It would have been sheer hypocrisy if in the euphoria of the sweeping victory Rajiv had deliberately avoided making any reference to the potentially explosive situation created by the continued army occupation in Panjab, particularly in the context of army’s wanton destruction of Akal Takht and its role of a passive spectator of the outrage against the Sikhs. He said that Panjab’s problem was uppermost in his mind, but his optimism in producing a solution out of the hat appears rather naive and misplaced. He has inherited an extremely tangled and intertwined string to allow him a smooth kite flying The utterly ill-advised and politically disastrous Army invasion of the Golden Temple in itself was a deep and indelible a dent on the Sikh Psyche to easily permit restoration of their shattered credibility in the secular professions of the majority community. The barbaric massacre of Sikhs all over India in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination has further strained whatever little scope was there of stitching and healing the gaping wound.


The sense of insecurity amidst rabid communal frenzy has speculated’ down to the very marrow of Sikh bones. The nauseating stench of the half roasted bodies, the heart-rending shrieks of teenage girls being ruthlessly assaulted by drunken gangs, the scattered limbs of butchered toddlers are a few of the blood curdling sights that float before each Sikh eye. It is in this background that the process of Sikh migration to Panjab is continuing unabated. Migration of Sikhs from other parts of India is pregnant with dangerous portents. Curiously Rajiv’s government has paid little attention to this danger. In fact continuance of publically indicted persons like H. K. L. Bhagat in the new cabinet has generated a legitimate suspicion that perhaps he had the approval and Sanction from the highest quarters to carry out the bloody task of teaching the Sikhs an unforgettable lesson.

The new government, if it sincerely wanted to undo the unnecessary repression let loose against the Sikhs by the previous government, could initiate steps to establish its credentials by purging from positions of authority and party hierarchy all such persons who have been openly accused of having a hand in the violence against the Sikhs. No doubt Rajiv has immensely profited by the cleverly whipped up communal upsurge, but he has no use for such a liability anymore, for it is bound to prove counter-productive if allowed to flourish. He must put this bellowing monster back into the bottle in order to prevent his rule from degenerating into a fundamentalist theocracy of Iranian notoriety. It is a far-fetched expectation for it involves superhuman effort to break free of Brahmanical strangle-hold. So far Rajiv has indulged in platitudinous polemics and pious promises and has shown no inclination to extricate himself from Hindu orthodoxy that is fast consuming the strength and vitality of India’s dream of evolving a democratic order. It is a challenge which Rajiv, sooner or later, will have to address himself to, otherwise he would go down in history as a dark planet that momentarily blazed in the firmament with borrowed light and disappeared into oblivion.


Article extracted from this publication >> January 11 1985