July 29, 2020 9:15:59 pm
Taking strong exception to the ‘warning’ by Sukhbir Singh Badal on recent arrests under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said he will do everything under the law as needed to protect the security and integrity of Punjab and of the nation, and the SAD president’s threats could not deter him from ensuring the safety of his people.
“If there are any specific instances of wrongful arrest or registration of case by Punjab Police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), as he has claimed, Sukhbir should send me a list of the same instead of making unnecessary noise,” said the Chief Minister in a statement. There was no question of falsely implicating anyone, he said, urging the SAD chief to refrain from playing into the hands of the separatists by trying to incite the state’s youth, especially Sikhs, against the police force.
Pointing out that UAPA had been in existence for long, the CM reminded Sukhbir that under the SAD-BJP regime, more than 60 cases under UAPA had been registered in Punjab, of which 19 were in 2010 alone and 12 in 2017. Of the 225 individuals arrested in these cases, 120 were acquitted or discharged, indicating that indiscriminate application of UAPA had in fact been done by the Akalis during their tenure, he said.
Amarinder lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief for trying to compromise the interests of Punjab with his politically motivated propaganda against the Punjab Police, particularly the DGP, whose professional and secular credentials were above board. It was shocking that Sukhbir, who was leading a party that claimed to be the custodian of Sikhism, was in fact protesting against the Punjab Police’s fight against separatist and terrorist activities designed to divide the Sikhs on communal lines, the CM said.
Pointing to the increasing attempts by Pakistan’s ISI to infiltrate terrorist modules and smuggle weapons into Punjab from across the border, the CM said his government was committed to taking whatever steps necessary, as per the law, to protect not just the state but India from these elements. There were forces bent on destabilising the nation by fomenting trouble and promoting the separatist ideology citing the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) Khalistani agenda.
“Sukhbir should know that SFJ has been declared an unlawful organisation and its chief Gurpatwant Pannu had been designated a terrorist by the Indian government, and, as such, the police force of all states, including Punjab, were duty-bound to take all legal action to fight their attempts to subvert national security,” the CM said.
At a time when the countries across the world were rejecting the SFJ’s pro-Khalistan agenda, Sukhbir was virtually supporting it with his targeted attacks on his own state’s police department, which had successfully busted 30 terrorist modules and arrested 170 terrorists since March 2017, to ensure the peace and stability of Punjab in the face of extreme threats, Amarinder said. Besides, he said that around 85 sophisticated rifles/pistols, including AK-47s and MP-9/MP-5 rifles, 27 hand-grenades, three powerful Chinese-made drones, five satellite phones and other terrorist hardware has been recovered, indicating the extent of smuggling of weapons from across the border. Evidently, Sukhbir is not interested in these facts and all he cares about is promoting his own vested political agenda, whatever the cost to Punjab and its people, the CM said.
On Sukhbir’s reference to Punjab’s `dark era’, the CM said it was to prevent the return of the state to that dark era that his government and the state police was clamping down on all terrorist and secessionist activities. His government had, in fact, launched a massive de-radicalisation drive, using the social media widely to scuttle all attempts by Pakistan and SFJ-sponsored forces to radicalise youth in Punjab and incite them to carry out militant or violent activities, he added. Far from charging or arresting these youths, they are in fact counselled and brought back into the mainstream, Amarinder said.
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