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Red carpet welcome wins hearts
Amritsar, April 30
Red carpet welcome, courteous staff, cold potable water amidst playing of patriotic songs won the hearts of the electorate at the 182 model polling booths in the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.
Voters walk down the red carpet at a polling both in Amritsar on Wednesday. Voters walk down the red carpet at a polling both in Amritsar on Wednesday. Photos: RK Soni

Innovative ways woo voters this time
Amritsar, April 30
Distribution of liquor and ‘under the table’ gifts to lure the voters is an open secret during polls. This time prior to the polls, certain political parties have devised novel ways to reach their 'targeted hands' and supplied liquor, cash, suits and even the CFL bulbs and flour sacks while bypassing the hawk eyes of the Election Commission.


EARLIER STORIES


1. People wait in a queue to cast their votes; 2. Visually impaired voters show inked fingers after casting their votes; 3. A man helps an elderly person in Amritsar on Wednesday.

Star voters: 1. People wait in a queue to cast their votes; 2. Visually impaired voters show inked fingers after casting their votes; 3. A man helps an elderly person in Amritsar on Wednesday. Photos: RK Soni

Polling officer marks the finger of a woman with indelible ink at a polling booth at Majitha on Wednesday. Women vote for change, strong leader
Amritsar, April 30
With 49 per cent of the total electorate, women have been cited as game changers in the Lok Sabha polls. Coming all out to exercise their democratic right, they made sure that they matched the strength and enthusiasm of men for the elections.

Polling officer marks the finger of a woman with indelible ink at a polling booth at Majitha on Wednesday. Photo: RK soni

NOTA: Majority not aware
Amritsar, April 30
While the Election Commission has given an option of NOTA (none of the above) to the electorate for the first time, a majority of the voters were not aware about it. The reason for this lapse could be attributed to less publicity carried out by the administration. Nonetheless, there was a little percentage of voters in the queue who had come to register their participation in the voting process by opting NOTA.

First-timers excited on being part of democratic process
Amritsar, April 30
As anticipated, the first time voters in the city made the most of the election day. The most enthusiastic of the voting lot, most of them reached the spot early in the morning.

First time voters show voting cards and certificates awarded to them by electoral officers at polling booths in Amritsar on Wednesday.

First time voters show voting cards and certificates awarded to them by electoral officers at polling booths in Amritsar on Wednesday. photo: RK SONI

Miscreants manhandle doctors, hospital staff
Amritsar, April 30
Two instances of manhandling doctors and hospital staff at government hospitals, within the last 24 hours, have brought to light the inadequate security arrangements for the medical staff.

Diesel sale jumps 15 per cent in April
Amritsar, April 30
The filling stations in the district recorded around 15 per cent surge in the sale of diesel in this month owing to the campaigning for the general elections and the harvesting season.

Miscreants hack websites of three city-based hotels
Amritsar, April 30
In a bizarre incident, the websites of three city-based premium hotels were hacked through an unknown Internet Protocol (IP) address.

Two arrested for creating ruckus at Civil Hospital
Amritsar, April 30
Two persons of a group were arrested for creating a ruckus in the room of emergency medical officer at Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Civil Hospital late last evening.

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Red carpet welcome wins hearts
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 30
Red carpet welcome, courteous staff, cold potable water amidst playing of patriotic songs won the hearts of the electorate at the 182 model polling booths in the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.

Children enjoy themselves; and (right) voters drink cold water to beat the scorching heat while waiting for their turn at a polling booth in Amritsar.
Children enjoy themselves; and (right) voters drink cold water to beat the scorching heat while waiting for their turn at a polling booth in Amritsar.

A voter, Kiranjot Kaur, 48, said she has been casting votes for nearly three decades and has seen the transition from casting slip ballots in boxes to the EVMs. However, it was for the first time that she saw red carpet treatment given to the electorate with all basic amenities. Her polling booth was housed in the super model polling booth at Manav Public School.

She was surprised to see the children accompanying their parents and enjoying and playing with toys. They were also given candies by the staff.

Another voter Harkanwar Singh, an engineer, said he did not attempt to know the status of the rush of voters at his polling booth. However, he liked the arrangements made at the polling booth. "It was all convenient and smooth walk in and out of the polling booth," he said.

With the district electoral authorities setting up model polling booths in Amritsar North Assembly segment, equipped with a string of facilities and ready to roll out a red carpet welcome to the electorate, we spoke to the voters to find out their take on the EC move.

Another voter Romit Seth, a businessman, said sufficient supply of cold potable water was made available at the polling booth which was vital in the scorching heat. He said it was convenient to cast the ballots as the chairs were made available for the aged and infirm.

