Chandigarh — The rise of Hindu terrorism perceptible in the urban Punjab, has imparted a new dimension to the State’s problems already complicated by the stalemate over the Akali demands.

There are three main organizations which have taken it upon themselves to teach Sikhs a lesson. They are Hindu Suraksha Samiti (HSS), Punjab Hindu Shiv Sena (PHSS) and Hindu Rashtriya Sangathan (HRS). Among them, the PHSS is acquiring a wide base in the State attracting both the affluent and the poor alike. However, there are signs of tussle over the leadership.

Terrorism of urban Hindus has had an effect and consequently the small Hindu population in certain rural areas feels insecure. The plan of these organizations is to form a nucleus in towns which are the sale and purchase centers for villages. In villages, however, the Sikh population has been extending the required protection to the few Hindu families.

What has contributed to the growth of these organizations is the apathy of the police. One also hears the question why the Government is so lenient with the killers whether Sikh or Hindu?

The activists of these organizations are drawn from in Punjab all parties having sizable following among the Hindus. These parties include the Congress (I) the BJP, the Janata Party and even the Lok Dal. The State Government has information that some Congress (I) leaders in urban areas are giving patronage to these organizations.

The intelligence agencies of the Government have reportedly been following the activities of these organizations right from their inception. It is also known to them that prominent Hindus belonging to various political and nonpolitical organizations had planned as far back as 1983 to organize a front. The very first meeting ended in fiasco as some representatives whose views were not given preference walked out. The efforts continued later but without much success.

A disquieting report which the intelligence setup has received relates to the visit of a team of a militant organization of Maharashtra to Punjab to organize the Hindus to meet the Sikh challenge.

The Government, however, is reluctantly and belatedly reacting to this tide of Hindu militancy. The presidents of the Hindu Suraksha Samiti and the Punjab Hindu Shiv Sena were detained under the NSA. The PHSS chief who fasted in a religious place at Hoshiapur during the recent trouble there demanding release of certain persons quietly, left Hoshiarpur after fasting for seven days and was detained the next day at Ludhiana, Mr. Pawan Kumar Sharma, president of the Patiala based Hindu Suraksha Samiti has been under detention for a long time. The third organization, Rashtriya Hindu Sangathan has its headquarters at Amritsar and is headed by Mr. Surinder Kumar Billa who was reportedly arrested on June 13 for allegedly attacking the local chief of the Hindu Shiv Sena.

There are  indications that both the Akali Dals are ready to help in normalization of the situation in the state provided their demands are met. There are also reports that the statement over the Akali demands may end through negotiations. But if experience is any guide, whenever in the past chances of a settlement brightened a spurt of violence marred them. However, if negotiations finally lead to a prompt settlement, the violence will be preempted. Hindu organizations feel that once Sikhs are suppressed and Hindu militancy reasserts itself, the Punjab problem will gradually disappear and become irrelevant.

Article extracted from this publication >>  July 5, 1985