On the first day of the budget session, Punjab Assembly witnessed noisy scenes over making obituary references to former state DGP K P S Gill with SAD and Lok Insaaf Party MLAs staging a walkout over the issue. While members of the BJP, an ally of the SAD did not raise any objection to tributes being paid to Gill in the House, the Aam Aadmi Party opposed the inclusion of the name of Gill, who is often credited with rooting out militancy from Punjab, in the obituary references. The House also paid tributes to the farmers who committed suicide and victims of drug abuse, while remembering several eminent personalities in obituary references. Assembly Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh first paid tributes to Bollywood actor and four-time Lok Sabha MP from Gurdaspur Vinod Khanna, who died on April 27. As he started paying tributes to Gill, SAD president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal stood up to protest against inclusion of the name of Gill in obituary references. However, Sukhbir’s remarks were expunged by the Speaker. Then, all MLAs of the SAD stood up and objected to the inclusion of Gill’s name in obituary references and staged a walkout. Notably, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh was conspicuous by his absence in the House, while BJP MLAs Som Prakash, Dinesh Babbu and Arun Narang did not raise any objection. The Shiromani Akali Dal had yesterday urged the Assembly Speaker to remove the name of Gill from obituary references and accused the ‘supercop’ of “indulging in numerous human rights violations during his tenure as the DGP of Punjab”.
As the Speaker’s voice, while paying tributes to Gill, could not be heard in the din, minister Brahm Mohindra requested him to again read out the name of the former DGP for paying tributes to the departed soul. Then, AAP ally the Lok Insaaf Party’s MLAs Simarjit Singh Bains and his brother Balwinder Singh objected to the name of Gill being mentioned in the in obituary reference and staged a walkout. Rana Kanwarpal Singh, while paying tributes to Gill, said as the DGP he had made vital contribution in controlling terrorism and bringing peace in Punjab. He was given Padma Shri award and had remained the chief of Indian Hockey Federation for several years. AAP MLA Baljinder Kaur urged the Speaker that tributes should be paid to 70 distressed farmers who committed suicide, which was denied by the chair. Intervening in the matter, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh requested the Speaker to include debt-ridden farmers who had committed suicide in the obituary references, as demanded by the AAP MLA.
The Speaker also acceded to a request by Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to include in obituary references all those who had lost their lives due to drug abuse. AAP MLA Sukhpal Khaira said the SAD has no right to oppose Gill’s name as the Akalis, when in power, had appointed IPS officer Sumedh Singh Saini as the DGP during whose tenure, two persons were killed while protesting against sacrilege incident at Bargari in Faridkot district. The Akali Dal had also given ticket to the wife of another police officer Mohammad Izhar Alam who was close to Gill, Khaira said. However, Khaira opposed the name of Gill for obituary references leading to heated exchange of words between him and members of treasury benches. When the members of the House stood up to observe a two- minute silence, he said AAP would not observe silence in the memory of Gill.
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Earlier, the Assembly paid tributes to Naib Subedar Paramjeet Singh who was beheaded by Pakistani troops in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on May 1. Among others, tributes were also paid to Raghubir Singh who was among the 25 CRPF personnel killed in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district by Naxalites on April 25. Congress members Brahm Mohindra, Harmander Gill and Gurkirat Singh Kotli accused the SAD of trying to undermine the sanctity of the House and the Speaker, and showing disrespect to all deceased personalities by walking out. Terming it as a “political gimmick”, they said the Akalis were “feeling cornered” in the face of imminent exposure as a white paper would be released by the government soon.