L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


77.5 pc cast vote in Ludhiana dist
Polling by and large peaceful barring minor untoward incidents
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
As many as 77.5 per cent voters in Ludhiana district cast their votes today in a free and independent environment. Except for minor hiccups and a few incidents of brawls, no major poll violation or violence was reported from the district on the polling day. People in large numbers, including women, senior citizens and first-time voters, went to exercise their right of franchise at respective polling stations today.

Hundreds of residents queue up at a polling station in Ludhiana on Monday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan and (right): Women voters in Dakha constituency. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

The sunny day also came to be an encouraging factor for voters who were seen enthusiastically casting their votes. The heavy turnout of voters “sealed” the fate of over 130 candidates (for 14 assembly constituencies in Ludhiana district) belonging to different political parties. The results will be declared after the counting at 14 “strong rooms” in the district on March 6.

Meanwhile, long serpentine queues were witnessed at nearly all booths in the city. The efforts put up by poll officials in the last five weeks was clearly visible, as there were no major complaints of any type of booth capturing, intimidation, violence or bribery. The Election Commission of India had been relentlessly enforcing the model code of conduct in the district for last five weeks and round-the-clock checking was being done by 57 flying squads and surveillance teams and by 42 model code of conduct enforcement teams for more than a month.

Jairam Prasad, a senior citizen, while commenting on “strict” arrangements made by the authorities said, “The polling day has passed peacefully, which is a good sign. Had there been any major violence or booth capturing incident, there could not be such good turnout of voters.”

Maximum turnout in Dakha

The maximum turnout of voters in the district was witnessed in the Dakha constituency (84 per cent). In Ludhiana city, the South constituency witnessed a maximum number of voters (80 per cent), while the minimum turnout was in the Ludhiana (North) constituency (58 per cent).


BJP leader, aides beaten up
Mohit Khanna

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Sanjay Kapoor, BJP leader and personal assistant (PA) of BJP candidate from the Ludhiana Central constituency Satpal Gosain, and his close aides were allegedly thrashed by a group of persons in the Field Gunj area here today. Sanjay was attacked by the mob in the morning when he was visiting the Field Gunj area to check the poll progress.

According to eyewitness, Sanjay, his close aides Karan, Saurav and Nipun, were also thrashed in a group clash.

Sanjay’s clothes were torn and he was rushed to Civil Hospital with serious head injuries.

Narrating the incident, Sanjay Kapoor said he received information that supporters of Amarjit Singh Madan, a PPP candidate from Ludhiana Central, and supporters of the Congress were offering cash for votes near the Kalgidhar Gurwara in Field Gunj.

“I saw Madan’s men and some Congress supporters distributing cash for votes. I objected to the malpractice and threatened them with reporting the matter to the returning officer (RO). This rattled supporters of the PPP and Congress, who attacked me and my sons with sharp-edged weapons,” said Sanjay Kapoor, while receiving treatment at Civil Hospital.

On the other hand, PPP candidate Amarjeet Singh Madan has strongly condemned the allegation.

“Our party is against corruption of any form. The BJP is baffled by the popularity of the PPP. It were the BJP workers who were indulging in cash-for-votes practice. They (BJP) failed to woo voters and they are a frustrated lot. It was Sanjay and his aides who attacked the PPP supporters instead. Our supporters are also in Civil Hospital treatment,” said Madan.

On the other hand, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Ashish Choudhary said, “We would probe the matter and strict action will be taken against the culprits for violating the Election Commission’s (EC’s) guidelines.”

I received information that supporters of Amarjit Singh Madan, a PPP candidate from Ludhiana Central, and supporters of the Congress were offering cash for votes near the Kalgidhar gurdwara in Field Gunj. I saw Madan’s men and Congress supporters distributing cash for votes. I objected to this and threatened them with reporting the matter to the returning officer. This rattled supporters of the PPP and the Congress, who attacked me and my sons with sharp-edged weapons.

— Sanjay Kapoor, BJP leader



Police, paramilitary forces go overboard
Create curfew-like situation in some parts of the city

Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 30
Though the police and paramilitary forces deployed for the assembly elections here did a commendable job to ensure by and large peaceful polling, in some parts of the city, local residents, shopkeepers and vendors faced a curfew-like situation created by certain overenthusiastic police personnel.

