‘Stage-run spectacle’: Chaos, protests outside Punjab’s first public darbar CM Bhagwant Mann

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Chaos and protests marked the first public meeting announced by Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday after people who had been waiting outside the venue since the morning were barred from entering.

The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had announced on Sunday evening that Mann would address a public darbar in Punjab Bhawan. Later the name was changed to Janta Sunwai and on Monday AAP called him Lok Milni.

People were seen protesting outside the main gate of Punjab Bhawan as police stationed at the scene told them their names were not on the list and therefore could not be allowed entry.

Dr Harmanjit Singh, president of an association of retired Ayurvedic practitioners, was among the protesters. “Bhagwant Mann had called me himself before the election to tell me that I would be the chief minister if the AAP were elected to power. When they were elected, I was happiest thinking that I would also be heard by the government now. We tried to meet him. I contacted his additional chief secretary at the CMO. But I couldn’t meet him.

“This government is not listening to us. We rendered our services. Now we are not allowed to meet. We’ve been here for 10 o’clock. We are not allowed to go inside. The deputies called their friends inside, who meet Mann. The police tell us that we will not be allowed to enter,” he added.

Singh said if Mann had called a public meeting, he would have to be there until 10 p.m. “He should listen to all of us if they called a Janta Durbar. He is not a bureaucrat that he has no time for people. People did not vote for them but against previous governments. If you harass people like that then what’s the point I want to tell them that if the people of Punjab can bring someone honorably on an elephant then they can send them packing on a donkey.

Singh said that there were 71 petitioners and 20 of them died, but successive governments did not give them the non-practice allowance like doctors in the Punjab Civil Medical Services ( PCMS). He added that the high court ruled that the non-exercising allowance should be paid to them from January 2006, when the Fifth Remuneration Commission was set up. But governments have not listened, he said.

Jasbir Singh, a farmer from New Chandigarh, said he wanted to give Mann a memorandum on the issue of the evacuation of shamlat land belonging to the village panchayat. “They won’t let us in. They tell us that those who already have an appointment can only go. When we found out about the public durbar last night, how could we make an appointment? ” He asked.

“It was a staged show. It was not a public durbar. Otherwise, I am also an audience member. Why am I not allowed to enter? asked Sarabjit Singh Makkar, Chairman of the Kisan Hit Sangharsh Committee.

Two traders from Banga, Adirath Anand and Amrik Singh, also wanted to meet the CM. “When the land was acquired for the Phagwara Trunk Road in Ropar, 70-72 traders were affected in acquiring their shops. We have not been compensated even after two years. We want to warn the CM but we are not allowed to enter. They say we don’t have a date,” Anand said.

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