Harditt Singh Poohli also remained market committee chairman for eight and SGPC member for nearly 36 years, but hardly any of the successive leaders lent a helping hand to his family in its difficult times.
Even as a number of politicians are minting money for their kin by exploiting their positions to the fullest, the family of late Harditt Singh Poohli, a three-time MLA of the Shiromani Akali Dal from Bathinda district, is now facing starvation. Winning the Assembly polls for three consecutive terms since 1962 —once from Pakka Kalan and twice from Nathana — the leader with a mass base made numerous efforts for the welfare of the region. For want of money, his son Balvir Singh died after a prolonged illness as the family could not get him the required medical aid. A loyalist of the then top SAD leaders, Poohli was also an active member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) right from early 60s and continued with the position till he breathed his last in 1990. He also remained Bhucho market committee chairman for eight consecutive years. But hardly any of the successive leaders lent a helping hand to his family in its difficult times.The daughter-in-law of the ex-MLA, Gian Kaur, a widow, who is in her eighties now, has suffered several setbacks. After losing her husband, Kaur hoped that her sons Bhola Singh and Beant Singh would set things right. But her hopes and expectations dashed a couple of years ago when Bhola suffered a hip fracture in a road mishap while Beant received an electric shock that left him paralysed. Finding that both her sons were not in a position to earn, she started collecting garbage from people’s houses, a chore which she is now unable to perform, due to her poor health issue. Her sons, after regaining their health, are working as daily wage labourers and striving to make the both ends meet. Poverty also forced the family to discontinue Beant’s daughter’s studies after she did her matriculation. Taking loan from some private persons, the poor grandson of the three-time MLA has now married her but he is worried for younger two children. The same way, Bhola is worried about his son’s ill-health, who had met with a road accident. Ironically, the former MLA’s kin have a number of certificates issued in his name but their kitchen does not have enough food to satisfy the family’s hunger. The family lives in two houses and the condition of both buildings is too pathetic. The roofs are about to collapse. Having no money for getting the walls repaired, Gian Kaur’s room has been covered with a plastic sheet from one side. Having no money to buy almirah, the daughter-in-law of three time MLA is keeping her clothes wrapped in rags. The doors of the two-room house are also damaged. Narrating her plight, Gian Kaur flanked by sons Bhola Sngh and Beant Singh claimed they had approached various Akali leaders including Badals many a times, but they were snubbed by the local leaders and their personal staff every time, obviously for wearing soiled and stinking clothes.The family also recalls the time when Harditt Singh rejected the lucrative offers given by Indira Gandhi to support Congress as he found it anti-Panthic act. “There was a time when our grandfather polled a decisive vote in favour of Surjit Singh Barnala and made him kiss the political success. But, Barnala Sahib also didn’t look at us after he died hoisting the flag of honesty,” rued the Bhola Singh and Beant Singh. They also nurture grudge against a local SAD leader, who they claim had great influence on their grandfather’s mind as they now see more than a dozen of his family members holding government jobs. Interestingly, despite being neglected by the successive leaders, the family is committed to the SAD (B). “We request the party leaders with folded hands to help us. But even if our request is not accepted, none of us can even think of turning against the party,” said ill-fated brothers.
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