Residents of Bank Street, which connects the Old Court Chowk and Kailash Cinema Chowk and is the dividing geographical line between the Ludhiana North and Ludhiana West assembly segments, were shocked to find the entire stretch of the road barricaded at the both ends in the morning with no movement of vehicles allowed. They were told that the road had been closed as a security measure for ensuring peaceful polling at the booth set up in Mai Harkishan Kaur Dharamshala.

The police personnel manning the barricades were curtly turning away motorists and even vendors selling vegetables and fruit were not permitted to carry out their daily rounds of some half a dozen inner streets.

Eyewitnesses at the Kailash Chowk market alleged that the police forcibly got closed the shops selling items of daily need such as milk, bread, fruit and vegetables and the shopkeepers were told to disperse citing the closure orders issued by the district administration.

According to several residents, many of them had a difficulty in taking their vehicles out to go to polling stations or perform other household tasks. "The police definitely overstepped their brief," said a visibly upset Ravinder Verma, a businessman of the area. "The underlying idea behind the closure orders was to provide everybody an opportunity to exercise their right to vote. But, what the police is resorting to is nothing short of terrorising the people and restricting their movement which is contrary to the election spirit and the guidelines of the Election Commission of India," he added.

The Deputy Commissioner and the District Election Officer, Rahul Tiwari, told The Tribune that the orders for closure of shops, commercial establishments and factories were issued under the laws governing the shops and factories with the sole motive of the employees being given a paid holiday to exercise their right to vote.

"The police was not supposed to get the shops closed by force or restrict the movement of street vendors. Wherever complaints of this nature were received, immediate action was taken," he added.



Tension defused at Lohara
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Tension prevailed at a polling station in the Lohara area after independent candidate Balwinder Bains, Congress candidate Ashok Prashar Pappi and SAD candidate Hakam Singh Gyaspura, along with their supporters, gathered at a polling booth and started levelling allegations and counter-allegations against one other for influencing voters.

The incident took place here this afternoon, when certain Congress supporters had a heated argument with Bains’ supporters at a polling station located in a government senior secondary school at Lohara.

Soon Ashok Prashar Pappi and Balwinder Bains reached the spot and engaged in arguments. In the meantime, Mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura of the SAD, who was visiting the area, spotted the two groups standing near a polling station.

In not time SAD workers also gathered around the polling station. The gathering of supports of three heavyweight candidates caused a panic among the polling officer and residents of the area.

Taking proactive action, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Ashish Choudhary, along with police personnel, reached the spot and cordoned off the entire polling station. Vehicle moment was stopped and only pedestrians were allowed to enter the place.

Chaudhry said the situation was under control. Sumit Sharma, personal assistant (PA) of Ashok Prashar Pappi, said the Bains group was baffled with the kind of support the Congress had received and was trying to scuttle the electoral process by indulging in violent methods. On the other hand, Bains termed the allegation as baseless and alleged that Congress supporters were trying to influence voters by offering them liquor and money.



Poll shadow on Gandhi’s death anniversary
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Election din cast its shadow on the martyrdom day of father of the nation Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi as no politician or anyone from the Jalandhar administration visited the Gandhi Memorial in Phillaur to pay tributes today. As the entire country is observing a dry day, the boozers could easily be spotted at the Gandhi Memorial.

No one visited the banks of the Sutlej to observe the martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi.

It was here that a part of the Mahatma’s ashes were immersed. According to the local residents, the memorial has become a paradise for drug addicts and anti-social aliments.

The priest of a temple, which is situated close to the memorial, expressed concern over the plight of the memorial. He said though a sweeper tries his best to remove the liquor bottles from the Gandhi memorial, his effort goes in vain as the venue is swarmed by anti-social elements.

Gurmeet Singh “Lovely”, who visits the site regularly, was concerned over its poor condition. “The memorial of such a historic significance should be used for inspiring the youngsters, but sadly government is doing nothing. Instead, drug addicts have infested the place.”

A police academy is located barely a few metres way from the memorial, but even that has not prevented drug addicts from visiting the place.

