Sunday, November 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

All entry points sealed
Crackdown on SAD workers continues
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, November 9
After a gap of 18 years, all bazars surrounding the SGPC complex and Golden Temple were sealed with steel barricades today, three days before the crucial annual election of the SGPC executive to be held at Teja Singh Samundari Hall even as the crackdown on SAD workers continued for the second day today in the state.

At least 40 bazars and lanes around the complex have been barricaded, causing inconvenience to the devotees who thronged the Golden Temple to pay obeisance. The surroundings were last barricaded after Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Perturbed over the tightening of the security around the temple. The Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has asked the state government to lift the barriers so that devotees do not face any harassment. He said it was unfortunate that the annual election of the SGPC executive was not being conducted in a “free and fair” manner.

The Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, came into being after supreme sacrifices by ousting ‘mahants’ from the Sikh shrines and, hence, members should be allowed to cast their votes in a democratic way, he said.

Meanwhile, the District Magistrate, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, while exercising powers under Section 144 (1), CrPC, ordered the closure of arms and ammunition shops within the municipal corporation for two days from November 11. The order says the arms shops had to be closed as there was apprehension of danger to human life, health or safety and disturbance of peace and tranquility during the SGPC election.

Akhand Kirtani Jatha members Joginder Singh Talwara and Satnam Singh also took a serious note of the barricading of the entry points leading to Darbar Sahib. They said that it was unfortunate that representatives of various Sikh institutions had maintained a studied silence despite the highhandedness of the State Government. They alleged that Panthic leaders had indulged in horse-trading to take control of the management of the SGPC.

Meanwhile, all buses and other vehicles coming to Amritsar are being searched. A heavy police force has been deployed at all vital points of the city. Policemen in mufti are also manning entry points of the city.

The SGPC has also made elaborate security arrangements inside the complex and its task force has been directed to be on high alert.

Meanwhile, the SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, today warned the state government of dire consequences for interfering in the internal affairs of Sikhs.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Badungar alleged that preachers, devotees and material for ‘langar’ were not being allowed to reach the Golden Temple.

He asked if Capt Amarinder Singh, who had resigned as Minister of Agriculture during the Barnala regime for allegedly sending the police into the Golden Temple, would now step down as Chief Minister for his direct interference in Sikh affairs.

Refuting the allegations of Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, senior leader of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Badungar claimed that no anti-social elements were staying in any serai of the SGPC. He alleged that Mr Bhaur was speaking the language of Capt Amarinder Singh by issuing such statements. He also refuted the allegations that armed persons were staying in SGPC serais.

Sounding a note of warning, Mr Badungar said the state government should be prepared to face the music if any SGPC member was stopped from entering the complex for casting votes on November 12.

Ridiculing the statement of the DGP, Punjab, in which he had stated that only ‘genuine members’ would be allowed to enter the SGPC complex, Mr Badungar said that it was the prerogative of the SGPC chief to ensure free and fair election and not the police. “The DGP should not assume the role of SGPC chief,” he said.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 more SAD activists were rounded up by the police in various parts of the state as is evident from the following reports:

BATHINDA: As many as 46 SAD activists and workers, including Mr Bhagwan Singh Khemuana and Mr Hardev Singh Bahojatri, were taken into preventive custody by the police by raiding their premises on Saturday morning.

Mr Navtej Singh Kauni of the SGPC, alleged that his son-in-law Jaskaran Singh, who is an Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) in the Punjab police and was posted in city police station, Bathinda, has been transferred to IRB after two policemen, including an ASI and a constable, were arrested by the Haryana police while allegedly trying to kidnap a member of the SGPC from the Balasar farm house.

MANSA: More than 100 workers in the district have been arrested as a preventive action to stop their departure for Amritsar on November 12.

JAGRAON: The Jagraon police, in a crackdown on the Akali workers of the Badal group, arrested at least 43 Akali activists from Jagraon, Dehlon, Sidhwanbet and Raikot even as many leaders and activists went underground to evade arrest.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: More than 12 Akali workers including former MLA Balwant Singh Sahpur, have been arrested in the district to prevent them from marching to Amritsar for the SGPC elections.

Mr Iqbal Singh Tiwana, official spokesman of SAD, said the police had arrested various sarpanches, including Bant Singh Kaleran, Amar Singh Nogawan, Sucha Singh Gopalon, Gurmeet Singh Kasumbhri and Malkit Singh Fatehpur Jattan. Some workers were let off after taking written consent from them that they would not go to Amritsar.

LUDHIANA: Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, district chief of SAD, along with the general secretary, Mr Kulbir Singh Jogi, were arresteed here on Saturday.

