Amid opposition to setting up of a controversial Operation Blue Star Memorial,Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today said Punjab government must “self-introspect” in the light of dark days of militancy the state has suffered and take the matter seriously.
“Punjab has gone through days of terrorism and in view of this,the Punjab government must do self-introspection before taking a decision on the memorial,” he told reporters here.
“Government should take the matter seriously,” he said when asked about fears that the memorial would “embolden” the extremists and could lead to revival of militancy in the state.
Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) is constructing the memorial on the premises of Golden temple in the memory of those killed during ‘Operation Blue Star’ launched by the army in 1984 to flush out militants from the shrine.
Punjab Congress had opposed the setting up of the memorial with its chief Amarinder Singh demanding stopping of construction alleging it would stoke violence similar to the London attack on Lt Gen (retd) K S Brar who had led Operation Blue Star.
Brar,who holds strong views against the memorial coming up in the Golden Temple,the most sacred of Sikh shrines,has warned it would become a rallying point for “future terrorists”.
“They (the terrorists and pro-Khalistan forces) will be emboldened by this action. What about soldiers who fight for the country,who keep the country strong? I am sure the Centre will not approve of this memorial,” he had said.
The BJP,an ally of ruling Akali Dal in Punjab,too has opposed the setting up of the memorial.
Shinde,who was on his first visit to Punjab as Home Minister,also inspected the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Indo-Pak Attari/Wagah international border here.
He assessed the situation along borders and developmental works at ICP,officials said.
During his visit,he interacted with the traders on problems being faced by them in cross-border trade and assured them that these would be resolved soon.
Shinde said that trade between India and Pakistan would be enhanced with the improvement of modern infrastructure at ICP Attari border.
Shinde said that a total of 13 ICPs would be set up in India and Attari/Wagah is the first ICP which is operational.
He promised early redressal of problems being faced by farmers cultivating agriculture fields adjoining the border with Pakistan.
The infrastructure problems creating hurdles in the way of trade will be dealt forthwith,he said,adding that Attari ICP is to be developed as one of the best international trade locations in the South Asia region.
On the Sino-Indian bordre issues,he said there was “inadvertent border crossing” and that Indian forces were alert to prevent such incidents.
During the meeting with Customs,Immigration,BSF and other intelligence agencies,Shinde directed them to check cross border smuggling.
He visited certain sensitive BSF posts on border area along with BSF officials. arlier on reaching at Rajasansi Airport in Amritsar,Shinde was received by Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia along with MLAs of border areas.
Majithia apprised Shinde of the issues concerning the development of border region,especially in context of creating opportunities to develop Amritsar as a gateway to Central Asia.
Flagging trade related issues that need urgent attention at ICP Attari and at Rail Cargo Terminal Amritsar,Majithia said that considering the sensitivity of Attari Border it is felt that Full Truck Scanners especially for import cargo should be installed immediately at the ICP and Rail Cargo Terminal Amritsar.
He said there have been instances where narcotics have been smuggled through these trade routes. Thus,the installation of the scanners will help in creating foolproof mechanism to check any such illegal activities.
Moreover,with the increase in imports from Pakistan more warehousing space is required both at the ICP and The Rail cargo terminal Amritsar.
He said that the yard being used present at ICP is an open barren piece of land. During extreme climatic conditions the traders face a lot of hardship in loading and unloading cargo from this yard. Hence it is required that a concrete floor should be constructed and the yard be covered.
Highlighting the issues related to farmers of the border region,Majithia sought adequate compensation for the people holding land across barbed wire fencing.