M A I N   N E W S

Mann determined to disrupt yatra
BJP refuses to change Advani’s route
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
While the SAD (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today asserted that he was determined to disrupt the Bharat Udai Yatra of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, on March 25, the BJP has turned down the Punjab police’s request to change the route of the yatra in the state. Because of today’s developments related to the yatra, political confrontation between the BJP and Mr Mann has started building up.

As Mr Mann has threatened even to resort to scuffles to disrupt the yatra, senior leaders of the BJP today met the Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retd) to urge him that he should exercise his constitutional powers to ensure safe and peaceful passage to Mr Advani. Expressing distrust in the Congress government in Punjab, the BJP complained to the Governor that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh , was hand in glove with Mr Mann to disrupt the yatra.

Mr Mann said his party would block the yatra near Khamano and show black flags at various places, including Amritsar, to Mr Advani. He said Mr Advani was coming to Punjab as an “aggressor” and not as a humble devotee to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple. In the past four years neither Mr Advani nor Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the Golden Temple. Now when the elections had approached, they wanted to visit the holy place, he added.

Mr Mann said along with the Congress, the BJP was equally responsible for Operation Bluestar in 1984 and it would continue to face the opposition of his party till it did not apologise for the operation in Parliament. When asked whether he would also oppose Mrs Sonia Gandhi to Amritsar or Punjab, Mr Mann said he would treat her also in the same manner.

“I do not hold her in high esteem as she belonged to a family responsible for the genocide of Sikhs,” Mr Mann added. “This causes a lot of pain to me when I see the leaders who supported Operation Bluestar, visiting Punjab,” he said. Mr Mann has written separate letters to the SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and the jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, urging them to ask Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his other party leaders to dissociate themselves from the yatra.

He said the BJP had named its office as “Mr Harbans Lal Khanna Smarak” to provoke Sikhs in Amritsar. Mr Khanna was a former MLA who had ransacked Darbar Sahib’s model at Amritsar railway station on February 14, 1984, and this “fact” was mentioned in the White Paper published by the SGPC. “With what face the Akali leaders like Mr Badal would visit the office named after Mr Khanna from where the SAD-BJP election campaign would be launched by Mr Advani now,” he questioned. Mr Mann has criticised Mr Tohra, Mr Badal and Capt Kanwaljit Singh in the letter to Jathedar Vedanti.

On the other hand, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, general secretary of the BJP, who is in charge of the yatra in Punjab, said there was no question of changing the route of Mr Advani’s yatra. “We have got the schedule of the yatra and it would proceed as planned,” he added. “One ADGP, Mr D.R. Bhatti, contacted me on the phone this morning asking to change the route of the yatra near Khamano, but we have refused to do so,” Mr Grewal said. “Mr Mann was trying to set up a wrong precedent and it could pose a great danger to democracy in the country,” he added. Mr Grewal said Capt Amarinder Singh was backing Mr Mann to disrupt the yatra.

“When I asked the ADGP to take action against those who have been issuing threats to stop the yatra, the ADGP response was that he would have to ask the Chief Minister in this connection,” said Mr Grewal. He said the government should take strict action against Mr Mann and his associates and should not allow him to disturb peace in any manner in the state.

The first phase of Mr Advani’ visit will conclude at Amritsar on March 26 where a rally would he held. Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the BJP president, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, will address the rally. Mr Badal, who was to join Mr Advani from Chandigarh on way to Ludhiana, will now join Mr Advani at Jalandhar on March 25, it is learnt.


Adequate security arrangements: DGP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
The Punjab police chief, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, today said that all arrangements had been made to provide adequate security to the Bharat Udai Yatra of Mr Advani, in Punjab. He said that he had passed instructions in this connection to all concerned. “We would ensure that the yatra passes off peacefully in the state,” he added.

When asked about the change proposed by the police in Mr Advani’s route, Mr Siddiqui said that he had no information. It was possible that such a suggestion might have been made keeping in view the situation at any particular place, he added.

Informed sources said that keeping in view Mr Mann’s statements against Mr Advani’s yatra, the security cover to Mr Advani was reviewed today.

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