Ruchika M. Khanna
Chandigarh, May 16
Harnek Kaur and her granddaughter-in-law, Hardeep Kaur, came to Chandigarh with hope in their eyes. Having lost the sole adult male member of their family -- Hardeep’s husband -- to the rampant drug abuse here, these two women along with many other women of their village Bhal Majra in Fatehgarh Sahib, had been complaining to the office of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, since the new government was formed, to check the rampant sale of drugs in the village.
“Yesterday, we got a call asking us to come and meet the CM. We left all that was scheduled for today to come here and air our grievance. Only the CM can put an end to what is happening in our village. We don’t want more lives lost to drug abuse. Hardeep would often go after her husband, to get him back from where these drug dealers would take him. But she would be beaten up by them,” recalls an inconsolable Harnek Kaur. Hardeep, who along with her young son was summoned by the CM inside Punjab Bhawan, where he held his first Lok Milni, told The Tribune after the meeting that the police has been issued explicit directions to arrest all accused.
Today was the first Lok Milni -- a people’s connect initiative started by the CM to reach out to people, listen to their grievances and solve them. The Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had invited those people from across the state, who had lodged their complaints and grievances with the office of Chief minister over the past two months. Officers of all departments were also called and were questioned by Mann on the status of complaints received by his office and act immediately. The officers, heads of all departments including Chief Secretary Anirudh Tiwari and DGP V K Bhawra, were held accountable for the status of these complaints. Though the meeting was scheduled for just two hours, it lasted for nearly four hours. As many as 61 complaints were heard during the meeting.
However, hundreds of people from across the state, who got to know that the CM would be redressing public grievances today, too, reached Punjab Bhawan. Manjit Singh, a small farmer from village Machchiwara in Ferozepur, said his father learnt of this and sent him and his mother to meet the CM to expedite the release of a tubewell connection for their farm, whose demand notice came two months ago.
There were many others like Avtar Singh, who was selected as a driver by Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board and Karan Sharma and Gurjant Singh -- both selected as Patwaris last year, who came to urge the CM to expedite the formalities for their recruitment. “Nawein bharti tan vadhiya gal hai, par puraneiyan nu vi pucca kare sarkar,” they said as they jostled with the cops at the venue to let them in to meet the CM.
Later, some of the contractual teachers, who have been demanding regularisation in their services, also raised slogans against the government for not hearing them out. Some other persons, who claim that their appointment letters in police department were not being issued to them, also objected to not being allowed to meet the CM. The officials of ruling party -- AAP associated with organising the event, however, said that the time for the event was limited and there was a limit to how many grievances could be heard today. “We have asked them to send their complaints in writing,” they said.
However, some genuine cases, amongst those who were not called by the CMO for the event- were taken up immediately, after assessing their urgency.
A septuagenarian Baldev Singh of Samana, broke down when he realised that he could not meet the CM as he had not lodged a complaint with the CMO first. Talking to The Tribune, he said that after he objected to some drug addicts hovering around his house, they barged into his house and attacked his wife. “She is now completely bed ridden, but the police refuse to act. CM told the police to act immediately, kindling my hope for justice,” he said.
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