Describing himself as a `hardliner’ and a `soldier’, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday called for a zero compromise policy by India against inimical forces across the border, even as he dismissed the Khalistani threats against him, saying he would not allow anyone to disturb the state’s peace.
Reacting to the barbaric killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, Amarinder said India’s response should be clear and unequivocal. "We should stop being a gentleman’s army. If they (Pakistan) cut one of our heads, we should cut three of theirs,” he told a TV channel in a free-wheeling interview.
On the Khalistani threats, the Chief Minister said, "If they have the guts they should come and speak here instead of misleading people with unsubstantiated statements elsewhere.”
"They can shout their heads off, who cares?” said Amarinder, adding, "We want a stable Punjab, we want development. Having been in the Army, he had seen wars and had never worried about any risk or threat to his safety, he added.
Responding to a question about his charges against Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, the Chief Minister said his job was to raise issues and he wanted to bring big investments in the state, which required peace and stability. He reiterated that Sajjan and several other Canadian parliamentarians had Khalistani leanings and were sympathizing with people who wanted to disturb the peace of Punjab, which could not be allowed at any cost.
In response to a question, he said he had been unable to attend the cremation of Naib Subedar Paramjeet Singh, one of two soldiers whose mutilated body was found on Monday, in his village in Tarn Taran in Punjab as he was unable to walk due to a foot injury. Pointing out that he had assigned a cabinet minister to visit the family, along with three party MLAs, the Chief Minister said he would be going to meet the martyr’s family soon.
The Chief Minister came out in categorical support of Major Gagoi over his controversial `human shield’ action during the elections in Kashmir, saying the officer was being pelted with stones and what he did in the circumstances was absolutely correct. "Instead of being patted on the back, he is being hounded for saving his men.”
Peace is only possible if the government writ runs large, said Captain Amarinder, making it clear that he did not favour negotiations in Jammu and Kashmir till the Indian Army had an upper hand.
While he did not blame the Prime Minister for the spiraling violence in Chhattisgarh and Jammu & Kashmir, the Chief Minister asserted that the nation needed a full-time defence minister. India needs to build its defences, especially with China making inroads through land and sea. Our weaponisation has to improve if we are to counter the various cross-border threats effectively, he added.
According to Amarinder, the CRPF, which was recently the victim of one of the worst ever Naxal assaults in Chhatisgarh recently, was not trained properly and did not have sufficient firing experience to tackle such situations. Expressing grief over the unnecessary loss of lives in the attack, he urged the CRPF to look into the matter and address the various concerns affecting the CRPF.
To a question, the Chief Minister said, speaking purely as an Army man and an Army historian, he was sure that if a war-like situation develops in the country, all political parties, cutting party lines, would come together against the common enemy.