Friday, 5 June, 2009

“Govt saving killers and looters, we will form self-defence groups”

“Govt saving killers and looters, we will form self-defence groups”
Gian Inder Singh

“Govt saving killers and looters, we will form self-defence groups”Gian Inder Singh
PHAGWARA: “They looted, they harassed, and they burnt property. Their faces are known. Police and media have videos that show them doing all this. We know their names and their addresses. And they are very much around. Where is the problem? And what is the confusion? Why the hell should they not be behind bars?”.
“And next time, we will take on such elements directly without expecting any help or protection from the government,” the people decided. The deliberations were open, conducted in full view of the media and vociferous.
Unfortunately, the meetings also underlined a deeply perceived caste rift. Meetings of people in Jalandhar and Phagwara last Sunday resolved to oppose withdrawal of the cases against the men who carried out violence. Even as the meetings strongly criticized the killing of Sant Ramanand in Vienna, the anger seething against the government was palpable.
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“We are getting together because we only have each other. There was no police and no government out on the roads when we were cowering and fearing for our lives. And now the CM’s first priority is to keep the arsonists, the looters, the killers out of jail,” said a group of sarpanches in Paragpur village.
The village witnessed a meeting at the Gurdwara and a thousand representatives attended. What was interesting was the fact that the participants were from both sides of the political divide and had affiliations with Akali Dal and Congress. People from over two dozen villages participated. There was lot of talk about rising above the party lines but no one talked about rising above caste divide, something that did not augur very well for the social fabric of Punjab. Some jatt Sikhs connected to village Talhan, which had seen violence in 2002 between Dalits and higher caste villagers, were playing a prominent part.
Virtually every speaker at the meeting expressed dismay and strongly opposed any move of the state government to withdraw cases against those who indulged in violence. “In fact, more and more evidence is coming up, more witnesses are there. Police should be arresting the rest also, and should be busy filing new cases, pressing new charges,” said a leader, drawing instant cheers. The gathering passed a resolution demanding CBI probe to identify culprits and fix responsibility for the violence.
Meanwhile, the state government announced Rs 5 lakh for those killed in police firing, even though the dead were indulging in violence when they became a target of firing. “Parkash Singh
Badal is announcing Rs 5 lakh for those who were burning our property. Thank you very much. It is government of some people for some people, certainly not for all the people,” said a journalist well versed with the way things went.
The meeting resolved that if the government withdrew cases, they would launch an agitation. An action committee was formed and the next meeting was scheduled at Gurdwara Singh Sabha Model Town, Jalandhar. The speakers also said that next time they would confront the rioters directly as this time the official machinery adopted a soft approach towards the violent mobs that even abused the women and looted.
At a meeting held at the initiative of the General Samaj Manch, various organizations of Phagwara and Jalandhar participated. Again, leaders and activists of Congress, Akali Dal and BJP participated in the meetings and addressed the gathering. The meeting passed a resolution to oppose any move to withdraw any cases against the “violent protestors” and threatened that any such move would be opposed with protests as well as by filing a PIL in the High court.
It was also decided to form self defense committees of the youths in various areas as the speakers alleged that police failed to protect them.
They demanded that the political leaders who led the violent mob and incited them should also be brought to book and announced that these leaders would be exposed and would be socially boycotted. Speakers openly named a senior Congress leader and a kin of a Chief Parliamentary Secretary of Akali Dal.

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