The BJP-led Union government’s decision to withdraw the Z-plus security cover of Akali leader and former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia has invited sharp criticism from the saffron party’s former ally Shiromani Akali Dal.
Reacting to the move, SAD termed the decision as “arbitrary, dictatorial and politically motivated”.
Majithia is brother of Akali leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who recently resigned as Union Cabinet minister amid farmers’ protests against the three contentious agri Acts. Later, SAD walked out of the NDA in September, severing its ties with the BJP.
A Punjab Police functionary said the correspondence to withdraw Z-plus security cover was primarily addressed to Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the personnel of which were attached with Majithia, and that Punjab Police was marked a copy “for information”.
The functionary said the order to withdraw security cover was issued some days ago following a “review of the threat perception”.
He added that over 30 CISF personnel were attached with Majithia in Z-plus security detail provided by Centre. The functionary said Punjab government would now also conduct a review of the threat perception to Majithia to take a call on his security detail provided by the state government. In 2018, the state government had pruned Majithia’s security, withdrawing 18 gunmen.
SAD spokesperson Daljit Cheema said: “The decision to withdraw Z-plus security cover of the former minister and senior Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia is arbitrary, dictatorial and politically motivated decision of the BJP led Central government.”
In a statement, Cheema added: “Majithia’s security cover had been withdrawn because the SAD had stood firmly with farmers against the central agricultural laws as well as denial of official language status to Punjabi in Jammu and Kashmir….It is clear that Majithia is a victim of political vendetta. The SAD, however, will not be cowed down by such tactics and will continue to stand with farmers and Punjabis against the central laws as well as any other issue which weaken the federal structure or are intrinsically anti- Punjab. The SAD has a 100-year-old history of standing up to safeguard the rights of the farmers and the poor and downtrodden. It will never shirk away from this responsibility.”
Stating that “the Union Home ministry would be held responsible for any untoward incident following the withdrawal of Majithia’s security cover”, the SAD leader said “this kind of action which was clearly designed to browbeat opponents, was a new low in Indian politics”.
Cheema said: “Z-plus category security cover had been given to Majithia in 2010 during UPA rule on the basis of threat perception. The case was cleared by then Home Minister P Chidambaram, who was known to be a hard task master, on the basis of credible reports.”
Lashing out at the Centre, Cheema added: “We would like to know what has changed suddenly that the ten-year-old cover was withdrawn on the basis of a single-line order. Majithia continues to be targeted by Pakistan based anti-national elements and gangsters who have openly threatened to eliminate him. Even CM Amarinder Singh has recently talked about increased attempts of Pakistan’s ISI to revive terrorist activity in Punjab, particularly the Majha belt which shares a border with Pakistan. Majithia is from the Majha area….We have already seen how a senior left leader and Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu was murdered in Tarn Taran recently after his security cover was withdrawn.”
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