From Our Special Correspondent

Chandigarh — The Punjab Govt. has decided to release 224 National Security Act detainees including Bibi Amarjit Kaur of Akhand Kirtni Jatha and wife of Mr. Fauja Singh who was killed during the attack on the followers of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale by the Nirankaris at Amritsar in April 1978. She had been arrested from inside the Golden Temple complex during the Operation Bluestar in June last year. Mr. Surjit Singh Barnala who announced the release of the detainees at first used some caution while announcing the number. Those still under detention in NSA include among others S. Simranjit Singh Mann, Bhai Manjit Singh, President AISSF S. Harminder Singh Sandhu, General Secretary AISSF, and Bhai Jasbir Singh.

Mr. Barnala said, “The state govt. had set up a high powered committee of legal experts to review the cases of those persons who were arrested on political grounds and belong to both Hindu and Sikh communities. The petitions of those convicted would also be considered for release. Mr. Barnala said the govt. would approach the center for setting up of committees to go into the cases of arrested persons lodged in Jodhpur jail. The personnel of the committee would be decided in consultation with the center and may include five representatives of Akali Dal. All cases of violence in Punjab would be referred to it including assassination of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal. The Sikh Govt. would file applications in the court for the withdrawal of cases of persons arrested on political grounds including those released on bail. The committee would not consider the cases of ordinary criminals.

After having sworn as chief minister, Mr. Barnala announced the decision to set up a high power committee. Asked what steps government would take to counter “terrorism” Mr. Barnala said these could not be disclosed at this stage. The government wanted to bring “extremists” back to the mainstream and would adopt a polite attitude to the problem. Asked when his government would set up a judicial commission to inquire into the killings in the Punjab as promised in the election manifesto of the Akali Dal. The Chief Minister said that he had just taken charge of the government. Answering another question he said the present ministry would be expanded but it could not be indicated, when the extension would take place. To some newsman, who had called on the chief Minister, he said that the expansion could take place after the first session of the Vidhan Sabha. When his intention was drawn to the decision of Parkash Singh Badal not to join the Ministry, Mr. Barnala admitted that efforts were made for inclusion of Mr. Badal in the Ministry. He said, “He wanted: to benefit from the experience of Mr. Badal, but we did not succeed in our efforts.” Asked if these efforts will continue, the chief Minister said, “we are still on the job.” Mr. Barnala while speaking at Amritsar said that his government would ensure that the police didn’t enter the Golden Temple complex in future. Answering questions in the SGPC information office after paying a visit to Harminder Sahib along with his cabinet, he said, “I have come here with my cabinet colleagues before taking the office in order to offer prayers at the House of God and seek His blessings.” Saropas were given to Chief Minister and his colleagues by Giani Sahib Singh, head priest of the Golden Temple.



Punjab Ministers

  1. Balwant Singh
  2. Sukhjinder Singh
  3. Amarinder Singh (Former Maharaja Patiala)
  4. Basant Singh Khalsa
  5. Major Singh Obeke

Their Portfolios

From Our Special Correspondent

Chandigarh India: The Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala today distributed portfolios among his cabinet ministers keeping to himself 20 portfolios including Home, Cooperatives, Irrigation Power, Transport, Information and Publication department. Mr. Balwant Singh #2 in the cabinet has been given Finance, Excise and Taxation and Industries while Mr. Amarinder Singh, former Maharaja Patiala, is minister for Agriculture and forest, Development and Panchayat. Mr. Sukhjinder Singh has Education, including Printing and stationary, cultural affairs and Parliamentary affairs. Health and family welfare, social and women’s welfare of scheduled castes and backward classes have been given to Mr. Basant Singh Khalsa. Mr. Major Singh Uboke has been given Revenue and Rehabilitation. Other portfolios with the Chief Minster are General Administration, Justice, tourism, Food and Supplies, Local govt., Housing,

Urban development, Public Works, Animal Husbandry, Elections, Labour and Employment, Legal and Legislative Affairs, Planning, Science and Technology.

Article extracted from this publication >>  October 6, 1985