The Home Minister, Mr. S.B. Chavan, indicated on Wednesday that he was thinking of associating opposition leaders with the Government’s efforts to find a solution to the Punjab problem.
During the debate in Rajya Sabha, most opposition members blamed the Congress (I) for the riots in December and said it must not hesitate to order a judicial inquiry. On one occasion, there were angry exchanges when Mr. V. Gopalsamy (DMK) said the Congress (I) was responsible for political terrorism in Delhi. On another occasion, a provocative remark by Mr. D. P. Roy (CongI) against Mr. K. Mohanan (CPIM) caused a furore. In the exchanges, Mr. Nirmal Chatterjee (CPIM) threatened to stage a walkout if the Chair did not give a ruling. The deputy chairman, Mrs. Najma Heptulla, said she would examine the record to see if anything unparliamentarily had been said. This, however, did not satisfy the opposition.
Moving a resolution opposing extension of President’s rule, Mr. J.P. Yadav (BJP) said the Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, had changed his stand several times on the Anandpur Sahib resolution. The Congress (I) had created the impression during the December elections that all Sikhs were not patriots to reap votes. He asked the party to change its policy now that elections were over.
Mr. Shantimoy Ghosh (CPIM) said the situation in the state was still critical and communal polarization had taken place.
Mr. Darbara Singh (CongI) criticized the Akali leadership for its failure to check ‘“‘extremism” and for allowing the SGPC to purchase firearms to train Sikh militants.
Mr. (nom) Khushwant said while Singh Mr.
Rajiv Gandhi had given a good start to the efforts to find a solution, what distressed him been the smug self-righteousness of government officials. This had hardened the Akali will to talk. ““We are now concerned with one major issue. This is the dignity of the Sikh community of 14 million,’ Mr. Khushwant Singh said.
Mr. Khushwant Singh said the gospel of Bhindranwale still haunted Punjab, and young Sikhs had vowed vengeance. Demanding a judicial inquiry into the riots, he said if the Government wanted a package deal it would have to be with the entire Sikh community and not with just the Akalis. He said the Congress (1) owed it to itself to clear itself of charges made against it of involvement in the November riots. Mr. Khushwant Singh suggested more agro based industries in Punjab to absorb the unemployed youth.
Mr. S.C. Mohunta (DMKP) said the Congress (I) could not disown the responsibility of alienating the Sikh community. He said the Government must seek the cooperation of the opposition in finding a solution.
Mr. P. Upendra (TD) objected to the giving of awards last week to Armymen who took part in Operation Blue Star. He wanted to know why moderate Akali leaders were still under detention calling for a judicial inquiry into the riots, he demanded immediate restoration of popular rule in the state.
Mr. V. Gopalsamy (DMK) said there was nothing wrong in Sikhs seeking a separate identity. This could not be equated with secession. He blamed the Congress (I) for the Delhi riots.
Replying to the combined debate in the Rajya Sabha on the motion to extend President’s rule in the state by six months beyond April 6, the bill amending the National Security Act in Punjab and Chandigarh and the
Punjab budget, he, however, added that the speeches of the opposition members had given him second thoughts.
The House later passed the motion and the bills.
Mr. Chavan said there seemed to be a link between the recent violent incidents in the state and release of some detainees, and said there were elements which were not interested in a solution.
The Home Minister said while the cabinet subcommittee on Punjab was prepared to do everything on finding a solution, it would not compromise on the unity and integrity of the country. Making a reference to the Anandpur Sahib Resolution he said at least a section of it could be interpreted as advocating secession.
Mr. Chavan repeated some of the points he had made in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. He said the Government was prepared to consider a judicial inquiry into the November riots provided there was a final, package settlement on all issues.
Article extracted from this publication >> April 12, 1985