The Punjab government may face another Gobindpura-like situation in case it goes ahead with its proposed move to shift Amritsar central jail to Bhallapind village near Ajnala.
Leaders of 17 farmer and labour organisations on Monday warned the government that they would scuttle any move on its part to set up the new jail on the land of farmers as well as that of Ajnala cooperative sugar mill at Bhallapind, 17 km from here.
The government proposes to acquire around 30-35 acres from 15 farmers and another 50-55 acres from the sugar mill.
"We will not hesitate in making Bhallapind another Gobindpura, where the government had tried to acquire the land of farmers for a thermal plant. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal must honour his commitment of no forcible acquisition of land which he had made during the Gobindpura agitation," Jamhoori Kisan Sabha state president Satnam Singh Ajnala said at a press conference here in the presence of leaders of other organisations.
Present on the occasion were the farmers whose land the government proposed to acquire. They claimed that Khadoor Sahib Akali MP Rattan Singh Ajnala had recently called them to his house at Ajnala and had conveyed to them the state government's intentions and told them that they would be paid around Rs 30 lakh per acre.
"We want to make it clear that none of these 15 families are willing to be displaced, no matter what the compensation," said Satnam, while indicating that these views were also conveyed to the state chief secretary during a meeting held in Chandigarh last week.
Meanwhile, in a joint memorandum addressed to the chief minister and submitted to the deputy commissioner, the farmer and labour organisations questioned the logic behind shifting the central jail, situated on 89 acres of land, to an area which would measure around 85 acres.
The memorandum pointed out that there was enough vacant land available on the central jail premises here for expansion as the government had put forth the logic that the jail was overcrowded, hence a new one needed to be built.
The memorandum said the land to be acquired out of the sugarcane research farm of the sugar mill could not be used for any other purpose than agriculture. In support of this argument, the leaders of the organisations referred to certain Supreme Court rulings in a few cases.
It also referred to the difficulties the relatives of undertrials or prisoners would have to face while going to Bhallapind. Likewise, transporting undertrials to Amritsar for court cases would be a security risk, it said.
Kirti Kisan Union state vice-president Datar Singh said the government should desist from the move. "It is clear that the vacant jail land which is worth hundreds of crores would be used to benefit a few politicians," he alleged.