Mani Dhaliwal, a resident of Phillaur, said: “Today no one came to pay tributes at the memorial. The place was a picture of utter neglect just like any other day and provides a safe shelter to all kinds of anti-social elements.” The memorial is of significance in the region as Mahatma Gandhi had chosen this place as one of the sites in North India where his ashes should be immersed. An urn containing ashes of Gandhiji was immersed in the Sutlej, near the old railway bridge, on February 12, 1948.

Gandhi Memorial haven for drug addicts

The memorial of such a historic significance should be used for inspiring the youngsters, but sadly the government is doing nothing. Instead, drug addicts have infested the place. — Gurmeet Singh, a visitor



‘Not to vote’ form not given: Voter
Puneet Pal Singh Gill

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
A person named Sukhwinder Singh Talwandi alleged that he was not handed over “form” 17A, which is related to “right not to vote” at a polling station in the Atam Nagar constituency. He said the election staff on duty told him to come after two hours if he wanted not to cast his vote.

Talwandi, who is president of an NGO alleged that when he went to cast his vote in Government Elementary School, Dashmesh Nagar, he demanded form 17A. “But the staff on duty claimed that it was not in possession of any such form. They even told me that I should come after two hours as they were busy. Due to such behaviour of the polling staff, I could not exercise my right of not to vote,” claimed Talwandi.

However, District Electoral Officer Rahul Tewari clarified that there was no form named 17A. “As per rule 49-O, if an elector decides not to vote and after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.”

Rule 49-O is a rule in The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 of India, which governs elections in the country. It describes the procedure to be followed when a valid voter decides not to cast his vote, and decides to record this fact. The apparent purpose of this section is to prevent the election fraud or the misuse of votes.

Another elector named Punit Kaur Nilibar, a resident of Model Town, was shocked when she received a voter slip with the name of one Rakesh Kumar. “Everything on the slip, including my photograph, was alright, but my name was mentioned as Rakesh Kumar, which was shocking. Thankfully, despite this problem, I was able to cast my vote,” she said.



Cast your vote, avail discount
Shopkeepers find novel way to encourage people to cast their vote

Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Encouraging voters to use their right to franchise, the owners of some of the stores in the city came up with attractive ideas. Customers were given the opportunity to avail themselves of discounts after showing their voting ink mark.

“Hot Breads” and “The Yellow Chilli” at the Sarabha Nagar market were offering 15 per cent discount. The board displayed outside the bakery reads: "Show the election mark and get 15 per cent discount on food".

"Yesterday, I came to “Hot Breads” to buy some stuff and got to know about the offer which sounded unusual but at the same time was appealing as well. I was excited as I was voting for the first time and on top of it this discount offer came as an icing on the cake. I, along with my friends, celebrated our first time voting in the evening and also availed ourselves of discount on the food," quips Jannat, a first-time voter.

Harjinder Singh, owner of “Hot Breads” said usually urban voters do not turn up to cast their vote and this was a small initiative from our side to encourage people to cast their vote.

"It was nice to see people availing themselves of discount and it gave me the feeling that I was able to do something to encourage people to vote. Maybe what I have done is very little but it gave me a satisfactory feeling," he added.

A gift gallery on the Cemetery Road is also offering 10 per cent discount to all those who have exercised their right to franchise. "It was fun to buy and avail discount just by showing an ink mark," said Kamal, a college student.

“Baba Papa” at Ghumar Mandi is offering 10 per cent discount to those who had cast their vote. "I came across the board outside the shop announcing one can get 10 per cent discount after showing the ink mark. It was a good effort on the part of the owner of the shop to encourage the people to vote," said Gagandeep, a visitor at the shop.



Women in forefront
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh/ Raikot/Payal, January 30
Despite sporadic allegations of mild rigging and violence by supporters of the SAD and Congress during the Assembly elections in Sangrur and Ludhiana districts, polling passed off peacefully with no untoward incident reported till the conclusion of polling.

Minor incidents were reported from some booths and villages, which had not been declared sensitive and most sensitive by the administration.

Approximately 70 per cent persons, including a record number of women and teenagers, cast their ballot amid tight security, though allegations of partiality by the polling staff in favour of the ruling party were levelled. However, SAD workers and leaders denied any campaign to coerce the voters.

Commotion prevailed at certain polling stations, as the opposing parties levelled allegations against each other. As the polling staff had managed to defuse situation with intervention of regional leaders, voting continued uninterrupted at these places.

