Chidambaram no to return of Sikhs fuels anger in Punjab

By Sanchit on Friday, February 19, 2010

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ChidambaramCHANDIGARH/VALTOHA: Union home minister P Chidambram’s categorical no to including Sikhs in the ‘welcome-back’ call extended to Kashmiri youth who had gone over to PoK, has come as a rude shock for Punjab, where people are slamming the government’s stand as ‘‘discriminatory and unjust’’.

Soon after PC’s offer to PoK youths, the Jathedar of Akal Takht, in an exclusive interview with the TOI, had asked the minister to make the same offer to Sikh youths on February 13. On Thursday, Chidambram’s party colleague and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh said he ‘‘did not agree with the (PC’s) decision’’.

‘‘There has to be some logic to it. When we are extending this offer to those who are still resorting to violence (in J&K), then why can’t we call back those who have shunned arms years ago and returned to the mainstream,’’ said Amarinder, who had, during his chief minister’s tenure, carried back a list of 50-odd such youths from Canada for having their names cleared from the High Commission, after taking clearance from Indian authorities. He also took up the matter with External Affairs ministry later.

BJP MP from Amritsar, Navjot Sidhu called the decision ‘‘a shocking violation of Indian constitution where Union government was indulging in discrimination on the basis of caste, colour and creed. Anybody, who violates the constitution should be made to face action,’’ Sidhu told The Times of India on phone from Indore.

Even as criticism is pouring in from Sikh leaders cutting across party lines, human rights lawyer Navkiran Singh has decided to file a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging PC’s decision on the ground that ‘‘all the citizens are equal in the eyes of India’s constitution but the Union government is discriminating against Sikhs while appeasing Muslim community.’’

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