Monthly Archives: MARCH 2017
CM Amarinder calls meeting to review prison security in light of Gurdaspur Violence
Taking a serious view of the violence in Gurdaspur central jail, CM Captain Amarinder Singh has convened a high-level meeting of police and Home department officials next week to review the security in the state’s prisons in the light of frequent incidents of violence and clashes in jails since the past several years.
The chief minister has directed a review of the security conditions in the state’s prisons and promised sweeping reforms to eliminate the rot that had set in the jails during the past 10 years of Badal misrule.
At the meeting next week, the government will review the report submitted recently by the high-powered committee on jail reforms and will initiate measures to improve the prison administration in Punjab.
In a statement issued here, Raveen Thukral, Media Advisor to CM, said that Captain Amarinder had ordered the concerned officers to deal with the situation in Gurdaspur jail as they deemed fit and ensure that law and order was restored in the prison without delay.
Expressing grave concern over the frequent outbreak of trouble, including violent clashes, in Punjab’s prisons, the chief minister said he had been in touch with senior police, prison and intelligence officials since the violence erupted in the Gurdaspur prison and the situation was now under control.
The chief minister made it clear that his government would make all efforts to wipe out this dangerous legacy of the erstwhile Akali government, which had given a free rein to criminals, mafias and miscreants to take the law into their hands without fear of any punitive repercussions.
In his preliminary report on the Gurdaspur incident, state Home Secretary N.S Kalsi said the situation was resolved through the successful intervention of the police on the intervening night of March 24 and 25. The report says the incident occurred when a few gangsters, undergoing trial in several murder cases, incited inmates of one of the barracks to confront the prison staff after assaulting three jail warders on duty.
Thukral said the chief minister lauded the restraint showed by the staff on duty, who did not cause any injury to any of the inmates even though they were forced to fire in the air to contain the miscreants. He disclosed that cases under relevant sections had been registered against the miscreants for assaulting jail staff, rioting, destruction of government property and violation of jail rules.
In his report, the home secretary has said the incident was the result of years of neglect of the jail administration, about 50% shortfall in the sanctioned staff strength, poor administrative structure and lack of equipment in the state’s prisons.
Since 2011, there have been more than a dozen such incidents of rioting and violent clashes in various jails across the state, the report says.
Badal's advice to Captain; Keep it cool, Buddy!
Parkash Singh Badal said here today that there was no reason for CM Captain Amarinder Singh to react so " peevishly" to the SAD-BJP asking him not to link the Congress poll promise of loan waiver with a central fiscal package for Punjab. " Where was the need to get so worked up? I have said categorically that I and my party and alliance partners support him in his demand for a package. All I said was that the promise of waiving farmers' loan, jobs to 30 lakh households, doubling pensions and more than trippling the shagun scheme amount etc should not be made dependent on Punjab getting this package. The two should be de-linked and the state government should immediately take a cabinet decision on loan waiver, filling of vacancies and other promises made by the Congress in its manifesto. They have all the information and detailed data they need on the problems and there is no reason for setting up committees to study the problems now.."
Badal said that he fully backs the Punjab CM in following the SAD-BJP's earlier demand for a central package for the state. We have been fighting for it since long. "But please don't misuse this sensitive issue to run away from your promises on loanwaiver etc."
"I also request all political parties and leaders, including those in the Congress, SAD-BJP, AAP and Insaf party to exercise restraint and decorum in the language they use in public domain. Sometimes, mere words create harsh misunderstandings and confrontation. Punjab cannot afford it and its people deserve better conduct from us, added Badal.
The former CM said that his party would not criticize the state government for the sake of criticism. "We will fully back all positive decisions of the government which benefit the people. But we will with equal intensity, force and vehemence oppose and fight the government's attempts to wriggle out of its commitments to the people. They must not expect us to keep quiet if they go back on their promises. As simple as that,"
He wondered if the reaction indeed was that of Captain Singh himself or of "someone more loyal than the King" on behalf of the CM. "This is the first statement since his taking oath which is out of step with the dignity of the office he holds. There was no reason for Captain Singh to get so worked up or be personal over my statement about the need to be sincere to promises made by the Congress to Punjabis. I insist that they should not make excuses for evading these commitments,." said Badal.
