Surjit Singh Barnala’s excommunication from the Panth by the Five High Priests has put Delhi in a terrible delimma. Delhi is using every conceivable strategy to project puppet Barnala as a democratically elected ruler of Punjab as well as to create the impression that only a handful of freedom fighters are creating “trouble” in the generally “peaceful” atmosphere of the State. Indian media, dominated as it is by the majority community, and the opposition parties particularly the communists, are also playing the same tune. Through a make-believe picture of Punjab scenario, all efforts are being directed to suppress truth and deny reality.

Rajiv tried to justify his mother’s folly of attacking the Golden Temple by forcing Barnala to send paramilitary troops to evict popular Sikh leaders from there. Instead of denouncing the power drunk lady’s mad misadventure, Rajiv is dutifully toeing her line of approach towards Sikhs. He naively continues to subscribe to the hollow hypothesis of suppressing Sikhs through force and misleading the world by using puppets like Barnala and Buta Singh. All efforts of Delhi to isolate freedom fighters have only served to bring greater cohesion and unity among the Sikh ranks. Today, it is the puppets and the self-seekers that stand exposed and isolated.

Barnala’s excommunication and the resultant demoralization in the rank and file of his supporters is too disturbing and damaging for Rajiv to be swallowed quietly. He knows that replacing Barnala with another puppet or imposing President’s rule would mean submitting to the will of Amritsar, and this is what Sikhs precisely want. Sikhs would like to dismantle all Barnala like buffers that Delhi has put up to deceive the world. They would like to confront Delhi directly to tear to shreds the fallacy of secularism and democracy that is being used by the majority community to subjugate the minorities.

Delhi also knows that Barnala will not be able to survive long as Chief Minister after his excommunication. Therefore, it must act before it is too late and must find a way to avoid a dangerously uncomfortable situation. In this context, it can play any sinister game especially when diabolic brains behind the 1984 anti-Sikh riots still hold important portfolios in Rajiv’s Cabinet. Barnala needs to be more vigilant about Delhi now than from any other quarter. In fact, he has already become irrelevant as far as Sikhs are concerned. As an ostracized outcaste, he can no more be paraded as a representative of the Sikhs. As such, he is of no utility to Delhi. Rather he has become a cumbersome liability. His disappearance from the scene suits Delhi the most. If something untoward happens to him, it is Rajiv who will have a deep sigh of relief. Rajiv could, then, exercise the option of bringing yet another stooge or of imposing President’s rule without giving the impression of surrounding to the dictates of Amritsar.

It is strange that efforts of the Five High Priests to forge unity among various Akali Dal factions should so disturb the Indian government and its allies in the opposition and the media as to raise a deafening hue and cry against mixing politics with religion. They should| know that in Sikhism politics does not stand divorced from religion. Rather it forms an inalienable feature of religion and protesting against this inherent feature amounts to telling Sikhs that they have no place in India. It is all the more surprising in view of the complete sway that Hinduism has been made to officially exercise over the sociopolitical spectrum of Indian life. India has virtually emerged as a pure Hindu state where even judiciary brazenly and arrogantly discriminates against religious minorities. In the arithmetic of numbers, when majority makes it a habit to misbehave, then, the minorities are left with no option but to resort to militancy. When all permutations and’ combinations fail to offset oppression through ballot because of an entrenched and unchangeable majority, then, the indomitable spirit of freedom itself calls for recourses that sound not very democratic to those who blindly follow numbers. Indian government has systematically driven Sikhs to that extreme posture and it must blame itself for forcing the High Priests to intervene.

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 20, 1987