The decision of the Panthic Committee to appoint Dr. Jagjit Singh Chohanas the Chief spokesman of the Council of Khalistan will be acclaimed by every right thinking Sikh. A Council of Khalistan without stalwarts like Dr. Chohan could not possibly inspire much confidence or credibility. It looked like an attempt to stage Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. Courage and commitment are absolutely essential for a resistance movement, but these alone are not sufficient to steer the nation to freedom, especially when the adversary happens to be very cunning and unprincipled. “Blind heroism in the face of well-armed tyranny and totalitarian repression is not what wisdom recommends. To accomplish the desired end, the resistance need not necessarily be heroic. It is equally important to have sound political judgment and experience to cope with unexpected exigencies as well as to formulate plans and create allies.

It was Dr. Chohan who first raised the banner of Khalistan. Long back he realized that Sikhs can never be truly free in India. He arrived at this conclusion in the course of his deep involvement with the political processes of India and during his tenure as the Finance Minister of Punjab. Through his clinical insight, he was able to discern the inherent Hindu hostility and the subtle mechanics adopted by the Indian rulers to destroy the Sikh identity. But, at that time, an average Sikh did not share his perception and was reluctant, if not averse, to accept his separatist slogan. He was a loner relentlessly peddling his idea to practically unresponsive milieu. He was a leader without a popular support.

Today, the situation has diametrically changed. Khalistan is no longer the slogan of a disgruntled politician but a Sikh national movement that has gathered tremendous momentum at the grassroots level. The wholly unpardonable and unjustified acts like Operation Bluestar, antiSikh riots of November, 1984, and the repeated sacrilege of the Golden Temple have convinced Sikhs that they have no future in Hindu India. They cannot possibly feel comfortable or secure in a climate where each one of them is a suspect, where policeman’s knock at the door means another young Sikh’s painful end in a torture cell, where Sikhs living outside Punjab are treated as permanent hostages. Today, Sikhs are yearning for a piece of land that they can call their country. But unfortunately, on the leadership plain, the post Sant Jarnial Singh Bhindrawale period presents a dismal scene. All those who picked up his glorious mantle failed to live up to its flawless radiance and invariably floundered, wavered and even betrayed. The mushroom growth of the militant organizations further complicated the already chaotic situation. It provided an excellent opportunity to the government to plant agent Provocateurs who were assigned the task of wiping out Sikh families, massacring women and children, torturing innocents to extort money in order to discredit the freedom movement and isolate the militants.

Therefore, merging of the truly Khalistani groups under one command is as imperative as identifying and exposing the fake ones. Any group that refuses to fall in line must be written off as an enemy agent. It is not the time to fan anybody’s ego. Sikhs must learn to rise above their narrow group loyalties. They must make sacrifices for the greater good of the Sikh nation. Whereas Dr. Jagjit Singh deserves and must receive the support of every Sikh group, at the same time it is also very important that he should scrupulously refrain from arrogating exclusively to himself the authority of the Council. He should instead work to develop a homogeneous team and through a concerted move bring about complete coordination among all the militants everywhere. So long this coordination is not achieved; Indian government will continue to succeed in sabotaging the Sikh dream. The lessons of the recent debacle in the Golden Temple must be properly learnt to avoid similar setbacks. Let this be our resolve as we observe the holocaust week.

Article extracted from this publication >> June 3, 1988