In a statement here, Sr Badal said, "There is no shift in our stand that Punjab should be given a major and liberal fiscal package. Punjab is sensitive border state with a long, active and hostile international border. We richly deserve a special package above any other state. "
He said that the financial burden on the state is a legacy not of successive state governments - Congress or SAD-BJP. This mess was created under the central rule in long years of governors rule during militancy in the state, It was not my fault fault and it is not the fault of Captain Amaridner Singh or any of the state governments. The fault lies with successive Congress governments at the center and their tragic mishandling of the Punjab situation "
Badal appreciated the statement of Captain Singh in which the latter had said that he was against the politics of confrontation and vendetta. " I sincerely welcome this gesture not only towards us but also towards other opposition outfitslike the AAP and Insaf Party. If the Chief Minister does not follow this constructive path and starts reacting recklessly like he did yesterday, then sooner or later, political atmosphere in the state is bound to get vitiated.I will personally play my role to ensure that sobriety, mutual respect and constructive cooperation among all the political parties guides our polity on common issues of the people. But and even greater responsibility rests with the CM as he has the mandate of the people to decide the future of course of Punjab polity."
Badals suffering from selective hearing and amnesia on farm debt issue: Capt Amarinder
The Badal father-son duo seem to be suffering from selective hearing and amnesia, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said on Friday, reacting to their allegation that he had backtracked on his farm loan waiver promise.
In a statement issued, the Chief Minister said the Badals had a propensity for misleading the people with their senseless and baseless statements against their political rivals, particularly the Punjab Congress. Their latest statements contesting his government’s commitment to farm debt waiver were not only unfounded but also contradictory to established facts that were in public domain, he said.
The Chief Minister said unlike the Badal regime, which had failed to take up any measure for the welfare of the farmers in the state during 10 years of their rule, his government had initiated a time-bound process of waiver of their loans in less than 10 days of taking over the state’s reins. In fact, said Captain Amarinder, his government had initiated a series of people-oriented measures to bring about transparency and governance in the systems, which the Badals had transformed into a den of corruption and mafias.
Referring to his meeting with the Prime Minister on the issue, the Chief Minister pointed out this was not the first time he had met Narendra Modi to demand waiver of farm loans, which the Congress was committed to securing for farmers not just in Punjab but around the country. He pointed out that he had been part of the delegation led by AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi that met the Prime Minister before the assembly elections to seek relief for the distressed farmers in the country.
However, the Badals, with their selective memory, had conveniently forgotten about this fact while accusing him of cheating the farmers on the debt waiver issue, Captain Amarinder said, adding that the Akali leaders should check out the facts before making such unsubstantiated statements.
The Chief Minister said that while his government was totally committed to fulfil its promise on waiver of all farm loans in Punjab, he would be happy if the central government also concurrently takes urgent steps to alleviate the sufferings of the debt-ridden farmers around the country.
His party, said Captain Amarinder, was cognizant of the plight of farmers in all parts of the country and was striving to resolve their problems with the support of the central government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In contrast, the Badals, who were totally unmindful of the problems facing the farmers of their own state, could not possibly be expected to show any concern for farmers in other states, he added.
The Chief Minister urged the former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal not to further lower their dignity, which had taken a massive hit in the recent assembly polls, by indulging in such demeaning behavior but to work in collaboration with his government to protect and promote the interests of the people of Punjab.
AG says no conflict of interest in Sidhu's TV shows; CM confirms no need to change Sidhu's Culture portfolio
Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda has not found any conflict of interest between Navjot Singh Sidhu’s office as state cabinet minister and his work on television shows.
CM Captain Amarinder Singh has confirmed that he has received the report of the advocate general on the issue, according to Raveen Thukral, Media Advisor to the Chief Minister. In the circumstances, the chief minister said, there was no hindrance now to Sidhu’s continuation on TV shows, nor any need to change his Culture portfolio.
There was, in the opinion of the advocate general, no violation of the Constitution of India, the Representation of the People Act, 1951, or the Code of Conduct in this case. As per the advocate general’s opinion, Sidhu "faces no legal bar in continuing with his work on the show.”
