Asserting that any attempt to disrupt the peace in Punjab would invite serious consequences for Pakistan, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday, said that in the past two years 28 Pakistan backed terror modules have been busted and over 100 terrorists arrested in Punjab. “Pakistan has its own problems, but I won’t let them make their problems my problem. In the past two years, 28 terror modules have been busted and more than 100 ISI-backed terrorists had been arrested by the Punjab Police. We will not let them mess around with us,” Captain Singh said.
Amarinder Singh also sent out a stern warning to Pakistan and other anti-social elements who are trying to destabilize Punjab to mend their ways or face consequences. “Behave, or else be prepared for the consequences,” the Chief Minister warned the neighbouring country, as well as any gangsters or goondas trying to disturb the peaceful environment of the state, which offers the industry a highly congenial environment for development. During an interactive discussion on the first day of the Progressive Punjab Investors Summit (PPIS) 2019, Captain Amarinder said he had issued clear directions to the Punjab Police to handle any internal or external threat with an iron hand.
On Pakistan’s recent attempts to create trouble in Punjab, he said they had been successfully pushed back by the police, which had neutralised the various groups infiltrated into the state by the Pak Army backed ISI. Captain Amarinder said he believed that while Imran Khan wanted peace, the Pak Army, in its desperation to remain relevant, was calling the shots and obstructing any efforts for peace. But they have to understand that they, and their country, are doomed if they do not change their ways, he said, adding that the Pak Army will have to “play ball” if they have to feed their people and save their country.
In an equally strong warning, the Chief Minister said eliminating gangsterism was a priority for this government. Either they (gangsters and goondas) lay down arms, or they will have to face the consequences, he warned, pointing out that not only had his government come down heavily on such elements but had also abolished truck unions to provide a safe environment for industry to operate.
Steps were also being taken to ensure women safety so that women could take up industrial jobs and do night shifts, said Captain Amarinder, adding that any woman could call the police for safe transportation back home not only at night but even if she felt threatened or unsafe in any way, any time of the day. Citing the various other measures taken by his government to facilitate industrial development, which he dubbed as imperative for the state’s progress, Captain Amarinder said the focus was on providing the right environment to investors and industry to promote Punjab as a preferred destination.
The industrial policy brought out in 2017 had plugged the weaknesses that existed earlier, he said, adding that the ease of doing business resulting from single-window clearances, online applications and approvals, subsidy on industrial power, amendments to key legislation related to business and industry, as well as water regulation, were facilitating investors in a big way. Punjab does not have labour problems, he further noted, terming the state’s educated and committed workforce a major asset for the industry.
Underlining the need to shift people from agriculture to industry, in view of the surplus production that was making agriculture non-viable for them, the Chief Minister said that by providing the right avenues for employment, the industry could also help check the migration of Punjab’s youth to other countries. His government, on its part, was promoting skill development to boost employability, he added. The Chief Minister stressed on the need to provide continuity to industry to encourage them to invest and expand in Punjab. For this, it is essential not to indulge in a political vendetta with the opposition and ensure that any party coming to power maintains the same policy approach to the industry, he added. Stability was a key component of providing an enabling environment for industrial growth, he said, hoping that the next government that takes over in Punjab also adopts this philosophy.
Assuaging the concerns of investors on account of the drugs and cancer problems in the state, the Chief Minister said his government had initiated a major clean-up of the drugs racket, with thousands of smugglers/peddlers arrested and convicted. While the problem will not disappear, in view of the money involved in the business, it would be well under control and manageable by the time Assembly elections are due in the state, he promised. On the concerns expressed about a large number of cancer cases in the state, Captain Amarinder said statistics showed that the figure was actually lower than in other states. Punjab’s cancer cases had hit the limelight due to the notorious Cancer Train, he said, adding that his government was providing cancer treatment to patients within the state to prevent them from going to Rajasthan or other places for the same.