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Posted at: May 16, 2019, 6:54 AM; last updated: May 16, 2019, 12:02 PM (IST)

Cong will not spare those behind Bargari, says Rahul

Amarinder: Will raise a memorial to police firing victims

No farmers’ arrest

  • I promise you that if the Congress forms government at the Centre, no farmer will be arrested for failing to repay his bank loan — Rahul Gandhi, Congress Chief.

Ruchika M Khanna & Balwant Garg
Tribune News Service
Bargari (Faridkot), May 15

The Congress today upped the ante against the Shiromani Akali Dal by not just holding an election rally at Bargari, the epicentre of sacrilege politics, but also announcing a memorial in the vicinity as homage to those killed in the 2015 police firing.

Launching a scathing attack on the SAD-BJP that was in power when Punjab was rocked by a series of sacrilege incidents, Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh said the memorial would be built soon by his government and a panel of Bargari residents would decide how to build it. 

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who was here to canvass for party candidate Mohammad Sadique, said the Congress would not spare those guilty of committing the “heinous crime (Bargari police firing)”, evoking a thunderous applause. 

A memorial gate at Behbal Kalan, where the police opened fire on protesters, killing two Sikh youths, is already under construction. 

Capt Amarinder ridiculed former CM Parkash Singh Badal for suggesting that sacrilege was not an issue in these elections. “People never have, and never will forget the desecration of their holy scriptures. The Sikhs have not forgotten, in 500 years, the sacrifice of any member of their community. It is  shameful that Badal, at the age of 93, has not yet realised this stark truth. During the rule of the Badals, not one or two, but 58 copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib were desecrated and Gutka Sahib, the Bhagvad Gita, Bible and Quran were burnt or torn,” he pointed out.

The CM said the firing could not have taken place without Badal’s knowledge and he was clearly to blame. “When I came to Behbal Kalan in 2015, people told me how the SSP had suddenly arrived and ordered firing at the people. This is not the way such incidents are handled. If firing is at all needed, it is done by a small police unit, accompanied by a magistrate who assesses the situation. They know they have wronged the people and are now running around for votes,” he said. 

Rahul Gandhi began his speech with “Chowkidar chor hai”. His focus was primarily on the economic policies of the Modi government. Catering to the largely agrarian audience, he explained in detail how the Nyay scheme would benefit the poor. 

He announced that farmers would not be arrested if they defaulted in repaying crop loan to banks. “Unlike PM Narendra Modi, who allowed big businessmen to take loans of Rs 5.50 lakh crore and then run away, I will get the money back from them and put it in the bank accounts of poor farmers like you. You will get Rs 72,000 direct income support from us. Modi reneged on his promise to give Rs 15 lakh to each one of you, but I assure you that you will get Rs 72,000 annually,” he stressed.

He also promised a separate budget to improve the agrarian economy by creating a chain of cold stores and food processing units.  

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