SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Poll Progress
Outsiders being scrutinised
Amritsar, April 28
In the endeavour to conduct free and fair poll, a hawk's eye is being kept on the visitors to the holy city ahead for the elections scheduled for April 30 here. In yet another sudden development, the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Amritsar Rural, Gurpreet Gill, has been transferred following an objection raised by the Congress candidate, Capt Amarinder Singh, who expressed doubt about the integrity of the official.

11,000 officials to oversee elections
Amritsar, April 28
With the campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections coming to an end today, the district electoral authorities have made elaborate arrangements to ensure smooth polling in the urban as well as rural areas of the constituency.

Many reasons to remember these LS elections
Amritsar, April 28
This General Election for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat will be remembered for many reasons as the candidates released separate blue prints for the holy city, social media and street plays were used to woo the electorate and the district election office came out with various plans to encourage voters to vote.



EARLIER STORIES


Team Modi stages a street play in Amritsar on Monday. Creative campaigning on last day of canvassing
Amritsar, April 28
The last day of canvassing went by with the expected rush and energy. There were raod shows, rallies, pit-stop speech sessions and a lot more as all parties wrapped up their poll campaingns. Team Modi Punjab, campaign volunteers roped in by the BJP, made most of the day. With two back-to-back musical marches, over 125 artistes and volunteers marched on city roads. Singing songs, impromptu live acts with musical instruments, and shouting slogans, they interacted with the voters and encouraged them to vote. They also got together a group of local folk musicians, who performed promotional songs with a 'daphali'.
Team Modi stages a street play in Amritsar on Monday. A Tribune photograph

80% voters don't know about NOTA option
Amritsar, April 28
A few days ago, the Amritsar administration had roped in social activists and NGOs to initiate a drive to educate people about the availability of the new option NOTA (none of the above) in the EVMs, but the exercise could not apparently bring desired results.

Supporters paste posters of BJP primeministerial candidate Narendra Modi on a wall, Hall Gate; and (right) AAP activists paste posters of the party candidate in Company Bagh in violation of the model code of conduct in Amritsar.

battle of ballot: Supporters paste posters of BJP primeministerial candidate Narendra Modi on a wall, Hall Gate; and (right) AAP activists paste posters of the party candidate in Company Bagh in violation of the model code of conduct in Amritsar. Tribune photographs

Security arrangements in place for poll
Jawans of paramilitary forces alight from a truck in Amritsar on Monday.Amritsar, April 28
Over 3,000 policemen and jawans of the paramilitary forces have been deputed in the city for conducting free and fair elections. With no past record of violence during the parliamentary elections, the city police is expecting violence-free elections this time also. However, Police Commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said they were ready for any eventuality and determined to ensure peaceful elections.
Jawans of paramilitary forces alight from a truck in Amritsar on Monday. photo: vishaal kumaar

Wheat procurement to pick up pace in days ahead
Amritsar, April 28
Government agencies have procured 1,08,861 tonnes of wheat from various grain procurement centres in the district. About 3,086 tonnes of wheat has been procured by private players.

Youth urged to participate in electoral process through candlelight ceremony
Amritsar, April 28
People take part in a candlelight ceremony at the Khalsa College grounds in Amritsar on Monday. The district administration today resorted to a unique way to motivate the youth to participate in the electoral process on April 30. The administration, headed by Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Electoral Officer Ravi Bhagat, held a candlelight ceremony at the Khalsa College grounds in the evening, in which hundreds of youngsters, a majority of whom were first-time voters, pledged to cast their vote on April 30.
People take part in a candlelight ceremony at the Khalsa College grounds in Amritsar on Monday. A Tribune photograph


As the high-pitch elections raised the political temperature, a school student carries flags of a political party in Amritsar on Monday.
we, too, matter: As the high-pitch elections raised the political temperature, a school student carries flags of a political party in Amritsar on Monday. A Tribune photograph

PSEB hikes price of books
Amritsar, April 28
Though new rates for Punjab School Education Board textbooks have come into effect, these have not been changed on previously published books, resulting in confusion among buyers.

Illicit liquor recovered
Amritsar, April 28
The Amritsar rural police seized 1,800 litres of lahan (raw material for the preparation of liquor) and about 87 litres of illicit liquor in five separate instances at Nangal Wanjawala village in Ajnala and Rattangarh village. Two persons were arrested in this regard while seven fled.