DEO-cum-DC Ravi Bhagat said in all, 182 model polling booths were set up in the Amritsar North Assembly constituency of the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.

In these model polling booths, voters were given a red carpet welcome with red roses, tilak, wheel chairs were available and so were candies and toys for kids with caretakers.

Besides, some super model polling booths were also installed. Super model polling booths differed from model polling booths as the former were situated in the air-conditioned polling booths.

He said as per the Election Commission of India (ECI) directions, certain model polling booths were to be set up in each Lok Sabha constituency but playing a very pro-active role, each polling booth of this Assembly segment was turned into a model polling booth.

This segment has 65 polling locations with 182 polling booths all of which have been transformed into model ones. The transformation entails creation of an array of facilities for the voters, including a complete festive environment in the polling station. Extending a red carpet welcome, rangoli, balloons, proper whitewash, room fresheners, lime lining, satin flags on poles, toy section, candies, chocolates and caretaker for babies, welcome banners, facilitation centres, direction signage, proper lighting, clean toilets with running water, volunteers with arm bands to assist and facilitate voters, queue managers with nylon separators in place of traditional coir ropes, drinking water chabeels, glass packs of mineral water, priority voting for blind, infirm, old voters, pregnant women and lactating women.

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Innovative ways woo voters this time
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 30
Distribution of liquor and ‘under the table’ gifts to lure the voters is an open secret during polls. This time prior to the polls, certain political parties have devised novel ways to reach their 'targeted hands' and supplied liquor, cash, suits and even the CFL bulbs and flour sacks while bypassing the hawk eyes of the Election Commission.

According to the modus operandi, the voter is given a slip bearing the code number. For example, In the Amritsar South constituency, liquor was distributed through the number of a currency note which is supposed to match the liquor shop owners' list.

The liquor vendor has already been paid in cash. They supplied the bottles or the cartons to the customers on the basis of the number or numbers written on the slips, a list of which had already been provided to him.

These slips are being secretively distributed among voters by agents of some candidates. In some cases, cartons of liquor are being directly delivered to the voters' house. It has been learnt that flour sacks of 10 kg each were distributed till 2.30 am today.

With stakes running high, the candidates are trying to outdo each other in offering allurements. From the day of filing nominations, slum dwellers have been getting royal treatment in the form of biryani, cash and liquor by political parties through their agents, said an electoral officer.

A voter said that he was given Rs 10 currency note bearing the signatures of an agent. When he gave it to a designated liquor shop, the attendant matched the number of the currency note. "It was after his satisfaction that I was given a bottle of liquor. I got it before the liquor shops were ordered to be closed 48 hours before the polls. I went there at around 4.30 pm and like me, two others also got their hands on the liquor bottles via same method," he told.

Another voter of same area told that these currency notes were being secretively distributed among the residents through agents of a prominent candidate. "I was earlier a bit hesitant to go for it but ultimately when number of persons in my acquaintance got the liquor bottles, I also tried it and it worked. I went to get that Rs 10 note through a reference," he said.

One more voter told that in Amritsar East constituency, suits and liquor bottles were distributed. "Here, I got liquor bottle of brand 8 pm, along with a suit for my wife. What's wrong in that? I enjoy being treated as a "VIP" by the otherwise, official VVIPs," he said.

Though the police and the EC observers were on the prowl, the stocks were there, claimed a close confidante of an MLA actively involved in the electoral process.

Sources said Rs 2,000 per vote were distributed among voters at border villages Attari, Guru Arjan Dev Nagar whereas Rs 500 per vote was consummated at Rattan Singh Chowk, a slum colony.

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Women vote for change, strong leader
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 30
With 49 per cent of the total electorate, women have been cited as game changers in the Lok Sabha polls. Coming all out to exercise their democratic right, they made sure that they matched the strength and enthusiasm of men for the elections.

Numerous women were seen at polling stations, some even carrying their kids along. Voting for development, better education for their kids, a check on inflation and women’s reservation, they had several issues on their mind while they pressed the button.

“I voted for a strong leader, who will take consistent and policy-driven approach towards developmental issues. We are highly disappointed by the elected leaders at the state and Centre. So, this time, I chose the one who I feel will not let us down,” said Lata Sharma, a retired teacher from Cherhrherta.

Suman Punj, another housewife, too voted for a better leader. “It’s time for a change, as the present leaders have not been able to look beyond their self-interests. Voting for someone, who is not an outsider and knows the city and its issues well, was my idea. We need a powerful leader and not someone who would go missing after the polls,” he said.

