the urban voting percentage ranging from 35 per cent to 45 per cent.

With the voting percentage over 60 per cent, the colony and village chieftains virtually turned into “kingmakers” in the past elections. And that was perhaps the reason why the colony chieftains were much sought after by all political parties in the current elections.

Meanwhile, political pundits and citizens’ groups see high voter turnout in the urban areas as a healthy sign for Indian democracy. “It is heartening that the educated middle class and elite sections of society have come forward to vote rather than lament the state of affairs,” says JPS Kalra, convener of the Friends of Democracy, a social group that launched a sustained campaign to exhort people to vote.

In the backdrop of the urban voters’ general indifference towards the electoral process, there were allegations against the contesting candidates that they focussed mainly on issues concerning colony and village residents.

However, the latest voting pattern ought to make the politicians realise that urban voters were the decisive factor in the primarily urbanised constituency.



Suspected swine flu case in city
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14
Overcautious doctors at the GMCH-32 have advised “home quarantine’ for a 30-year-old pregnant woman (identity withheld), a resident of Panchkula, who was examined in the OPD this morning with swine flu-like symptoms.

While doctors say that the measure was just “precautionary” and the patient’s throat and nose swabs have been sent to the National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD), Delhi, for tests, nevertheless it is the first recorded suspected swine flu case in the city.

According to hospital sources, the woman had approached the ENT department this morning with complaint of sore throat, cough, runny nose, abdominal pain and intermittent fever. Though the symptoms were like any other case of influenza, the patient’s disclosure that her husband had recently arrived from Kazakhstan and had also suffered from fever set the alarm bells ringing.

The doctors asked the woman to get herself admitted to the isolation ward immediately, but when she resisted and insisted on going home, they advised her “home quarantine”. The doctors have alerted the integrated disease surveillance department, UT, and claimed that they would keep her under observation.

Confirming that her throat and nose swabs had been sent to the NICD, Dr Vineet, a member of the isolation ward team, said though there was nothing to be get alarmed about, they were not taking any chances. Dr Vipin Kaushal, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, said her husband’s foreign visit was the main reason for undertaking these tests.

According to doctors at the GMCH-32, reports from the NICD could take 48-72 hours.

Meanwhile, according to family member of the victim, the doctors seem to have gone “overboard” as there is no recorded case of swine flu in Kazakhstan.



Two suicides in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14
Two persons committed suicides in the city in the past 24 hours. According to the police, Harjinder Singh, in his early 20s, was found hanging at his house in Burail village last evening while 45-year-old Jagan Nath of Kajheri village was found hanging from a tree in the jungle area near the village early this morning.

Ruling out any foul play behind Harjinder’s death, the in charge of the Burail police post said it was a suicide. In the absence of any suicide note, they were yet to establish the cause behind the extreme step.

The police said Harjinder was found hanging from the fan by his neighbour around 8 pm. His family took him to hospital where he died. The police today handed over the body to the family after a postmortem.

Harjinder was working as an air-conditioner mechanic and married in December.

Meanwhile, Jagan Nath, a meat shop owner at Mazdoor Colony in Kajheri, was found hanging from a tree around 5 am. He reportedly had strained relations with his wife and was an alcoholic. No suicide note was found near the body.

The police has initiated inquest proceedings in both cases under Section 174 of the CrPC in this regard.



Polling over; power cuts back
Rajiv Bhatia

Mohali/Zirakpur, May 14
Apprehensions of the common man that power cuts would return after polling are turning true. A day after the fifth phase of polling concluded yesterday, power cuts are back in Mohali, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Lalru.

Though the cuts in the urban areas are restricted to smaller durations, the situation in rural areas of Mohali, Kharar and Dera Bassi subdivisions is bad. Residents alleged that the PSEB was imposing unscheduled power cuts.

Abhinav Sharma, a resident of Phase 11, said power cuts were being imposed, but for short intervals.

Ramesh Ram of Manauli village said power went at 5 pm last evening and was restored only at 10 pm. It went again at 5 am and was restored only by afternoon.

Businessmen are the worst affected. “It is difficult to run the business of milk products as you never know when the power would go,” said Shammi Kumar, who runs a milk products shop at Baltana.

Narinder Singh, a resident of Baltana, lamented that the PSEB complaint centre was virtually non-existent and the staff failed to redress grievances of consumers.