Programme on cancer awareness held
Amritsar, April 28
The Tata Memorial Cancer Institute, Mumbai, organised a cancer awareness programme for the faculty and the students of Government Nursing College here today.

People have a look the paintings during an exhibition at KT Art Gallery in Amritsar on Monday.
Relishing the art: People have a look the paintings during an exhibition at KT Art Gallery in Amritsar on Monday. photo: RK SONI

Health Department puts its staff on alert
Amritsar, April 28
The Health Department has asked its employees to remain on duty on the election day in view of any emergency. The department has instructed doctors and other medical staff to remain available on the day in case of any emergency.

campus notes
Cricket tournament
Khalsa College Public School (KCPS) bagged the overall trophy of the two-day Sahodaya Inter-School Cricket Tournament (T-10) at Delhi Public School (DPS) here on Monday. Sixteen teams from different CBSE-affiliated schools had participated in the tournament. KCPS and host DPS reached the final and the former trounced the latter to lift the trophy. Arshdeep Singh of KCPS won the best fielder award. Samarjeet Singh was awarded man of the match. School Principal Dr Sarvjit Brar said the sports infrastructure in the school had been strengthened, which led to such a positive result.

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Poll Progress
Outsiders being scrutinised
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
In the endeavour to conduct free and fair poll, a hawk's eye is being kept on the visitors to the holy city ahead for the elections scheduled for April 30 here. In yet another sudden development, the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Amritsar Rural, Gurpreet Gill, has been transferred following an objection raised by the Congress candidate, Capt Amarinder Singh, who expressed doubt about the integrity of the official.

These steps have been taken to ensure peaceful elections. The presence of some persons could influence peace and harmony in the district. The district Electoral Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Ravi Bhagat, has told the police to make sure that all outsiders, who were putting up in the city for political campaigning, must leave the city as campaigning had ended at 6pm today.

To comply with the directions of the Election Commission of India, the Police Commissioner, Jatinder Aulakh, said that all Assistant Commissioners of Police and SHOs concerned had been told to check hotels, guest houses, restaurants, community halls, lodges, etc for any unauthorised stay of outsiders.

Bhagat said this exercise was being conducted for those visitors who had affiliation with any political party and were here for campaigning. “We have to ensure that they must leave the city as the campaigning ended today, i.e. exactly 48 hours before the elections. The hotel owners have also been told to maintain a list of their guests who could be verified,” he said.

However, these orders will not be applicable for elected members of the Lok Sabha or the MLAs.

There are around 400 hotels, serais and inns in the city. Election officials said that the Amritsar Hotel and Restaurant Association and other hotel associations could be roped in to comply with the guidelines of the Election Commission.

These orders, however, will not be applicable shall remain withheld for the elected members of Lok Sabha and MLAs. Meanwhile, all liquor shops falling within the district jurisdiction will remain closed till 6pm on April 30.

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11,000 officials to oversee elections
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
With the campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections coming to an end today, the district electoral authorities have made elaborate arrangements to ensure smooth polling in the urban as well as rural areas of the constituency.

About 11,000 officials have been pressed into the service for the elections. Of these, 2,694 are presiding officers, equal number of them are additional presiding officers and 5,392 are polling officers.

With a objective of foiling any mischief on the polling day 20 critical polling booths have been selected, which would be continuously monitored by officials through webcasting

District Election Officer Ravi Bhagat said to ensure the highest-level of security for EVMs in strong rooms, infra-red cameras with the night-vision facility would be installed inside and outside the strong rooms. These cameras will be operational round-the-clock till the day of counting. The viewing screens for these cameras will be fixed outside the strong rooms so that any political party or the candidate could look at the video anytime. 

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Many reasons to remember these LS elections
Social media, street plays emerge effective tools
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
This General Election for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat will be remembered for many reasons as the candidates released separate blue prints for the holy city, social media and street plays were used to woo the electorate and the district election office came out with various plans to encourage voters to vote.

A resident of Kashmir Avenue, Surjit Sharma, said," Conventionally the Lok sabha elections were always less vociferous in comparison to the Assembly and civic body elections. Only a handful of candidates used to be in the fray. However, this time 23 candidates are in the fray."

