New Delhi: The Government might order an inquiry into all violence connected with Punjab instead of just riots in Delhi and other places following assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, has indicated.
In an interview to Mr. M. J. Akbar, editor of the weekly “Sunday,” he indicated that an inquiry might be instituted after the assembly poll, possibly by March 30.
He denied that he was not ordering an inquiry into riots because he was afraid that it would expose participation of some Congressmen in the riots.
Once the Government decides to hold inquiry into the November riots, it may be possible to have a dialogue with the Akalis. The Akalis will then have no other alternative except to somehow explain that they want a settlement of the Punjab issue within the framework of the Constitution and that they are opposed to violence and extremism.
It is likely that in the next few days, some more leaders, including some opposition leaders and those who understand the Punjab problem, might be consulted either by the cabinet committee or by the Prime Minister himself. It appears that the Government’s first preference will be to have a negotiated settlement with the Akalis. If that does not materialize, the Government may think of making a unilateral declaration of its decisions on the crucial demands after taking the national opposition parties into confidence. But this will be the last resort.
The Government is receiving disturbing reports from Punjab about the Sikh activities again taking over the situation in the Akali circles. The reports from Anandpur Sahib, where the Akalis held a Hola Mohalla conference two days ago, indicate that the Akali leadership has become completely helpless before the activists. It was for the first time that the activists were able to capture the Akali stage and proceedings were marked by secessionist slogans. Moderate Akalis toeing a soft line were planning to adopt a conciliatory tone and_indicate to the Centre that they were prepared to accept the two conditions laid down by the Government. And they wanted to say this through some indirect resolution. But the activists captured the stage.
Political circles are of the view that what has been exhibited at Anandpur Sahib should be an indication to the Government that tempers were running high in Punjab and the activists were fully entrenched there. Therefore, Government considers it necessary to divide Sikhs and call some as moderate and brand others as ‘“‘extremists.’’ These circles are of the opinion that unless the Government succeeds in dividing Sikhs and makes ‘‘moderates’’ fight against the “‘extremists,”’ it will not succeed.
The Government contact with the Akali leadership so far has been only through official sources. According to well-informed sources, Mr. R.V. Subramanian, senior adviser to the Punjab Governor, is maintaining contact with the Akali leadership and the five priests through various channels. Nobody political or official has met Mr. Longowal since the meeting of Mr. Subramanian with him in the middle of January. There is no contact with Mr. G.S. Tohra. However, Mr. Subramanian is maintaining contact through Mr. Balwant Singh, former finance minister, with these Akali leaders.
Article extracted from this publication >> March 22, 1985