The Punjab and Haryana high court on Saturday came down heavily on the Punjab government on pension to those who participated in the ‘morcha’ (agitation) for creation of the ‘Punjabi Suba (province)’.
Questioning the validity of the scheme, the bench of justice SS Saron and justice Gurmit Ram asked: “How do you justify this scheme? Suppose an opposition government comes into power and starts a scheme for giving pension to those who participated in Jat agitation, will that be justified?” Justice Saron further asked how the task of identification of beneficiaries under the scheme could be given to MLAs.
The high court was hearing a public interest litigation wherein the advocate petitioner had submitted that the scheme was politically motivated and designed to confer financial benefits on supporters of the ruling political party in view of the upcoming assembly elections. The new procedure amounts to fraud as the government is extending benefits of the scheme to ineligible persons, it was argued.
What was the movement?
The Punjabi Suba movement was aimed at creation of a Punjabi-majority suba (province) in the then Punjab region in the 1950s. Led by the Akali Dal, it resulted in the formation of the present-day Punjab state, the Hindi-majority Haryana state and the union territory of Chandigarh. Some Pahari-majority parts of the then Punjab were also merged with Himachal Pradesh as a result of the movement.