Centre Wants To Turn Punjab Into A UT, Says Badal

Former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Parkash Singh Badal on Friday urged all political parties in the state to “stop fighting among themselves” and “wage a united fight” against Center’s move to “turn Punjab into a Union Territory through the back door by handing it over to the central security forces like the BSF.”

He said that this move will further weaken the already endangered federal structure of the country and will reduce the state government to the status of municipality. “This will be a severe blow to the pride and dignity of Punjabis,” said Badal.

In a statement here this afternoon, Badal said, “If we don’t stop our mutual fights for petty stakes, the Centre will merrily take advantage of our weaknesses. Tomorrow, we will all repent, having no powers left to solve the problems of the people. There will be nothing left for then.”

Badal said that it was very unfortunate that the Centre has been usurping the rights of the states even on subjects that fall on the States List in the Constitution. He said that the Centre had first legislated three farm laws on agriculture which is a state subject. “Now, with this move on BSF deployment, they have done the same encroachment on another state subject, law and Order,” he said.

Badal appealed to the Prime Minister to get both these encroachments rescinded by revoking the three black laws on Agriculture and withdrawing the orders on BSF deployment.

Badal said there is also a strong ground to believe that the Centre might be preparing to rob the state of its legitimate rights on its river waters. “They might be conspiring to use this drastic new step to crush the farmers’ movement by blocking it at the farmers’ doorsteps in Punjab..”

The former Chief Minister who is also the patron in chief of the Shiromani Akali Dal said that his party would not stand on prestige and would gladly join or follow any other party that is willing to lead the fight.

SAD wants no political limelight and would humbly cooperate with all other parties in a collective endeavour to safeguard Punjab’s interests. “In fact, safeguarding Punjab’s interests is in the overall interest of the country as we are the ‘sword arm’ of the nation “

Describing the Centre’s move to place almost half of Punjab under BSF as a “dangerous move”, Badal said that this would mark a return to the period when Punjab was declared a disturbed area.

“By giving sweeping powers to the BSF, the Centre has rendered Punjab Police as totally irrelevant. I am afraid we are back into the era of midnight knocks and searches of homes by security forces without valid orders or prior notice and without any platform to seek relief as people can no longer turn to local leaders or officers for the redress of your grievances,” he said.

In addition, Badal alleged that the Centre has assumed arbitrary powers to enter and violate the sanctity of the most sacred shrines, including Sri Harmandir Sahib, Durgiana Temple, Ram Tirath Temple. “We all know what the outcome of such insensitivity can be. People of Punjab must unite for safeguarding their own pride and freedom guaranteed under the constitution,” he said.

Badal also appealed to the Centre “not to rub salt into the already deep and festering emotional wounds of Punjabis” by allegedly humiliating them through the denial of their basic democratic and federal rights to manage their affairs through their own elected representatives.

“For nearly 15 years, the Center had kept Punjab under President’s rule and even under army boots, with disastrous consequences. I hope the present rulers in Delhi will learn from history and not repeat the tragic mistakes of the past. I strongly call upon the Prime Minister in the interests of Punjab and the whole country not to allow past tragedies to be repeated,” said the Akali stalwart. (ANI)

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