Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday raised the issue of early transfer of Chandigarh to the state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also sought a Commission of Inquiry to probe the "entire conspiracy" behind the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
In his meeting with Modi, Badal along with his son and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal raised a host of issues concerning the state and handed over a memorandum of demands pending for over a decade, saying "Punjabis do not want a favour, but justice".
Besides raising the issue of riparian rights of water sharing for Punjab, he also demanded setting up of dedicated courts for speedy trial of cases of 1984 riot victims and a package for their rehabilitation.
He said the Commission of Inquiry, headed by a Supreme Court judge, should probe the "entire conspiracy, including official and political patronage" behind the riots and submit its report within six months.
He also sought reinvestigation of all riots-related cases where action was not taken on complaints.
Raising the demand of early transfer of Chandigarh, he asked Modi to speed up the process along with transfer of other Punjabi-speaking areas to the state in fulfillment of what he described as "the broad national consensus on the issue as expressed through the parliamentary ratification in July 1985 of the state's right on its capital and other areas".
Badal bemoaned that when the state was re-organised, grave injustice was done to it saying the most glaring example of this was denial of the capital city Chandigarh to Punjab, which should be transferred forthwith and the process of transfer of other Punjabi-speaking areas left out of Punjab initiated without any further delay.
He pitched the demand in the backdrop of a long history of struggle waged by the people of Punjab and said, "Punjabis are entitled to a very special liberal treatment from the government of India, yet all the demands contained in the both parts of the memorandum accompanying this letter are based solely on merit. Punjabis seek no favours. They expect only justice from the government of India." Badal also met Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier in the day and raised with him the issue of justice for the 1984 riots victims.
The chief minister said he also asked Modi for a debt waiver of over Rs one lakh crore of loans on the state during the period of militancy and sought a legislation for ensuring operation of SGPC as a national body to bring all such areas of united Punjab under its ambit.
He urged for opening of trade with Pakistan by increasing the items to be exported to the neighbouring country through Wagah border and also opening of trade from Fazilka and Hussainiwala borders.
To check the menace of drugs, he sought effective sealing of the borders with Pakistan, though a major part of it is fenced. He also sought adequate compensation to farmers whose land is beyond the fencing.
Badal also pitched for an industrial package and concession for the land-locked state as provided to neighbouring hill states and sought adequate compensation for the loss till now.
The Chief Minister impressed upon Modi that the Centre should take up with Pakistan to allow a direct corridor from Dera Baba Nanak (India) to Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) to enable Sikhs to visit the holy place where first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev had stayed during his last days.
Making a political pitch, he sought to pre-empt negative propaganda against the demands and said, "All these problems, demands and issues are fully in conformity with the overall national interests, and are the result merely of a long, willful and often deliberate refusal of the previous governments at the center to address these on merit."
Badal reminded the Centre that continued neglect of the state's rights can have a negative emotional fall out. "This alienation needs to be addressed and ended," he said.
He also urged Modi that Parliament should amend the relevant provisions of the Sikh Gurudwara Act 1925 to bring about the same result that the notification did to give legislative sanctity to it by including all such areas of joint Punjab under its ambit and decried the setting up of a separate committee for Haryana.