Wednesday, November 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SAD’s ‘jail bharo’ today
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The SAD is all set to court mass arrests in Punjab tomorrow in support of its 15-point charter of demands it had sent to the government on October 20. The one-day ‘jail bharo’ programme is also to focus the people’s attention on the government ‘’injustice, tyranny and repression’’ , says party chief, Parkash Singh Badal.

After the ‘’overkill’’ in the SGPC elections on November 12, the government is keeping a low profile and has changed strategy and tacks. This time no preventive arrests have been made or intimidating tactics used to thwart the agitation. The ‘’mass movement’’ threatened by the SAD is now being allowed to be handled by ADGP, A.A. Siddiqui in charge of law and order.

While the SAD plans a ‘’peaceful, democratic’’ protest, the government will not act as long as this commitment is honoured. Yet, the instructions to the Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police are clear. They are not to allow any obstruction, disruption of normal life in the state. Arrests are to be made only in a situation where the agitating Akali workers cause a grave breach of peace or damage life or property.

Informed sources said the jathas volunteering to court arrest could vary from say 400 to 5,000 strong. The total state-wide turnout is expected to be around 25,000.

Besides the state police, the government has geared up 2,000 additional armed policemen drawn from the IRB etc.

There is another angle to tomorrow’s agitation. The SAD is facing the heat at various levels due to the anti-corruption drive launched by the government. At least five former Akali ministers are in the Vigilance net, facing various charges of alleged corruption during their tenure. While the Akalis call it a vicious political vendetta, the Congress argues it is only implementing its election manifesto promise of giving ‘’clean, good governance’’ and exposing the rampant corruption done during Akali-BJP days. Ostensibly, its target is Mr Badal or his family.

In fact, the SAD is in an upbeat mood after the SGPC elections, in which even Congress President Sonia Gandhi had to intervene to checkmate Capt. Amarinder Singh, so as not to hurt the religious susceptibilities of the Sikhs.

It is in this backdrop that one has to view the Akali’s mass arrest programme tomorrow and how the government handles it.


Badal takes refuge in gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, November 26
To frustrate any move of the state government to arrest them before the formal launching of the “jail bharo andolan” tomorrow, former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former union minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and many other senior Akali leaders have taken refuge in historic Tutti Gandi Sahib Gurdwara last evening.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Mr Badal and his associates got the information that he might be arrested along with his other family members by the police any time to check their andolan.

Apart from it, several senior Akali leaders of other districts had either taken shelter in gurdwaras or went underground. They would assemble at a pre-decided place tomorrow and would proceed into a procession to get themselves arrested.

Information revealed that Mr Badal along with other senior members of SAD would get themselves arrested at Muktsar. From Tutti Gandi Gurdwara, they would go to the office of Deputy Commissioner and then would get themselves arrested.

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