Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Saturday sought immediate arrest of Akali legislator Virsa Singh Valtoha for his alleged “caste slur” against senior Dalit leader and MLA Tarlochan Songh Soondh inside the state Assembly. He also announced that the party will stage statewide protests at block level on Sunday to protest the incident.
The Congress leader’s reaction came after the four-day Punjab Assembly session ended on a bitter note recently with the concluding day witnessing unruly scenes, including a shoe being hurled towards the ruling combine members. Soondh later claimed that he had hurled the shoe at the Akali members as Valtoha had “insulted” him over his caste.
Amarinder, who was accompanied by AICC in charge for Punjab Asha Kumari, Campaign Committee Chairperson Ambika Soni, AICC Secretary Harish Chaudhary and Tarlochan Soondh, on Saturday alleged Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, despite being a Dalit, and all other Dalit Akali and BJP MLAs in the Assembly had turned a deaf ear to the incident.
“If anyone else would have made such remarks he would have immediately been arrested, why not Valtoha?” he asked. The Lok Sabha MP also wondered as to how the Speaker had summarily dismissed Soondh’s complaint against Valtoha without ordering an inquiry.
The PCC president said while nobody shall approve of “hurling a shoe” at anyone, what happened in the Assembly was the reaction to the provocation and anguish of a community against “castiest and criminal intimidation resorted” to by people like Valtoha. The Congress leader alleged that people like Valtoha were being deliberately propped up by the Badals to “intimidate” the Dalits and other minorities.
The former Punjab Chief Minister also apprehended “violent elections” in the state, alleging that the Akali government had introduced “easy parole norms for criminals”, thus giving way to many active criminal gangs. “The presence of over 50 organised criminal gangs and the government’s decision to make parole easy, are dangerous signs ahead of elections,” he said.
On the allotment of party tickets for the 2017 Assembly elections, Amarinder said the process of screening the applications was going on. He said the specific dockets for the purpose provided by the AICC were at present being filled up and these will be submitted to the AICC soon.
Attacking the Modi government, Singh alleged, “The probe by central agencies into the illegal drug trade in Punjab has slowed down since the new government took over at the Centre.” He alleged that an attempt was being made to protect several SAD leaders whose names have cropped up in different drug rackets and demanded that the Supreme Court intervene in the matter. On the Sutlej-Yamuna Link row with Haryana, he said Congress was committed not to let the waters of rivers in Punjab go to other states.