“What impressed the people the most was the fact that the candidates spell out their plans about the city," he said. Besides, it was for the first time since the Partition that a Muslim candidate is contesting from Amritsar. Yusuf Mohammad, 34, is contesting on the Samajwadi Party ticket. Another contestant from the Christian community is Rehmat Masih (55). He is contesting as an Independent.

A resident of New Golden Avenue, Harpinder Singh, said it was for the first time that the people received messages from the candidates on their mobile phones. Street plays were also staged to woo the voters.

He added that being a city resident, he was more concerned about the issue of property tax and other taxes. Due to the initiative of the district administration, city-based hotels, restaurants and dhabas has also announced to extend 30 per cent concession on food and one night stay to the first-time voters this time.

The district administration in collaboration with the public roped in volunteers to spread information about NOTA (none of the above) among the voters.

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Creative campaigning on last day of canvassing
Neha Saini
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
The last day of canvassing went by with the expected rush and energy. There were raod shows, rallies, pit-stop speech sessions and a lot more as all parties wrapped up their poll campaingns.

Team Modi Punjab, campaign volunteers roped in by the BJP, made most of the day. With two back-to-back musical marches, over 125 artistes and volunteers marched on city roads. Singing songs, impromptu live acts with musical instruments, and shouting slogans, they interacted with the voters and encouraged them to vote. They also got together a group of local folk musicians, who performed promotional songs with a 'daphali'. The musical procession was first held at Lawrance Road and later inside the Hall Gate.

Sanjay Verma, state president, Team Modi Punjab, said, "Since the state goes to poll in a day, we wanted to get the maximum audience and encourage high number of voting. The march was about educating, entertaining and ensuring that people get interested." Verma's team has been running creative campaigns throughout Punjab with street plays, musical acts and roping in some noted artistes to contribute to the educating drive.

While they have been travelling to Patiala, Ludhiana, Moga, Jalandhar and Amritsar, another creative team headed by Gurvinder Sandhu has been doing shows, three hours every day, for the past one month to educate voters. With over 3,300 volunteers and artises, the creative campaigning in the city was one of the most important aspects of the election process.

The AAP, too, indulged in some last moment campaigning with its volunteers driving down city roads, putting on special songs and waving the now famous broom. Dancing away with the crowd, they seemed upbeat about the D-Day.

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80% voters don't know about NOTA option
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

I have no knowledge about NOTA. There has been high publicity which speaks about the voters’right and the way to conduct elections, but I have not seen a single line describing about this option on the EVM.
Neeraj Saini, media marketing official

I'm aware of this option and have made up my mind to go for NOTA because none of the candidates in the fray could live up to my expectations. I appreciate that such an option will be there for letting us register our resentment.
Anju Jolly, KT Art Gallery official

I did not like any of the candidates who are in the fray from here. I was thinking of staying at home only on the voting day till I came to know about NOTA just now from you. I will go to the polling booth and exercise my right by pressing NOTA.
Amar Kumar, tailor

I have been voting all through my life but have never heard about any option like NOTA on the EVM.
Tripta Bhandari, housewife

Amritsar, April 28
A few days ago, the Amritsar administration had roped in social activists and NGOs to initiate a drive to educate people about the availability of the new option NOTA (none of the above) in the EVMs, but the exercise could not apparently bring desired results.

The Tribune team randomly talked to the residents here to know how aware they were of this option. Astonishingly, for above 80 per cent of them, NOTA was some abbreviation they did not know.

A social activist, Parbodh Bali, had approached the Election Commission of India (EC), complaining that the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Punjab, has done little to educate the public about NOTA.

Bali, the district president of an NGO, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, had volunteered to take up the task to educate people about using their right to vote the way they want. He has pamphlets, stickers and other informative material on NOTA. He has been putting up audio-visual exhibitions at different places in the constituency on a daily basis to make people aware.

“But, as the poll day came nearer, I approached VS Sampath, Chief Election Commissioner of India, to take notice of it and give necessary instructions”, he said.

Disagreeing with Bali, Additional Deputy Commissioner Pardeep Sabharwal said awareness about NOTA was being spread as a part of SVEEP (Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation) programme. “We have been conducting awareness camps and lectures besides live demonstrations on EVMs on how to cast a vote. The city residents have been told extensively about the NOTA button and its significance,” he said.

Systemic change
The Supreme Court has observed in its judgement, “Giving the right to a voter not to vote for any candidate, while protecting his right of secrecy, is extremely important in a democracy. Such an option gives the voter the right to express his disapproval of the kind of candidates being put up by the parties. Gradually, there will be a systemic change and the parties will be forced to accept the will of the people and field candidates who are known for their integrity.”

