Thursday, June 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Problem more in Majha, Malwa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Complaints of harassment out of political vendetta were more pronounced in the Majha and Malwa belts while they were negligible in the Doaba region. The reason given by police officials is that in the Majha and Malwa belts, political rivalries continue for generations.

For example, it is said that in a Majha area, political rivalry between two groups, originally belonging to the same family, has already claimed 16 lives in the past five decades and the rivalry is still as bitter as ever.

When the Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, went to Delhi to present a memorandum to the Prime Minister and urged the Central Government to send an NDA team for an on-the-spot inspection of the situation in the state, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, reacted strongly and invited the Editors of various newspapers to visit the state and go to any department for investigation.

The Punjab BJP chief, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, extended his support to the SAD move, maintaining that even BJP workers throughout the state were being harassed and implicated in false cases. He quoted a case of Abohar where a son of a block president of the party was booked in an attempt to murder case after he had been allegedly attacked.

Mr Rinwa said that he would have no objection even if an all-party team was invited to Punjab to look into complaints of political vendetta made by both SAD and BJP leaders.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), however, objected to the visit of the NDA team, maintaining that law and order was a state subject and the Central Government’s intervention was unnecessary.

“Would Mr Badal as Chief Minister allow a Congress team from the Centre to look into complaints of police harassment?” quipped Mr Mann.

AMRITSAR: The Akalis, who have been on the forefront during various “morchas” (agitations), have been living under “constant threat”, especially after the killing of senior leader Gurdial Singh and five others on May 19 at Bhikhiwind.

Raids by the Vigilance Bureau have added to their worries. Persons belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal were singled out during the raids. Personal enmity in the Majha belt which has been the focus of attention.

Personal enmity between the deceased Gurdial Singh, a staunch supporter of Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former Congress MP (a close relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal), and Bakhshish Singh, one of the main accused in the Bhikhiwind murder case, dates back to the days of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Mr Naunihal Singh, a younger brother of Gurdial Singh, alleged that Bakhshish Singh was in charge of the “aslakhana” (arsenal) of Sant Jarnal Singh and that was why he (the Sant) had directed his brother (Gurdial Singh) to leave the post of sarpanch (Algon Kothi village) in his favour.

The “political warfare” between them started a few days before the state Assembly elections, when a few armed persons (allegedly led by a brother of Mr Adeshpartap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of Mr Badal) opened fire at the Bhikhiwind chowk.

A separate FIR was registered against Mr Tejbir Singh Peter, a local Congress leader, on the statement of a woman who was allegedly injured in the firing. During the polling, a polling agent of Gurdial Singh, who was seriously injured, succumbed to his bullet injuries on the way to an Amritsar hospital.

Another sordid incident occurred after the declaration of the Assembly election results in favour of the Congress when a party activist was killed by a former sarpanch at Radhike village.

Three more Akali leaders were booked in the Algon Kothi case after the induction of Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar into the Congress ministry. Supporters of Gurdial Singh, who were going to participate in the statewide protest dharna, were arrested. Though all 31 Akali activists, including Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, a former member of the Punjab State Subordinate Services Selection Board, were booked under “insignificant” sections, the SDM of Patti did not accept their bail pleas for nine days.

FARIDKOT: The district police has registered a case of attempted murder against several persons on the directive of the high court after a Kot Kapura resident, Mr Naresh Kumar Sharma, filed a writ petition that he was assaulted and threatened by several persons on three different occasions. The FIR names Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, as an accused.

The complainant alleged that during local elections, he was assaulted on August 11, 1998, May 5, 1999, and September 25, 2000. He was injured and admitted to hospital.

Police sources add that after an FIR was registered on June 21, the petitioner was asked to record his statement before the investigating officer, but he declined saying that his writ filed before the high court should be treated as his sole statement in the regard.

The petitioner had alleged that despite various complaints submitted to the local police authorities about assaults on him, no action was taken. He had to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court, following which the court directed in March, 1999, that he be provided security for a period of four months.

In the second case, two persons, reported to be supporters of the SAD, were arrested recently for allegedly threatening a block development and panchayat officer and obstructing him from discharging his official duties.

The accused, identified as Makhan Singh, a member of the SAD, and Surinder Singh, sarpanch of Sikhawala village, gheraoed the BDPO’s jeep along with their supporters, threatened him and raised slogans against him, police sources added.

A case was registered against them under Sections 341, 353, 106, 586 and 149 of the IPC on the basis of a complaint lodged against them by the BDPO.

The SAD sitting MLA from Faridkot, Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, said that besides these, there were a ‘‘large number’’ of minor cases registered against party workers, solely aimed at “harassing” them.

