Determined efforts are afoot to bring the two factions of the so called moderate Alkalis together. Amarinder Singh is busy in wooing Barnala to forge a joint front not against the Indian government but to sabotage the Khalistan movement. To clear the decks for this treacherous end, the “repentant” Barnala made a hurried “pilgrimage” to the Akal Takht and begged for forgiveness to atone for his naive act of making the paramilitary troops occupy the Golden Temple. The SGPC appointed Head Priests instantly accepted his apology and absolved him of all the sins and sacrileges.

The unity move is reportedly blessed by Parkash Singh Badal also. Birds of feather must necessarily flock together. Their parting was an unnatural act and could not possibly continue beyond a brief spell. It was engineered by the agents of Rajiv Gandhi who could not trust absolute majority of the Akalis in the State legislature. The risk of hawks among them introducing legislation repugnant to the integration of India was too great to be allowed to loom for long.

The breakup of the Akali Dal did succeed in cancelling that risk but created another more potent challenge. It rendered the Akalis altogether irrelevant but left the arena exclusively to the militants who stepped up their campaign to the extent of running a parallel government in the border districts and controlling the Sikh religious affairs from the Golden Temple. The militants captured the center stage and came to hold an unmitigated sway over the Punjab situation and refused to compromise on the Khalistan issue. They summarily dismissed all attempts by Delhi to initiate dialogue with them within the framework of the Indian constitution.

Delhi had not bargained for this development. In its anxiety to avoid the frying pan, it found itself in the fire. To rehabilitate the Akalis and to discredit the militants, therefore, became its most urgent priority. Amarinder Singh, who is widely regarded as Rajiv Gandhi’s Trojan horse planted in the center of the Sikh political activity, was assigned the task of bringing the moderates together and Ribeiro was instructed to carry out indiscriminate killing of the innocent men, women and children through his specially recruited “Mafia” men and blame the militants for those black deeds. The State controlled T.V. and radio and the captive press joined hands with Ribeiro in painting the militants as brutal killers, looters and mercenaries working for a mysterious “foreign hand”.

The massive propaganda blitz would certainly have failed to produce the desired results but for the suicidal infighting among the various militant groups. Charges and countercharges have so clouded the atmosphere that an ordinary Sikh does not know whom to believe and whom to disbelieve. In the process, all have become suspects. Bhai Jasbir Singh episode has made the water still muddier. It has created an air of despair. What is the use of all this bloodshed if militants are no better than the self-seeking squabbles of the Akali Dal? Ask the resentful Sikh masses.

As the anti Khalistan forces are regrouping to strangle the Sikh aspirations, the leaders of the militant organizations need to do some introspection. They need to come out of their egotistical shells and develop a wider perspective. The situation demands a concerted and coordinated approach to meet the challenge of DelhiDal combine. They should remember that the powerful Sikh kingdom of Ranjit Singh collapsed shortly after his death purely because of the infighting among the Sikhs. The struggle for Khalistan, which is only beginning to acquire the character of a Sikh national movement, will also meet the same fate if they failed to unite at this critical juncture. All militant leaders must immediately convene a private meeting and draw out a rigid code of conduct. The priorities need to be rationally worked out and each group must function strictly within the perimeters of the task assigned to it. Otherwise the birds of feather will turn into birds of prey and peck their hearts out.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 15, 1988