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Security arrangements in place for poll
Over 3,000 policemen, jawans of paramilitary forces to ensure free and fair elections
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
Over 3,000 policemen and jawans of the paramilitary forces have been deputed in the city for conducting free and fair elections. With no past record of violence during the parliamentary elections, the city police is expecting violence-free elections this time also. However, Police Commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said they were ready for any eventuality and determined to ensure peaceful elections. "No one will be allowed to tinker with the law and order situation," he added.

Out of 310 polling stations in the city, the administration has identified 115 polling stations as hypersensitive while 159 polling stations have been declared as sensitive. Ten companies of the paramilitary forces, consisting of 720 jawans, have arrived in the city.

The paramilitary forces have been deputed at all hypersensitive booths besides 62 sensitive polling stations. A total of 1,887 jawans have been deputed at 310 polling stations.

The Police Commissioner said every Assembly segment-North, Sourth, East, West and Central-and five polling booths in the Attari Assembly segment have been divided into sectors and three policemen had been deputed in every sector to patrol the area round-the-clock. A total of 71 patrolling parties have been constituted, he added.

The police said around 16 police parties at check posts would keep a watch on the outer areas.

Crackdown on criminals

The city police have taken 287 persons in preventive custody since the imposition of the model code of conduct. The police authorities informed that 98 per cent of the licensed arms have been deposited with them. The police have nabbed 65 proclaimed offenders so far. Static surveillance teams and flying squads had confiscated over Rs 1.14 crore in the past few days, which were released after proper verification. Till now, the police have seized one kg of heroin, over 9,000 intoxicant capsules, 500 gms of smack, 1.26 kg of narcotic powder,500 gms of opium and 3.45 kg of poppy husk.

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Wheat procurement to pick up pace in days ahead
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
Government agencies have procured 1,08,861 tonnes of wheat from various grain procurement centres in the district. About 3,086 tonnes of wheat has been procured by private players.

District Mandi Officer Sukhwinder Singh Khaira said 1,27,928 tonnes of wheat had arrived in the market out of which 1,11,947 tonnes of wheat had been procured by the government and private agencies.

Khaira said the arrival of produce would pick up pace in the upcoming days. Though farmers have started harvesting of wheat crop, a large number of them are waiting for the completion of the electoral process. Till now, of the 58 procurement centres in the district, only 20 have started functioning. The harvesting of wheat crop was delayed by the prolonged winter and heavy rainfall. “By the time the elections are over, labour will be more readily available.

At present, most of the farmers and labourers are busy attending political gatherings,” said a commission agent at the Bhagatwala grain market. Khaira said the Punjab Mandi Board had completed all preparations for the procurement process.

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Youth urged to participate in electoral process through candlelight ceremony
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
The district administration today resorted to a unique way to motivate the youth to participate in the electoral process on April 30. The administration, headed by Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Electoral Officer Ravi Bhagat, held a candlelight ceremony at the Khalsa College grounds in the evening, in which hundreds of youngsters, a majority of whom were first-time voters, pledged to cast their vote on April 30. Candles were lit on a raised platform.

Speaking on the occasion, Bhagat said the very act of lighting a candle was an affirmation by the youngsters that they would exercise their right on the election day. He said candlelight marches are often held as a mark of protest but pehaps for the first time the method was used to spread a positive message.

Almost 30 per cent of the country's population consists of youngsters and it is they who can usher in a change.

The ceremony highlighted the fact that it is the youth power that needs to be made aware of its rights and duties towards the nation and the ceremony was held to motivate them for participation in the electoral process.

The entire civil administration, including the Deputy Commissioner, additional DCs, the clerical staff as well as the election observers were present on the occasion.

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PSEB hikes price of books
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
Though new rates for Punjab School Education Board textbooks have come into effect, these have not been changed on previously published books, resulting in confusion among buyers.

The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) publishes books for government school students in the state. These books are generally sold to private shopkeepers, associated and affiliated schools. As per the norms, these schools must procure books sufficient for 60 per cent of their students. The price of Class VI social studies book has been increased to Rs 74 from Rs 72. Similarly, the price of Class VI physical education book has been increased to Rs 14 from Rs 11. The PSEB is charging Rs 35 for a computer science book, which was earlier sold at Rs 33. The price of other syllabus books has also been increased by the PSEB.