Chhappar, Hargobindpura, Barundi, Latala, Pakhowal, Gujjarwal, Dehlon, Pohir, Gopalpur, Jagera, Malaudh, Sihar, Jandali, Baurhai, Kanganwal, Kup, Karamsar, Bilaspur, Guram and Kilaraipur were among the ages where political activity was more intense, besides towns.

In separate cases of attempts to woo voters near the polling booths, some persons were detained and let off by policemen on duty following intervention of senior Akali and Congress leaders. On its part, the district administration had taken elaborate measures to prevent any untoward incident.



Around 72 per cent cast ballot in Jagraon
Jaswant Shetra

Children accompany their father on the polling day in Ludhiana on Monday. tribune photo: himanshu mahajan

Jagraon, January 30
Around 72 per cent of total 1.58 lakh voters in the Jagraon Assembly constituency cast their ballots today. With this, the fate of four candidates, including Isher Singh Meharban of the Congress, SR Kaler of the SAD-BJP alliance, Major Singh of the Sanjha Morcha and an Independent and Congress rebel, Rajeshinder Singh Sidhu, was sealed in the electronic voting machines.

The highest turnout was witnessed at the polling booths in Jagraon town and periphery where more than 72 per cent voters exercised their voting right.

The turnout was more than 75 per cent in many polling booths of the town. In the rural areas, the turnout was witnessed around 68 per cent.

There was a great enthusiasm among voters, including elders, youngsters and women, for casting their votes. Many elderly people, who were not able to walk, were seen going to polling booths and casting their vote with the help of their family members.

There was no major incidence of violence reported in the constituency and the election process completed in a peaceful environment.

Prominent persons who used their voting right in the constituency included SAD candidate Shiv Ram Kaler, former MLA and district planning board chairman Bhag Singh Mallha, sitting MLA Gurdeep Singh Bhaini, former MP Gurcharan Singh Galib and SGPC member Gurcharan Singh Grewal.

Congress candidate Isher Singh Meharban did not cast his vote, as he has not been registered as a voter in the Jagraon Assembly constituency.

Meanwhile, several people complained of not receiving their voter slips due to which they could not cast their votes. The poll staff did not allow even a single person in the polling stations without an election identity card and voter slip.



Private schools pay less to teachers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in its norms for affiliation from the board states that schools should pay salaries at par with what is paid to teachers in government schools. But these norms in most of the CBSE schools in the city are not abided by.

Most of the teachers in the schools affiliated with the CBSE rue that they are not paid enough salaries.

Salaries of teachers in government schools is a lot better, as they get salaries according to cadres, regular increments and other allowances, whereas private schools give salaries according to their terms.

“There should be a government authority to see that the schools follow these norms, because without the government’s intervention, schools would continue to exploit teachers,” says Vijay, teaching at a private school.

“It is only the teachers that make up a good school. If they remain dissatisfied, how can they focus on giving good education,” said another teacher.

To make up for the lower salaries, teachers resort to tuitions. “I know running tuition classes for school teachers is not right, but many teachers run such classes, although covertly, as we have to manage our earnings through tuition classes,” said another teacher, requesting anonymity.

However, some of the principals of private schools admit that salaries are less, but there is little they can do about it. “Money would only come from the students and paying more to teachers would only put pressure on the students to pay more, making things difficult for them,” said a principal.



Migrants exercise right to vote
Manav Mander

Tribune News Service

A dummy electronic machine had been kept for the convenience of voters at one of the polling booths in Ludhiana on Monday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Ludhiana, January 30
Living away from their homes, the migrant population in the city today got an opportunity to cast their right to vote and give their say in forming the next government. While some have gone back home to cast their vote, others stayed back and cast their vote in the city, which offer them employment.

The maximum voting i.e. 80 per cent was recorded in the South constituency, which is predominately occupied by migrants. Three major constituencies, including South, East and Sahnewal, were dependent on the migrant votes.

If estimates are to be believed, there are nearly 60,000 migrant voters in the Ludhiana South constituency, while in Sanhewal and East constituencies, there are around 20,000 migrants, who have voting rights.

“Earlier, I thought of making my vote back home, but then I thought Ludhiana is the place where I have to live, so I made my vote here only. It was a special feeling to cast my vote,” said Daya Parshad, who works in a dyeing unit.

