100 activists of SAD and some radical groups taken into custody
Workers of some fringe Akali and radical groups showed black flags to senior BJP leader L.K. Advani when his Jan Chetna Yatra entered Punjab on Sunday. About 100 persons were taken into custody.
In Bathinda and Barnala districts, 100 activists of the hardline Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), led by its president Simranjit Singh Mann, and workers of the Akali Dal (Delhi) and some radical groups were taken into custody as they raised slogans against Mr. Advani, waving black flags.
The protests took place despite the deployment of a large number of police and security personnel in view of the ultimatum set by the hardliners and radicals, as well as the recent attack by a Hindu group on Babbar Khalsa operative Jagtar Hawara, who is facing trial for breaking out of the Burail jail, after having been convicted in the case of assassination of Chief Minister Beant Singh.
Mr. Advani was received by Harsimrat Singh, MP and daughter-in-law of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, and the brass of the BJP's State unit.
To prevent any disruption, the route of the yatra and some venues were changed.
Speaking at various places, Mr. Advani reiterated the BJP's resolve to bring back Rs. 25 lakh crore in black money stashed away in Swiss banks. The United Progressive Alliance, he said, had no moral authority to remain in power after a record number of scandals against its Ministers came under judicial scrutiny. He also pointed to the price rise. India's standing in the comity of nations had dipped under a “weak” Prime Minister in Manmohan Singh.
Meanwhile, 250 km away in Mohali, on the outskirts of Chandigarh, Congress president Amarinder Singh questioned Mr. Advani's moral authority to lead the anti-corruption campaign and, that too, in Punjab, where his party, in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), had crossed all limits of corruption.
Addressing his party's ‘Punjab Bachao' rally, Capt. Singh said at least four BJP Ministers were removed on corruption charges. Mr. Advani, he said, was quoting scriptures and defending the devil in the same breath. He must explain the “rampant loot” of the State's resources by Mr. Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, who had grabbed sand mines, liquor trade, transport business and television cable operations.