Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today dismissed hoardings seeking a “freedom referendum” on Punjab, which have sprung up at various places in the state, as “not worthy of consideration”. The hoardings, reportedly put up by an outfit called the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), talk of “freedom” and a “Punjab Independence Referendum” in 2020. “Some trouble-mongers may have put them up,” Singh told reporters here during his first major interaction with them since assuming charge as chief minister in March. Opposition BJP had requested the government to remove the hoardings, saying it was a “sinister attempt by anti-national forces to disturb the peace and harmony of Punjab”. When told the saffron party had said they would remove the hoardings themselves if the government failed to do so, Singh said, “There is no need to worry about this issue. Everything is under control. There is no such (separatist) movement and no such feeling in Punjab.”
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In a reference to the SFJ, a fringe outfit led by Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, he said, “Have you ever seen Pannu? He has 15 people behind him. Whatever he or someone else says, the fact of the matter is that there is no such feeling in Punjab.” To a query on the Damdami Taksal’s plans to set up a “martyrs’ gallery” in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar in the memory of those killed in the Army’s Operation Bluestar at the shrine in 1984, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the chief minister accused the Sikh outfit of “trying to foment trouble and disturb the state’s peace through such steps”.
The organisation is set to start the construction work of the gallery from Thursday. It also plans to propagate its version of Operation Bluestar through a multi-media show at the gallery. “I was against this (the gallery) from day one and had asked them (Damdami Taksal) not to indulge in such activities as they may provoke the people,” said Singh. The Congress leader claimed that he had also warned the previous Akali-BJP regime in the state about the possibility of such activities disturbing the hard-earned peace of Punjab. “But, they did not listen to me and never objected to these things,” he added.