Expressing concern over giving settlement rights to around 8400 migrant Hindi speaking families around Chandigarh, former state deputy speaker Bir Devinder said the move would not only change the demographic face of the state capital but also weaken the claim of Punjab over it.
Talking to HT, Bir Devinder said that instead, the Punjab government should send the migrants back to their native states.
Opposing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Chandigarh on September 14 to hand over 8,400 dwelling units constructed by Chandigarh Housing Board in Dhanas as part of the slum rehabilitation scheme launched under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), he said that neither the Congress nor the SAD raised voice in favour of Punjabis.
"How wise it is to spend crores of rupees on rehabilitation of people of other states when Punjabis have no right to buy land in many of the states. It is mere politics of votes which is at play. The migrant population would seriously affect the cultural ethos of Punjab, besides changing Chandigarh's demography", he asserted.
"It must not be forgotten that Chandigarh was created by displacing Punjabi speaking villages and now Hindi speaking migrants were being habilitated here", he added.
Bir Devinder said that the SAD leadership had already relinquished its claim on Chandigarh by announcing the creation of a new Chandigarh and the new settlement in Dhanas would lend another blow to Punjab. "Wherever they live, a sword of displacement always hangs over Punjabis, be it Gujarat, Haryana or Delhi and now they are not even safe in their home state," he said.
"Sikh community in particular has to bear the brunt of communalism as they are a minority and don't count for much when it comes to votes," he added.
He said a big identity crisis would threaten the Sikh community if Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. "The BJP and its ideological head RSS have already polarised the nation and in case they come to power, they would try to absorb all minority communities in Hinduism", he said, demanding that instead of "blindly toeing the line", the SAD should strike a deal with the national parties and help only those who promise a financial bail-out for the state.
"The chief minister and deputy chief minister might not admit to it but it is an open secret that Punjab's finances were in dire straits and the state needed a generous package to stand on its feet. The Prime Minister, being a Punjabi himself, should also think seriously about it", said Bir Devinder.