Wednesday, September 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Cong, SAD lay claim to Abdul Hamid
Hold parallel rallies to pay homage
Varinder Walia and Gurbaxpuri

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, pays homage at the memorial to martyr Abdul Hamid
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, pays homage at the memorial to martyr Abdul Hamid on his 38th death anniversary at Asal Uttar (Amritsar) on Tuesday. — PTI photo

Asal Uttar (Amritsar), September 9
Salvos were fired at parallel rallies organised by the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal here today which marred the 38th martyrdom of Havildar Abdul Hamid who had knocked out three Pakistani Patton tanks single-handed apart from disabling the fourth during the Indo-Pak war in 1965.

The battle of Asal Uttar saw the destruction of Pakistani 1 Armoured Division by the 4 Infantry Division of the Indian Army when 97 tanks were destroyed or abandoned in what became the graveyard of Patton tanks. The supreme sacrifice of Havildar Abdul Hamid had shattered the Pakistani Army plans to advance toward the Beas.

Recalling his days in the Indian Army, Capt Amarinder Singh said that it was just a coincidence that he was posted at Cheema village (Khemkaran sector), near here, when Havildar Abdul Hamid had laid down his life.

There were unprecedented security arrangements and police nakas also dotted the Amritsar-Khemkaran route. Political leaders, including Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilisers and Dr Joginder Dayal, state secretary, CPI, alleged that there was a crackdown on their activities regarding the rally.

This was for the first time that the politics had cast its shadow following organising of parallel rallies by two main political parties — the SAD and Congress.

The ceremony commenced with a brief narration of the battle of Asal Uttar followed by offering of prayers by priests by all religions. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, thereafter, laid a wreath followed by the GOC, Golden Arrow Division, Maj-Gen N.S. Brar. Wreaths were also laid on behalf of the GOC, Western Command and the GOC Vajra Corps.

The wreath laying commenced with the buglers sounding the Last Post with the ceremonial guard, drawn from the Grenadier Regiment, reversing arms.

The Chief Minister gave a draft of Rs 2 lakh to Ms Rasulan Biwi, widow of Havildar Abdul Hamid, as a token of gratitude on behalf of the people of Punjab. He also assured jobs to Mohammad Parvez, grandson of the martyr.

In a significant statement Capt Amarinder Singh announced that after Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders, now the Congress government would expose the “misdeeds” of BJP leaders who had amassed huge wealth, disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Mentioning the names of Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Mr Tota Singh and Mr Sucha Singh Langah — all former Akali ministers, Capt Amarinder Singh alleged that they had indulged in rampant corruption during the Badal regime.

Ms Mohsina Kidwai, General Secretary, AICC, and in change Punjab affairs, said that her party was fighting a principled battle against corruption in the state.

The main organiser of the Congress rally, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, urged the Chief Minister to ensure overall development of the border belt, apart from covering Asal Uttar village under the ‘sunder gram scheme’, enabling it to avail a grant of Rs 1 crore.

While addressing the SAD rally, Mr Dhindsa alleged that the Congress government was creating an atmosphere of confrontation. He alleged that the state government had created hurdles in the way of the Akali rally.

Mr Dhindsa claimed that many Congress MLAs were in touch with the SAD.

Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, a senior leader of SAD presented a memorandum to Mr Dhindsa to forward it to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, for redressing the grievances of the residents of border belt. Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, another senior Akali leader, and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, an Akali MLA from Gidderbaha, Bhai Manjit Singh, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, Mr Gulzar Singh Ranike, Mr Major Singh Uboke, Mr Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha, Mr Surinder Singh Ghariala and Mr Satnam Singh, were among those who addressed the Akali conference.


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