PHAGWARA, Punjab, India: Buta Singh, the Union Home Minister, categorically stated that there is no room in a secular country like India to provide special status to any religion or community. Talking to newsmen, Buta Singh refuted at Phagwara, where he had come to participate in the Bhog of late Jagat Ram who was gunned down by some unidentified persons, refuted a suggestion that Mahatma Gandhihad promised for a special status to Sikhs in India. He said that Mahatma Gandhi had never made such promise to the Sikhs. Referring to Jawahar Lal Nehru’s remarks about Sikhs, Mr. Buta Singh told that those remarks were given in a different context and now the Akalis are trying to exploit the same to their benefit.

Referring to the Badal formula for the settlement of Punjab issue, Buta Singh rejected it, out rightly. He described it as communal and unacceptable.

But Singh also rejected the demand of Akalis for the removal of S.S. Ray and J.F. Ribeiro from Punjab. He specially commented ‘on the role of Ribeiro in controlling the law and order situation in Punjab. The Union Home Minister gave a broad hint for another extension to J.F_ Ribeiro.

Buta Singh asked the Akalis to make their position clear about freedom movement, launched by the militants and the demand of Khalistan. He charged the Akalis of encouraging the freedom movement in Punjab.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 15, 1988