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Posted at: May 15, 2019, 7:38 AM; last updated: May 15, 2019, 7:38 AM (IST)

Khalra village stands divided

Paledar Union backs Bibi, panchayat unsure of her making it
Khalra village stands divided
The statue of Jaswant Singh Khalra at Khalra village. Photo: Gurbax Puri

Jupinderjit Singh and Gurbax Puri

Tribune News Service

Khalra (Tarn Taran), May 14

In the village to which PDA candidate for Khadoor Sahib Bibi Paramjit Kaur Khalra belongs, it is Khalra versus Khalra. Also contesting the seat is Parminder Singh Hira Khalra, an Independent. The village has 4,300 voters.

The last village on the Indian side on the old Amritsar-Lahore road, it was once famous for red chilli cultivation and had a good market. All that changed after Partition. The village hit the headlines when the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra was kept under arrest in a rest house here for several months.

It again attracted attention when native Jaswant Singh Khalra took up cudgels against ‘fake’ encounters by the Punjab Police. He was allegedly killed in a similar manner. Decades later, his wife Bibi Paramjit Kaur is contesting elections “for justice.”

“We are making a stadium here in Khalra ji’s memory. He is known the world over as a martyr. We recently installed his statue,” informs Gopal Singh, Bibi’s chief campaigner. “We are confident of her win.” But the village panchayat feels otherwise. “Personal touch nahi hai Bibi Khalra da,”  claims Rachhpal Singh, the husband of sarpanch Baljinder Kaur. “They have not visited the village in two decades.” Gopal Singh lists out the many problems that the village faces, including poor irrigation and water salinity. “Bibi will usher in development,” he tells voters.

Deepak Dhawan, who runs a grocery shop says during the last elections, the Congress had a lead of 524 votes in Khalra village. He too seems unsure of Bibi’s victory. However, the local Paledar Union has announced its support to Bibi. “My husband had fought for the rights of local labourers,” Bibi explains. “Ï am sure the people of the village will vote for the ‘cause’ I am pursuing, rising above caste and community considerations,” she adds. Young Pargat Singh hints at an “undercurrent” this time. Asked to explain what that implied, he simply smiles.

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