Punjab has the sole right over Chandigarh, and it belongs only to Punjab, said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal at an event marking the 31st death anniversary of Harchand Singh Longowal on Saturday. Longowal was the president of the Akali Dal during the Punjab insurgency of the 1980s. Badal was accompanied by his son and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
However, the leaders spent most of their time boasting about the state government’s achievements and criticising the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party, their rivals in the upcoming assembly polls. In one of the instances, talking about AAP, the deputy CM drew parallels with Naxalites who had infiltrated the party comprising outsiders trying to capture power in Punjab at any cost.
People were spotted leaving the venue in the first half an hour when they saw that the leaders were digressing from the day’s topic.
Interacting with the media on the sidelines, Badal claimed that the former Congress government in Punjab had deprived the state of its capital in Chandigarh along with Punjabi-speaking areas and its legitimate share in river waters. He also ‘blamed’ the Congress for betraying the state by snatching the capital away.
He congratulated Olympians PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik for bringing sporting glory for the country, calling it a matter of pride for the entire nation.
Addressing the public earlier, Badal held the Congress responsible for Longowal’s death. He claimed that the Congress backstabbed the leader by violating the Punjab accord.
Calling the SAD-BJP government the only ‘pro-people’ government in the entire country, Badal said the alliance had supplied free power to farmers of the state at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore in the last 10 years to bail them out of an agrarian crisis.
The deputy CM said Punjab had prospered in every sector because of the ruling government. He also announced that all the 12,000 villages of the state will have carpeted roads and cemented drains in the next five years at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore.
Meanwhile, people wearing black clothes were not allowed to enter the venue and some were also made to change outside the venue in order to enter the premises.
THE PUNJAB ACCORD AND LONGOWAL’S DEATH
In March 1985, the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi started releasing Akali leaders from jail. This was done to keep the peace and for negotiations for fulfilling Sikh demands. After weeks of secret meetings and discussions, Longowal met Gandhi in Delhi and signed the Punjab accord on July 23, 1985. Sikh historian Harjinder Singh Dilgeer says this was the most ‘shameful and honourless agreement’ signed by Sikh leaders, as no demand of the Sikhs had been accepted. Less than a month after signing the accord, Longowal was shot and killed on August 20, 1985 near the gurdwara in Sherpur village, not far from Longowal in Punjab.