‘Disturbed area tag not meant for eternity’
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Welcoming the Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict on removal of the disturbed area tag from the city beautiful, two former UT administrators — LT Gen (retd) B K N Chhibber and Gen (retd) S F Rodrigues — insist that the tag could not have been allowed to continue for ever.
"During terrorism era, the Disturbed Area Act was enforced in Punjab and it was lifted to make a statement to the public that peace has returned in the state. However, a similar situation does not arise in Chandigarh, a city peopled by officers from Punjab and Haryana. The city houses important protectees including politicians and bureaucrats. Any threat perception and intelligence inputs should not be taken lightly but at the same time the disturbed area tag cannot be allowed to continue till eternity," Chhibber told Chandigarh Newsline.
Chhibber added that "the arguments raised by the UT Administration do not seem to have found favour with the High Court".
Asked if the decision to remove the tag should have been taken by the administration, Chhibber said "the administration could have taken the decision but before taking that decision those in power would have to ensure that the removal does not adversely affect the security cover for protectees. As compared to Punjab or its neighbouring states, any crime incident which takes place in Chandigarh will be noticed more". Chhibber was the UT administrator from September 18, 1994 to November 27, 1999.
Gen (retd) Sunith Francis Rodrigues, who was the UT Administrator from November 16, 2004 to January 22, 2010, said "there was no rationale in continuing with the tag".
He said"in a democratic set-up everyone should have freedom of expression. Anything which imposes an unnecessary restraint on freedom shold be removed. Such an Act is not relevant anymore for Chandigarh. Anything which is restrictive in nature has no place in a set-up of the people, by the people and for the people".
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