NAGUR: The Akali Dal leader and former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr. Sujit Singh Barnala on Saturday said the Union government had “watered down” the package of measures announced by the Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi for normalizing the situation in Punjab by not releasing all the detainees.

Talking to newsmen here in an informal “meet the press” organized by the Nagpur Union of Working Journalists (NUWJ), Mr. Barnala said the government did wake up from its “slumber” by deciding to release the detainees. However, the good beginning was being “diluted” by not releasing all of them, he added.

He said the government did not implement the “Longowal Accord” in letter and spirit.

Mr. Barnala said the Accord’s non implementation had created doubts in the minds of the people of Punjab about the Government’s intentions. Besides the prolonged governor’s rule in the state had only “exacerbated” the situation,” he said.

Replying to a question, Mr. Barnala said the government had “fabricated” charges against Mr. GS. Tohra and rearrested him.

The former Punjab Chief Minister accused the Government of making the people of Punjab retaliate by taking up arms by subjecting the innocent to police harassment. And when such innocent people are eventually released they are so embittered that they take up arms.”

He said the Government should first hold the long pending municipal election in Punjab and then think of holding the Panchayat election.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 24, 1989