Recognising their electoral worth, several polling stations even had some playrooms where women could leave their kids as they waited for their turn.

Not many women-centric issues dominated their voting preferences; instead development was the key factor. “The city definitely needs a facelift and growth in infrastructure and trade. My vote went to the leader who will ensure the Centre’s attention towards Amritsar,” said Anita Soni, a housewife.

Some ladies also voted for a secure future. “Our leaders need to take up issues like women’s reservation, education and skill development to make them independent. My vote is for the party who will ensure implementation of women-centric schemes and policies for a better future,” said Janak Rani Sharma, a housewife.

As for the young brigade, criminalisation of politics was a big issue. Pooja Anand, an entrepreneur from the city, said, “It’s time to elect a clean leader; someone who will not be busy in hustling money and hushing up scams, but working for the city’s development. I voted for a change; for an honest credible and dedicated leader.”

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NOTA: Majority not aware
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 30
While the Election Commission has given an option of NOTA (none of the above) to the electorate for the first time, a majority of the voters were not aware about it. The reason for this lapse could be attributed to less publicity carried out by the administration. Nonetheless, there was a little percentage of voters in the queue who had come to register their participation in the voting process by opting NOTA.

The Supreme Court’s judgement that was delivered on September 27, 2012, about introduction of NOTA, is being seen as a vital tool for the voters in the elections.

NOTA needs time

The study based on statistics in context of NOTA will definitely result in forming a policy to eliminate the unwanted candidates from elections in future. But it will take time to reach wider public domain.

Satnam Singh, advocate

Mass participation needed

This option will yield results when there would be mass participation of voters who opt for it. Since it was introduced for the first time in the current polls, there has been little knowledge among the people. The administration didn’t make efforts to conduct widespread publicity about it.

Pardeep Bedi, a cloth merchant

Voter has a choice now

The Parliament can’t run without parliamentarians. But if a voter does not want to come out to vote because he/she does not like any of the candidates, at that juncture, they must come out, go to the polling station and press the NOTA button to record their choice. But the authorities need to conduct awareness drive about it.

Parbodh Bali, social activist

Second thought

I have never heard about such an option earlier. I had prepared my mind about a candidate, but now after knowing about NOTA, I will surely have a second thought.

Manjit Singh, resident

Right option

Yes, I knew about it and I have exercised my right to vote by opting for this choice. Otherwise, in the absence of such an option, I will have no option but to choose a candidate who had fewer failures to his credit.

Vinod Gupta, travel agent

Landmark judgment

When the voting process was conducted with ballots paper, we used to write specific comments over it in case none of the candidates had lived up to our expectations, which stood invalid. But now, it’s a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court to recognise the voter’s dislike of a candidate.

Swaran Singh, executive in a private limited company

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First-timers excited on being part of democratic process
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 30
As anticipated, the first time voters in the city made the most of the election day. The most enthusiastic of the voting lot, most of them reached the spot early in the morning.

The number of registered first time voters exceeded the 35,000 mark in the city. While most of them got inked, each had his/her own reasons and opinions.

Deepika Shingari (21), who exercised her right for the first time, said, “I voted for change, for a leader with a clean image. It’s time to get people into politics who are honest and do not have a criminal record.” She was accompanied by her father, who seemed proud of her daughter’s political views.

Akshay Kapoor (21) was joined by his three friends, who were also first time voters. “We are voting for a leader of facts. Most netas do not talk with specifics in their minds. A leader has to translate his promises into facts for people to understand and trust him. I want a leader who talks less and deliver’s more,” Akshay said. Siddharth, one out of them, said, “Everybody wants to look up to a leader of calibre, who only has development on his mind and does not indulge in petty personal attacks. A leader who doesn't come to power with vested interests will definitely work better.”

While most of the first timers were given a merit batch or a certificate for exercising their electoral right, it was the feeling of being a part of the democratic process that excited them.

Though most of the polling stations recognised the first timers and their inked fingers made them eligible for the special offers the administration had planned for them, the voters had different priorities. “It’s time to get ourselves heard through our votes. I have been hearing about a lot of political views these past few weeks, but my vote went for credibility. A credible leader is what we want, with clean image,” a first time voter said.

Pallavi Soni, another voter, said she would hope that the development issues were taken up in the way they had been promised. “I have been preparing myself for many days, following all the contestants from the city with their political and developmental views. My vote went to the party that will ensure overall development and a well-balanced centre and state governance,” she said.

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Miscreants manhandle doctors, hospital staff

Amritsar, April 30
Two instances of manhandling doctors and hospital staff at government hospitals, within the last 24 hours, have brought to light the inadequate security arrangements for the medical staff.

