Wednesday, September 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

NDA team to assess law and order in Punjab
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Shalla Pattan (Gurdaspur), September 2
If the law-and-order situation continued to deteriorate, the Central Government might impose President’s rule in Punjab by evoking article 356 of the Constitution, according to Mr Vinod Khanna, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

While addressing a big ‘protest rally’, jointly organised by the BJP and the SAD here today, Mr Khanna he had submitted a report on the ‘precarious law and order’ scenario in the state to the Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister Mr L.K. Advani. He said both Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani had promised him to send a high-level NDA team to ascertain the situation in Punjab before taking any step. He stated this in the presence of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister and President, Shiromani Akali Dal, and other SAD and BJP leaders.

He said the state government led by Capt Amarinder Singh may not complete its full five-year term if the current situation continued. Mentioning the police firing on BJP workers at the time of the inauguration of the bridge at Naushehra Pattan on August 20 in which many workers, including state BJP chief, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, sustained injuries, Mr Khanna said the police had used force on peaceful workers.

The rally virtually turned out to be a pre-election rally as all the speakers said Punjab voters would like to see Mr Vajpayee as the Prime Minister after the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Mr Khanna predicted that the SAD-BJP combine would win all the Lok Sabha seats in Punjab.

Mr Khanna said an airport at the cost of Rs 40 crore would be built at Pathankot. The Central Government wanted to ensure overall development of the border state, he stated.

Mr Khanna tried to court arrest along with senior BJP leaders to protest against the alleged highhandedness of the police on August 20. However, when Mr Khanna reached the Shalla, police station the police headed by Mr Manminder Singh, SP (Pathankot) told him he had no orders to take him (Mr Khanna into custody).

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Badal denounced the Congress government for conducting Vigilance Bureau raids on Akali leaders. He said such raids were uncalled for as the Vigilance Bureau did not get anything despite tall claims. He said the Congress won’t be able to win any seat in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Earlier, the Gurdaspur Administration played a spoilsport by watering the original venue of the rally. As a result, the SAD-BJP leaders had to address the rally from the makeshift stage near the newly constructed bridge. However, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, denied the role of administration for filling the venue with canal water.

In another significant statement, the state BJP chief, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, announced that his party would organise rallies in all districts of the state in protest against the alleged highhandedness of the state government against SAD-BJP workers.

Among those present on the occasion were Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan.


Vinod Khanna enthrals crowd
Rashmi Talwar

Shalla Pattan, September 2
Vinod Khanna drew a thunderous applause from the gathering when he dished out ‘filmi’ dialogues. Pointing an accusing finger at Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, he said: “Hero se panga liya hai, ab hero bhi kuch kar dikhayaega” (CM has locked-horns with a hero, who will give a befitting reply).

In an emotional vein he said, movie of yesterday, “Mera Gaon Mera Desh’, was a turning point for him as he decided to serve people.” Otherwise he could have earned millions sitting in Mumbai. “I am not a politician, neither do I indulge in cheap gimmicks” he boomed.

Putting an another act of an angry young man, Mr Khanna said he too felt like pelting stones when the other side resorted to violence.

But he had to restrain not only himself but also his supporters, so that people would not get hurt. The crowd went into raptures over their hero’s restraining sacrifice for them.

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