M A I N   N E W S

Dera Row
Cong behind trouble, says CM
Badal draws up 3-pronged strategy
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Parkash Singh BadalChandigarh, May 16
Blaming the Congress for the prevailing volatile situation in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today devised a three-pronged strategy to deal with disturbances in the state.

Sources said the situation would be dealt with at the political, religious and administrative levels.

Dera Sacha Sauda followers throw bricks on SAD workers at Arya Samaj Chowk in Patiala on Wednesday.
Dera Sacha Sauda followers throw bricks on SAD workers at Arya Samaj Chowk in Patiala on Wednesday. — Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Launching an attack against the Congress, which is the main opposition party in the state, Badal said there was a Congress hand behind the sectarian trouble at Bathinda and other places. He said Congress MLAs were present at a sectarian gathering at Bathinda, where the incidents of violence in the state originated. He said the Congress leaders not only inflamed passions but also deliberately created a provocative situation to disturb the peace. "Because of the provocative situation, there has been a strong reaction to it in various parts of the state”, he said.

He said his government could not be dismissed by the union government at the behest of Punjab Congress leaders. Those times had gone when Congress governments at the centre used to dismiss state governments led by opposition parties on flimsy grounds.

Saying there was a lapse on the part of the Bathinda district administration, which allowed people to gather at one place in large numbers, Badal said that instructions had been given to all deputy commissioners and district police chiefs to deal with rowdy elements firmly. No one should be allowed to disturb the peace in the state. Law and order would be maintained at all costs.

Badal held a meeting this morning with chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, DGP N.P.S. Aulakh and other officers concerned to review the law order situation in the state. Senior ministers, including Manoranjan Kalia, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Capt Kanwaljit Singh, also attended the meeting.

To deal with the situation at the political level, Badal has already opened a political attack against the Congress.

To deal with the situation at the religious level, the SGPC has been asked to play an active role. Besides, the Sikh high priests have been dealing with the situation at their own level. They will hold consultations with leaders of various panthic organisations before announcing their decision in this regard.

At the administrative level, instructions have already been issued to all deputy commissioners to deal firmly with those trying to create trouble in any part of the state.

A decision was taken to rush adequate reserve force from various parts to the sensitive areas. Reserve battalions of the police have already been deployed in the Bathinda region, the centre of the sectarian problem. The presence of the police would be ensured at all possible trouble spots.

Asked whether he would take part in the meeting convened by the Sikh high priests at Damdama Sahib, Badal said he would not attend it. The sources said that senior leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal, including Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Gurdev Singh Badal, would take part in the meeting. Senior leaders of the SGPC, including its general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, would also attend it. The SAD leaders would present their views at the meeting and suggest how to tackle the situation in a peaceful manner.

The thinking in the SAD is that the entire issue should be tackled in a tactful manner. “ The objective of the Congress and other anti-SAD forces is to destabilise the SAD-BJP government in the state. To defeat the designs of the anti-government forces, the situation should be handled in a mature manner”, said a senior Akali minister. “ There are many anti-SAD leaders who are out to fish in troubled waters and the SAD should not fall into their trap”, the leader added.




RS suspends Q. Hour, expresses concern
Tribune News Service

Protest against Dera Sacha Sauda in Amritsar on Wednesday.
Protest against Dera Sacha Sauda in Amritsar on Wednesday. — AFP

New Delhi, May 16
Suspending question hour following independent member Tarlochan Singh's notice in writing to Rajya Sabha Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the Upper House discussed for 30 minutes today the violent incidents in Bathinda in Punjab with followers of Dera Sacha Sauda taking on the police and the agitated Sikh and other members demanding expeditious intervention by the Centre.

Tarlochan Singh, who raised the matter, said the issue pertains to the Sikh minority community constituting 2 per cent of the population and their sentiments had been greatly hurt. “I don't want to politicise the issue but to imitate and ridicule the Sikh Guru is the biggest challenge to the community. The Sikhs are sentimental and can react very badly,” he warned.

Similar sentiments were expressed by members of the BJP, National Conference, the Samajwadi party and the Trinamool Congress.

Law and order being a state subject, Union Home minister Shivraj Patil assured that he was in touch with the state government concerned and was prepared to render all help to deal with the situation.

Respecting the feelings of the House, Patil said the situation should not be allowed to threaten the peace and unity of the country and appealed to all concerned to maintain calm. The Centre could only render help and assistance if needed.

“If we remove the government, neither you nor the people will like it,” the minister observed.

Tarlochan Singh urged the Home Minister to order the arrest of the person who had challenged the Sikh community. In this context he referred to the incident in 1978 in Amritsar which led to many Sikhs being killed. He wanted Patil to impress upon the Haryana government to arrest the alleged culprit who masqueraded as a Sikh Guru.

Patil stressed that he had already spoken to the state governments concerned in this regard.

Tarlochan Singh, SS Ahluwalia (BJP), Farooq Abdullah (NC) and Dinesh Trivedi (TC) contended that the Punjab government could not take action against the culprits without help of the Haryana government.

Abdullah urged the House to appeal to the people at large not to allow religion to be misused for political purposes and maintain peace and harmony for the progress of the country.


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