Sarbjit Singh of Lalru said: “Poor power supply also affected water supply. We have to call private tankers for water.”

PSEB officials claimed that there were no unscheduled power cuts in the area and maintenance work was in progress to improve the power supply in the area. Work on the Dhakoli grid had been completed and it had already started supplying power to Baltana.

The residents stated that Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal had announced 24-hour electricity supply before the Lok Sabha elections, but they know nothing would change.

They claimed that besides the unscheduled power cuts, tripping and voltage fluctuation had also become a problem over the past couple of days.


Mini AC buses hit city roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14
The mini air-conditioned buses of the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) finally hit the city roads today. As many as 17 mini AC buses will ply on eight tentative routes within the city and will stop at five important bus stops on the way.

According to Home Secretary Ram Niwas, these 37-seater buses will provide quality services at a nominal fare, which has been fixed at Rs 10.

The routes: Airport to PGI, via ISBT-17; Mani Majra to PGI; ISBT-17 to railway station; ISBT-43 to IT Park via railway station; ISBT-43 to PGI via ISBT17; ISBT-43 to Civil Secretariat, Punjab and Haryana High Court, via ISBT-17; Ram Darbar to ISBT 43 via ISBT17; and railway station to ISBT17.



Shortening of CTU routes reviewed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14
The shortening of routes of CTU buses and parking problem outside places of worship were among the issues discussed during the 8th Central Traffic Advisory Committee (CTAC) at UT police headquarters in Sector 9, here, today.

Sources in the police said committee members gave suggestions ranging from enforcing the use of zebra crossing, relocation of slip roads, effective public transport system, synchronisation of traffic lights, introduction of maxi cabs, traffic lights at T-point in Sector 24, near Himachal Sarai, introduction of small buses, car pool system, shorter route for CTU buses to effective checking of auto-rickshaw drivers.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of UT IG SK Jain, who assured the members of taking up suggestions with the department concerned for action.

The meeting was attended by the 25 members of the CTAC, DIG (headquarters) Mahabir Singh, UT SSP SS Srivastava, UT SP (traffic) HS Doon, SP (operations cell) RS Ghumman, officers of the UT engineering department, municipal corporation, town planning and CTU, Mohali SP (traffic) MS Sandhu, DSP (traffic) Mohali Hardevinder Singh and DSP (headquarters) Panchkula Rajesh Kalia.

UT SP (traffic) apprised the members of action taken on minutes of the seventh meeting held on February 3 and discussed the achievements of the city traffic police.



Yajna for a stable govt
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 14
With the pouring in of exit poll reports of split verdict in the Lok Sabha elections, city residents today invoked the blessings of the Almighty for formation of a stable government at the Centre.

Under the banner of the Senior Citizens Association and Resident Welfare Association, phase 4, the residents organised a “yajna” and offered ardas in Bougainvillea Garden here so that wisdom prevailed upon the political parties to form a stable government.

During the prayers, they also hoped for a formation of joint Congress-BJP government in the interest of the nation. Ajiab Singh Tung, chairman of the resident welfare association, said for the past 15 years they had seen the chaos caused by coalition government.

“No major national policy has been framed. Terrorism is on our doorsteps, Pakistan and Kashmir problems stand and the coalition governments come and go,” said the participants.

Ajiab Singh said the regional parties were damaging the country. “There should be only two-party system to kill the caste and creed factor,” felt Rajinder Singh, another resident.

The participants also discussed that barring the communal issues, policy of the Congress and the BJP on foreign issues, economic policy and other national issues were almost the same. Hence they should join hands, they said.

The two-party system would result in less expenditure on conduct of elections and also less expenditure by the candidates on canvassing and winning-vote tactics, they added.



A Day After
While some find time to unwind... for others, it’s back to the grind 
GS Paul and Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

(From left) Independent Maya Devi attends to household chores; Kafil Ahmed tailors clothes and Des Raj back at his shop in Chandigarh on Thursday.
(From left) Independent Maya Devi attends to household chores; Kafil Ahmed tailors clothes and Des Raj back at his shop in Chandigarh on Thursday. Tribune photographs

Chandigarh, May 14
A day after the month-long hectic campaigning for the Chandigarh seat, Congress candidate Pawan Bansal and BSP’s Harmohan Dhawan chose to spend the time with their family friends and relative to relax but BJP’s Satya Pal Jain was back to work.

