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Special one-day session: Sangrur Dalit’s murder, Maha drama echo in Punjab assembly

The session was held to mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of Indian Constitution
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON NOV 26, 2019 11:51 PM IST

The brutal murder of a Dalit construction worker, Jagmail Singh (37), in Sangrur and the ongoing political drama in Maharashtra dominated the special one-day session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday held to mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of Indian Constitution.

Referring to the Sangrur incident, the MLAs called for efforts to fight for the rights of the downtrodden. They also discussed the role BR Ambedkar played as an architect of the Constitution which was adopted in 1949.

Congress’ Raj Kumar Verka, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Jai Kishan Rori and Akali Dal’s Sukhwinder Kumar and Pawan Tinu raised the issue of atrocities against Dalits, saying the real tribute to BR Ambedkar would be to maintain the dignity of the underprivileged.

The MLAs of treasury benches and of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) raised concern over development in Maharashtra as how the institution of governor was undermined when oath was administered to BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister in a hurried manner in the wee hours.

Leader of opposition Harpal Singh Cheema told the House the central government was making attempts to lower dignity of the Constitution. AAP legislator Kultar Singh Sandhwan also termed the political scenario in the state as unfortunate, saying the institution of governor was demolished.

Cheema also called upon the Punjab lawmakers to make efforts for implementation of the 85th Constitutional amendment in the state. Sandhwan referred to anti-Sikh riots of 1984 as blot on the Constitution.

On the issue of alleged “phone-tapping” that was raised by Congress MLAs from CM Capt Amarinder Singh’s home district Patiala, Akali Dal’s Bikram Singh Majithia said keeping watch on legislators was a violation of constitutional provisions and also the the Supreme Court’s directions.

He urged speaker Rana KP Singh to clear the status of the MLAs who have resigned from the parties on the symbols of which they won the election. “Sir, by not taking action, you are also under scrutiny,” he told the speaker.

Of three AAP MLAs, two have withdrawn their resignations. The former minister also pointed out that the appointment of advisers to the CM by the state government was against the Constitution.

Urging the MLAs to protect the country’s institutions, finance minister Punjab Manpreet Singh Badal cited the example of Pakistan as how a country which was economically sound at time of Partition failed because its citizens did not stand up to protect the dignity of their institutions.

He, however, drew flak from the members of opposition when he tried to justify the emergency imposed by the Congress government as an attempt to save the country from instability.

Former Akali minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa termed emergency a “black mark” on the country’s history. “The essence with which the Constitution was written is missing. We should learn from the UK which has no written constitution and functions on conventions,” he said.

Concluding the discussion, rural development and panchayats minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said everyone in the country focused on their rights with little concern about their duties.

“I accept that the 1984 riots should not have happened but nobody talks about communal killings in Gujarat. People remember the emergency as a black spot on India’s history. But what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir where the basic rights of people have been taken away?” Bajwa questioned.

He referred to the oath-taking of Fadanvis as Maharashtra CM as a constitutional joke and raised concerns over weakening of institutions such as the CBI and the Election Commission (EC).

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