Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Congress MLA from Bholath constituency, has refused to appear before the Privileges Committee of the Punjab Assembly even as its chairman Sarabjit Singh Makkar faces a social boycott in the Jalandhar area.

Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon had ordered breach of privileges proceedings against Mr. Khaira and five other Congress legislators charging them with creating unruly scenes on March 17 during the budget session. The others MLAs are Ripjit Singh Brar, Makhan Singh, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Surinderpal Singh Sibia and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot.

In a letter to Mr. Kahlon, Mr. Khaira said that Ram Simran alias Prince Makkar, an Akali Councillor from Jalandhar and nephew of Mr. Sarabjit Singh Makkar, was involved in the murder of hotelier Gurkirat Singh Gikki recently. The incident had sparked widespread anger and resentment in the region, especially Jalandhar city. On April 24, thousands of residents assembled at Desh Bhagat Yadgar hall in Jalandhar and announced a social boycott of the Makkar family.

“Therefore, keeping in view the sentiments of the society at large, I have decided to boycott Makkar in his capacity as Chairman, Privileges Committees, and will not appear before him…That in case you still decide to refer our matter to the Privileges Committee, I demand that either you change Makkar as Chairman or have the matter decided ex-parte, as I will not take part in the proceedings…,” Mr Khaira wrote.

On the other hand, Mr Kahlon said it was not possible to change the chairman as Mr. Makkar's name had been notified. He said that proceedings against the six members would continue as scheduled. The next date of hearing has been fixed for May 10. Mr Brar could not reach Chandigarh while the other four sought more time to file a written reply.