Modi assures Punjab CM Badal on welfare and rights of Sikhs in Gujarat

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Ahmedabad, Aug 7: Dismissing claims that Sikhs settled in Gujarat had been deprived of their land rights, Chief Minister Narendra Modi has assured his Punjab counterpart Prakash Singh Badal about their welfare.

"Chief Minister Narendra Modi talked to Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and assured him that there is no question of Sikhs being pressurised to move back to Punjab," a statement issued by the Gujarat CM's office said in Ahmedabad.

"All reports suggesting that the Gujarat government has adopted discriminatory and unjust policies towards Sikhs settled in the Kutch region, are politically motivated and total lies being spread by vested interests," it said.

Trying to dispel the impression that Sikh farmers were being displaced from the state, Modi said that, "The misunderstanding has been created because of an ordinance, issued 50 years ago by then Congress government and by the interpretation of a circular issued in 1973".

It was reported that certain group of Sikhs settled in Kutch raised the issue of being deprieved of land ownerships though they had settled there since more than 50 years ago.

Narendra Modi

They had also reportedly made representation to Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal in this regard, after which the Punjab government contemplated sending a delegation to Gujarat to discuss the issue.

Many Sikh farmers settled in Kutch region had also approached the Gujarat High Court against the Gujarat state government's decision to "freeze" land holdings of hundreds of farmers by invoking the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1958, which they claimed disabled them from selling, buying or availing of any loan or subsidy for their lands.

In June 2012, the Gujarat High Court gave a judgment favouring these farmers and held the Gujarat government's order "illegal", against which the Gujarat government moved the Supreme Court and a Special Leave Petition is pending.

The statement from the Gujarat CM's office has cited a letter sent to it by Sikh leader Jugraj Singh, a leader of the Lakhpat Sikh Community in Kutch, who expressed satisfaction with their lives there and also claimed that they were living harmoniously and benefitting from government schemes.

"These Sikhs said that media reports stating that Sikhs settled in Gujarat are being discriminated and displaced are all lies and aimed at discrediting the present Gujarat state government," statement issued on Monday said.

PTI

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