Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Phagwara Som Prakash on Friday demanded clemency for those facing criminal cases for indulging in violence triggered in Punjab and Haryana following the Dera Sachkhand Ballan leader’s murder in a gurudwara in Vienna in 2009.
The dera that mostly has Dalits as its followers became the hub of agitated protesters, who went on a rampage, smashing vehicles, damaging shops and setting on fire three coaches of an express train.
“Dalit followers of the dera indulged in violence because of their emotional outburst,” said Som Prakash, a Dalit, in the Punjab assembly, participating in a discussion on Dr BR Ambedkar to mark his 125th birth anniversary. “They are not criminals. Whatever they did was reactionary,” he said, demanding the state should take a lenient view of those who were booked for attack on police.
Akalis, Cong spar over Ambedkar’s legacy
Addressing the House on the issue, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal drew on historical references and records while paying rich tributes to Ambedkar. “The shocking truth is that the Congress opposed Ambedkar’s presence in the constituent assembly because they did not want a Dalit voice to decide the country’s destiny,” said Badal.
Leader of opposition Charanjit Singh Channi said Akalis should not talk of paying tributes to Ambedkar, the architect of Constitution of India, as CM Pakrash Singh Badal had torn the constitution. Channi said Ambedkar wanted to become a Sikh, but Akali leaders of those days opposed it. “Had Ambedkar been allowed to become a Sikh, 6 crore Dalits would have become Sikhs with him; it’s unfortunate,” he said.