In the first instance, a patient’s attendant slapped a postgraduate student-cum-doctor at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital yesterday afternoon.

In the second instance, which occurred late last night at Jallianwala Bagh Martyrs Memorial Civil Hospital, some miscreants manhandled medical staff and damaged records.

Instances of beating up hospital staff have occurred in the past too but it seems that no lessons have been learnt as proper security arrangements are still not in place.

In September 2012, a doctor at the emergency block of Jallinawala Bagh Memorial (JBM) Civil Hospital was manhandled, bundled up into a vehicle and taken away by the relatives of a patient. The doctors had to protest to get all the accused booked in this case.

Earlier, in June 2012, more than two dozen miscreants manhandled and misbehaved with a female doctor at a satellite hospital.

Postgraduate doctors at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital had also staged a protest demanding deployment of security guards at the hospital to prevent any such instances.

Even at the Civil Hospital, doctors had demanded setting up of a permanent police post for their security.

The Civil Hospital, on the other hand, has only four guards of its own to guard the premises at night. — TNS

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Diesel sale jumps 15 per cent in April

Amritsar, April 30
The filling stations in the district recorded around 15 per cent surge in the sale of diesel in this month owing to the campaigning for the general elections and the harvesting season.

Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) president JP Khanna said the diesel consumption rose sharply while no similar trend was seen for petrol. He said it was difficult to differentiate between the ratio of the sales for campaigning and harvesting of the wheat crop.

With the district election officer prohibiting the opening of new credit accounts for the sale of petroleum products this month, the association passed the same directions to all its members, he said.

He added that there were 210 filling stations in the district and no credit account for any political party or the candidates was opened. The entire sale was carried out on cash.

As per the PPDA estimates, automobile vehicles in the state daily guzzle about 9,500 kilo litre of diesel and nearly 2,700 kilo litre of petrol.

Filling station owners admitted that diesel sales had increased, they said the ongoing wheat harvesting was another major reason behind the rise in diesel sale.—TNS

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Miscreants hack websites of three city-based hotels
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 30
In a bizarre incident, the websites of three city-based premium hotels were hacked through an unknown Internet Protocol (IP) address.

These sites were doctored by miscreants who posted obnoxious material on the links. The hoteliers said some ‘escort service’ linkage had been incorporated to their hotels websites, which not only damaged their reputation, but also hampered their business prospects.

Taking cognisance of this, the Amritsar Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHARA) issued an urgent communication to all its members to check their property websites, particularly on the Google map link depicting the location of their hotels. They have been told to report back if they had also fallen victim to the same problem.

AHARA has also lodged a complaint with the cyber crime cell of the Punjab Police in Chandigarh. The investigation is on to trace the accused.

Confirming this, president of AHARA, APS Chatha, said some members of the association had approached him as their official sites had been hacked.

“They have been told to report back if any more such instances occur. But, till now, no one except the three hoteliers, who fell victim to this problem approached me. I have spoken to chief of cyber cell, Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, who has assured to trace the accused. A case has been registered in this regard,” he said.

One of the three hoteliers said most of their clientele were from overseas, who surf the hotel’s website to know about the location and reputation of the hotel before confirming their bookings. “It would be so embarrassing to find such obnoxious material on it. I am afraid what kind of impression will it leave on our clients,” he said.

Another hotelier said after discovering this tempering, he had ordered to block the link to the hotel’s site. “But for how long can it be put on hold? It was affecting our domestic and international business as around 40 per cent bookings are done online,” he said.

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Two arrested for creating ruckus at Civil Hospital
Tribune news service

Amritsar, April 30
Two persons of a group were arrested for creating a ruckus in the room of emergency medical officer at Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Civil Hospital late last evening.

Two groups clashed with each other over preparing medico legal reports (MLR) and later misbehaved with the hospital staff. They allegedly tore the government register carrying a record of MLRs.

The police have registered a case under Sections 353, 186 and 34 of the IPC against the accused, who have been identified as Neeraj Kumar and his brother Neetu, both residents of Sadar Bazaar, Cantonment area.

According to information, one of the two groups reached the emergency ward of the hospital. While the medical officer concerned was making the MLR of his patient, the second group came and created a scene.

Medical Officer Manjit Singh lodged a complaint with the police alleging that when he was on his duty and making the MLR of Ashok Kumar, the accused came and asked him to prepare their MLR first.

He said the accused snatched the register from him, tore it, clashed with the other group and misbehaved with the hospital staff.

He immediately informed the police, who arrested the accused from the spot.—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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