Yogesh who exercised his right to vote for the first time was all excited. “In all these years, I have never seen any politician visiting our colony, but during the elections, they were making rounds of our area everyday. This made me curious about the whole procedure and I came to know about the election process. I hope the candidate of my choice wins,” he added.

Vinod’s father has gone back home to cast his vote, but Vinod stayed back since his vote is registered here. “While my father’s vote is in our village, I am a voter of the South constituency of Ludhiana. I have exercised my vote carefully and hopes the right candidate wins,” he added.



Heavy turnout in Ludhiana (West)
Anupam Bhagria
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
A fair-like environment was witnessed at different polling stations in the Ludhiana West constituency, where a large number of voters turned up throughout the day today to cast their vote.

It was a bright sunny day and people were eager to head towards Government Primary School Barewal Awana, where the polling staff was eagerly awaiting them. Even the dug-up and broken roads leading to the polling station failed to dampen voters’ spirit.

Driving cautiously, Dr Davinder Grover said,"I parked my car about half a kilometre from the village, as the road is very topsy-turvy. I do not mind it, as I am here to avail my democratic right of voting."

At Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School BRS Nagar, which witnessed less number of voters till 10:30 am, voting steadily picked up pace and by 2 pm, about 35% voting was over there.

It was observed that many old, first-timers and even sick people also cast their vote enthusiastically.

Rashwain Kaur and Gagandeep Kaur, both MCA students, said, "This is the first time we cast our vote and feel ourselves empowered."

Dulari Kaushal (70), although facing difficulty in walking due to her swollen knees, cast her vote along with her grand-daughter Surkhab Kaushal at Barewal Awana.

Bhajan Kaur (94), who was too weak to walk and unable to see, was brought on wheel chair by her son DS Chawla at polling station of BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar. She said, "It is my democratic right to cast the vote, so I am here with the help of my son."

Walking with the help of her family members, Susheel Kaur (85) and a 75-year-old sick man Gulzar Singh were also looking equally enthusiastic when they came to cast their vote at their respective polling stations.



Leprosy-afflicted come forward to cast vote
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, January 30
Inmates of the Mahavir Kushat Ashram located on the southern bypass along the Sidhwan Canal near Doraha cast their vote with a hope that the new government may think of their rehabilitation in a better way.

As these leprosy victims had been served notices of evacuation due to the project of four laning, they had passed sleepless nights ever since. “What to talk of preventive or rehabilitative measures as proposed under the National Leprosy Eradication Programme, we are being denied and rather robbed of the place where we had been residing for the past more than 10 years. On one hand, the government is observing January 30 as the World Leprosy Day, while on the other hand, the leprosy afflicted were not even allowed to plead for an alternate arrangement,” rued Mahesh, one of the inmates of the Mahavir Kushat Ashram.

“The social disdain has turned us into outcasts, as we are now reduced to our own shells. Such is the treatment meted out to us that even the so-called God-fearing people, dreading contagious affliction, would drop the alms at our doorstep,” said another inmate.

“We hope that the coming government may be patient enough to listen to our pleas and at least make a proper arrangement for us before we are forced to evacuate this place due to the proposed four laning,” added another leprosy afflicted.

“Our vote may make all the difference. We just want to send across a message that on this day, which is officially dedicated to us, we demand nothing else but a roof over our heads. We hope that the coming government may at least regard us as equal human beings,” pleaded the inmates.



Polling peaceful in Atam Nagar
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
The Atam Nagar constituency, which witnessed a triangular contest, remained peaceful throughout the day. Before the polling, the Election Commission had kept a close vigil on this constituency as two arch rivals, Hira Singh Gabria (SAD) and Simarjit Singh Bains (Independent and Akali rebel) were in the fray. Malkit Singh Birmi, a two-time Cabinet minister, was the Congress candidate from this constituency.

Since the groups of both Gabria and Bains had clashed on earlier occasions and had even been vocal against each other, the Election Commission as well as the district administration had made elaborate security arrangements for controlling any untoward incident.

Ever since the polling started at 8 am, long queues of people could be seen at a total of 134 booths of the constituency, which witnessed 74 per cent polling today. The total number of voters in this constituency is 1,38,968, out of which 73,181 are male and 65,787 are female.

