In a major step towards getting the blacklisted Sikh youth back into the mainstream of the society, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday suggested doing away with the system of making such lists on religious lines.
Accepting that the current system was damaging to the psyche of Sikh youth, many of whom are on such backlists for the past several years, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh agreed to relook the same, while also agreeing to consider the Chief Minister’s request to allow at least the descendants of the blacklisted Sikhs to visit India.
This was disclosed here by a Punjab government spokesperson after a meeting between Captain Amarinder and the Home Minister.
The Punjab CM had on Friday also raised the issue of blacklisted Sikh youth with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a courtesy call.
Alleging a serious conspiracy to disrupt the communal harmony in the state, Captain Amarinder also urged the Union Home Minister to direct CBI and other central agencies to expedite their investigations into the cases of sacrilege and targeted killings in Punjab.
He also sought five additional BSF companies to strengthen the Indo-Pak border and also stressed the need to set up a second line of defence. The BSF deployment was needed to be strengthened on the pattern of J&K, as against the current one BSF battalion for about 32 kms in Punjab, the Chief Minister stressed, citing the Fidayeen attacks at PS Dinanagar in 2015 and IAF Station Pathankot in 2016 as reasons for force augmentation.
On the issue of the second line of defence, he said it was necessitated by the fact that the Punjab border becomes vulnerable to terrorist attacks, as well as infiltration of terrorists, arms & ammunition, and drugs from across the border in view of the heavy security at the J&K border. Raising the second line of defence would require immediate funding of about Rs. 206 crore in infrastructure, capacity building and manpower, said Captain Amarinder, seeking the Home Minister’s support in financing the same in national interest.
The Chief Minister also urged the home ministry to provide necessary funds to meet the recurring annual costs of the 2 IRB Batallions for which it had recently sanctioned Rs. 51.19 crore each.
Referring to the targeted killings of RSS, Hindu and Shiv Sena leaders in Punjab since January 2016, the Chief Minister said despite the best efforts and cooperation between CBI, central agencies and the State Police, it has not been possible to identify the group/individuals or apprehend the killers so far. Considering the recent inputs received from the central agencies that indicate plans of militant/radical organizations/individuals to target RSS Shakhas, DSS Naam Charcha Kendras, religious places, and targeted individuals, Amarinder stressed the need for the various agencies to augment their efforts to solve the pending cases.
Another issue that came for discussion related to security at the high-profile Punjab jails, which have recently witnessed a spare of troublesome incidents, including the Nabha jailbreak and several cases of gang war. Noting that many top terrorists lodged in various Punjab jails had a nexus with gangsters in the prisons, the Chief Minister urged Rajnath Singh to provide additional CISF/CRPF forces to secure the high-profile prisons in the state.
These companies would need to be deployed for at least six months at high security/sensitive Jails in Punjab where hardcore terrorists and dreaded gangsters are lodged, to ensure effective security arrangements, Captain said, noting that though recruitment of about 8000 police personnel had been carried out recently, it would take more than a year to train these personnel and deploy them for field duties.
The Chief Minister also pitched for notifying Punjab as a Category-A state for financial assistance to modernize its police forces, on 90:10 Centre-State sharing basis, on the lines of J&K and North-East states. He pointed out that Punjab was a sensitive border state, with rampant cross-border smuggling of drugs, narcotics and arms, requiring special treatment on this count.
Further, to empower its police force to meet the growing security challenges, the Chief Minister also sought the Ministry of Home Affair’s permission for setting up a Joint Working Group with Israel on Homeland Security. The JWG would train police personnel in dignitary protection, counter-terror operations, and border protection etc., he explained, urging the Home Minister to consider the request on priority.
The meeting was attended by Media Advisor to Punjab CM, Raveen Thukral, Chief Principal Secretary to CM, Suresh Kumar, and DGP, Suresh Arora.