NEW DELHI, MARCH 8, REUTER — The Indian Government will impose emergency rule in Punjab if its concessions to militant Sikhs do not get a favorable response, senior government officials said Tuesday.
Home minister Buta Singh and his deputy told parliament on Monday the government had taken a calculated risk in announcing the concessions during the weekend. They include the release of Sikhism’s five High Priests and 40 Sikh held in prisons.
He told the upper House of Parliament that the government would not hesitate to take stringent steps if the concessions did not result in political solution to a Sikh campaign, even if it meant limited emergency rule in Punjab.
Sikhs are waging guerrilla war for an independent Sikh nation. More than 330 people have died so far this year.
Singh made the statement while announcing a government plan to amend the constitution to extend direct rule in Punjab beyond the permissible period of one year and to arm itself under emergency rule laws, to tackle the violence.
But he asserted that such an emergency rule would apply only to Punjab and not to the rest of the country.
The debate plunged into disorder when opposition leaders staged a walkout, protesting that the government’s dissolution of Punjab’s 117-member assembly on Sunday was unlikely to bring peace to the state.
Deputy Home minister P. Chidambaram defended the moves, saying in the lower House that continuation of the Assembly would have been purposeless and futile.
He said the government would introduce a bill to extend direct rule of Punjab from New Delhi beyond its scheduled end on May 11, direct rule of Punjab was imposed when its moderate Sikh government was sacked and the assembly suspended last May for failing to curb Killings.
The freedom fighters have stepped up their campaign again, leading to the death of at least eight people, including a Sikh police officer and his two brothers, in the past 24 hours.
The police officer and his brothers were shot dead on Tuesday near the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, where High Priest Jasbir Singh is due to be re-installed as Head of the Akal Takht,
Article extracted from this publication >> March 11, 1988