SAD-BSP leaders booked for protest near Punjab CM’s farmhouse
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal was on Tuesday booked along with at least 300 leaders and workers of his party and new alliance partner Bahujan Samaj Party for staging a protest near Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s farmhouse at Siswan on the outskirts of Chandigarh.
Leading hundreds of party workers, Sukhbir was demanding the dismissal of state health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu and a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged irregularities in the sale of vaccines and procurement of medical kits for Covid-19 patients, while asking the state government to come clean on the allegations of corruption.
There were two barricades put up within a distance of 200 metres near the Siswan T-point, at least two kilometers from the CM’s farmhouse. The protesters led by former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia managed to break the first barricade, but police used force to stop them from crossing over the second barrier. BSP state president Jasvir Singh Garhi was hit by water cannon while trying to cross over the barricades.
Sukhbir, Majithia and Garhi along with a number of SAD-BSP workers were detained when they were marching towards the second barricade. After staying at the Kurali police station under preventive detention, they were released on bail.
“We have registered a case under Section 188 (disobedience to order) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Disaster Management Act against all senior leaders of Akali Dal and BSP besides at least 300 workers of the two parties. We will proceed against them as per law,” said Mohali senior superintendent of police Satinder Singh.
Earlier, too, Sukhbir and 225 other party leaders and workers were booked for violating Covid-19 norms on the CM’s orders, after they had gathered for a protest near the health minister’s house in Mohali.
Corrupt Cong ministers will face action: Sukhbir
“If a storm rises, Captain (Amarinder Singh) will be unable to stop it. There is a scam in vaccination drive; there is a scam in the disbursal of Fateh Kits; there is scam in scholarship for the SC community; and the land of farmers is also being acquired,” Sukhbir said ahead of getting detained.
The SAD alleged that the price of Fateh Kits — medical kits containing medicines, consumables and oximeters that re given to Covid-19 patients — was jacked up repeatedly from ₹800 to ₹1,400 each as the state government invited one tender after another even as the first was valid for six months.
The opposition party also claimed the government is involved in a vaccination scam, and sold vaccines to private hospitals at huge profit margins while allowing the latter to charge the beneficiaries steep prices.
Addressing the protesters, Sukhbir made it clear that all Congress ministers who had indulged in corruption would be booked if the SAD-BSP alliance is voted to power in 2022. Condemning the CM for shielding corrupt ministers, he alleged: “Balbir Sidhu was responsible for the drug de-addiction tablet scam, PPE kit scam, vaccine scam and Fateh Kit scam; Sadhu Singh Dharamsot was responsible for SC scholarship scam; and Sukhjinder Randhawa had indulged in the seed scam.”
Sukhbir alleged the chief minister had also extended patronage to sand and liquor mafia, which had looted the state with the loss in excise revenue alone being ₹6,500 crore besides illegal mining of sand worth hundreds of crores.
The opposition party also demanded that land acquisition for national highways be done at market rates and displacement compensation be offered to the affected landowners, and the pending dues under the post-matric scholarship scheme for scheduled caste (SC) students be released at the earliest.
The former deputy chief minister announced that if voted to power, the SAD-BSP government would give free education in government schools and SC students would be offered scholarships in engineering and medical colleges.