CANDIGARH, India Jan. 19, Reuter: Punjab Police Chief Julio Ribeiro made yet another vow on Tuesday to defeat Sikh freedom fighters have begun the new year with an unprecedented upsurge in their assault in the North Indian State of Punjab.

Ribeiro told a news conference in the State capital Chandigarh the gunmen had regrouped and rearmed after crackdowns last year by the 70,000 police he commands.

“In uprisings ups and downs do occur…. but finally (the) outcome will be certainly in our favor”, he said.

At least 68 people have been killed since January 1 in violence in Sikh majority Punjab where Sikhs want to set up an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan.

The toll has risen steadily since the Sikh campaign began in the early 1980s reaching 1,238 in 1987 compared with 640 in 1986.

Ribeiro has vowed frequently in the past to defeat the gunmen but he has admitted that a political initiative was ultimately needed to solve the Punjab problem.

An Indian army assault on the Golden Temple in 1984 left more than 6,000 people dead outraged many Sikhs worldwide and eventually led to the assassination by Sikh bodyguards of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who ordered it.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 22, 1988