Akal Takht Jathedar, Gyani Kirpal Singh, has been shot at and wounded. Mercifully he is out of danger. Once again the blame has been routinely shifted on to the Sikh Youth. Dispassionate study of the current scenario there might prove useful in separating grain from the chaff. Panjab, to-day, presents a virtual picture of concentration a camp. Its cities and country-side are dotted with Army and Central Reserve Police Force besides the regular State Police and Border Security Force. Round the clock patrol units remain on the move prowling like beasts of prey with machine guns mounted on top of their vehicles. Yet three persons riding a motor-cycle escaped after pumping six bullets in the body of the Jathedar and injuring his two body guards also, Mr. Prem Bhatia, Editor The Tribune, instantly pronounced that “‘extremist’’ elements had not been exterminated as yet, claims of Gen. Vadiya notwithstanding. The situation, therefore, did not warrant either the withdrawal of the army or restoration of democratic rule, he said. Democratic rule pre-supposes solution of the Panjab problem and settlement with Akalis.

Mr. Bhatia was expected to show a better appreciation of the situation. He knows more than anyone else that political problems do not admit military solutions. If army could be withdrawn within days of the communal holocaust from Delhi and other towns where there still looms large the danger of hysterical mobs again going on the spree of arson, murder, rape and shooting, how can its continuation be justified in Punjab simply because of a stray incident? If army occupation were to be extended on such flimsy grounds, then, India as a whole needs to be handed over to the army, considering the near lawless conditions in almost every state, considering the way law has been reduced to a mere harem girl of the ruling party, the way police reportedly connived and joined congress (I) functionaries in perpetrating heinous crimes against the Sikhs, the way Bhajan Lal’s government has been consistently and with perfect impunity committing outrageous acts against Sikh religion, Sikh scriptures and Sikh integrity and identity.

Mr. Bhatia’s hasty pronouncement has been given the complexion of a “‘popular’’ clamour by those who are not interested in solving the Punjab problem. For solution might mean at least part restoration of the unilaterally plundered resources of Punjab and possibly Akali rule. Preventing such a “calamity” must necessarily be their first priority. It can only be done by continuing to project Punjab as a disturbed area. To accomplish this objective, it is imperative that virus of violence in measured and calculated doses must be injected at crucial moments.

On the other hand, day in and day out Sikh young men are hunted and subjected to torture and indignities by the army and CRPF personnel. Naturally no one can be more interested in the withdrawal of the army than the Sikh youth. They would not risk scratching any sensitive point that can even remotely help perpetuation of the army occupation. Yet the blame is being thrust upon them and some unfortunate young men would be framed to justify the blame.

The moment Rajiv Gandhi made a public commitment to expeditiously solve the Punjab problem; Hindu fundamentalist forces geared themselves up to meet the grim prospect. These forces are surreptitiously supported by powerfully entrenched anti-Sikh bureacrates. The technique of aborting the make-believe fetus of agreement, so successfully employed on numerous occasions before the tragic invasion of the Golden Temple, has once again been set in operation. Only the naive will fail to identify the villains of peace.


Article extracted from this publication >> January 25, 1985