Ministers disagree on Punjab's disturbed area status

Delegation of Akali MPs lodges a protest against Rijiju's statement

Ministers disagree on Punjab's disturbed area status
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju’s recent comment regarding Punjab's disturbed area status has miffed the ruling Akali Dal in that state. The party on Thursday took up the matter in New Delhi with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Rijiju’s boss.

Singh, said sources, disregarded Rijiju’s opinion in this regard making it clear that “Punjab was not a disturbed state”. A delegation of Akali MPs led by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Thursday lodged a protest against Rijiju’s statement on Punjab’s disturbed area status. Rijiju was quoted as saying that the notification declaring Punjab disturbed area under the Disturbed Area Act could not be revoked because the state continued to be disturbed.

Punjab goes to elections in less than a year from now, which is why the ruling SAD-BJP combine can ill-afford any such controversy that presents the incumbents in bad light. The Akali Dal feels it needs to clarify the controversial statement by Rijiju since it would also hinder prospective investment in Punjab at a time when the state is in an overdrive to woo investors by organising summits to showcase its investor-friendly initiatives.

The MP delegation has urged Rajnath Singh to expeditiously issue a rejoinder on behalf of the Union Home Ministry.

They maintained that Punjab was no more a disturbed state and the notification declaring it as disturbed area was never extended beyond 1997 which is why there was no question of revoking it.

Sources said Akali leaders informed the home minister that Rijiju’s statement has harmed the state and created an atmosphere of doubt among investors.

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