SAD slams Punjab CM for “failing to stop purge of Punjab cadre officers in UT”

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Friday condemned what it claimed was the “purge of Punjab cadre officers in the union territory administration”. The party claimed that the ongoing discrimination was “in line with ongoing efforts to dilute Punjab’s right over Chandigarh”.

The SAD expressed shock that Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had “failed to protest against the discrimination meted out to Punjab cadre officers”.

In a written statement released on Friday, senior SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema said, “It is shocking that Punjab cadre officers have been removed from all important posts and replaced with Haryana cadre officers in the latest transfers affected by the Union Territory Administrator”.

Cheema further said, “The transfers, besides being discriminatory to the Punjab cadre officers, reflected a bias at a time when there was a widespread demand from Punjabis that Chandigarh be transferred to Punjab.”

The SAD leader went on to add, “These transfers are in clear violation of the spirit of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 and undermine the status and morale of Punjab officers.” He requested Chandigarh Administrator Banwarilal Purohit to “rescind the orders and follow past conventions with regard to posting of Punjab and Haryana officers to maintain parity between them”.

Giving details, Cheema said, “Many Punjab officers were shunted out of important departments like the Chandigarh Estate Office, where a Haryana cadre officer was made the Assistant Estate Officer. This is the first time that Haryana cadre officers are functioning as the Assistant Estate Officer and Estate Officer (Deputy Commissioner).”

He added, “similarly the Punjab officer posted as the Joint Excise and Taxation Commissioner has been replaced by a Haryana cadre officer. The excise department also now has only Haryana officers at the helm with the Deputy Commissioner, a Haryana cadre officer, functioning as the Excise and Taxation Commissioner.”

Asserting that the systematic removal of Punjab cadre officers from all important posts in the UT administration was not appropriate, Cheema requested the UT Administrator to ensure that the issue of postings and transfers in Chandigarh was not politicised.

The Akali leader also castigated CM Bhagwant Mann for “not protesting against this move”, saying taht “the chief minister’s refusal to protect the interests of Punjab in the Chandigarh administration has harmed the interests of the state already and the latest move will sideline Punjab’s interests further”.

He cited the instance of Bhagwant Mann failing to protest against the Haryana government’s proposal to acquire land for a separate Vidhan Sabha building in the UT.
Cheema stated, “The chief minister should immediately demand that all posts in the UT Administration be filled in the 60:40 ratio between Punjab and Haryana and ensure officers of AGMUT cadre were not given posts, which are traditionally held by Punjab cadre officers.”

He also asserted that “the strength of IAS officers from the AGMUT cadre should not be increased to undermine Punjab’s right over Chandigarh.”

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