ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Punjab- Storm Ahead

Punjab THE Central government's attitude towards Punjab is becoming curious. Does it want the process of reconciliation and restoration of normalcy to continue or is it preparing to revert to the old politics of putting the Akali Dal under pressure? Recent developments point in the latter direction. The first indication of this became available when the Prime Minister publicly expressed un- happiness over the "indiscriminate" release of extremist detenus by the Akali Dal government. Earlier the Union Home Minister too had criticised the Punjab government for its "leniency" towards the alleged "extremists". What made these statements somewhat suspect is that the Union government could not have been unaware of the facts in relation to the release of detenus in Punjab. These facts, as the Punjab government disclosed, are that so many as 2,275 persons were released in Punjab, after a review of the cases against them by the administration, when the state was under President's rule. By contrast the Akali government had decided to release 992 detenus. Of these again, as many as 833 were already out on bail granted to them during President's rule. In other words, only 26 persons had been actually released afresh by the Akali government. Despite knowing all this the Prime Minister and the Home Minister spoke as if the Akali government had been indiscriminately releasing dangerous extremists, More serious are the developments in respect of the Mathew Commission. To begin with, there was the strange occurrence of terms of reference of the Commission in regard to determining which Hindi-speaking areas of Punjab were to be transferred to Haryana turning out to be at variance with what had been accepted under the Punjab agreement. The Punjab agreement between the Prime Minister and the late Sant Longowal is quite clear that the principle of contiguity and linguistic affinity with the village as the unit would determine what Hindi-speaking areas of Punjab would be transferred to Haryana in lieu of Chandigarh. The Mathew Commission's terms of reference, however, provided that the Commission could take into account "other considerations" as well in determining the areas to be transferred to Haryana. The Prime Minister accepted the discrepancy and attributed it to a clerical error in drafting. In which case it was intriguing why the 'error' was not corrected forthwith through an amendment of the Commission's terms of reference. Instead, the Prime Minister assured the Punjab government that the Haryana government would not be allowed to exploit this 'error'.

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