Chandigarh — The virtual ‘coup’ in the Akali Dal, against the dominant faction led by Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, is being interpreted as a preparatory step by the Sikh youth to lead the party’s action  program next month.

The action program is scheduled to start from June 1, unless the Government concedes the remaining demands of the Akali Dal, including release of all Akali leaders, winding up of special courts and withdrawal of the acts under which Punjab had been declared a disturbed area.

But even if a workable re-approachment is reached between the Akalis and the Government to avoid renewal of the party’s agitation the plan to observe the ‘Ghalughara week’ to mark the first anniversary of the Operation Blue Star is likely to remain unchanged. The militants apparently want the week to be observed in the manner they want and not just by holding prayer meetings for the ‘martyrs’ who laid down their lives’ defending the Golden Temple complex during the army operation! Before the attempted coup, the militants had issued a 24page statement detailing 27 demands which they wanted the leadership to agitate for and get accepted before entering into any settlement with the Government. It seems, this statement was the first shot of the coup. It was signed, among others, by representatives of the All India Sikh Students Federation, the Dashmesh Regiment and the Akal federation. Although Sant Harchand Singh, Mr. G.S. Tohra, president Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak committee (SGPC) and Mr. Prakash Singh Badal, former chief minister, virtually form the ‘triumvirate’ of the Longowal Akali Dal, have been included in the nine man ad hoc committee nominated by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s father, Mr. Joginder Singh, the apparent leader of the coup to replace the two factions of the party

Its other members are hardliners. They are Simaranjit Singh Mann, a former IPS officer, Mr. Gurtej Singh, former IAS officer Mr. Harinder Singh, former IFS officer currently located at Oslo in Norway, Mr. Manjit Singh, younger brother of Bhai Amrik Singh president of the All India Sikh Students Federation killed in Operation ‘Blue Star,’ Mr. Jagjit Singh, brother of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Mr. Jagdev Singh Talwandi president of one of the two Akali factions. Reports say that Sant Longowal and his supporters have started concerted efforts to win over a majority of the 450 strong general house of the Akali Dal which will decide if the dissolution of the party was valid. Some of his prominent supporters have already criticized dissolution of the Akali Dal and the appointment of ad hoc committee.

The appointment of Mr. Simranjit Singh Mann as convener of the committee and inclusion of two other former members of the ‘‘elite’’ services of the country is considered to be a reward to those who have left their prized posts in protest against the Operation Blue Star.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 24, 1985