Pawan Kumar Bansal

After conducting 247 press conferences and over 250 meetings between the period from March 3 and May 12, the only thing Bansal missed was his routine morning walk at the Sukhna Lake. Other than the sore throat, Bansal’s health was fine.

Though he undertook a number of “padyatras” as part of his campaigning, these could never be substitute for morning walk. “Morning walk recharges me in real sense. After getting up around 5.30 am today, the first activity I undertook was the morning walk at the lake.”

His wife Madhu Bansal and some close friends too accompanied him.

Talking of making Chandigarh a world-class city, he said: “Chandigarh cannot be imagined as a metro city. High-rise buildings and flyovers will spoil its basic character and degenerate its heritage status. Elevated roads and underpasses along with multilevel parkings after conversion of showroom sites could be made feasible easily,” he said.

Bansal recommended introducing the mechanism of “counter magnet centre” to meet the growing traffic density. “The adjoining areas like Kharar, Panchkula, Mohali, Baddi should be made self-centered towns so that heavy rush from the outside could be avoided,” he suggested.

After an hour’s walk, Bansal went home to refresh himself. He then spent time with his family and relatives.

Satya Pal Jain

Jain’s routine schedule resumed today after a frantic electioneering exercise. Getting up at 7am and having a quick look at the newspapers, Jain got ready for his regular appointment scheduled at 10.15 am at the High Court. “The life is back to routine for me. After going through the details of two cases, I reached the court complex to study the cases further,” said the BJP’s contestant.

At 1.30, Jain went home for a lunch with wife Shashi Bala Jain and son Dheeraj. Jain then listened to his favourite old songs — “Jeena yahan, marna yahan, is ke siva jana kahan” of Mera Naam Joker and “Kar chale hum fida” of Hakeekat.

However, a political programme was on cards today as well. He had number of meetings fixed for the evening at the BJP’s office in Sector 33.

He has a long list of works to be done after assuming the position as Member of Parliament. “For ‘affordable education’, I will ensure that ‘aam admi’ get his children admitted to good schools and get the fee structure of private schools monitored at the administrative level,” he said.

Harmohan Dhawan

If anybody was happiest at home today, it was Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Harmohan Dhawan’s granddaughter. Meet three-year-old Angel, who, after a long time, had the opportunity to play with grandfather. “Of course, I was missing these valuable moments for the past three months. As I was busy with the party activities, I could hardly find time to spend with my family and friends,” he said.

“I got up at 7 am and after a long time prepared a cup of morning tea. It was after a long time that had a chance to scan newspapers sipping tea. Thereafter, I spared some time for some gardening. Indeed, the time was mine,” he said.

Soon, party workers and friends started pouring in at his Sector-9 residence. “I am a crusader. I want to bring about change in the policy decision making in the Chandigarh administration because it is the only city that enjoys the privilege of being pampered the most by the Centre. There is enormous scope to transform it into a mega city with world-class facilities,” he opined.

After a high-pitched poll battle and short-lived limelight, it is back to the same old grind for the Independent candidates. Even as the Congress, BJP and BSP candidates took time to unwind, Independents continued with their lives. All the candidates are missing their “15 minutes to fame”.

Des Raj

The day was no different for Des Raj, a businessman. He never changes his routine.

Even today, he woke up as usual at 6.30 am and opened his shop in Sector 20.

He accepts that though he has no chance to win the elections, he has chalked out a strategy for contesting the general election in a more planned way. Des Raj, who is planning to launch a new political party by the year-end, believes that the party would provide a platform for raising serious issues affecting the city.

He said he got both positive and negative responses during the campaign.“Politics requires luck and even ‘crorepatis’ could lose. Everything is in God’s hand,” he quipped. He plans to devote more time to politics.

Maya Devi

Her moment of fame may be over, but Maya Devi, a housewife, is confident of wresting the local seat.

Dressed in a simple brown sari in a dingy room at Pandit Colony in Kajheri, Maya Devi is back to managing “chullah-choka”.

“I have no plans of joining any political party, but I will try my luck again in elections,” Maya Devi said.

Maya, who strayed into politics by default on account of the rejection of the nomination papers of her husband, feels that she is not cut out for politics and not acquainted with the “tricks of the trade”.

“I had a different experience last month during campaigning,” she said, finding it a bit odd to go back to routine work after receiving “importance” while campaigning for the elections.

She is missing the crowd that usually gathered around her house every morning during campaigning.