"There is no conflict of interest between his work on the show and his office and discharge of duties as the Minister of Local Government, Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Archives and Museums for the State of Punjab,” the four-page report of the advocate general further concludes, precluding the need for any change in the Culture portfolio of Sidhu, said Thukral.
The advocate general was entrusted by the chief minister with the task of giving his legal opinion on whether there was any prohibition or restriction in the continuation of Sidhu’s work as celebrity guest on a comedy show – The Kapil Sharma Show, as such work may amount to a conflict of interest.
Citing the Constitution, the report concluded that the role and function of celebrity judge on the show is not an office of profit under the Government of India/ the State Government. It is not even an office under the Government of India/ State Government, it further said, adding, "Hence the continuation of such work would not invite the disqualification of holding of an office of profit within the meaning of Article 191(1).”
The advocate general has further opined that there is no impediment to the Minister continuing with his work on the show in terms of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951, which sets out various disqualifications under Sections 8, 8-A, 9, 9-A, 10, 10-A, 11-A. The minister’s continuation of work on the show also does not violate Clause 1(b) of the Minster’s Code of Code, the advocate general has stated in his report.
Amarinder welcomes reports of PM's Directives to Niti Aayog on Farm debt waiver
Reiterating his commitment to farm loan waiver, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday welcomed reports that PM Modi had instructed the Niti Aayog to make an assessment and formulate a plan for debt waiver.
While the Punjab government had already initiated the debt waiver process in the state, it was heartening to see the central government also moving towards the waiver of the debts of the beleaguered farmers around the country, said Captain Amarinder.
The chief minister, who had raised the farm debt waiver issue with the prime minister on Wednesday, said he had received an extremely warm response from both, Modi and union finance minister Arun Jaitley, whom he met in New Delhi.
In a wide-ranging interview with a television channel, Amarinder spoke on a variety of issues, touching upon subjects as diverse as the political fortunes of the Congress to cabinet formation and expansion in Punjab, as well as the challenges before his government. Captain Amarinder also fielded questions related to Navjot Singh Sidhu’s TV shows, his own decision to retire after his current stint as chief minister, AAP’s poor performance in Punjab, and more.
Ruling out any vendetta politics against the Akalis, Captain said his priority was development of Punjab rather than indulging in a vicious cycle of vendetta, and he wanted an end to the era of confrontation. Unlike the erstwhile SAD-BJP government, which had stopped all projects initiated during the earlier Congress rule, his government would continue to support all ongoing projects in the welfare of the people, he added.
To a question, the chief minister said though Congress vice president had been somewhat skeptical about the party’s chances of victory in Punjab, he was eventually extremely happy with the result of the state assembly polls. Captain Amarinder explained that it was paucity of time which led to Rahul Gandhi not being able to hold too many rallies in Punjab.
Amarinder said he had received full support from the party high command in the matter of allocation of tickets. He reiterated the need to develop regional leaders to counter the growing influence of regional parties to ensure the survival of national parties.
In response to a question, he said the absence of a chief ministerial face cost AAP heavily in Punjab, with people suspecting that Arvind Kejriwal himself wanted the top post. Despite the hype on social media, AAP failed to build a presence on the ground, which led to its defeat in the polls, he added.
While he did not agree that there could be problems with the EVMs used in the polls, Amarinder said there was need to analyse why some of the most advanced countries were not using such machines in the conduct of their elections.
Punjab CM termed the poll result as a mandate against the Akalis and an endorsement of the hard work of the Congress workers, backed by the central leadership. It was a collective victory, which could not be attributed to any single person, he said, adding that the people had voted for stability and experience.
Listing farm debt (to the tune of Rs. 1.7 lakh crores), revenue deficit, industrial crisis, crop diversification, the mafias and unemployment as other major challenges before his government, Amarinder said his government had initiated steps to tackle these problems. He promised an end to transport, cable & TV and other mafias that had been promoted by the Badal government. Giving jobs and free smartphones were other electoral promises his government would take up on priority, he added, pointing out that his government had already initiated the process of fulfilling more than 120 of the poll promises of his party.