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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Border district that boasts of big names and has bigger problems

Here is a look at the four Assembly segments -- Fazilka, Jalalabad, Balluana and Abohar – in the district.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: January 22, 2022 4:20:33 am
Fazilka, Jalalabad, Balluana, Abohar, Chandigarh news, Chandigarh, Indian express, Indian express news, Punjab newsThe constituency has a lot of historical importance. (File)

FAZILKA, a border district of Punjab, has four constituencies — Fazilka, Jalalabad, Balluana and Abohar. It is the only district in Punjab with a lot of diversifications in terms of language. Abohar borders Rajasthan and is also close to Haryana and hence a large part of its villages is Hindi speaking with Haryanvi and Rajasthani accent. The district also borders Pakistan and residents here still have memories of partition, 1971 and 1965 Indo-Pak wars, and the 1999 during Kargil war when they faced complete evacuation of their villages. The latest such evacuation took place during the 2016 surgical strikes in Kashmir. Poor civic, health and education facilities are common in this area and even ground water is not fit for drinking due to water logging issues. The district has a total of 7,48,601 voters. Bagri, Bishnoi, Kamboj and Rai Sikhs are the common communities in this district.

Here is a look at the four Assembly segments — Fazilka, Jalalabad, Balluana and Abohar – in the district.

Fazilka

The constituency has a lot of historical importance. Sadiki border check post is in this constituency where retreat ceremony takes place every day at 6pm. A historical clock tower is a famous landmark in the city. There is also a radio station tower but it is hardly used now. Another place of importance is the Asifwala War memorial, which was built in the memory of martyrs of 1971.

Sitting MLA Devinder Ghubaya (Congress)

Previous MLAs

2012: Surjit Kumar Jayani (BJP)
2007: Surjit Kumar Jayani (BJP)
2002: Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa (Congress)

Candidates

This time, SAD has given the ticket to Hans Raj Josan, who was earlier with the Congress. When in Congress, Josan had contested against SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal in 2009 by-election from Jalalabad. Narinder Pal Singh Sawana, is the AAP candidate. Sawana had switched from SAD to be with AAP. Other parties are yet to announce their candidates.

Issues

Fazilka is largely a rural constituency and has over 100 villages. Most of them are close to the Pakistan border. Farmers here have been demanding that the time of working across the fence be increased. The constituency has a civil hospital but very less staff. Also, the only government college in the district has just the humanities stream. Issues related to drugs are also common in the constituency as recovery of poppy husk is very common here.

Jalalabad

A rural constituency with 152 villages. By-polls was held here in 2019 after Sukhbr Singh Badal won from Ferozepur parliamentary seat quitting his Jalalabad Vidhan Sabha seat. Sukhbir Badal remained MLA of this constituency from 2009 – 2019. Cotton, paddy and wheat are widely grown here. Rai Sikh community are a majority in here and they determine the fate of the candidate.

Sitting MLA

Raminder Singh Awla (Congress)
Previous MLAs
2012: Sukhbir Singh Badal (SAD)
2007: Sher Singh Ghubaya (SAD)
2002: Hans Raj Josan (Congress)

Candidates

SAD president Sukhbir Badal is the candidate while AAP’s candidate is Goldy Kamoj, who switched to AAP after quitting Congress. Surinder Dhandian is the SSM candidate.

Issues

Drugs is a major issue in the area and several villages here are involved in illegal liquor business. Despite the being a high-profile constituency when Sukhbir Badal was the MLA, but still the constituency is struggling to have a storm sewer that can resolve water logging issues during rainy season. Good education facilities and a proper healthcare system is also a demand of the people here.

Abohar

Abohar also remained a high-profile constituency as PPCC president Sunil Kumar Jakhar was its MLA for three consecutive terms in 2002, 2007 and 2012. He, however, was the PPCC president from 2017-2021 and was the leader of opposition from 2012-2017. This constituency is largely a Hindi-speaking area and people can be identified by their colourful Rajasthani print pagris, white kurta and dhotis. Bajre ki roti and khichdi are popular good items in the constituency. Kinnow is the main crop in Abohar and farmers here also export the Kinnow.

Sitting MLA

Arun Narang (BJP)
Previous MLAs
2012: Sunil Kumar Jakhar (Congress)
2007: Sunil Kumar Jakhar (Congress)
2002: Sunil Kumar Jakhar (Congress)

Candidates

Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa who switched from Congress to SAD is the Akali candidate while AAP has given the ticket to Deep Kamboj. Congress has fielded Sandeep Jakhar, the nephew of Sunil Kumar Jakhar and BJP is yet to announce its candidate.

Issues

Tail end villages of this constituency often face shortage of canal water as a larger share of water is taken by farmers in Muktsar area. During the rainy season, the area faces flooding and farmers often stage dharna over these issues. Shortage of canal water for drinking as well as irrigation is also another issue. Lack of storm sewer is a major cause of concern, which causes flooding of the entire city even after a little rainfall.

Balluana

It is a reserved constituency with 72 villages. The Abohar wild life sanctuary, which is spread over 18,650 hectares has a part of it in this constituency as well. The wild life sanctuary covers 13 villages of Bishnoi community who take care of wildlife such as black bucks, indigenous antelopes etc. Amrita Devi Wildlife park is a major landmark here. It was constructed in memory of Amrita Devi Bishnoi, who had sacrificed her life in 1731 along with 363 others to save Khejri trees in Jodhpur.

Sitting MLA

Nathu Ram (Congress)
Previous MLAs
2012: Gurtej Singh Ghuriana (SAD)
2007: Gurtej Ghuriana (SAD)
2002: Parkash Singh Bhatti (Congress)

Candidates

Congress has given the ticket to first-timer Rajinder Kaur and AAP has shown faith in Amandeep Goldy Musafir. Hardev Singh Megh is also a new face fielded by SAD.

Issues

Villages in Balluana often face flooding when canal breach happens due to their geographical location. In 2020, many cotton fields and Kinnow orchards remained waterlogged for more than a month. Farmers still complain of delayed or no compensation. Many low-lying houses were also damaged. Lack of healthcare and education facilities is also a concern.

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