CAPT AMARINDER CALLS FOR STRONG INDIAN RESPONSE TO REPEATED INCURSIONS BY CHINA

· EXPRESSES ANGER & SHOCK AT KILLING OF 3 INDIAN ARMY PERSONNEL, SAYS ‘OUR SOLDIERS ARE NOT FAIR GAME’

Chandigarh, June 16: Expressing anger over the violent clash in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, which led the Indian Army to lose three brave officers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday called for a strong response from the Government of India to the repeated violations of the Indian territory by the Chinese.

“Our soldiers are not fair game that every few days officers and men should be killed or injured defending our borders,” a furious Captain Amarinder said, reacting strongly to the development, which came even as the armies on the two sides were supposed to be in the process of disengagement from a tense stand-off of the past several days.

“It is time now for India to stand up to these repeated incursions that are a blatant violation of our territorial rights and put a stop to such attacks on our territorial integrity,” said the Chief Minister, asserting that every sign of weakness on the part of India makes the Chinese reaction more belligerent.

While it was important to defuse the tensions at the border, and India was not in favour of war, Captain Amarinder said the country could not afford to show weakness at this time and needed to take a strong stand to deter the Chinese from any further intrusions and attacks on its territories and men.

Even after brutally beating the Indian Army commanding officer and two soldiers to death, Beijing was feigning innocence, and trying to put the blame on India, accusing it of provoking the conflict through ‘unilateral actions,’ the Chief Minister pointed out. Such reaction on the part of China was typical of its duplicity, he said, adding that the escalation of tensions in the Ladakh sector of the Indo-China border were the direct consequence of the incursions by Chinese troops into Indian territory.

The Chinese actions were in direction violation of all the treaties signed between the two countries and a brazen assault on Indian integrity, said Captain Amarinder, urging the central government to take suitable steps to send out a strong message that it would not take such attacks lying down.

Referring to the rising tensions at the Indo-Pak and Indo-Nepal borders also in the recent weeks, the Chief Minister said the country was clearly surrounded by forces seeking to destabilise its peace by taking advantage of the Covid crisis. “Let them be warned that India will not compromise on national security at any cost, and is capable of combatting external challenges even as it continues to battle the pandemic internally,” he asserted.

Paying tributes to the soldiers who had lost their lives in the Galwan Valley violence, Captain Amarinder said the whole nation today stands with the Indian Army in their hour of grief.

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PM ASKS OTHER STATES TO ADOPT PUNJAB’S COVID COMBAT MODEL OF MICRO-CONTAINMENT & HOUSE-TO-HOUSE SURVEILLANCE

IN PM’S VC WITH CMs, CAPT AMARINDER URGES HIM TO SET UP GROUP FOR COORDINATED CENTRE-STATE RESPONSE TO COVID

SEEKS CENTRE’S SUPPORT TO SUPPORT PUNJAB’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY, CITES DEMANDS RAISED IN MEMORANDUM TO PM

Chandigarh, June 16:Appreciating Punjab’s Covid micro-containment and house-to-house surveillance strategy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked all other states to adopt the model, which was helping Punjab successfully control the spread of the pandemic to a significant extent.

The Prime Minister intervened as Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was describing the state’s model to combat Covid and suggested that all states should follow the same strategic approach to effectively counter Covid.

The Prime Minister was conducting a Video Conference meeting with chief ministers of Punjab and some other states, as part of his scheduled 2-day interactions to review the Covid situation and management strategies of all the states. He will be holding a similar meeting with the chief ministers of the other states tomorrow.

During the meeting, Captain Amarinder Singh suggested to the Prime Minister to set up a Group, which should include a few chief ministers, to discuss and formulate a coordinated Centre-State response to the devastating impact of Covid on the economy and governments across the country.

During a Video Conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was joined by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Punjab Chief Minister requested that the Centre should work closely with the states to ease the distress caused by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

While living with Covid was the new normal since the lockdown could not continue indefinitely as the cycle of economy, once broken, takes a long time to restart, the need of the hour was to take care of both lives and livelihoods, as the Prime Minister had himself said in his VC in April, the Chief Minister pointed out.

Captain Amarinder recalled that when, in early April, he had said that Covid could go on till September, he had been called an alarmist by some people. But with experts now warning that the pandemic could continue even beyond September, it was important to learnt to co-exist with it and cope with it better, he stressed, underlining the need for the central and state governments to work in close coordination for this.

