Says People’s Round Table Conference

CHANDIGARAH, India: Punjab Accord is a spurious document and it is high time that militant groups were invited for talks to find a solution to the problem in the state. This was the consensus at the first People’s Round Table Conference on Punjab problem here. Over 20 social scientists, jurists, journalists, publishers and politicians were unanimous in concluding that the Punjab government and the ruling party, the Central government, was keeping the problem alive, that the Operation Blue Star was a historic mistake and the entire Punjab culture was in danger of being alienated from the main stream in the country.

The participants unanimously observed that detainees at Jodhpur jail should either be put on trial or should be released forthwith. Those guilty of indulging in riots of Nov. 84, should be punished and army deserters rehabilitated expeditiously.

It was said that violence and killing of innocent persons should be stopped immediately. The participants were of the view that after identifying these group government must muster up courage and should open dialogue with the militant groups. Such militant groups will have to abjure violence to create a situation in which their point of view and demands could be put before the people of the country to arrive at a consensus for restoring normally and peace in Punjab.

Although the participants were convinced that Union Government would not be able to solve the problem in Punjab, yet it was suggested that the copies of the prospective proposals should also be submitted to the Prime Minister.

The participants stated that it would need effort by sincere and honest people to create an atmosphere conducive to finding a solution to the problem.

Mr. Yashwant Sinha, a former LA:S. officer and’ General Secretary of the Janata Party said that through a sinister move the Union government is not only keeping the Punjab problem alive but also conditioning the perception of the people about Punjab. The people believe that problem in Punjab was nothing and the real trouble was that the country did not try to understand the feelings of the people in Punjab.

The politicians have tried to break the traditions of the Sikhs and the consequences were bound to be bad. In Punjab the biggest

issue was killing of the people and it was immaterial whether one was killed by bullets of gunmen or with the bullets of the police.

Sukhdev Singh, a journalist, blamed the various political parties, the media and the Central government for the Punjab tangle. A high degree of autonomy alone will’solve the problem faced by the State, he added.

Those who participated in the conference included Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa Akali Dal (Badal) B.S. Danewalia, Hit Abhilashi Mahapatra, Rajinder Singh of ant repression coordination committee and Mr. Darshan Singh Greedha.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 23, 1987