Dilapidated Satluj Yamuna Link Canal at Ropar. -Express photograph by Swadesh Talwar *** Local Caption *** Dilapidated Satluj Yamuna Link Canal at Ropar. -Express photograph by Swadesh Talwar


SYL issue, Nabha jailbreak, Pathankot kept Punjab in news

By Jasjeet Singh

December 20, 2016

Chandigarh: 2016 proved to be a tough yearfor the Punjab government with the apex court ruling on the vexed Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue coming as a setback while the Pathankot attack and the sensational Nabha jailbreak raised serious questions on the state’s security apparatus. Opposition Congress and AAP also made attempts to carve a space for themselves to ride on anti-incumbency against ruling Akalis. The state saw a series of killings and murders including that of top RSS leader Brig Jagdish Singh Gagneja (Retd) in Jalandhar, Chand Kaur, wife of former head of Mandhari Sect in Ludhiana and Punjab Shiv Sena leader Durga Prasad Gupta at Khanna besides attack on Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhandharianwale. Besides deteriorating law and order situation, the government also grappled with the menace of drugs, prostitution and gangsters. Desecration of the Sikh holy book continued unabated in the state, creating tension at several areas. Amid its bid to gain a stronger foothold in Punjab, AAP faced rebellion by its members and also charges of corruption by few who got tickets. Sucha Singh Chhotepur’s removal from the post of state party convener and his counter attack at Delhi coterie threw a big challenge for AAP. Not ending here, Chhotepur, who built up the party in the state, floated Apna Punjab Party (APP). AAP superimposing its symbol (broom) with the Golden Temple picture for the cover page of its youth manifesto, drew sharp criticism from Akalis and Congress. For damage control, Arvind Kejriwal dashed to Golden temple and cleaned utensils but not with much success. Kejriwal made several long-duration visits to Punjab during which he flagged twin issues of farm suicides and drugs. The Supreme Court holding as “unconstitutional” the 2004 law passed by Punjab government to terminate the SYL canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states came as a shocker for ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP alliance. All 42 Congress legislators and party’s Amritsar MP and state Congress chief Amarinder Singh also resigned in protest. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has asserted “not a drop of water” will be allowed to be taken out of the state. Akalis blamed Congress and AAP for the fiasco on SYL issue while the Opposition left no stone unturned to put the government on the mat over the matter. The state assembly unanimously adopted a resolution “directing” the SAD-BJP combine government not to “hand over land to any agency” and also “not to allow anyone to work for the construction of SYL.” The Badal government passed the resolution. The state assembly also adopted another resolution asking the state government to take up with Centre and neighbouring states the issue of levying “cost and royalty” for the water released. Both Congress and AAP claimed the Nabha jailbreak incident as a handiwork of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal so that he can use these gangsters in 2017 Assembly polls against his rivals but the government blamed Pakistan saying it was out to disturb peace in the state PTI