Many private schools said parents were not ready to accept that the price of books has been increased with immediate effect while previous edition books carried the old price tag. When contacted, the officiating manager of the PSEB's Amritsar office, Pawandeep Singh, accepted that the price of books had been increased. He advised the schools to publish the new rate list.

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Illicit liquor recovered

Amritsar, April 28
The Amritsar rural police seized 1,800 litres of lahan (raw material for the preparation of liquor) and about 87 litres of illicit liquor in five separate instances at Nangal Wanjawala village in Ajnala and Rattangarh village. Two persons were arrested in this regard while seven fled.

The police seized 720 kg, 540 kg and 540 kg of lahan during a raid at Nangal Wanjawala village. Those arrested are Harpal Singh and Sitara Singh. The police also seized 51 litres of illicit liquor from Gurditta Singh.

Meanwhile, the police recovered 36 litres of illicit liquor from Rattangarh village. — TNS

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Programme on cancer awareness held

Amritsar, April 28
The Tata Memorial Cancer Institute, Mumbai, organised a cancer awareness programme for the faculty and the students of Government Nursing College here today.

The two-day awareness programme was inaugurated by the Vice-Principal of Government Medical College, Dr Barjinder Pal Singh Bal. The Principal of Government Nursing College (GNC), Kanwaljit Kaur, who was the convenor of the programme, said the session would help the students and the faculty in learning better techniques for the care of cancer patients.

The four-member team from the cancer institute deliberated upon various aspects and treatment of cancer. The project officer of the team, N Bumani, said the employees of the health sector and public at large should be made aware of the various aspects of cancer and its treatment. — TNS

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Health Department puts its staff on alert
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
The Health Department has asked its employees to remain on duty on the election day in view of any emergency. The department has instructed doctors and other medical staff to remain available on the day in case of any emergency.

Department officials said several teams had been constituted, which would remain ready at all health institutions in an emergency. Civil Surgeon Dr Usha Bansal said all arrangements as per the Election Commission of India have been made. She said extra staff had been deployed at all health institutions in the district.

The district has around 40 health institutions. Dr Bansal said arrangements for the emergency medical services had been made. Meanwhile, the pharmacists association, which had opposed assigning of poll duties to the technical health staff, has failed to get any respite from the local administration. Association president Shamsher Singh Kohri and general secretary Kishore Sharma said, "The administration has failed to follow the orders of the High Court. Assigning poll duties to the technical staff is a violation of the ECI guidelines."

Kohri said they would attend their duty as assigned by the administration but would file a contempt of court case against the administration soon.

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campus notes
Cricket tournament

Khalsa College Public School (KCPS) bagged the overall trophy of the two-day Sahodaya Inter-School Cricket Tournament (T-10) at Delhi Public School (DPS) here on Monday. Sixteen teams from different CBSE-affiliated schools had participated in the tournament. KCPS and host DPS reached the final and the former trounced the latter to lift the trophy. Arshdeep Singh of KCPS won the best fielder award. Samarjeet Singh was awarded man of the match. School Principal Dr Sarvjit Brar said the sports infrastructure in the school had been strengthened, which led to such a positive result.

Competition to promote Internet

To promote Internet, the postgraduate department of computer science and information technology at DAV College organised a competition on digital film design on its campus recently. During the programme, many competitions were organised. Students of BMM (bachelor of multimedia), of second, fourth and sixth semester participated in the event. The final entries will be uploaded on the CMAI website for the final selection.

Placement drive

Gurmeet Sharma, director, Eureka Electrosoft Solutions, and his team visited Global Institutes to conduct a placement drive in association with Punjab Technical University. The drive was conducted by the company for their live project at Uganda. More than 150 students from various engineering institutes of Punjab participated in this joint campus placement drive. The company shortlisted 22 students and offered a package of Rs 3.6 lakh per annum. — TNS

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Feedback

Amritsar Tribune invites feedback from its readers on issues of public concern relating to Amritsar city and the nearby areas. Readers can email their views to [email protected]

They can also send their views to: Feedback, Amritsar Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh - 160029. Letters sent by post must mention 'Feedback for Amritsar Tribune' on the envelope and it should be signed and must contain the address and telephone number of the sender. It should not be more than 150 words.

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