Monday, February 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sikh agenda tops morcha manifesto
Tribune News Service

Panthic Morcha convener Sarbjot Singh Bedi
Panthic Morcha convener Sarbjot Singh Bedi releases his party's manifesto in Chandigarh on Sunday. — PTI photo

Chandigarh, February 3
Sikh agenda dominates the manifesto of the Panthic Morcha, which has promised a clean and transparent political system in the state.

It has promised the waiver of loans up to Rs 50,000, a ban on the tobacco, the revamp of the top-heavy administration with the supremacy of the civil authority over uniformed services and the free play of market forces. The morcha has also promised to make human rights and environment compulsory subjects, besides getting capital punishment abolished and opening borders for setting up a regional common market. The morcha is for the entry of foreign print media in the country.

The manifesto was released here today by Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, convener of the morcha. He was accompanied by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Manjit Singh Khera, Mr G.S.Grewal and other senior leaders of the morcha.

Stating its main objective in its preamble, the morcha has declared to defeat the “feudal” politics of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the “authoritarian and fascist” policies of the Congress and the BJP, apart from the revival of the true Akali culture and traditions and upholding the supremacy and sanctity of Akal Takht.

The morcha will work to expose the “criminalisation” of politics by the Congress and the BJP and “commercialisation” of politics by SAD.

The Panthic Morcha has promised to set up a commission to enquire into the range and extent of “genocidal pogrom against Sikhs” in 1984, to work for the unconditional release of all Sikh political detainees and revision of the Punjab Jail manual in consonance with contemporary international guidelines for prisoners.

The morcha has also committed to seek a separate high court for Punjab. It has promised to set up a commission of inquiry to probe Operation Bluestar, Operation Woodrose, illegal detentions, gross and systematic violation of human rights and to determine the identity of martyrs.

A probe has also been promised into extra-judicial murders, fake encounters and involuntary disappearances since 1978.

Restructuring of the judicial system, enactment of a law providing for severe punishment for acts like denigration of Guru Granth Sahib, legal steps to ensure that Sikhs and other Punjabis can buy land in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, where it is not allowed at present is also part of the manifesto.

Framing of strict laws to check the market, hoarding of assets, adulteration and corruption is also there. For the revival of Punjab’s economy, the morcha is proposing the free play of markets forces, disinvestment in loss-earning public sector undertakings, privatisation of public sector corporations and federations and delicensing of agro-based industry. It will also rationalise the tax structure and minimise bureaucratic interference to attract industry to the state.

Dwelling on the agriculture crisis, the morcha has stated that the entire market mechanism has been oriented towards benefiting rich landlords and the ruling clique. Because of extensive use of dangerous pesticides, insecticides and other costly inputs, Punjabi farmers have been caught in a vicious circle which requires to be broken. Farmers and growers should have a decisive say in the determination of farm price, the manifesto says.

The morcha has promised to waive short-term loans and make a provision for quality seeds of various crops at the farmer’s doorstep. Crop insurance, crop diversification, special attention towards submountainous and arid areas are among the other promises. It has also promised to work out a moratorium of 15 years on the repayment of loans by farmers.

The Panthic Morcha has promised not to allow a single drop of water to flow out of Punjab till the requirements of the state are met. No executive order will be allowed to be implemented in Punjab in this connection, the morcha has said.

Gender equality, severe punishment for perpetrators of female foeticide and Rs 11,000 as birthday gift to Dalit girls are among the promises related to social welfare.

The morcha has promised health for all, new hospitals, mobile hospital units and setting up of an institute of health care and therapy for Sikh youths who have been victims of torture. A drug-free society, teaching of classical and semantic languages, a centre for UN studies and internal law, promotion of Punjabi language, literature and culture are also the commitments made by the morcha.

The morcha is for the enforcement of the two-language formula — Punjabi and English — instead of the existing trilingual one in Punjab. The morcha has given importance to international affairs in its manifesto. It wants dual citizenship for NRIs and rectification of extradition treaties, which, it says, have an anti-minority bias.

One rank, one pay for defence forces, commercial status to cooperative banks, uplift of Dalits, audit of Sikh heritage shrines in India and abroad, opening of sports colleges and electoral reforms are also among the promises made by the morcha.Back

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