Govt’s tact­ful han­dling, me­di­a­tors de­fused sit­u­a­tion

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Punjab - Ga­gan­deep Jas­sowal ga­gan­[email protected]

BARGARI (FARIDKOT): The 190-day­long Bargari In­saaf Mor­cha (protest sit-in) that snow­balled into one of the Capt Amarinder Singh­led Congress gov­ern­ment’s big­gest chal­lenges seems set to end rather tamely here on Sun­day.

When par­al­lel Akal Takht jathedar Dhian Singh Mand gave in­di­ca­tions to this ef­fect, few peo­ple ex­pected it. Par­leys be­tween the state gov­ern­ment and the mor­cha lead­ers had been go­ing on be­hind the scene with the for­mer’s tact­ful han­dling, cou­pled with firm­ness and pa­tience, help­ing defuse the sit­u­a­tion.

De­spite re­ports from in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and al­le­ga­tions of the Akalis that mor­cha or­gan­is­ers were hob­nob­bing with Sikh rad­i­cals, the gov­ern­ment, draw­ing a les­son from mis­takes com­mit­ted by the pre­vi­ous Parkash Singh Badal-led Akali Dal regime, had ruled out use of force. The gov­ern­ment’s strat­egy, along with its re­peated as­sur­ances on their de­mands re­lat­ing to ac­tion against the guilty of sac­ri­lege and po­lice fir­ing in 2015, clicked. The mor­cha or­gan­is­ers, who are fac­ing the fa­tigue fac­tor, also helped mat­ters by keep­ing their sit-in peace­ful and not let­ting politi­cians turn protest into an an­tiCongress plat­form.

BA­JWA, BABA SEWA SINGH PLAYED KEY ROLE

The break­through, ac­cord­ing to a source privy to talks, has been made pos­si­ble by cab­i­net min­is­ters Tript Ra­jin­der Singh Ba­jwa and Sukhjin­der Singh Rand­hawa and Baba Sewa Singh of Ram­pur Kehre­wale. Since June 1, the day the protest started, Ba­jwa was in touch with the mor­cha or­gan­is­ers to dis­cuss their de­mands, bank­ing on par­al­lel Dam­dama Sahib jathedar Baljit Singh Daduwal to help find a res­o­lu­tion. How­ever, things did not work out and the gov­ern­ment re­alised that Mand would take the fi­nal call.

The or­gan­is­ers held two mega shows in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, leav­ing the gov­ern­ment anx­ious. As the spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion team (SIT) started look­ing into sac­ri­lege and po­lice fir­ing cases, the gov­ern­ment ne­go­tia­tors, in­clud­ing Ba­jwa, touched base with Baba Sewa Singh who helped take things for­ward and brought Mand on board. “On his (Sewa Singh) re­quest, five Pan­thic out­fits had an­nounced their merger at Bargari on Novem­ber 25.

Ba­jwa and Rand­hawa were able to con­vince him about ef­forts be­ing made by the gov­ern­ment to meet the de­mands,” said the source.

On De­cem­ber 3, Mand gave first hints about soft­en­ing of his stance to­wards the gov­ern­ment by say­ing that it had agreed to their de­mands and that he would take the fi­nal call soon. What also helped the gov­ern­ment bring around Mand was SIT sum­mons to for­mer CM Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief Sukhbir Badal and ac­tor Ak­shay Ku­mar and their sub­se­quent ques­tion­ing.

Baba Sewa Singh said the mor­cha’s de­mands were gen­uine and he had meet­ings with the min­is­ters and or­gan­is­ers in the past few days to break the dead­lock.

While Ba­jwa praised the mor­cha or­gan­is­ers keep­ing their protest peace­ful, Rand­hawa said he was part of talks as one de­mand re­lated to his depart­ment (jails).

PAN­THIC GROUPS LACK­ING CON­SEN­SUS

The de­ci­sion to call off the protest is not unan­i­mous as a sec­tion of Pan­thic lead­ers are not sure how the move will be re­ceived by the com­mu­nity if there is no sub­stan­tial an­nounce­ment from the gov­ern­ment. Daduwal said he had no in­for­ma­tion about talks and was not taken into con­fi­dence. “Mand can talk about how it hap­pened,” he said. There are oth­ers who seem un­sure about the fu­ture of the Pan­thic plat­form once the mor­cha is lifted.

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