The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will hold a roadshow from the Wagah-Attari border to the Golden Gate in Sri Amritsar Sahib via India Gate on 29 October to “uphold federalism as well as express angst at the manner in which Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi meekly surrendered before the Centre and agreed to the extension of Border Security Force jurisdiction in Punjab”.
Disclosing this on Tuesday, former minister Bikram Singh Majithia said the people of the border area had not forgotten the repression let loose on them earlier by Central forces during the period of militancy.
“They (residents of the border area) are wary about granting overreaching powers to the BSF as they have been misused earlier,” the SAD leader said. He also stressed that there was no logic in extending the jurisdiction of the BSF from the earlier 15 kilometres (km) from the international border with Pakistan to 50 km.
“The main task of the BSF is to control smuggling from across the barbed wire fence. Giving them authority over a 50 km area covering ten districts in the state gives them virtual policing rights which will in effect extend central rule over Punjab,” Majithia said.
He said Punjabis were also aghast that their own chief minister had let them down. “The CM’s explanation yesterday that he did not know about the move to increase the central jurisdiction in Punjab was not convincing at all. The entire sequence of events from the moment Channi met Union home minister Amit Shah on 5 October and the Centre’s decision to increase the jurisdiction of BSF in the state nine days later points to a collusion as well as an abject surrender to the Centre,” the SAD leader said.
Asserting that Punjabis were steadfast in their belief that the principle of federalism as espoused in the Constitution should not be diluted in any way, Majithia said “We will carry the national flag as a symbol of pride on the occasion. Punjabis are the biggest nationalists as they have made the most sacrifices to uphold the unity and integrity of the country. The Centre should not try to impinge on our rights”.
He said it was condemnable that the rights of Punjab had been systematically impinged upon one after the other be it on the issue of riparian laws due to which the state lost its river waters or issue of Punjabi speaking areas and the capital city of Chandigarh to increasing central jurisdiction in the state.