CHANDIGARH India: The 59th amendment to the Indian Constitution was assailed at a convention here as the blackest of black laws.

The convention, convened by the Punjab Human Rights Organization, was attended by more than 200 representatives of a dozen odd political parties and numerous human rights groups,

The Janata Party, the Jan Morcha, the Congress (S), Bhartya Kisan Union, Indian Peoples Front, the Istri Akali Dal, Indian Socialist Party, the R.C.P.I. (M.L.) Paigam group, Punjab Inqlabi Morcha, International Democratic Party, Mukti Morcha, Punjab Sikh Lawyers Council and a few other parties were represented in the convention. The U.A.D. was represented by half a dozen activists from different districts of Punjab. Mr. P.N. Lekhi, advocate, Mr. R.N. Kumar, a human rights activist from Delhi, Major General Narinder Singh were also present. Citizens for Democracy headed by Mr. Justice Tarkunde and Mr, Kuldip Nayar sent a telegram expressing support to the aim of the convention.

The convention unanimously opposed the 59th amendment as the greatest assault on human rights and a sinister move to perpetuate dynastic rule in the country and an antithesis of democracy. There was disagreement on the impact of the Emergency. Two speakers Dr. Shavinder Kaur Johal, President, UAD backed Istri Akali Dal, and Mr. Amar Singh Chahal, advocate, said that its provisions were unlikely to affect Sikhs any more adversely than the existing black laws were doing.

The convention decided to submit a memorandum to the Punja’ Governor on the subject. A deputation representing these parties and organizations will meet the Governor on April 22 in the connection. Next course of action including observing a Punjab bandh will also be chalked out on that day.

The convention was presided over jointly by P.H.R.O. President Sukhdev Singh, P.N. Lekhi, Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, Kalyan Singh General Secretary, Takht Sri Pat na Sahib Prabandhak Committee and Dr. (Mrs.) S.K. Gill.

Earlier opening the convention the PHRO President said that the new statue will not be able to solve the Punjab problem just as 1¢ black laws enacted earlier failed tc achieve anything because the Punjab problem is a political problem and not a law and order problem. He advocated seven measures aimed at bringing Punjab on a par with other States before any meaningful discussions on Punjab could be held with the relevant elements in Punjab.

Mr. Lekhi in his speech said that the amendment to the Constitution was far more sinister than one realized. It was aimed at perpetuating family rule and gravely undermining democracy in the country. The statute provided for extension of the tenure of Parliament. Already Mr. Lekhi revealed, there was a move to postpone the Allahabad Lok Sabha byelection on the ground that the government staff was busy with drought relief measures. He also stated that the Parliament had been empowered to legislate even on the matters listed in the State List.

Master Kheta Singh, General Secretary, International Democratic Party, Mr. Nirmal Singh, President, Punjab Congress (S), Mr. Tarsem Chand, General Secretary, I .D.P., Mr. Nek Chand, General Secretary, Congress (S) and Mr. Malwinder Singh Mali and several other speakers opposed the amendment and suggested a united front to advocate the cause of the people of Punjab.

Dr .S.S. Dosanjh, Head of Journalism Department, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, highlighted the universality of Sikhism and wanted a united multi religious action to seek fulfilment of the aspirations of the masses.

Mr. R.N. Kumar emphasized the need for documenting all cases of human rights violations. He assured the convention that a large sections of mass organizations in the rest of the country were with the people of Punjab in the hour of their trial.

Mr. Nirmal Singh said that the interests of Sikhs settled abroad would have to be kept in mind while resolving the Punjab tangle.

Mr. Nanak Chand, General Secretary, Congress (S) described the Rajiv Government as incompetent. Even a war with Pakistan was risky. The Government was trying to impose an Emergency on the country to postpone elections and to perpetuate the ruling party into power, Mr. Tarsem Chand (I.DP.) criticized the opposition parties for supporting the law and order approach regarding Punjab.

Opponents of RajivLongowal accord were harassed. A wider platform to struggle for autonomy was required, Prof. Sukhdyal Singh: The Government was not trying to understand the Sikh psyche. The true Sikh aspirations are expressed by Sarbat Khalsa held at Akal Takht through a Gurmata and not by any other forum meeting anywhere else.

Dr. (Mrs.) Johal: There is no constitution or human rights for Sikhs. Sikhs enjoyed more human rights during the British rule than during the Congress rule. No problem could be solved without finding out the cause or ailment.

Mr. LP. Attre (Socialist Party): The amendment will usher in dictatorship in the country. All vital organs of state such as judiciary have been humiliated and subdued. The people must strongly oppose the 59th amendment.

Mr. Major Singh Mattran (P.S.U.): The amendment is aimed at suppressing legitimate aspirations of various nationalities. The first aim is the struggle on Punjab autonomy, It is necessary to unitedly oppose the Emergency provisions.

Mr, P.N. Lekhi (advocate): It is a conspiracy far more sinister than the 1975 Emergency. It reflects a family’s lust for power. Every law has been made to protect the interests of the ruling family. Indian people are in bondage of this family.

Mr. Gurrattanpal Singh (Mukti Morcha): The government is playing with fire by undermining democracy. Mukti Morcha is fully at the back of the aims of the convention.

Mr. Ajmer Singh Lakhowal (BK.U.): The Emergency was ill advised. The Government has not learnt any lesson from its experience. Certain forces are not coming forward to oppose the Emergency law which is unfortunate. We will continue extending support to, P.HLR.O, in its laudable aims.

Mr. Kuldip Singh Kapur (advocate): supported the aims of the convention.

Mr. Malwinder Singh Mali (Punjab Inquillabi Morcha): The so called opposition parties in the country are hand in glove with the ruling party. These parties have failed to formulate any “opposite policy” on Punjab. Instead these parties are following in the ruling party’s footsteps.

Prof. Gurbhagat Singh: India should emulate Soviet Union to resolve the National question. Only Leninist approach could solve the Punjab problem. But this approach is nowhere in evidence.

Mr. Hakam Singh (LP.F.): By encouraging Hindu chauvinism the ruling party will wreck India’s unity.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 20, 1988