Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal sent a legal notice to Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday, asking him to tender an unconditional apology within five days for levelling “malicious” allegations against the Badal family during a debate at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana. According to the notice, Badal will seek remedies as available in the law for causing wilful defamation and libel in case Mann fails to tender the apology.
The legal notice was sent by Badal’s lawyer, Arshdeep Singh Kler. The notice accuses Mann of defaming Badal and his family with his “false” and “malicious” allegation that an irrigation branch was created to carry canal water to the Badal farm in Haryana’s Balasar village.
The allegations were levelled by the chief minister during the “Main Punjab Bolda Haan” debate held at an auditorium of the PAU on November 1. Opposition leaders from the Congress, SAD and BJP had skipped the event. “In a pre-planned and deep-rooted conspiracy, solely with an objective to malign the personal, social and political reputation of my client (Sukhbir Badal) in order to gain cheap political mileage for yourself, you staged a drama at Ludhiana on November 1 intentionally, with mala fide intent to defame my client and made certain false, malicious allegations, alleging that the precious water of Punjab was taken by my client to his Balasar farm at Haryana,” the notice read.
“You, further in your vilification campaign, stated before the media that a private canal was constructed to the fields of my client at the Balasar farm. You also made false allegations with respect to the transport company of my client,” it added. “It is a well-known fact that the Shiromani Akali Dal and my client have fought tirelessly to save every drop of water of Punjab,” it said.
Speaking at the debate, Mann had said it is a well-known fact that the ancestors of opposition leaders indulged in the “unpardonable crime” of constructing the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. For the sake of their vested interests, these political leaders had agreed and planned the construction of the canal, he had said.
In 1978, then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had demanded an additional amount of Rs 3 crore for the SYL canal and took Rs 1.5 crore from the Haryana government in March 1979, Mann had claimed. He had further said Parkash Singh Badal had issued a letter for acquisition of land for the SYL canal and then Haryana chief minister Devi Lal had made a statement in the Assembly that due to his personal relations with Parkash Singh Badal, the Punjab government had acquired the land.
Mann had also claimed that in 1998, then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal raised the height of the banks of the Bhakra Main Line canal by an average of one foot with the intention of giving more water to Haryana and took Rs 45 crore from the neighbouring state for the purpose. Parkash Singh Badal committed this “sin” only for the sake of the “Balasar canal”, which was constructed by the Haryana government till his farmhouse as a reward for his “treachery” with Punjab, Mann had alleged.
With inputs from News18