The murder of a Dalit youth, one of whose limbs was also chopped off by the assailants belonging to a rival gang of liquor smugglers in Mansa on Monday, has kicked off a blame game over the deteriorating law and order situation in Punjab.
While the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday said Dalits are feeling insecure and fearing for their safety under the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rule, its alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s state chief Vijay Sampla instituted an “in-house” inquiry into the killing by deputing two party leaders.
As the Congress is set to generate heat and corner the SAD-BJP government on the issue, BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh asked its state president Capt Amarinder Singh not to politicise this sensitive issue.
“Capt Amarinder has been trying to provoke the people just to gain some political brownie points,” said Chugh.
Amarinder, who was in Batala, accused the Badal government of unleashing a reign of terror on Dalits and demanded action against those responsible for recent attacks on the community.
The Dalit community is angry at the gory murder of a Dalit youth, Sukhchain Singh, allegedly at the hands of the Badal-controlled liquor mafia, Captain Amarinder said, citing media reports.
“It is clear that these atrocities are being committed against Dalits in Punjab, particularly in the Malwa belt, by those having the patronage of the SAD leadership,” said the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, referring to reports that the accused are related to Niranjan Singh, Punjab chief minister’s driver.
Accusing the Badal government of “meticulously destroying” the secular character and peaceful environment of the state, Capt said these developments will have serious consequences for the state.
Punjab Congress Legislature Party chief Charanjit Singh Channi said the “barbaric act” has once again shown the anti-Dalit face of the Akali Dal-BJP regime headed by Parkash Singh Badal, under whom, he said, the state is being ruled by the mafia.
AAP slams Akalis for ‘atrocities’ on Dalits
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also condemned the incident. Accusing the Punjab government and the state police of failing to provide security to people, AAP state convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich said that law and order situation has gone from bad to worst in the state during the Akali-BJP regime.
“The incident is the horrifying reminder of the Bhim Tank murder case of Abohar and shows that drug and liquor mafia, under the patronage of Akali leaders, are killing Dalits every day without any fear of the police,” said Waraich.
Waraich also took serious note of the attack on Dalits by Akali supporters at Jhalur village in Sangrur district, where more than 20 Dalit families decided to leave the village fearing for their lives.
BJP in damage-control mode
Punjab BJP chief Vijay Sampla on Wednesday instituted a party-level inquiry and deputed two leaders to ascertain facts in the Mansa murder case.
Sampla also asked Punjab director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora to conduct a free and fair inquiry and take stringent action against the accused. He also pointed out that following an attack on Dalit families of Jhalur village in Sangrur, 20 families have left the village. He said Jhalur Dalits were demanding impartial auction of land and that they should not be used as proxies to take land by the village bigwigs.
Sampla has asked BJP vice-president Raj Kumar Pathi and general secretary Kewal Kumar to visit the aggrieved families in Sangrur and Mansa and submit a report by Thursday.
Regarding the murder of the Mansa youth, Sampla denied the role of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal’s driver Niranjan Singh, whose brother is the sarpanch of Gharagna village.
Terming the incidents unfortunate, Sampla said: “Both cases may have different social and regional antecedents, and they are being inquired into. I assure that the victims will be provided justice at all costs.”
Sampla maintained there was no rise in atrocities on Dalits, as such incidents have been occurring in the past as well. “The killing of a person belonging to any community should be condemned,” he said. HTC