Channi balm for Rajputs, promises general category status to community

Announces to withdraw all cases registered during Vienna rioting in Jalandhar

Ahead of the Assembly elections, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi Monday assured to accord the status of General Category to Rajputs. Channi also promised to withdraw all cases registered after riots broke out in state in 2009 post assassination of Ravidassia sect preacher Sant Ramanand in Austrian city of Vienna.

The CM was in Jalandhar to lay foundation of seven development projects, including the four-laning of the approach road to the airport.

The Rajputs were accorded the Backward Class (BC) status in December 2016 by the then Punjab Cabinet led by former CM Parkash Singh Badal. The rollback of the status has been a long-pending demand of the community and Channi’s assurance ahead of the elections may prove to be a gamechanger.

At a time when several upper caste communities in Uttar Pradesh, which is also poll bound, and Rajasthan are demanding to include them in backward classes and other backward class (OBC) categories for reservation benefits, the Rajputs in Punjab have chosen to walk against the tide. At present, the state has around 15 lakh Rajputs, concentrated in Shivalik foothills from Pathankot to Lalru in Mohali, and in the plains of Jalandhar in Hoshiarpur.

Rana KP Singh, Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha and MLA from Anandpur Sahib, told The Indian Express, “We are part of the warrior class and the backward class status is a stigma for us. Demanding a rollback of our lost status, our community has organised several agitations in the past and now with the CM’s assurance, we hope to get our lost status back.”

Meanwhile, Channi also announced to withdraw all cases registered during the Vienna episode. Sant Niranjan Das, the head of Dera Sachkhand Ballan, and his deputy Sant Ramanand were attacked in Vienna in May 2009. Ramanand succumbed to injuries the next day folowing which clashes broke out in Jalandhar, in which two people were killed and hundreds were injured. Of the 75 cases registered in Punjab, 30 were reportedly untraceable and the rest went for trial. While in most cases, complaints were registered by police, the court acquitted the accused in 19 cases due to lack of evidence.

Coming down heavily on the Akalis, the CM added that they have always used the BSP as a pawn. “In 1996, the SAD had an alliance with the BSP, but the next year they ditched them and joined the BJP,” Channi said, adding that now they are getting a taste of their own medicine.

“However, they are doing the same again and are following their old devious political game. Akalis have given the Hoshiarpur and Pathankot seats to the BSP that they themselves have never won. It seems that the SAD is still hand in glove with the BJP,” the CM said, adding that the BSP should unite under the banner of Congress.

Calling the Doaba region the heart of Punjab, Channi vowed to transform it. He added that the road leading to the Adampur airport would be named after Guru Ravidass and a proposal to name the airport after Guru Ravidass will also be sent to the Union.

He laid foundation stones of projects worth Rs 157.96 crore, including a cricket stadium, renovation of bus stand, development of city centre and water supply & sewerage project besides Saragarhi Stadium in Damunda village.

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