Demanding the strictest provisions of law to ensure security to women in society,former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said here today that “rapists must behanged” and ways must be found to put a permanent end to cases of atrocities against women in the country.”Speaking at a function to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Chandigarh edition of the Hindustan Times, Mr Badal also expressed “grave concern over the growing communal virus in the country” and said that peace and communal harmony needed to the top priority of all governments at the centre and the states.Speaking in the backdrop of the Unnao and Kathua tragedies, Mr Badal said that no mercies needed to be shown even to those who supported the guilty of raping women. “The dignity of a woman is the first mark of a civilized country. In that respect, we need to get together to ensure that the severest and prompt punishment is handed down to those indulging in inhuman crimes against women and also those supportingthese criminals.The former Chief Minister expressed concern over the communal climate in the country and said that the resolve of governments needed to be demonstrated in the strongest way to deal with those trying to endanger communal bonds and to disturb peace. Mr Badal said that throughout his tenure as Chief Minister he made a review of situation on peace and communal harmony as also on the status of women in our society a daily feature.
Mr Badal also spoke vehemently for ensuring social justice and to take steps to end discrimination against the poor, the backward and schedules classes. He said that the gap between the poor and the rich had been widening and steps needed to be taken to ensure equality of opportunity for gainful employment. Mr Badal also referred to the ”growing specter of unemployment of youth in the country” and said that while the governments could not provide jobs to everyone, they could certainly create conditions in which the youth is skilled to enhance their employability.Unemployment must be fought on a war footing or it could cause serious law and order problems in days to come.The former Chief Minister was emphatic in the need for taking steps to make agriculture a remunerative profession .“The country is faced with a serious farm crisis. The plight of the average farmer has become shocking and they are facing an uncertain future. This must be dealt with as an area of the highest priority.” Calling for free media as a pre-requisite for democracy, Mr Badal said that no democracy could succeed without freedom of the press. He said that there have been threats to the freedom of the Fourth Pillar of democracy and these challenges come in many shapes including attempts to either browbeat or purchase the conscience of the media. He however said that he and his party had always been in the forefront for the fight for the freedom of the press . Mr Badal praised the Resident Editor of the Chandigarh edition Mr. Ramesh Vinayak for giving increased importance to issues of the agriculture but said that this needed to be emulated by others too at the national level. Mr Badal felicitated Mr Vinanyak on his elevation as Executive Editor but requested him “not to leave us.”