Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Police shift fasting Khalsa to hospital; govt relieved

- Pawan Sharma and Tarsem Singh Deogan pawan.sharma@hindustant­imes.com

CHANDIGARH/LUDHIANA: In a major breather for the Punjab government, police on Monday finally managed to shift the fasting Sikh hardliner Surat Singh Khalsa to a hospital in Ludhiana.

The government, which is facing tremendous pressure from radicals who are demanding premature release of Sikh political prisoners, has now in a way gained an upper hand over the hardliners.

By outsmartin­g the hardliners through this firm police action that began on Saturday night, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the home portfolio, has tried to send a strong message to radical fringe elements who were trying to make a political capital out of a sensitive and delicate issue.

Also, the government has attempted to demonstrat­e that it has administra­tive will, necessary political sensitivit­y and strength to deal with issues of such delicate nature.

Before admitting Khalsa to Lord Mahavir Civil Hospital, police in a sudden and swift operation arrested key radical leaders and over two-dozen potential troublemak­ers who had been camping at Khalsa’s Hasanpur village house in Ludhiana district.

Khalsa is on “fast” since January 16 seeking release of political prisoners, a demand which is being backed by radical outfits leading to a major standoff between the state government and the hardliners.

Key members of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee Balbir Singh Muchhal and Sukhjeet Singh Khosa were among many radicals arrested on Monday from Khalsa’s house.

After rounding up his supporters, top civil and police functionar­ies, along with doctors, met Khalsa, who conveyed his desire to meet additional director general of police (intelligen­ce) Hardeep Singh Dhillon, who was immediatel­y rushed to Ludhiana. The ADGP is expected to persuade Khalsa to end the “fast” and explain the legal hurdles in fulfilling the “wish list” of the ageing activist and his supporters.

Government sources said some radicals camping at Khalsa’s house were acting as the main stumbling blocks in persuading the activist to call off this fast.

When the police action began, a ‘langar’ was being prepared for Khalsa’s supporters by some women. Police had to resort to mild cane charge while detaining people from Khalsa’s house as they tried to stop cops from entering the premises.

During the police action, deputy commission­er Rajat Aggarwal and senior superinten­dent of police (SSP) Ludhiana Rural Ravcharan Singh Brar were inside Khalsa’s house.

Khalsa’s son Harwinder Singh said nearly 50 supporters were detained by police. Many others had been stopped outside the village at different check-posts.

An uneasy calm prevailed at Hasanpur on Monday with heavy deployment of Central Reserve Police Force personnel. CRUCIAL SC HEARING

T he Supreme Cour t on Tuesday is likely to take up a writ petition—the Union of India versus Sriharan Murgan and others----wherein the apex court had restrained the state government­s from exercising the power of remission to life convicts. The Punjab government has also filed an applicatio­n in the Supreme Court for early hearing.

 ?? SIKANDER SINGH CHOPRA/HT ?? Sikh activist Surat Singh Khalsa at the civil hospital in Ludhiana on Monday.
SIKANDER SINGH CHOPRA/HT Sikh activist Surat Singh Khalsa at the civil hospital in Ludhiana on Monday.

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