Ever since both the SAD as well as the Congress allotted tickets, problems had started brewing for Gabria and Bains. Bains, who at that time was district president of the Youth Akali Dal, had declared himself an independent candidate against Gabria while former Housefed Punjab chairman Krishan Kumar Bawa, along with other Congress men, had addressed a press conference against Birmi, terming him an “outsider”.

However Bawa had later claimed that all differences have been “sorted” out, but Bains remained in the fray and that is why, he along with his elder brother Balwinder Singh Bains, an SGPC member, were expelled from the Akali Dal.

Now that the fate of the candidates has been stored in EVMs, residents say they are expecting a new history to be created in Atam Nagar.



Age fails to dampen these voters’ spirit
Minna Zutshi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
It’s not only the candidates from the 14 Assembly constituencies of Ludhiana who had been waiting for the polling day. The city also had some keen voters, who despite their age and physical disabilities went ahead to cast their vote.

The voters and the officials on poll duty at Government Girls High School, Dakha, were in for a pleasant surprise when they saw a middle-aged man carrying an old man in his arms. "My father, who's around 100 years old, has never missed any opportunity to cast his vote. There is no reason why he should miss it today," said Avtar Singh, son of ex-serviceman Mahinder Singh, as he helped his father cast the vote.

Sixtyeight-year-old Sharanjit Kaur may be unable to walk, but it did not prevent her from casting the vote. Her son and daughter-in-law took her to the polling booth at Shaheed Colonel Harcharan Singh Sekhon Memorial Government Senior Secondary School at Dakha. Her big smile, after she had cast her vote, expressed her joy and thankfulness.

"I believe that we should exercise our right to vote under all circumstances. As a citizen of India, it's our duty to do this," said Major Singh, an octogenarian from the Ludhiana West constituency.

Another octogenarian husband-wife duo, who had come to cast their vote at Government Primary School in Barewal, said they considered it inauspicious if they ever failed to exercise their right to vote. "In 2007, I was down with fever, still I managed to reach the polling booth and cast my vote. Whenever I exercise my right to vote, I feel that I'm alive and my opinion holds a value," said 88-year-old Gursharan Kaur.

For 87-year-old Shiv Singh, former chairman, Improvement Trust, Ludhiana, the voting right is a fundamental right that should never be given a miss. "Let the new generation watch us, the senior citizens. Let them take a cue from us," said the man with an unfazed spirit.



‘Now, we feel mature enough'
Enthusiasm seen among first-time voters
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
The quantum of excitement was high among the first-time voters who were seen casting their valuable vote. New Year today became all the more special for the first-time voters of the city. Youngsters feel the power to press the button of the EVM has metamorphosed them from being a carefree to be a responsible citizen.

“Pressing one button made the difference. Now, I feel more responsible and mature enough who can give her choice in forming the government. I am looking forward to a government that can take the youth along in the decision-making,” adds Namrata Sharma, a BA student.

Casting his vote was an all together exciting experience for Navpreet Bhullar who is pursuing his diploma in computer applications. “It is a wonderful feeling but at the same time it also instills a sense of responsibility,” he quips.

“New Year has brought along with it the new responsibility for me. Casting the vote and getting that mark on my finger has suddenly made me a grownup,” said another student, Harpreet, who is pursuing BCom.

Harsimrat who is pursuing her engineering in civil stream at one of the colleges in Jalandhar, specially came here to cast her vote. “I could not have missed the chance to cast my precious vote. I came back home last night so that I can cast my vote. Every vote makes a difference and I cannot let my vote go waste,” she said.

Meanwhile, exceptions were also there. A group of youngsters strolling in the Sarabha Nagar market when asked if they have cast their vote said they do not want to vote.

“We are not interested in voting. Things are not going to change, whichever government comes. These politicians are fake and never live up to their promises,” echo the members of the group who are pursuing their graduation from a local college.



Over 75% polling in Khanna, Samrala
Gurminder Singh Grewal

Khanna/Samrala, January 30
Except some minor scuffle, the entire election process completed peacefully in the Khanna and Samrala constituencies today. Long queues were witnessed at several polling booths in villages and cities.

A visit to various booths by this correspondent revealed that polling was going smoothly at every booth. Newly married couples were also seen waiting for their turn to cast vote.

