Breaking his silence on the London attack on Operation Bluestar commander Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar (retd), allegedly by Khalistani extremists, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday termed it "a routine terrorist act" but refrained from condemning the incident forthrightly.
Badal, who had been keeping mum on Sunday's audacious assassination bid on Lt Gen Brar, sought to downplay the episode, insisting that "it has nothing to do with reports of revival of terrorism in Punjab". In saying so, the chief minister apparently disagreed with the assessment of his own top police brass, which views the London attack as a wake-up call for Punjab.
"If any terrorist act has occurred outside the country, how can it be related to the return of terrorism in Punjab?" he wondered, while facing a barrage of questions from mediapersons. To buttress his point, Badal quoted the Wisconsin gurdwara shooting in August. "Since that attack happened in the US, does it mean that terrorist activities have been revived in that country," he said.
Badal was here to lay the foundation stone of a bus stand of the Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation.
To a pointed question whether he condemned the London attack, Badal evaded a direct response and instead couched it in generic terms. "Jo vi koi galat kam karda hai, main ohde naal nahin. (I am against all who do wrong)" he said, asserting that he had always worked for harmony in the state and would not allow anyone to destroy peace.
Asked about Intelligence Bureau chief Nehchal Singh Sandhu's latest assessment that Punjab was on the radar of militants again, Badal said such apprehension was "a mere statement".
"If it was really so, the Centre should have shown seriousness and come forward to fund the state in order to strengthen its police and intelligence network," he said, adding that "Mere statements won't do."
Badal didn't forget to take a dig at Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh, who has said that the erection of the Operation Bluestar memorial in Harmandar Sahib has provided strength to Khalistani extremists and that the attack on Lt Gen Brar was the result of his (Badal's) politics to appease hardliners.
Accusing Amarinder of "playing sheer politics", Badal said the Captain had left the Congress over Operation Bluestar in 1984 but was now using the memorial to brighten his political prospects.
'SAD never encouraged terrorists'
Jhandian Kalan (Rupnagar): Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had never encouraged terrorists.
"How can the Akali Dal be accused of encouraging terrorists when it had to suffer a lot at their hands? They (terrorists) killed party president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, carried out a murderous attack on former SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra and also killed many party candidates before the 1991 assembly elections (later deferred)," Badal said while reacting to allegations by Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar and Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh that the SAD was encouraging terrorists in the state.
Badal was here to lay the foundation stone of upgradation work on the Kular Ratewal-Tibba Nangal-Sarai Pattan road.