Madras — ‘‘I think we have reached the point of no return in Punjab. As for myself, I belong to no camp. Nobody listens to me anymore, neither the Akalis nor anybody else. But I do believe that it is the greatest challenge to the statesmanship of any government to solve the problem in Punjab,” journalist Khushwant Singh said in the city on Tuesday.

Addressing a meeting of the Rotary Club of Madras, he said at no period in its history had the country seen so much violence as in the last one year during and after Operation Blue Star and in the two days following the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Mr. Singh said the situation in Punjab could have been saved last year, but now it was too late. He had visited Punjab only a few days ago and what I saw and heard appalls me. Almost every Sikh man was wearing a saffron turban, symbolizing revolt and sacrifice. And in almost every village people were extolling Bhindranwale and his men. The situation was very tense there and it was just not possible to keep the Army there all the time. ““And when the situation explodes, it will be an explosion of the type the country has never seen,” he warned.

He said he was “‘appalled’’ to see the kind of leadership the country had today. Most of the leaders were small time politicians with more cunning than conviction with no foresight or commitment except to retain the seat of power. The leaders simply did not have the stature required to handle an explosive situation like that in Punjab. All of them were trying to be ‘“‘cunning, clever and sharp.”

Article extracted from this publication >>  April 19, 1985