Rattled by the farmers’ threat to lay siege to the Assembly from Thursday, the Rajasthan government launched a crackdown on their leaders, arresting hundreds of them, and took measures to stop the entry of protesters here. The All India Kisan Sabha condemned the government’s action, and termed it undemocratic.Those arrested included the former CPI(M) MLAs Amra Ram, Pema Ram and Pawan Duggal. Mr. Amra Ram and a large number of his supporters, held in Chomu, were shifted to the Central Jail here on Wednesday. Several farmer leaders were arrested from Sikar, Bikaner, Hanumangarh, Churu, Nagaur, Jhunjhunu and Kota districts.The CPI(M)-affiliated AIKS had given a call to farmers, agricultural labourers and cattle rearers to march to Jaipur and lay siege to the Assembly during the ongoing Budget session. The farmers’ body accused the BJP government of dishonesty in its budgetary announcement of farm loan waiver and failure to fulfil its promises made to farmers after their 13-day-agitation in the Shekhawati region last September.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he would take up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the issue of persuading Pakistan to grant Indian devotees open access to more historic gurdwaras across the border.Expressing his gratitude to Mr. Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for helping realise the Sikh community’s dream of visiting the Kartarpur Gurdwara, Capt. Amarinder hoped this would be followed by more such gurdwaras in Pakistan, such as Panja Sahib and Nankana Sahib, being opened to Indian devotees.He said he would personally take up the matter with Mr. Modi and urge him to raise the issue with Mr. Khan.Capt. Amarinder acknowledged the support given by the Union government in making the historic celebrations a success and expressed happiness at the participation of people from different political parties, as a tribute to the first Sikh guru.President present President Ram Nath Kovind, who attended the celebrations, said Guru Nanak Dev tried to free people from caste and creed and ritualism by teaching them lessons of equality, brotherhood, kindness and morality. “True followers of Guru Nanak Dev Ji work for the welfare of all, live in harmony and do their job with diligence and honesty,” he said. Mr. Kovind paid obeisance at Gurdwara Ber Sahib and then went to the stage set up by the Punjab government for the celebrations. Later, he went to the other stage (pandal) set up by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee.Two stagesHowever, the setting up of separate stages for the celebrations didn’t go down well with the pilgrims, many of whom felt that the Guru’s message of ‘oneness’ was unheeded by political parties.Forty-five-year old Baljinder Singh from Patiala, who had come to the holy town for the first time, said that he was peeved at the two stages. “They [SGPC and the State government] should have joined hands and set up only one stage. Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s idea and message of ‘oneness’ has been disregarded by them,” he said.“I’ll pay obeisance at the gurdwara and return. I’ll not go any of these stages,” he added.A group of youngsters from Jalalabad in Fazilka expressed similar sentiments. “How will they [political parties] preach the message of the Guru, when they seem to be involved in their advertising through there stages and events?” said 32-year-old Daljeet Singh.Seventy-five-year-old Darshan Singh from Amritsar said: “Such division is not good for humanity. The message of unification and integration should have been sent, instead an opposite message has been conveyed.”Guru Nanak Dev had spent 14 years of his early life in Sultanpur Lodhi.