Kafil Ahmad

“After one month of tedious work, I finally got some time for my business that was ignored due to campaigning,” Kafil Ahmad said.

He has been into social service for the past two decades and plans to launch an NGO for undertaking social work for the benefit of residents of the city.

“I am not going to stop here as I feel my mission to serve the people has only started now,” he said. Earlier, Ahmad used to focus on the problems of his area, but after participating in the elections, his perspective for the city has changed.

He has learnt to manage things, which would be fruitful for society in large.

Back to his small boutique in the Sector 20 market, Kafil Ahmad feels like he’s come back to his second home — his boutique —after a long time. “Now, I am recognised by fellow shopkeepers as a leader rather than being just one of them,” he added.



Denial of Voting Right
Authorities agree to lapses
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14
Even as Chandigarh registered a record turnout in the final phase of Lok Sabha elections, over eight per cent residents — despite having electoral photo identity card (EPIC) issued in their names — were denied the right to cast their votes. Reason: Their names were missing from the official voters’ list.

Though the authorities claim that the onus lies on the voters, who have been deprived of their fundamental right to vote, they also agree that there have been lapses on their part.

It apparently happened during the deletion of around 80,000 votes during the door-to-door survey conducted around a year and half ago.

The survey was again conducted to amend the list and those who could not be contacted were informed to approach the election office to ensure that their names were included in the revised list.

However, the questions remains that how the names of those who have been living in the city for past over 35 years have been deleted from the list.

Assistant returning officer Hargunjit Kaur admitted that systematic deficiencies were there, which led to the discrepancies.

“The revised list of voters were maintained as per the feedback we received from the survey. The names of those who could not be approached in the physical verification exercise by the booth level officers (BLO) were deleted under the instructions of the Election Commission of India. Still the entire process was not accurate,” she said.

Though no instructions were issued to BLOs to revisit the houses where the occupants could not be contacted, ample chance was given to them to ensure that their prescribed creditials were on record.

“The onus is on voters too. All those whose names were missing from the list were holding old cards made in early 90s and did not care to update them. We got published public notices for the summery of voters many a time through leading newspapers and people did approach the AROs concerned for hearing. The 50,000 new votes by April 7 is testimony to this,” said Kanta Devi, naib tehsildar (elections).

A BLO, preferring anonymity said: “The burden was too much. Moreover, meager payment of Rs 1,500 was not much comparative to the workload we had to handle. The most problems we faced were in the northern sectors where domestic helps did not give us proper feedback,” he said.

Another BLO said on finding home locked, a notice was pasted on their door to contact the election office.

Still, the missing of a whole block of PGI doctors’ apartment and HIG flats owners in Sector 45-A from the voters’ list raises doubts over the verification system.

Visually impaired Shayam Sunder Shukla, a resident of Sector 19 since 1988, had been bedridden for the past five months due to some injury he suffered in an accident.

He, too, had to return without casting his vote.

“I stay home most of the times. No one approached us for verification. Yesterday, I was denied my right to vote because my name was missing from the list.”

Agreeing to this, Hargunjit Kaur said: “We were short of election staff. There was a staff of just four in the election department and the supporting staff from other departments was called in for “n” number of times. What more can you expect in lieu of meager payments made to them. Still, we are into revamping the process and the final list of exact number of voters will be prepared soon,” she added.