The cops have surrounded the residences of other office-bearers and all visitors are being questioned and screened.

Meanwhile, the local police has put up nakas at several points on the outskirts of the city.

Thorough checking of vehicles moving on these roads was under way, causing harassment to the commuters.

MACHHIWARA: With the police raiding the houses of SAD workers in Koonkalan on Saturday, the workers went underground, fearing arrests.

The MLA of the constituency, Mr Inder Iqbal Atwal, criticised this action and added that such actions would not discourage the party members. He warned the Amarinder Singh government that on November 27, thousands of party workers would court arrest against these excesses.

Among those arrested were former Chairman of L.M. Bank, Machhiwara, Mr Chanan Singh (Hasanpur), sarpanch Gurmeet Singh (Lubangarh), Sarpanch Makhan Singh (Mand Charaudi), Sarpanch Gurnam Singh Manewal and Mr Pritpal Singh (joint secretary YAD, Gurugarh).

AMLOH: Four SAD activists of the Amloh circle were arrested and presented before Mr Amarjeet Singh Shahi, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, on Saturday.

Mr Arjun Singh of Salana village, relative of former Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Dilbag Singh also of Salana, Mr Hari Singh Machhrai, circle jathedar, and Mr Harbans Singh Chobdaran, former member of the District Planning Board, were arrested under Sections 107 and 51, CrPC, and sent to Central Jail, Patiala.

MOGA: Arrests of SAD activists continued in Moga on the second day when 13 more persons were arrested, bringing the total number of arrests in the district to 117.

Police sources said in the adjoining Muktsar district, 25 SAD activists were rounded up in the early hours from various parts of the district, including sarpanches, Jathedar Ranjit Singh of Gurisangar and some municipal commissioners of the Nagar Council, Malout.

ROPAR: With the arrest of four more SAD workers, including a member of the block panchayat samiti, in Ropar district today by the police, the total number of arrested Akalis, has risen to 24.

Those arrested were Mr Jarnail Singh Jally, a member of the Bharatgarh Block Panchayat Samiti, Mr Gurmeet Singh Matharu Kurali, Mr Manjit Singh Kurali and Mr Harwel Singh Parrol.

Mr Ujjagar Singh Wadali, former district president of SAD; Mr Amrik Singh Mohali, Mr Gurinder Singh Gogi and Mr Paramjit Singh Lakhewal, all senior leaders of SAD (Badal), were arrested yesterday by the police under sections 107/151 of the Cr. P.C. apprehending a breach of peace.

However, other top Akali leaders of the district, including Master Tara Singh Ladhal, former Punjab minister, have gone underground, fearing arrest.

GURDASPUR: The police continued to arrest Akalis on Saturday. Former chief of district SAD Hardev Singh Bajechack and Mr Baldev Singh, an SHSAD activist, were arrested and produced in the court of Sub-Divisional Magistrate here who sent them to judicial custoday.


Punjab imposes ban orders
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Mr Harbhubhinder Singh Nanda, ADC, Amritsar, Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP City, discuss security arrangements with Harbyant Singh, secretary, SGPC, near Teja Singh Samundari Hall in Amritsar. 
— photo by Rajiv Sharma 

Chandigarh, November 9
While the prohibitory orders banning the carrying of firearms, gathering or moving in groups of five or more persons under Section 144 of the CrPC have been promulgated in the entire Punjab, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said here today that the steps had been taken to maintain law and order and peace in the state.

Even the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would not be allowed to take his NSG commandos and other security persons to the Golden Temple complex. The Punjab Government had made this clear to the Union Government. However, if Mr Badal wanted to go to his party office in the Golden Temple complex, the state government would provide him adequate security cover for the purpose. There would be no restriction on his entering in Amritsar city and his party office there.

“Let Mr Badal stay in some Circuit or guest house in Amritsar on the election day and the government will serve him tea and snacks etc”, said Capt Amarinder Singh in a lighter vein. There would be no restrictions on devotees on paying obeisance at the Golden Temple. “We have not imposed any curbs on the entry of devotees in the holy place”, asserted Capt Amarinder Singh.

It is perhaps for the first time after several years that prohibitory orders have been imposed in the entire state. Earlier, such orders used to be issued by district magistrates in the pre and post-Operation Bluestar period in the state. Earlier, the situation never warranted the issuance of such orders at least in the case of the annual SGPC presidential elections. In fact, because of the ongoing tug of war among various top political players having big stakes in state politics, the situation has turned tense, especially after the arrests of a large number of Akali workers in the past 48 hours.

