Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa on Wednesday compared deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal with General Reginald Dyer, saying that Sukhbir had gone to the villages of the two victims of the Behbal Kalan police firing under heavy security, just as Gen Dyer had roamed in Amritsar after imposing curfew subsequent to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
“First of all, it took more than a month for him to visit the families of the victims. Then he went under heavy security as he feared a protest by the people. He delayed his visited by about four hours as the people waited for him with black flags at Sarawan village. He should have gone there to seek an apology with folded hands for the unprovoked police firing,” Bajwa said in a statement here.
He said Sukhbir “took this risk” (visit to the victims’ families) as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was to lead a 21-member delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday to seek a high-level probe by a Supreme Court judge into the police firing at Behbal Kalan and a series of incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.
“It is shocking that the ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib that was reported missing from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala (in Faridkot district) on June 1 is still to be traced and this reflects utter incompetence of the police, which is under Sukhbir in his capacity as the home minister,” Bajwa added.
Reacting to Bajwa’s statement, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) asked the state Congress chief to “spare the people of Punjab who want peace and communal harmony and not try to incite violence in society”.
SAD spokesman Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said in a statement here that if at all Gen Dyer was to be compared with anyone, it could only be former prime minister Indira Gandhi. “Just as Gen Dyer had tried to break the spirit of the freedom fighters by opening fire on them, Indira had tried to break the spirit of the Sikhs by ordering the army into Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple). The Sikhs have never forgiven both persons and never will,” he said.
Dr Cheema said it was the SAD which had always risen to the occasion and defended Sikhs’ rights. He said the SAD was performing the same role today and assuring that Sikh institutions were “not weakened due to Congress-inspired conspiracies”.
He added that Sukhbir’s visit on Tuesday to meet the kin of police firing victims had been appreciated by both families.
Asking Bajwa to look into his acts of omission and commission first rather than playing politics over the recent acts of desecration, Dr Cheema said Bajwa should first tell the people of Punjab why the Congress shared a Khalistani stage on November 10 (at the radicals’ Sarbat Khalsa) . He said Bajwa should also answer why he and his party had committed an anti-national act by siding with extremists with the sole aim of weakening the SAD.
It took Sukhbir more than a month to visit the families of the police firing victims. Then he went under heavy security as he feared a protest by the people.
Partap Singh Bajwa, Punjab Congress president
Just as Gen Dyer had tried to break the spirit of freedom fighters by opening fire on them, Indira Gandhi tried to break the spirit of Sikhs by ordering the army into Darbar Sahib.
Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, SAD spokesman