Punjab CM Badal promises to deal firmly with lawbreakers
21 May, 2007
CHANDIGARH: Short of asking for an apology from the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday said it is for those who have committed "sin" to see that the stand-off with the Sikh community is resolved but said his government will maintain law and order under any circumstances. As the stand-off between the two sides appeared heading for a confrontation, he parried questions at a press conference on the strategies the government would adopt on resolving it against the backdrop of the Akal Takht's demand for closure of all Deras and the call for bandh on Tuesday. "As head of the government, I should not be saying. They (the Dera) should see themselves what sin or mistake they have committed whether he (Dera head Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh) should give an apology.....I can't say what effect it will have. All steps would be taken to restore peace and harmony," Badal said. "My duty is to maintain law and order and ensure peace in the state," he said, adding any "lawbreaker, howsoever high post he may hold, would be dealt with strictly as per law". The five Sikh high priests on Sunday gave a call for closure of all Deras in Punjab by May 27 and a bandh on Tuesday against the "blasphemy" caused by the Sirsa-based Dera chief allegedly posing as Guru Gobind Singh. Badal said it was a "big provocation" on the part of head of the Dera who he felt should show large-heartedness for resolution of the tangle. He met Governor S F R Rodrigues on Monday and said it was his duty to inform him of the situation in the state. The act of the Dera head had not only offended the Sikhs, but also members of other communities, he reiterated. He also expressed hope that all political parties, especially the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, would conduct themselves in a peaceful manner during Tuesday’s bandh. "No hooliganism from anyone and no attempt to vitiate peace in the state would be tolerated," he added. The government is fully prepared to face any situation, he said, adding security personnel including central paramilitary forces have been deployed in the state and senior civil and police officials have been directed to maintain peace at all costs. Asked about the sensitive places in the state, Badal said: "It can be any place at any time. Adequate security arrangements would be made at all places. Any lawbreaker would be dealt with strictly." On a question on display of naked swords by Sikhs, Badal said no one can display or carry any weapon, except the kirpan . "Those raising slogans for Khalistan are not our party workers. They also want to run their shop," he said.