Punjab needs change; the previous and present governments have not made much difference to the state and its people’s development. Now, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is an option and my intuition is that it will be going far in the upcoming assembly elections, though its image is being tarnished every day by the Congress, BJP and SAD. Soon, Punjab is going to witness good governance. I think like Delhi, people’s problem will be solved on priority. Presently, media and other political parties are biased towards AAP. Punjab needs its own voice and they should make an attempt to get it, this time.
There are many local news channels and newspapers in Punjab, hardly addressing local issues. And even the mainstream media is least bothered to gawp into Punjab unless some drastic tragedy happens. Let’s start with Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, who held a special meeting with Bandi Singh Sangharsh Committee in the month of May 2015, which leads the struggle initiated by Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, to sort out the burning issue of Sikh political prisoners. In order to decide over the pending cases against Sikh political prisoners as per law, Badal set up a high power panel comprising additional chief secretary (home), Chief Minister’s principal secretary, chief secretary (jails), additional director general (intelligence and jails) and four representatives of Sikh organizations. The committee has been asked to investigate all related cases to guarantee the timely release of Sikh prisoners. It is worth mentioning that the worsening health condition of Bapu Surat Singh who has been on a hunger strike for the past two years for the releasing of Sikh prisoners languishing in various jails of India despite completion of their terms. Badal initiated the meeting with the committee which is an umbrella organization of all Panthik bodies, for dialogue. Intelligence agencies also then recommended the state government to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
This panel was constituted in May 2015, however, after one and half years, no concrete step has been taken to address the issue. Neither government nor media is taking any aggressive step to solve the problem.
Meanwhile, Punjab cabinet had approved an amendment in the “Good Conduct Prisoners Act” of 1962 in order to simplify the procedure of granting parole to prisoners of state’s jails. After amending the Act in August 2015, it would be easier to grant parole to prisoners on the basis of their good conduct. However, amendment of the act has no mention about the Sikh political prisoners. The amendment may have come to invent a way to release political prisoners on parole? Punjab Government is reportedly under a lot of pressure due to the hunger strike of Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, who has been campaigning since January 16, 2015, for the release of political prisoners. There are a number of political prisoners who despite having served their mandatory sentences have not been released. In order to calm down furious Sikh activists, Punjab government pretended to have designed this solution to resolve a long pending issue, but that proved to be an eye wash.
If you remember, very recently the Youth Akali leader Jagtar Singh Bhaini from Sri Anandpur Sahib committed suicide by jumping into the Bhakhra Canal. His moped and footwear were found near the Army Bridge on the Canal. His family had refused to accept that Bhaini could commit suicide. Similarly, police also refrained from declaring it a suicide until the dead body couldn’t be recovered. Jagtar Singh was having disagreement with the SGPC member of his constituency and Education Minister cum MLA from Roop Nagar. His difference with SGPC over a piece of land was under trial in Court. He was considered as a right hand of Damdami Taksal Chief Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma. Jagtar Singh Bhaini also had conflict with the BJP leaders of his city. A lot of false cases were framed against him by the Police under political pressure. He was under depression after getting stuck in the mesh of conspiracies chalked out against him. So far, there is no investigation or no conclusion drawn over his death, Jagtar’s death became open and shut case. Even media have no information on what has happened in this case.
Punjab is suffering with Drugs, Babas and sadhus; people are misguided from all fronts. A recent study by Dr. Ravinder Sandhu of Guru Nanak Dev University shows that the incidence of such crimes in Punjab is nine times the national average. Between 1999 and 2008 the years when Punjab was recovering from the aftermath of terrorism, such crimes registered a staggering 245 per cent increase. Punjab became the state with the highest number of narcotics-related crimes, surpassing Mizoram which earlier held this dubious distinction. Nobody knows how many of the state’s youngsters are drug addicts. Youth of Punjab has given up everything; they are not in their senses to ask for their own rights.
Forget about politicians and others, even nature is not very much kind to Punjab. This state is undergoing an ecological disaster due to agriculture supported by heavy use of chemicals and pesticides and overuse of ground water. Thousands of acres of crops are burned to make room for next season’s crops, adding to a health crisis. Farmers are committing suicide, they are overburdened with loans and in such crises survival is another challenge. Media is ignoring these issues of Punjab.
The need of the hour is that, the Sikh Panth ( Sikh community) should get together to form a Sikh channel in Punjab that could air news regarding crucial issues as well as delivering justice to sons of the soil. Media houses are busy in PRing Prakash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Badal etc. Badals themselves have lots of stakes in local media houses and publications. Media in Punjab needs to cover all events and should not act like an obedient slave of politicians. They should represent all sect of society with unbiased mindset. Let’s hope, one day they will stand for their own voice.
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