Chandigarh, Oct 16 (PTI) The Shiromani Akali Dal Tuesday lambasted Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, accusing him of trying to push Punjab into the dark days of militancy by “encouraging radical elements” which are hell bent on dividing the country and disturb the hard-earned peace in the state.

“About 25-30 years back, people could not come out of their houses During terrorism, thousands of people lost lives, industry fled, business destroyed. At that time there was an atmosphere of terror. Captain Amarinder Singh was creating similar atmosphere (of the state), now,” SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged.

“Amarinder is bringing those forces forward which had only single agenda of dividing the country and disturb peace in Punjab,” he further alleged while talking to reporters here.

“Twenty five years back, Congress had raised such forces to create a rift between Hindus and Sikhs and that pushed Punjab into dark days. Similar forces are being supported by Amarinder just to weaken the Akali Dal,” Badal added.

A joint SAD-BJP delegation met Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore Tuesday and urged him to take preventive action to stop Chief Minister Singh from “taking Punjab back into an era of darkness by encouraging radical elements who were hell bent on breaking the country and destroying the hard won peace and communal harmony of the state”.

The delegation, which was led by Badal and BJP state president Shwait Malik, while apprising the governor of recent developments, including uncovering of a plot by the Uttar Pradesh Police to eliminate former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, said this was a direct fallout of the support extended to radical elements by the Congress party in Punjab.

Notably, Uttar Pradesh Police arrested three men on Monday for allegedly looting police rifles. The trio were found to have links to the Sikh militant group Khalistan Liberation Front and were planning to attack former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Citing the example of a protest by a handful of Congress-sponsored protesters outside the ‘pandal’ of a religious congregation at Nikke Ghumni village in Gurdaspur on Sunday, Sukhbir said police failed to even take custody of the miscreants who were apprehended and handed over to them.

He claimed that on October 5, when radical elements attacked his cavalcade in Sangrur district, they were facilitated by the police who later tried their best not to take action against them.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab BJP president Shwait Malik said the Congress was “playing with fire” in the same manner as was done by its leadership in the mid-80s which resulted in the advent of terrorism in the state.

He said the SAD-BJP combine would not let anyone disturb Hindu-Sikh unity in the state.

The delegation apprised the governor of a trend started by the UT administration by changing the selection criteria for recruitment to 418 posts of Junior Basic Training (JBT) teachers.

Former education minister Daljit Cheema said as per the new rules, candidates were required to have knowledge of English and Hindi only despite the fact that they would have to teach Punjabi as part of their job profile.

The delegation urged the governor to intervene and ensure knowledge of Punjabi was included in the selection criteria. It also requested that all employees be recruited as per the 60:40 ratio between Punjab and Haryana as per the 1966 Reorganisation of Punjab Act.

The members said teachers, who had put in eight to 10 years of service and were drawing salaries between Rs 35,000 and 45,000, were now being asked to work at a flat rate of Rs 15,000 for three years before they could be regularised. They urged Badnore to direct the government to rescind the order immediately.

Senior SAD-BJP leaders also pointed out the Punjab government was levying 35 per cent VAT on petrol and 20 per cent VAT on diesel on variable terms, which meant that the state earned more when petrol and diesel prices increased.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.