Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today courted arrest along with senior party leaders and workers after a prolonged sit-in close to a barricaded Raj Bhawan. It was in solidarity with Punjabis angered by the manner in which the Centre has further empowered the BSF in three states—Punjab, Assam and West Bengal--along India’s borders.
Badal was taken in a bus along with senior leaders and workers to the sector three police station. Akali workers raised slogans against the Congress and the BJP for hatching the ‘anti-Punjab conspiracy’.
Earlier, while addressing a gathering, Badal said this was the second time that the Centre had impinged on the rights of Punjab. “The Centre has discriminated against the farmers of the state by bringing in the three farm laws. Now it is effectively taking control over law and order by extending the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF)”.
Terming the move as an attack on India’s federal structure, Badal said that now even holy shrines like Sri Darbar Sahab, Durgiana Mandir and Ram Tirath will come under the control of Central forces. “The SAD will fight to right this wrong as we stand for a genuine federal structure. It is condemnable that the chief minister agreed to this anti-Punjab step during his meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah on October 5. Channi has sold off the interests of the State to secure a few more months in office,” Badal alleged.
Badal said that earlier, too, Punjab had been discriminated against. “A few years earlier, we even lost control of the revenue generated by us with the introduction of the GST regime. Now even our land and its policing are being taken away from us”.
The SAD president said it was condemnable that neither the chief minister nor state home minister Sukhjinder Randhawa had mounted an effective opposition. “Punjab is yet to reject the move,” he said, while assuring Punjabis that once a SAD-BSP alliance government was formed in the state, the measure would be rolled back.
Former minister Bikram Singh Majithia said the move had reminded people of the dark days of militancy, when Central forces held full sway in the state. He alleged that Randhawa had, as jails minister, supported this measure by stating that the control of jails should be given to the CRPF. He said now the situation was such that even Randhawa’s village had come under control of Central forces.