New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday called on the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and sought the kind intervention of Government of India for getting Presidential assent for two important pending bills of state stipulating harsher punishment for the perpetrators of heinous crime of sacrilege.

The Chief Minister, who called on Amit Shah here at his office, said that sacrilege of holy books is a major challenge in the state. He said that in this context, it has been felt that the quantum of punishment for sacrilege of Holy Books as per existing provisions of Sections 295 and 295-A in the Indian Penal Code is too inadequate. Bhagwant Mann apprised the Union Home Minister that the Punjab Vidhan Sabha had passed “The Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 and The Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill 2018, which stipulates punishment upto life imprisonment for injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwat Gita, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people.

The Chief Minister said that this amendment is in consonance with the principles of secularism enshrined in our Constitution. However, he said that these Bills are pending for assent of the President of India since October, 2018. Asserting that Punjab, being a border State, it is extremely necessary to maintain communal harmony, Bhagwant Mann sought the kind intervention of the Union government for getting early Presidential assent for the said bills as rigorous punishment is required to deter criminals trying to disturb communal peace and brotherhood in the state.

Flagging another important issue, the Chief Minister said that as per international norms, construction can be made beyond 150 meters of Zero Line but at some places in Punjab, the Border Security Fence is at a large distance away from the Zero Line. Citing an example, he said that the section from Border Pillar No. 2/M to Border Pillar No. 10/12 in AOR 121 Bn BSF Madhopur under Gurdaspur Sector is about four kilometers away from the International Border. Bhagwant Mann said that as a huge chunk of farming land lies between the International Border and existing fence, so a number of farmers, who have to go across the Border Fence to cultivate this land, face a lot of hardships on a daily basis.

The Chief Minister said that this also enhances the workload of the Border Security Force too. Likewise, he said that the Government has to pay substantial compensation to these farmers also. Bhagwant Mann urged the Union Home Minister to explore the possibility of shifting the Border Fence towards the International Border, wherever possible in the larger interest of farmers without compromising national security.

The Chief Minister also urged Amit Shah to provide liberal funds to ensure modernization of the state Police force for effectively combating the new challenges.

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