Calling for urgent steps to mitigate Punjab’s financial stress, the Chief Minister said a detailed memorandum had already been sent to the Government of India, listing out the impact of Covid-19 and also seeking fiscal and non-fiscal assistance. Even as he thanked the Prime Minister and Finance Minister for the release of GST payment of around Rs 2800 crore in early June, Captain Amarinder said while he appreciated that the Government of India (GoI) was also under financial stress, he had to request for release of the state’s pending share of taxes to tide over the fiscal crisis. The crisis in Punjab was likely to be acute with around Rs. 25,000-30,000 crore shortfall in revenue collection on various counts, he said.

Even though Punjab’s contribution to the all-India cases was less than 1% (at 3140 cases) at present, with a mortality rate of 2.1% and recovery rate of 75%, the curve was rising as a result of the inbound travellers and the easing of restrictions and more mixing of people, the Chief Minister said, giving a status update on the Covid situation prevailing in the state. Emphasising the need for more tests, despite the current 5527 tests per million in Punjab being higher than the all India average of 4088, Captain Amarinder reiterated his request to the Prime Minister to direct GoI institutions in Chandigarh and Punjab to increase testing capacity.

On the state’s preparedness to tackle further spread of the pandemic, the Chief Minister informed the meeting that 5000 isolation beds were ready in Government Level 2 & 3 facilities, in addition to 10-15,000 beds in Level 1 Covid Care Centres for mild patients. These Level 1 beds can be scaled to 30,000, if the need arises, he said, adding that for tertiary level care, the state government had also secured the participation of private hospitals for tertiary level care.

Captain Amarinder said the state government was working on a multi-pronged strategy to fight the pandemic. Some restrictions had been imposed over the weekends and holidays, and strict enforcement of all protocols was being ensured through fines. The focus was currently on micro-containment strategy to isolate small mohallas or village wards rather than close down larger areas, he said, adding that a special app had also been launched for house-to-house surveillance to detect any possible cases and persons with co-morbidities to catch high-risk patients early. Captain Amarinder also spoke about the Mission Fateh launched to generate public awareness and the focus on facilitating a behavioural change through celebrity endorsements, videos, on-ground activities and through fines.

The Chief Minister reiterated his request for extension of the free food grains scheme for the poor by six months, and expressed the hope that the Centre would take note of his earlier suggestion on providing revenue grants to the States for 3 months to meet shortfall in revenue and to fund expenditure on Covid-19. The 15th Finance Commission should also review its report for the current year as situation has completely changed due to COVID-19, as proposed earlier, he added.

Pointing to the GoI’s decision to allow increase in borrowing limits under FRBM Act from 3 to 5%, which required 3 of the 4 conditions to be fulfilled to avail full 2% additional borrowing, the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to relook some of the conditionalities, given the situation on the ground. He pointed out that the borrowing was a loan that States have to repay and not a grant by GoI.

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PUNJAB CM TO TAKE UP ISSUE OF REPORTED BID TO DISPLACE 30000 SIKH FARMERS IN U.P WITH SHAH & YOGI

Chandigarh, June 16-Taking cognisance of reports of attempts by the Uttar Pradesh government to displace more than 30,000 Sikh farmers by taking over their hard-earned arable land, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he will take up the issue with his UP counterpart Adityanath Yogi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Captain Amarinder expressed serious concern over some media reports suggesting that the Sikh families were being sought to be displaced after living in UP for three generations.

If the reports were correct, it was undoubtedly a matter of worry, said the Chief Minister, adding that any such act was against the federal structure of India and its Constitutional polity, which gave every Indian the freedom to live in any part of the country.

As per available accounts, these families had been settled in the districts of Rampur, Bijnaur and Lakhimpur for three generations now, and had even received proprietorship rights from the UP government back in 1980, noted Captain Amarinder, questioning the rationale behind the reported attempts to dislocate them and push them out of their homes. Reports suggest that these Sikh families had shifted to the 17 villages in the three districts of Uttar Pradesh in 1947, at the time of the Indo-Pak partition, and had, with their hard work, converted the forest area into arable land.

Captain Amarinder said he would write to both Shah and Yogi Aditynath to ascertain the truth of the matter and get to the bottom of it. Any administrative problems in land ownership of these families could be resolved by following the due process of law, without resorting to such harsh measures, he stressed, adding that forcing people out of land which they had been tilling for three generations was definitely not a solution.