CHANDIGARH: "Why are you doing research work on cancer in Malwa and pasting links on your website? Why are you distributing reports to NRIs against the government? We heard you are coming to Punjab. Step back and stay away from the elections," — screamed a caller last week to a California-based NRI Sukhi Chahal, who runs a website punjabfoundation.org.
Livermore-based Surjit Singh received similar phone calls with masked caller IDs, asking him not to come to Punjab for elections.
Another NRI , Toronto-based Judgebir Singh, had a message written in removable ink on the window of his car, asking him not to vote for People's Party of Punjab.
Chandigarh: Chahal, Surjit and Judgebir and hundreds of Punjabi NRIs, who are looking forward to voting in the state elections, have now written a letter to the state chief electoral officer (CEO) and the government, expressing fear of organized crimes and threat from some members with political affiliations if they cast their vote.
"We are stunned to see the politically-driven hatred against us when we have maintained no affiliation with any party. I was forced to register a case with the local police in the US, after which they starting tracing it," Singh told TOI.
TOI has accessed letters written by the Punjabi NRI community, seeking security and safety of this new voter class. "In the wake of recent threats received by several NRIs who are eligible to vote, we seek safety of the members of community, who will be travelling en masse to India, from the property agents and corrupt cops of Punjab" reads the letter.
The CEO and the state government are yet to respond to the missive.
"There are many NRIs who are showing little interest in getting themselves registered as voters because of the fear of crimes against them for raising voices against the Punjab government and administrative officials," says Bhan Garg, a veterniary doctor based in Canada.Real estate, considered a natural investment choice for NRIs from Punjab, has been affected due to these growing reservations, according to property analysts in the state. "Overseas Indians are hesitant to dispense with surplus cash due to negative business sentiments, racket that runs between police, administration and locals," said Avtar Singh, a renowned property consultant based in Ludhiana.