Those who could not vote

Name Address

Vasudev 3054/1, Sec 44-D, Chd

Shyama ,,

Kanwaljit Kaur Bakshi 3195, Sector 44-D

Mangal Singh 1050/18C

Avinash Chand 13 Sector-19A

Gurbir Singh 1207, Sector 18-C

Navneet Kaur ,,

Dr PL Sharma 433, Sector 37 A

Mrs Urmil Sharma ,,

Dr Navneet Sharma ,,

Dr Urvashi Sharma ,,

Mukat Bihai Jain 335 RCS Society Sector 48 -A

Smt. Renu Jain ,,

Sumit Jain ,,

Punit Jain ,,

Sudarshan Aggarwal 1209, Sector 42-B

Anjana Menon 1073 G.F., Sector 39B

Sh. Kuldip Singh Janjua 171 A, Sector 8 A

Smt. Simrit Janjua ,,

Sh. Rajiv Singh Janjua ,,

Smt. Gauri Janjua ,,

Dr. Sandeep Singh Janjua ,,

Ranjit Singh 314, Sector 35-A

S.S.Sandhu 1003, Sector 27B

Preet Sandhu ,,

Upjeet Singh 555, Sector 36 B

Ramneet Kaur ,,

H.N.Kaul 455/ 15-A

Smt. Sarla Kaul ,,

Mrs. Renu Kaul ,,

Dr.Pankaj Kaul ,,

Ranjit Singh 314, Sector 35-A

Kapur Singh ,,

Amar Kaur ,,

Gurinder Singh ,,

Parminder Kaur ,,

Brig BS Virdi 1663, Sector 33-D

Mrs Kripal Virdi ,,

Vivek Prakash Suri 825, Sector-16

Sunil Kumar Malhotra 1896, Sector 34-D

Sanjeev Kumar Malhotra ,,

Dinesh Kumar Malhotra ,,

Seema Malhotra ,,

Rajesh Khosla ,,

Sangerta Khosla ,,

Janak Kundra 1635, Sector 18-D

Lalit Kundra ,,

Meenakshi Kundra ,,

Muneeshwar Joshi 1135, Sector 44-B

Shashi Joshi ,,

Dr.Anuradha Dhavan 88, Sector 16-A

Dr.Sandeep Dhavan ,,

Suraj Sharma 5755A, 38 West

Krishan Pal Sector 44

Salochna Rani ,,

Avneesh Rupal ,,

Ajit Jain 180, Sector 33-A

Ritu Jain ,,

Roop Aulakh 1629, Sector 18 D

N.P.S. Aulakh ,,

Dr Sourabh Dutta PGI Flats, Sector 24-A

Dr Usha Dutta ,,

Sapna Sharda 3001, Sector 21 D

Mrs Suman Lata 3159, Sector 21 D

Ram Lal 335, Sector 41-A

Smt. Kamla Devi ,,

Pawan Kumar ,,

Bhisham Chander ,,

Vinod 239, Sector 19 A

Kavita ,,

Kiranjeet Kaur 3069/1 Sector 44 D

Amit Soni 2179-80, Sector 22-C

K.L.Arora 316, Sector-38-A

Smt. Sarla Arora ,,

Davinder K. Arora ,,

Ashok Gupta 3255/2, Sector-40-D

Rama Gupta ,,

Harinder Kaur 2937, Sector 37-C

Barjinder Singh ,,

Mrs.Kanta Saroop Krishen 83, Sector 8 A

Vijay Kumar Mahajan 1143, Sector 37 B

Suman Sawhney 515, Sector 11-B

Rupesh Jamwal 1794, Sector 7

Ritesh Jamwal ,,

Sh Rachh Pal Singh Jamwal ,,

Pradeep Dawar 772, Sector 22-A

Ranjit Ram 1092, Sector 52

Shyam Lal Kashyap 1109, Sector 40-B

Kaushalya Devi ,,

Gurdev Singh 213, Sector 11-A

Satish 2296, Sector 35-C

Rajesh ,,

Satya Atam ,,

Archana ,,

J.S.Chawla 108, Sector 27-A

Vinod Prasad 153-A, Bilongi (Kharar)

Suman Prasad ,,



Elaborate security at counting centres
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14
Making elaborate security arrangements at the four counting centres in the city, the Chandigarh police has deployed a posse of policemen under the supervision of a DSP-rank officer at the each centre.

Sources in the police said police teams had been deployed at all four counting stations in Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26, Government College for Girls, Sector 42, Government College, Sector 46, and Government College, Sector 11.

A DSP-level officer would supervise the team consisting of an inspector, three non-gazetteed officers, three head constables, 12 constables.

Besides, a section of paramilitary force comprising around a dozen personnel would also remain deployed at the counting stations.

A police control room vehicle would remain stationed near the counting centre round-the-clock.



Project for adolescent girls
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 14
Starting “Project Kishori”, Rotary Club, Panchkula, has decided to initiate personal hygiene counselling and an educational programme for adolescent girls attaining puberty in government schools of town in discussions with district education department.

The project would be focused on the girls for the upkeep of personal hygiene relating to menstrual cycles.

“We are starting with Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Sector 15, and would be extending to other schools gradually,” said president of the club Pardeep Aggarwal.



Speaking Out
Literate voters make their mark

The unprecedented high voter turnout has elated the city inmates, which is attributed to the remarkable literacy levels and continuous campaigns emphasising the power of vote.



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