M A I N   N E W S

Bathinda protest hijacked by political leaders; impasse on
Nikhila Pant Dhawan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 8
The impasse between the state government and the agitating teachers continued for the third day today as the parents of the dead infant refused to conduct the last rites till their demands were accepted.

As the controversy takes the political colour, The Tribune tried to contact Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal in New Delhi. Despite repeated attempts, the MP remained unavailable for comment. Her staff told the reporter she was busy with a function.

Sensing public mood, several opposition leaders have made a beeline for the sit-in site. On Saturday, PPP leader Manpreet Badal and former Congress MLA Harmander Jassi visited the protesters.

While the panchayat members of the Bambiha Bhai village in Moga, the native place of Rooth’s parents, waited patiently for an opportunity to meet Deputy Commissioner Kamal Kishore Yadav, he was busy attending the sangat darshan of Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal in the district.

A livid Gurcharan Singh, sarpanch of the village, said, “The villagers want the body to be laid to rest at the earliest. The administration is willing to give just Rs 5 lakh compensation and a job to Rooth’s father, Taranjit Singh, according to his qualifications. We wish to talk to the administration into increasing the compensation.”

As the protesters shivered on a cold day, the dharna took on a political hue with People’s Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Badal and former Congress MLA Harmander Jassi, who had met the agitating teachers earlier during the week, expressing their solidarity with the aggrieved family.

Manpreet exhorted the teachers not to lose heart. He said that they were “expecting justice from the perpetrators of the crime” and that the battle would be “long and tough” but they should make sure that they “come out victorious”.

Extending monetary help to the parents, Jassi derided the Akali leadership for wasting time on sangat darshans instead of talking to the agitating teachers. He accused the CM, deputy CM and local MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal for the delay in the burial.

Jagjit Singh Joga, district general secretary of CPI, announced the formation of a “sangharsh morcha” by all the Opposition parties and various farmers, teachers, workers and labour unions on this issue. Aam Aadmi Party leader from Delhi Vishesh Ravi also met the agitating teachers.

A deputation of teachers led by Madal Lal Fazilka will meet the Chief Minister at his Chandigarh residence on Sunday.

Doctors insist she died of malnutrition

Bathinda: Government doctors maintained Eknoor, also known as Rooth, suffered from infantile tremor syndrome (ITS). Eknoor passed away on February 6. Health Department authorities at a media briefing on Saturday said cold was not the cause of death. “She suffered from multi-vitamin deficiency and was malnourished,” paediatrician Dr Satish Jindal said. TNS





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