The political chaos in the Punjab is rapidly mounting to a point of virtual insurgency. Many factors are responsible for this explosive situation. The process was first set in motion when the custodians of law themselves started eliminating AISSF activists in staged encounters or in police torture chambers. It was further complicated by Ribeiro who dispensed with the established legal codes and adopted extrajudicial methods to wipe out the ‘Sikh youths. His hiring of hardened criminals for killing Sikhs shocked the civilized world to such an extent that American Congressmen, Amnesty International and Human Rights groups lodged loud protests against this bestial criminality. The law makers in Delhi contributed to the chaos by passing in quick succession, draconian laws that practically cancelled all hopes of legal redress. The Sikh youths found themselves in an utterly hopeless situation. Every way death stared hard in their faces. It could come through a staged encounter or through a well-tailored judicial procedure or worst still through the bullet of a hired assassin. They realized that they were required either to embrace death or submit to their slave status in India.

They made their choice in the true Sikh traditions and_ vowed to fight to the last for their freedom. They are now fighting for an honourable life and in an honourable way. But to discredit and to isolate them, Indian government has deployed its own agents who indiscriminately kill innocent people, rape women, rob common folks and extort money. Inspired rumours are floated to undermine the credibility of the youth leaders. The youth has to contend with different forces at different levels. Besides the government onslaught, they have to remain vigilant against Akalis also who are always on the look out to strike a deal with the Delhi Lords. The post-independence history of the Akalis is a dismal chronicle of sacrificing the interests of the community at the altar of narrow personal ambitions. Whatever their banner, brand or hue, they have always _ been playing devious games. Akali leaders invariably vye with each other in wooing the central government which in turn successfully plays one against the other. They have a significant share in further confounding the chaos.

Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was very much incensed by their flirtatious politics. He onced remarked that “lodge all these Akali leaders in the Nanak Niwas for one month and let none of them have any contact with the government emissaries, I guarantee that Indira Gandhi would personally travel to the Golden Temple and offer a solution acceptable to the Sikhs. Whenever I create the requisite tempo, they go scampering to lick her shoes and fritter away my hard won gains.” The same story is being repeated again and again today. The spectacular gains of the youth are dissipated in mutual bickering and in pursuing empty and unprincipled accords.

To meet these challenges and to accomplish the desired goal, the Sikh youth also need to give up their single track program and develop a more pragmatic approach. They must learn to operate at the political level as well and help to mobilise a mass movement. No revolution has ever succeeded without the active support of the masses. Armed struggle in isolation seldom takes the movement far especially when the adversary happens to be militarily strong and well entrenched. It is pointless and self-defeating to go on sacrificing the best of youth without a corresponding advantage. It is a fight for freedom and justice and it must register as such to generate international concerns.

The U.S. was quick to threaten economic boycott of Burma as a sequence to army’s shooting down of the civilian population. What prevented it from administering a similar warning when Indian army brutally massacred 10,000 Sikh pilgrims in the Golden Temple, when Indian police joined Hindu rioters in killing, looting and torching? Thousands of innocent Sikhs in Delhi and other towns? The answer is not far to seek. It was partly because Indian government’s massive disinformation campaign had succeeded in duping the world, and partly because we, too, had failed to develop a viable political platform. For proper international appreciation of our predicament and to profit from the prevailing chaos, the Sikh youth must also develop a political platform. The sooner it is done, better for our cause.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 23, 1988