Punjab Bandh Today
CM: If apology helps, do it
Sarbjit Dhaliwal/Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 21
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said “if an apology” by the chief of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda could help in bringing peace in the region, then “why should the dera chief not should show magnanimity and apologise for his provocative act?” However, Badal added that as head of the government, he would not ask for an apology from the dera chief.
1. Essential services
2. Students appearing for exams
3. Transport to take patients to hospitals
The CM met the Governor Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) to brief him about the latest situation in the state, here today. In a one-to-one meeting that lasted around 30 minutes, the CM gave a low-down to the Governor on the law and order situation in the state.
In a separate development, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, while speaking in New Delhi, expressed similar views and demanded a public apology from Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.
Badal said the law and order would be maintained at all costs during the Punjab bandh tomorrow and no one would be allowed to resort to hooliganism or disturb peace.
He added that nobody would be allowed to carry firearms, etc, and that there were clear instructions to the officers concerned to firmly deal with the rowdy elements.
He also appealed to the SAD-BJP workers to play an active role in ensuring a peaceful bandh tomorrow.
Badal said essentials services including hospitals would function as usual. An exemption from bandh had been given to students appearing in examinations, transportation being used to take patients to hospitals, etc. He said the Jathedar of the Akal Takht had also issued directive in this regard to all those organising the bandh.
Justifying the registration of a case against the head of the dera, Badal said the provocation on the part of the dera head was such that it required the same.
On whether the government would send police to Haryana to arrest the chief in connection with this, the CM gave no clear answers. He said despite a serious provocation on the part of the dera chief, Punjabis had maintained peace and harmony, and for this, he said, “They deserve praise.”
Asked about the Akal Takht call to close Sacha Sauda deras in Punjab by May 27, Badal said the government had not been told to do so but the dera chief had been asked to the same.
Badal said if some radical groups tried to demolish such deras in Punjab, the government would maintain law and order if such situation arose. Not answering clearly, the CM did not categorically promise that the demolition of deras would not be allowed.
He added that one Channi had been arrested for disturbing the law and order situation in Punjab. The supporters of the dera who had resorted to violence had also been arrested, he added.
On whether the prevailing situation would hit investment in the state, Badal said nothing like this would happen.
When the CM was asked if the dera management had told him to uphold his “Raj Dharma”, Badal posed countered by asking whether the dera chief had done so.
It may be mentioned that the Union Government is keeping a constant watch on the emerging situation in the state. Sources said the Union Home Ministry was in touch with the state government.