A day after getting central assurance on blacklisted Sikh youths, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and suggested doing away with the list made on religious lines. Accepting that the current system was damaging to the psyche of Sikh youths, Rajnath Singh agreed to a relook on the sensitive issue.
Rajnath Singh agreed to consider the Chief Minister’s request to allow at least the descendants of the Sikhs blacklisted by the central government to visit India, a Punjab government spokesperson said. During a courtesy call on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday, Amarinder Singh had expressed concern over the delay in removing the names of Sikh youths put on the blacklist for alleged involvement in subversive or anti-India activities during and after the Khalistan movement in Punjab during the 80s and 90s.
These youths can’t visit/return to India due to their names being on the blacklist. Swaraj had assured of taking up the issue with the Home Ministry which was said to be in the process of gradually pruning the list. Amarinder Singh also urged the Home Minister to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation and other central agencies to expedite probes into cases of sacrilege and targeted killings in Punjab, the spokesman said.
He sought five additional Border Security Force companies to strengthen security on the India-Pakistan border in Punjab and stressed the need to set up a second line of defence. BSF deployment needed to be strengthened in Punjab on the pattern of Jammu and Kashmir, the Chief Minister said while citing the fidayeen attacks in Dinanagar in 2015 and the Indian Air Force station in Pathankot in 2016.
The second line of defence was necessitated in Punjab by the fact that its border was vulnerable to terror attacks as also infiltration of terrorists, arms and ammunition, and drugs from across the border in view of heavy security on the international border in Jammu and Kashmir. The Chief Minister sought central support of about Rs 206 crore to fund infrastructure, capacity building and manpower to set up the second line of defence.
Referring to targeted killings of leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu and Shiv Sena leaders in Punjab since January 2016, the Chief Minister said despite the best efforts and cooperation between the CBI, other central agencies and Punjab Police, no one involved could be identified or apprehended so far.
Security at Punjab jails, which witnessed arson and violence, including the Nabha jailbreak and several cases of gang war, also came up for discussion between Rajnath Singh and Amarinder Singh.