No tears will be shed at the dismissal of the Barnala Ministry. For those who betray their faith are in turn themselves betrayed. In Barnala the Delhi rulers had created a cover for their vicious designs against the Sikhs. They used him as a ploy to deceive the free world that was beginning to become aware of the reality of the Sikh predicament in India. Foreign media had begun to increasingly express concern at the ruthless extermination of the Sikh youth which was continuing unabated even after the Operation Bluestar.

Punjab Accord was a fraud. It was a treacherous stab in the back of Sikh aspirations and was designed to sabotage the Sikh National Movement. It was a betrayal both of the living and the dead. Barnala and Balwant were chiefly instrumental for it. The curse of the fraudulent accord followed them like the dead Albatross in Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner. But the Ancient Mariner was not so utterly debased as Barnala and Balwant. He had a soul and he could pray. He was able to shake off the curse with a prayer that rose from the depths of his heart. Barnala and Balwant, however, cannot even pray. Because they are evil souls, “villains with smiling cheeks, goodly apples rotten at heart”.

Barnala has proved to be a dark planet who was trying to shine with a borrowed light. On the dismal Punjab scene, he stumbled for a while and was unceremoniously pushed into oblivion. He started his innings with virtually no opposition within the Assembly but collapsed like a house of cards. He fell because he could never be himself. He was a handpicked puppet of the Delhi rulers and was drafted for a specific purpose. They wanted to break the powerful Sikh resistance that was silently developing into a formidable force, determined to shake off the shackles of slavery. They also wanted to tell the World that Sikhs in India were generally satisfied and the “discontented fringe” had no roots in the so called “silent majority”.

Barnala has now been dumped for yet another purpose. Haryana elections pose a real threat to Rajiv Gandhi. His political survival is at stake. He knows that yet another electoral debacle after the shattering defeats in West Bengal and Kerala will reduce him to an ugly piece of history fit to rot in the remote recesses of a museum. By hook and crook, he must win Haryana elections. To win elections, he must exploit the inherent Hindu hatred for the Sikhs. He will now unleash a reign of terror in Punjab. Sikhs will be hunted and hounded to make Haryana Hindus blindly vote for the Congress (I). Many carrots will be dangled to dupe the voters. The Eradi Commission report on the sharing of Punjab river waters, which was specially prepared with an eye on the Haryana elections, will now be accepted by the Central government to make the Haryana farmers feel that the Punjab waters will flow in abundance to transform their dry lands into smiling crops.

Acceptance of the report would not necessarily mean implementation of the report. Implementation would depend upon the requirements of the situation after the elections. It might even be scrapped to make yet another Congress (I) supported “Akali Ministry” headed by someone like Amarinder Singh acceptable to the Sikhs. It is clear that after the Haryana elections a new ministry in Punjab will be installed and to give it sharper teeth than it were given to Barnala, the Central government might release some of the Jodhpur detainees, rehabilitate some army deserters, scrape Eradi Commission report and might even transfer Chandigarh to Punjab.

The million dollar question, however, will still be there. Will the Central government succeed with such gimmicks in deflecting Sikh struggle for sovereignty? All indications, at present, point to a negative answer. In fact, the dismissal of the Barnala Ministry is clearly a victory for the freedom fighters. With the padded buffer gone, the Central government will have to bear the brunt of the Sikh onslaught both at home and abroad. In the end truth shall prevail and the truth is with the Sikhs.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 15, 1987