Commenting on the arrests of Akali workers, Capt Amarinder Singh, who flew in here from Mount Abu where he had gone to attend the Congress Chief Ministers’ conclave, said he had ordered such arrests to avoid any type of conflict among various Akali factions that had been issuing provocative statements, exciting their rank and file to resort to violence and disturbance. He said that Mr Badal had been asking people to march to Amritsar and SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar had been talking of armed conflict.

“If need be, more arrests would be made, but peace would be maintained at all costs. I have given clear instructions to the police authorities concerned to act firmly in case any one tried to create trouble at Amritsar or elsewhere in the state in the wake of the SGPC elections”, said the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister said he had assured the Punjab and Haryana High Court as well as the people of the state to get the SGPC elections conducted in a peaceful and free and fair manner and steps had been taken accordingly. He said it was unfortunate that the political scenario had turned out to be such making it necessary to order arrests. However, he said, no senior Akali leader, MLA or MP had been arrested. “The police had arrested only miscreants who were expected to create trouble in the state”, he added.

When asked that whether the government would allow the SGPC members staying in Haryana to move to Amritsar in a convoy of cars etc, Capt Amarinder Singh said the SGPC members could go in cars. However, no other person would be allowed to accompany them in the SGPC election venue. “The government was prepared to provide escorts to the SGPC members for reaching in Amritsar”, said Capt Amarinder Singh. He said before their entry into the election venue, the SGPC members would be identified by SGPC officials concerned to prevent the entry of non-members.

He said SGPC members were not staying at Balasar or elsewhere in Haryana of their own accord; they had been kidnapped to those places by Mr Badal and his supporters. “My government provided security cover to the SGPC members who had asked for it”, he added. 


630 arrested, says CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 9
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that the police would not be allowed to enter the Golden Temple complex under any circumstances. He said certain people were floating rumours in this connection and issuing baseless statements.

The police force would, however, be present near the complex in adequate strength to maintain law and order.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister said about 630 persons had been arrested in Punjab so far. However, one other report said about 838 persons had been arrested. The Chief Minister said he did not have partywise and districtwise break-up of the arrested persons. “Those arrested belonged to various Akali factions”, he added. No one from any other political party had been arrested, he asserted.Back


Cops won’t enter complex: DGP
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 9
In the aftermath of the controversial arrest of hundreds of Akali leaders from all over the state, the Director General of Police (DGP), Punjab, Mr Mahal Singh Bhullar today announced that the police personnel deployed around the Golden Temple complex would not enter the holy complex and its sanctity would be maintained during the SGPC elections scheduled for November 12.

Addressing a press conference at the PAP lines complex here today, Mr Bhullar said the police was committed to maintain law and order in the state and there were intelligence reports, which suggested possibility of an armed clash during the SGPC elections.

“The police will not enter the Golden Temple complex till the SGPC demands so in case of any eventuality. We are committed to maintain sanctity of the holy shrine by all means,” said Mr Bhullar, adding that he was sure the elections would be conducted in a peaceful manner.

The SGPC president, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, had already warned that the police would not be allowed to enter the SGPC complex as it was the responsibility of the committee to conduct free and fair poll.

Denying the allegations that the police had arrested SAD leaders to support the faction of former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra in the SGPC elections, Mr Bhullar said. “Irrespective of their political affiliation, we chose to arrest only those, who can pose threat to peace and brotherhood in the state. One thing is sure that we will not allow even any minor clash to happen during the SGPC elections, which may, in turn result into a major turmoil as was witnessed in the past.”

Talking about the security arrangements for the elections, Mr Bhullar said that nobody, including personal security guards of the SGPC members, would be allowed to carry weapons inside the complex even as policemen would keep strict vigil throughout Amritsar to avoid any untoward incident.

When asked about the arrest of two Punjab police officials by the Sirsa police for allegedly trying to kidnap an SGPC member, Mr Harpal Singh, Mr Bhullar said he would contact his Haryana counterpart on the issue. “How can two police officials kidnap an SGPC member from some other state. I will certainly take up the issue with the Haryana DGP on Monday,” he added.

Unprecedented order in Amritsar 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 9
On the basis of inputs provided by intelligence sources that some miscreants could create disturbance on the eve of crucial annual SGPC executive poll, the District Magistrate, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, has ordered that no person visiting Amritsar shall be allowed to stay in any hotel or inn within a radius of 500 metres from the Golden Temple on November 11 and 12. The managements of guest houses, inns and hotels have been directed to get their premises vacated by tomorrow. The unprecedented order was not promulgated even during Operation Blue Star or Operation Black Thunder.

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