Of the two Lok Sabha seats in the Doaba region — which comprises Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala districts — campaigning is on in full swing at Jalandhar, where all major parties have announced their candidates. For all these parties, barring the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), religious issues are the main topic among contenders.
Bargari, Behbal Kalan and the Nakodar sacrilege of 1986 incidents are being discussed by candidates.
Congress candidate Chaudhary Santokh Singh has during his campaign claimed that the SAD has forfeited its moral right to term itself a ‘Panthic party’, and accused the Badals (former CM PS Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Badal) for “using the Election Commission to sabotage the investigation by SIT into sacrilege incidents of Bargari.”
“The real anti-panth face of Badals has already been exposed before the Sikhs, especially after their shoddy role in the sacrilege incidents and firing incidents on peaceful Sikh protesters in which two innocent youths were killed during their regime,” Chaudhary said.
He also blamed his opponent and SAD-BJP candidate Charanjit Singh Atwal for hushing up the SIT report on the Nakodar incident, in which four youths were killed in police firing. “Atwal was Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha in 2001 when the report about 1986 sacrilege was presented in Assembly but he never pushed it for an Action Taken Report (ATR) against those who were behind it,” he said.
“Whenever the SAD government takes over in state, such incidents of sacrilege witnessed spurt, which could be evident from the series of sacrilege incidents during previous rule of SAD-BJP,” Chaudhary further claimed.
Expressing sympathy for the families of the firing victims, he said that the Congress is committed to extending maximum help to them, adding, “Ab hoga nyay (now justice will prevail).”
“Akalis cannot escape their responsibilities from the sacrilege incidents and police firing at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura,” he said.
Chaudhary has also been attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming the latter has not fulfilled a single promise of providing employment to 2 crore people, depositing Rs 15 lakh in the accounts of every individual and accusing him of harassing distressed farmers by giving no relief.
Meanwhile, Balwinder Kumar, a PDA candidate, who was in Nakodar on Friday, claimed that both SAD-BJP and Congress had nothing in the past 70 years and now there is need for change. He too attacked the SAD citing Behbal Kalan, accusing them of playing with the sentiments of the Sikh community by using religion.
AAP’s candidate Justice (retd.) Zora Singh, who held the first inquiry in Bargari and Behbal Kalana incidents, told the people in his speeches that SAD-BJP did not implement his inquiry report, or the culprits would have been behind bars. He also raked up Nakodar sacrilege issues and visited the victims’ families to assure justice to them. Apart from this, he also discussed education and health issues.
SAD candidate Charanjit Singh Atwal, however, has chosen other matters while campaigning. He attacked the state government on issues like drugs and sand mafia, not waiving the full debt of farmers, lack of development and ‘Ghar-Ghar Rozgar’. He further said alleged that the government is not disbursing the grants issued by the Centre under post-matric for poor SC students.
Atwal, who was Assembly Speaker in 2001, said he was being targeted over the Nakodar incident. “I was a Speaker and it was the duty of the government to take action, not the Speaker,” he added.