Leader of teachers associations and farmer unions said that in the past half a month operation Amritpal has taken the centrestage and the government has started neglecting their demands and issues.
Highlighting that they are suffering huge losses, industrialists have now urged both the Punjab and Centre governments to resolve the Amritpal episode at the earliest. Upkar Singh, president of chamber of industrial and commercial undertakings (CICU), said, “Our clients outside Punjab are now reluctant to visit the state. The present law and order situation in the state is a big concern and this is affecting Brand Punjab. We fear losses and, hence, are requesting both the governments to resolve the issue soon. I vividly remember how Punjab suffered during the late 1980s and we cannot afford another dark era. Also, such a scenario just after Invest Punjab is giving the state a very bad name.”
Rajneesh Ahuja, president of Apex Chamber of commerce, said that the day operation Amritpal started, his son was in Delhi and was unsure if it was safe to travel back to Ludhiana. “This is the scene with residents of Punjab and my clients are also now reluctant to place orders. We don’t want any political party to play politics over the issue by polarising voters. Except for Tata Steel, no other big unit is keen to come to Punjab and even Tata Steel will eat up all small and medium enterprises eventually. And in the garb of this operation, the AAP government has quietly revised industrial tariff by 50 paise per unit for medium and large units and 37 paise per unit for small industries consumers,” he said, adding that this will further burden the industry.
Echoing similar sentiments, Sonu Nilibar, owner of Nilibar garments, said that his international clients cut short their Punjab stay and returned just after Invest Punjab as soon as operation Amritpal started. “Even my domestic clients have postponed their trips due to the fear factor. Sometimes news is perceived by people sitting far away from the place in a different manner. We all want a peaceful atmosphere in the state and, hence, we appeal to the state as well as Union governments not to stretch this episode too far. People have already suffered a lot during the pandemic and only recently markets had started reopening,” he said, adding that it will be difficult for the to get back on their feet if they are faced with another obstacle now.
Raman Kumar, president of Punjab overage employees union, said that they had organised a protest in Sangrur on March 23 against non implementation of promises made by the AAP government but the Sangrur administration stopped them citing Section 144 and internet had was also snapped in the state. “So we have now decided to take out a protest rally in Sangrur on April 7 as Bhagwant Mann had publicly announced while campaigning that when politicians such as Parkash Singh Badal can contest elections at the age of 94, then why can’t employees be given a chance to apply for government jobs after 37 years of age. In Punjab, cut off date to apply for jobs is 37 while it is 42 in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. But now the AAP government is not only deleting it but for the past 15 days they have created an atmosphere that the people should forget about such demands.”
While talking about pay scale implementation, Shalinder Kamboj, president of Sanjha Morcha, said, “The Punjab government has now got a reason to delay our demands of implementation of pay scale which they had promised during campaigning last year. As of now, a mixture of central and state pay scale has been implemented that was done by previous Congress government in July 2020. Teachers who were recruited before July 2020 under Punjab pay scale are getting Rs 10,000- Rs 15,000 more salary than us. Operation Amritpal has overshadowed the issues of employees and we will take those up in Jalandhar that is heading for bypoll.”
Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU Dakaunda, said, “The government is stretching operation Amritpal too far. They should remove paramilitary forces and should withdraw national security act from youngsters in the state. Farmers’ crops have been damaged completely and they are not even able to raise their issue. Rs 15000 per acre is too less a relief for farmers whose crops have been damaged due to rain or other natural disasters.”