Saturday, May 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Badal pleads for ‘blacklisted’ Sikhs
Seeks 58 cr Central aid for galliara yojna
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today met Union Home Minister L. K. Advani and impressed upon him to do away with the “black list” of members of the Sikh community and to fulfil the state’s long pending demand of opening a Canadian Consulate in Chandigarh.

He also sought Central assistance of Rs 58 crore for taking up expeditiously the “galliara yojna” (beautification of Golden Temple surroundings) project in Amritsar.

During his 30-minute meeting with Mr Advani in North Block, the Punjab Chief Minister stressed the need for reviewing the issue of “black-listed” Sikhs who had shifted to various countries during the peak of militancy, as normalcy had returned to the state.

This was Badal’s 15th meeting with Mr Advani on the “black-listed” Sikhs issue.

The number of persons “black-listed” has steadily come down over the years and about 190 Sikhs still figure in the list.

Mr Badal also urged the Union Home Minister to ensure the release of those languishing in jails of various countries, including Pakistan and Central Asia.

The Punjab Chief Minister impressed upon the Union Home Minister the need for opening a Canadian consulate in Chandigarh as this would meet the aspirations of a large number of Sikhs whose families reside in Canada.

The Canadian government has already given the green signal for opening its consulate in Chandigarh.

Sources said the Punjab Chief Minister was happy with the “positive response” of the Union Home Minister on the issues raised during the meeting.

Mr Badal’s trip to the national Capital also assumes importance because of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s proposed expansion of his Cabinet in the first week of June.

It is learnt Mr Badal has come here to lobby for his son Sukhbir Singh Badal’s reinduction in the Union Council of Ministers. The Chief Minister has been pressing for enlarging the presence of the Akali Dal in Mr Vajpayee’s Cabinet.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal had earlier served as Union Minister of State for Industry. He was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha, the Chief Minister is keen that his son gets a ministerial berth again.

However, available indications suggest that Mr Vajpayee may not induct any more persons either from the SAD (Badal) or the INLD.

At present only one Akali representative, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, is in the NDA government.

The state Chief Minister had a busy schedule as he met several prominent persons, including the Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral.

Mr Badal announced that heads of states of Pakistan, England, France, Iran and Russia will be invited to attend the main function marking the grand finale of the tercentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on November 12 and 13 at Amritsar.

The Sher-e-Punjab had diplomatic relations with these countries during his tenure.

The King of Nepal will also be invited to attend the function.

The bronze statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh will be installed in the Parliament House complex during the winter session, Mr Badal said chairing the second state-level Concept Committee meeting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Bicentenary Celebrations held here.

He said the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, will be requested to release a commemorative postage stamp of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Mr Badal also announced the setting up of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Memorial Fund to provide financial assistance to the bright and enterprising youth for improvement of their academic skills and broadening their vision in a short time study tours abroad.

He said the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Chair being set up in Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, will be functional from July 1, which will undertake research work on different aspects of life and times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The Concept Committee meeting was attended, amongst others, by Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, parliamentarians S. Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Kuldip Nayyar, Kartar Singh Duggal, state Cabinet Minister Balramji Das Tandon, and vice-chairman of National Minorities Commission Tarlochan Singh.

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