CHANDIGARH, India, July 15, Reuter: Punjab police said on Friday a document found on the person of Gen. Labh Singh called for punishing erring politician’s and police officers rather than indiscriminate killing in the fight for an independent homeland.

The document found on the body of the militant Khalistan Commando Force leader who was killed by security forces last Tuesday, said indiscriminate killing had alienated most ordinary Sikhs.

Written in Punjabi, the unsigned eight page report called for a prolonged and carefully targeted fight for the homeland the Sikhs call Khalistan, Land of the Pure.

“Achieving Khalistan will be no joke. It will not be a short period simple affair.”

It analyzed reaction to operation Black Thunder in May, when a 10day security forces siege of the Golden Temple at Amnitsar, Sikhdom’s holiest shrine, led to the surrender of 150 militants.

In the operation at least 33 people died, among them freedom fighters such as Jagir Singh, spokesman for the “Council of Khalistan” who claimed most of India for the Sikhs.

“Not a single voice of protest was raised by Sikhs against Operation Black Thunder. This clearly indicates they have been alienated by the extortion of money, indiscriminate killings and other antisocial activities,” the document said.

“We should restrict our targets to political leaders, police officers and their informers and to those staunchly opposed to Khalistan”, said the document, which was shown to Reuters.

In the past few weeks there have been several instances of factional fighting among militants, mostly between cliques busy extorting money, police said, and this too was condemned in the document.

“There is no need to waste lives ‘or indulge in vengeance killings,” it said.

In Gurdaspur district, a militant stronghold, posters have appeared in the past two weeks offering rewards for information about militants accused of infighting.

The report said violence alone would not bring Khalistan into being and that Sikhs must come up with a definite long term political strategy.

“We must complement our field action with political activity. We have not once in the past years made a single declaration of our political position,” the document said.

Although the document was found on the body of Sukhdev Singh, whose death was widely regarded as a serious set back to the cause of militants, there is no indication of how widely it has been circulated.

A second prominent member of the KCF was killed on Thursday, dealing another blow to one of the strongest forces fighting for the creation of Khalistan.

The eight page document recovered from the body of Gen, Labh Singh spells out a code of conduct that militants must scrupulously observe. At the same time it draws a clear distinction between the real militants and the imposters. Without calling the fake ones fake, it impliedly identifies them as those who are indulging in practices opposed to the basic Sikh tenets. Two categories of imposters are operating in Punjab. Besides the usual antisocial elements who are having a field day in looting, robbing and extorting money, there are government sponsored killer squads who have been assigned the task of indiscriminately killing the innocent rural folks and Amritdhari Sikhs to discredit the militants.

By calling upon the militants to concentrate on tasks that sorely hit the government, the document beyond doubt establishes their credentials as quite distinct from the ‘common criminals and Ribeiro’s hired assassins. The militants are not trigger happy anarchists. They are brave men committed to secure their inalienable right to freedom. They are fighting against injustice and communal bigotry and have staked their lives for a lofty cause. Those who fight for liberty and justice never infringe upon the liberty of others. The people of Punjab generally respect their sacrifices and extend every possible support to them. They did feel confused for a while because of the misdeeds of the antisocial elements and government agents who had started operating from the temple complex dressed in militant outfits.

The document is the first ideological instrument of the militants to become public. It speaks of their correct perception of their mission, which, of necessity, demands guerrilla tactics. They know that guerrilla warfare can never be successfully waged without the active support of the masses. The people must be made to distinguish between the real and the fake militants. Unlike the self seeking imposters, the “boys” are not fighting for personal gains but for the greater good of the community they represent. They are also making supreme sacrifices so that their community may rid itself of the curse of slavery.

The document categorically disapproves using the Golden Temple as a military base. It must never be done as it provides an excuse to the government to attack the Temple and violate its sanctity. The Golden Temple and the Akal Takht stand in close proximity as inseparable symbols of temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) unity and Sikhs at no cost will compromise over this distinctive feature of their religion. Akal Takht was constructed primarily for political deliberations and decisions, hence the tradition of Sarbat Khalsa at the Akal Takht. It is a center for political activity relating to the sovereignty of the Sikh religion and must exercise its authority as such only.

The document also noted with concern the disquieting fact that no organized protest was made by the Sikhs against the ten day long siege of the Golden Temple. This unprecedented apathy was the result of the painful going son in the Temple Complex. Whether the extortionists were government agents or fake militants did not alter the material fact that the people who suffered at their hands were the innocent Sikhs. Clearing out these elements from the temple, therefore, did not disturb an average Sikh the way Operation Blue Star had done in 1984. However, the Black Thunder blasphemy is turning out to be a blessing in disguise. It has rescued the struggle from the four walls of the religious shrines and prepared the ground for full-fledged guerrilla warfare. If Mizos, Marxists, Tamils and Gurkhas can effectively use guerrilla tactics, then Sikhs, being pioneers in this style of war and being better soldiers, are bound to register far glorious victories. But to accomplish this, they will have to observe the code outlined in Gen. Labh Singh’s document and match their skill in field maneuvers with equally mature political moves.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 22, 1988