A minor scuffle occurred at Khanna between an election observer and the husband of an Akali municipal councillor. The Akali leader had raised an objection to the presence of a Congress leader in the booth. The election observer reached the scene and an Akali Dal supporter had an exchange of heated words with the observer. But they were frisked away by by the police before it could turn into a major scuffle.

At booth no, 45 in Mehndipur village, a presiding officer was replaced after he was found in an inebriated state as polling started in the morning.

Khanna SDM Inderjit Kaur Kang said about 81 per cent voting was reported in the Khanna constituency but the actual figure will be known later.

In the Samrala constituency about 76 per cent voting was reported and some voters were waiting for their turn to cast vote even after the stipulated time of 5 pm for the closure of voting. In Machhiwara, a major scuffle was averted between a BJP leader Congress supporters when a Congress leader alleged that the BJP leader was distributing money among voters. After a complaint in this regard, an election observer reached the scene and even raided the house and office of the BJP leader but nothing objectionable was found.



High- drama at Sukhdev hall in PAU over payment
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
High- Daram was witnessed at Sukhdev Hall in PAU, when the government employees who were deployed in reserve quota for election duty went on a rampage and complained that the administration employees denied giving them money for attending poll duty.

The incident took place when around 50 women and 15 men government employees, who were on a reserve poll duty, assembled at Sukhdev Hall and asked for payment.

Temper rose when the administration employees told that the money would be delivered to them in few days.

"We know that the administration employees had no intention to handover money and they just wanted to buy time. We had attended six rehearsals and kept sitting in the hall like other employee. We also deserve to be paid," said a women teacher requesting anonymity.

It was after the polling staff threatened to sit on a dharna that the administration employees softened its stand and agreed to give payments.

SAD Kuljitpal Singh Mahi said, "Payments were handed over to 50 women and 15 male members would also be handed over the money in few days time."



100 votes cancelled in constituency
Charanjit Singh Teja
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Several formalities and verifications have to be done to make a new vote, but when it comes to cancel a vote, it is, too, easy for election staff to cancel it without any verification. Satnam Singh, a resident of ward No. 61, Dugri, and a candidate of the Congress in municipal council elections, cast votes in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections. But in the state Assembly elections, name of Satnam Singh and his wife are missing from the voters’ list. When he enquired from the authorities, they told them that their votes were cancelled.

Not only Satnam Singh, more than 100 persons went back without voting in Atam Nagar constituency, as their votes were cancelled.

Satnam rued that there should be a criteria to cancel a vote. “I don’t know what was my fault. Is it a clerical mistake by the election staff or our opponent political party used their influence? There are a number of people who failed to vote because of cancellation.”

Jagir Kaur, whose vote was also cancelled, said, “I cast my vote for the first time around 45 years ago. But it happened for the first time that I found my vote cancelled. I did not shift my residence. I don’t know the reason of cancellation.”

Surjit Singh, booth-level official, said, “When someone tells us that the person left the location or died, then vote of the person concerned get cancelled.”



‘Scene at polling booth’ actualised for students
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, January 30
“Now that we have observed the entire scene with our own eyes, there is no need for us, at least to cram the paragraph on ‘a scene at a polling booth,’ especially marked important, by our teacher, for the coming annual examinations,” expressed Tamanna of class VII of Doraha Public School.

“I would get bored cramming the lines. But today as I went, reluctantly to one of the polling booths along with my grandmother, I then realised how interesting the whole process is. I felt as if, the lines of the paragraph were coming alive in before me,” said Nitika.

“The companions of those contesting elections had pitched their tents. They issued identity slips to those voters who went to them. Sometimes, a volunteer of the particular group even assisted the voters to reach the polling booth,” said Jatin.

“A minor dispute over the identity of a voter arose. The presiding officer finally decided whether the voter could cast his vote or not. I even witnessed the situation becoming tense as the supporters of two contestants faced but it was normalised by the police intervention,” she added.



Health staff remain on toes
Anupam Bhagria
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Although employees of the health department were not deputed on polling stations, they remained alert throughout the day in their respective dispensaries and hospitals.

Dr Karanveer Goel, senior medical officer, Lord Mahavir Civil Hospital, said, “To combat with any causality, I instructed all surgeons and doctors to remain alert throughout the day.”

