Politics clouding Punjab Evacuation issue

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Even though the apprehension of an India-Pakistan war may have receded but a full-fledged political war has broken out in Punjab over the central and state governments getting nearly 1,000 villages within 10-km of the international border evacuated following last week’s surgical strikes by the Indian Army across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

The ruling alliance, led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, is being blamed for doing so to take advantage in assembly elections to be held in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh early next year.

Opposition parties and leaders in Punjab are blaming the Union Home Ministry and the state’s Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Punjab for unnecessarily building up war hysteria and getting the villages evacuated.

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Amarinder Singh, a former Indian Army officer who saw action in the 1965 war against Pakistan, being the ADC to Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh, a decorated officer who led the swordarm Western Command and turned the tables against the advancing Pakistani Army, alleged that the BJP and Akali Dal built up war hysteria after the surgical strikes to take political advantage in the forthcoming assembly polls.

However, Badal has a different take on the issue.  “Political leaders should shun politics in this peculiar situation. It is unfortunate that several political leaders were continuously politicking at this critical juncture when war clouds are hovering over the country. At this critical juncture, leaders must avoid politics for safeguarding the interests of the country in general and Punjab in particular,” he said.

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“There has been no movement by the Pakistani Army. These days everything can be seen through satellites and technology. Even if a jeep moves, we can see that. The centre and the Punjab government have unnecessarily ordered the evacuation. Thousands of people are being harassed,” Punjab Congress president and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said.
Several Congress leaders and legislators from border areas, representing various assembly segments from Ferozepur to Gurdaspur, have lashed out at the SAD-BJP alliance over “forcible evacuation of the residents from border villages against their will”.

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“The army continues to remain in peace positions on either side of the border. Captain Amarinder is speaking from his knowledge and experience, having participated in war in 1965 in the same areas,” Congress legislators Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Aruna Chaudhry, Sukh Sarkaria and Parminder Singh Pinky said in a joint statement.