Special Correspondent

CHANDIGARH: Even as Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has assured that no one will be allowed to vitiate the atmosphere of peace and communal harmony in the State, the controversy continues to rage over the installation of a portrait of militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Sikh museum of Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple complex).

In a press release, the Chief Minister said: “We have been given a mandate against divisive politics and in favour of peace, amity and Punjabi unity. The Government is fully alive to its Constitutional obligation in this regard and there will be no compromise on this.”

Mr. Badal said the civil and police authorities were under strict instructions to deal firmly with anyone trying to disturb peace and communal harmony in the State. Without identifying anybody in particular, the Chief Minister regretted that certain elements were trying to play petty politics on sensitive issues.

“The supreme sacrifices made by Punjabis to win back peace, unity and communal harmony would not be allowed to go waste,” he added.

Since the portrait was installed last weekend, Mr. Badal is the first leader from among the ruling Akali-BJP alliance to make a formal statement, while the opposition Congress,has submitted a memorandum to the Governor seeking intervention of the Union Government to prevent revival of terrorism which had engulfed Punjab due to the ideology unleashed by Bhindranwale.

While the BJP has maintained a studied silence on the issue, activists of some Hindu organisations protested at a few places across the State. They demanded removal of the portrait and burnt effigies of the SGPC president.