However, all 45 government dispensaries, commonly known as mini primary health centres and dispensaries, led by the Zila Parishad also remained opened throughout the day. Dr Hardeep Singh, president PCMS Association, Punjab, who is the medical officer at Sunet dispensary, said, “We did not come across any untoward incident and kept attending routine patients.”

While Jatin Malhotra, cluster in charge of “Ambulance 108” service in Ludhiana, said, “I also issued special instructions to my staff to stay alert today, but everything remained peaceful.”



Cong, SAD workers clash
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, January 30
Workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) alleged that supporters of the Congress abused them at a polling booth here today. The Congress leaders and police, on the other hand, seemed to be in a denial mode.

As per information, Congress candidate Vikram Bajwa came to cast his vote at a polling booth in the town. One of his supporters tried to enter the booth forcefully and officials on duty stopped him from doing so. Not only this, the supporters allegedly abused Baljit Singh, an Akali supporter standing nearby.

According to Baljit Singh, president, Gurdwara Reru Sahib and an Akali supporter, “The Congress leader not only tried to enter by force but also abused me.”

As per Congress candidate Vikram Bajwa, “Nothing of such sort has happened.” The Sahnewal DSP, too, expressed ignorance about the issue when inquired.

Eyewitnesses, however, affirmed that the situation became tense, as both parties got entangled and only security personnel, deputed at the place, brought the situation under control.



Environment concern
CBSE uploads video to update students
Charanjit Singh Teja
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced a new programme “Environmental advice” for school students. The move has been taken to change the mindset of next generation about environment concerns.

A documentary film named "Our Earth" has been uploaded on the CBSE website to mak students aware of environment. In the video, all issues discussed are concerned with the environment. It throws light on the major issues like Green House effect, hole in the ozone layer, melting glaciers and global warming.

"Our teacher advised us to watch the video on the website of the CBSE. I watched it and found it too interesting,” said Harpreet Singh a student of 7th class.

"I have seen the documentary on the website. It was impressive. If we want to live on the earth more, we should think about the environment. It is the best way to aware the students," said Gurmeet, teacher in a local school.



Anti-Leprosy Day observed

Ludhiana, January 30
The IMA, Ludhiana, observed World Leprosy Day here today at Kushth Ashram. Doctors, including Dr DP Singh Arora, president IMA, Ludhiana, Dr Bimal Kanish and Dr Ravneet Kaur, a skin specialist, Dr Arun Gupta, Dr Suman Bali and Dr Amit Khanna went to Kushth Ashram, Islamganj, Ludhiana. Dr Bimal Kanish and Dr Ravneet Kaur examined the patients.

Dr DP Singh Arora said leprosy was a curable disease. The World Leprosy Day is observed internationally on January 31 or on it’s nearest Sunday to increase the public awareness of the leprosy or Hansen's disease. — TNS



SAD candidate’s brother booked
Was trying to detain a Congress worker and snatch voters’ list from him

Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Harbir Ayali, younger brother of Manpreet Ayali, SAD candidate from Dakha, and his close aides were booked by the Jodha police for detaining a Congress worker and snatching voter list from the latter in Dhulkot village here today.

According to the complainant Gurmail Singh, Harbir and his aides stopped him while he was travelling towards Dhulkot village to visit a polling station.

The case under Sections 341 and 382 of the IPC, for wrongly restraining any person and snatching valuables, was registered by the Jodha police following a complaint by Gurmail Singh of Dhulkot village and the police was further investigating the issue, said SHO Jodha police station.

Initially, the police was dilly-dallying on the issue and thought that the matter would subside by evening.

But Gurmail along with other Congress workers lodged a complaint with District Election Officer.

It is learnt that Congress candidate Jassi Khangura brought the matter to the notice of Chief Election Commissioner Kusumjit Sidhu, which prompted the police to register the case.

Manpreet Ayali was not available for comments, but the SAD workers have strongly condemned the filing of police case against Harbir and his aides.

They complained that the case was motivated and Harbir was implicated in a false case.

Manhandling complaint

Gurpreet Singh, poll agent of independent candidate Daljeet Grewal, complained that supporters of SAD candidate Ranjit Dhillon manhandled him while he was looking at the poll proceedings in Decent Public School in Karamsar Colony near the Jodhewal Basti area.



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