“A number of cases under the Excise Act have been registered against our workers and supporters. At times, they were detained at police stations for the whole day before being allowed to leave,” Mr Dhillon said.

‘‘Even old cases where cancellation reports had been filed, were reopened for investigation,” he said. “For example, a year-old case involving the sarpanch of Katar village, Buta Singh, in a family land dispute case was suddenly reopened”, he said.

MANSA: Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, former Akali minister who unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections as an Akali Dal (Panthic) candidate from Joga, feels that the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been deliberately raising the issue of police excesses to “save his corrupt associates”.

Citing an example, Mr Khiala alleged that Mr Badal’s henchmen had forcibly taken over the management of Khalsa School, Manda. Persons who were not even on the school’s management committee were running the show, but with the Congress coming to power, the management was restored to the rightful committee, he added.

Former MLA from Mansa Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, while expressing faith in the SSP, alleged that junior police officials had started harassing Akali workers under political pressure. He alleged that in Khiwa Mehe Singhwalla village, a small house of an Akali worker, Chhota Singh, was demolished by his political opponents with the help of the police last month.

Mr Aulakh added that Ms Ranjit Kaur, wife of Mr Pal Singh, a recently elected zila parishad member, belonging to the SAD, was suspended from her post of sarpanch of Dhalewan village to pressurise him to join the Congress.

In another case, Mr Harbans Singh, a prominent Akali worker of Veron ke Kalan village, was injured seriously after being shot at by three persons, allegedly backed by Congress leaders, on June 22. Though a case has been registered, no arrest had been made so far.

Mr Aulakh also alleged that he had not been given any gunman despite the fact that all Congress and CPI candidates who were defeated in the last Assembly elections had been provided with two security guards each.

The SAD MLA from Gidderbaha, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, alleged that the Congress government was victimising SAD workers by implicating them in false criminal cases. He added that while criminal cases were registered against some of the candidates for the zila parishad elections, others were threatened to make them withdraw their nominations. SAD office-bearers claim that there are about 40 false cases registered against their workers in the state.

A section of the Akali leaders, however, alleged that the sarpanch of Kotshamir village, near Bathinda, had been implicated in a false case by the Congress government.

Meanwhile, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, former Power Minister and resident of Maluka village, near Bathinda, has also been booked in a criminal case for allegedly indulging in violence on the day of local elections.

JALANDHAR: While the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership has been alleging that its workers and leaders are being harassed by the police by implicating them in false cases at the behest of the Congress government, the situation is different in the Doaba region. No prominent Akali leader has been booked by the police in any case.

Sources in the Akali Dal, however, said that party supporters were being harassed at the behest of the Congress government. However, they failed to mention any such case of harassment.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, Hoshiarpur, said that the utmost care was being taken to ensure that no case was registered against anybody without the proper verification of facts. “In our district, no false case has been registered against any Akali leader or worker during the past three months. So there was no question of harassment to anybody,” said Ms Deo.

Similarly, Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, Kapurthala, denied that the police had registered any false case against party activists. They had tried to create a nuisance during the recent zila parishad elections. Barring this, no case had been registered against any Akali leader”, said Mr Dhoke.

In Nawanshahr, too, no false case against any Akali leader has been reported. Mr Ramji Lal, SP (Headquarters), Nawanshahr, said the police had made it a point to get the complaints examined legally before going in for the registration of any case. “In our district, no Akali or BJP leader or worker has been booked for any offence during the past three months’’, he added.

The SSP of Jalandhar, Mr P.S. Gill, also denied that any false case had been registered against any Akali leader in the district.

ROPAR: No false case has been registered against any Akali in the district.

Mrs Satwant Kaur Sandhu, MLA from Chamkaur Sahib and former Akali minister, said she had not received even a single complaint from any Akali worker regarding the registration of a false case against him or her. However, she admitted that after the formation of the Amarinder government in Punjab, the government had initiated steps to check the flow of funds to panchayats headed by SAD sarpanches.

Mrs Sandhu said politicians should keep their minds open and should not have ill-will towards their political opponents.

Mr Paramjit Singh Lakhewal, general secretary of the district unit of the SAD, also held that no false case had been registered by the police against any Akali worker or leader in the district.

Mr Dharam Singh Kang, newly elected member of the zila parishad and Akali leader, shared the same view.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Ropar, said the police had not registered even a single case against any Akali leader or worker with a view to harassing him or implicating him in a false case.


With inputs from Prabhjot Singh (Chandigarh), Varinder Walia (Amritsar), Chander Parkash and Vijay Mohan (Mansa, Bathinda and Muktsar), Varinder Singh (Jalandhar) and Sushil Goyal (Ropar).


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