It is really unfortunate that Gurpatwant Pannu and his US-based fringe outfit, Sikhs for Justice, which was totally unheard of till some years ago, has since acquired the capacity to cause riots, mayhem and trouble in Punjab merely through the use of social media. I will call it a matter of shame.
May be it is, god forbid, time to take him a bit more seriously and to ensure that his baseless insinuations don’t disturb peace and religious harmony in Punjab, that it does not disturb harmony amongst various linguistics and religious groups in Punjab.
Recent unfortunate developments need to be studied closely to ensure that such unfortunate incidents don’t happen yet again in Punjab and we Punjabis don’t get played in the hands of persons like him.
To put the perspective right, a section of Sikhs living abroad, with the support of a section of Sikhs in Punjab claimed that after the ‘demise’ of the British empire in India, they were promised an area in North India where ‘Sikh aspirations’ could be fulfilled and nurtured to the fullest extent. This view was, off and on, reiterated in the resolutions of a certain political party of Punjab.
However, it was sometimes in 1940s that the first demand for so-called Khalistan was made through some pamphlet captioned ‘Khalistan’. A section of Sikhs diaspora gave moral and financial support to this demand. Surprisingly, they demanded, only an area within a certain geographical sphere from Indian Punjab.
They conveniently forgot that the first Sikh empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was spread out of Lahore. This clearly showed that this nefarious game plan was being played at the behest of Pakistan, more particularly, it’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
No one in one’s right frame of mind could even imagine any Khalistan sans Lahore and that part of Punjab which is in Pakistan now. All Punjabis concur that Western Punjab, which is now in Pakistan, was the “Rising Punjab”, the “Chadh-da Punjab. Eastern Punjab which is in India was called, “Lehnda Punjab”, the Punjab which is setting down.
The demand for so-called ‘truncated’ Khalistan made it abundantly clear that it was just a game plan, a gimmick of notorious ISI aimed at creating trouble in India. Anyhow, this evil Pakistani intelligence agency did partly succeed in its nefarious plan and it did reach its zenith in 1980s, only to be petered out. As on date, there is no demand for Khalistan from within India. The highly-publicised “Referendum 2020” also petered out without any whimper.
To put the record straight, on April 29th, 1986, a so-called assembly of some separatist Sikhs assembled at Shri Akal Takhat Sahib in Amritsar and resolved to create an independent state of ‘Khalistan’. Again, to one’s surprise, they did not mention the areas falling in ‘Chadhta Punjab’, the rising Punjab spreading out of Lahore in the neighbouring Islamic country.
The immediate background of unfortunate clash between some Shiv Sena activists and some Sikh hardliners in Patiala on April 29th needs to be viewed in this background. Some Sena workers led by some Singla decided, without any tangible reasons, to take out an anti-Khalistan march through some parts of Hindu dominated areas of old Patiala city. Sadly they just refused to take cognizance of the fact that there is no such demand for Khalistan in India. Agreed! a small section of people do talk about it but it does not find favour either in Punjab in particular and in India in general. Sadly, both parties just decided to play in Pannu’s hands.
Patiala has been sensitive for a long time now. Singla’s call, which a section of people believe, is a result of his desire to have a status symbol in form of Punjab police security or may be some sort of protection given by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, led to a reaction from some Sikh hardliners.
Till now, it is not clear what the exact motive of the hardliners was, why did they decide to give a counter call to Singla’s so-called anti-Khalistan march, more so when there is no such issue? Both Singla as also some Parwana, who had given this counter call, are now in police custody. Their interrogation will eventually bring out their respective sinister motives.
As a former police officer, I can understand the respective notorious personal motives of both the parties, but what I cannot understand is the inaction on the part of local police, the district and the state administrations. Both parties had made their malicious resolves more than abundantly clear.
Patiala has its own district special branch within the local police, a major office of the Punjab Intelligence. Besides, a full-fledged office of a central intelligence agency also exists in the city. I am sure that the Punjab Intelligence must have kept the chief minister and his office fully informed of the developments. Then, how come no preventive action was taken either by Patiala Police or Punjab Police or even the chief minister’s office (CMO). Why every one of them was so complacent?
Now that every one of them has woken up, perhaps a judicial enquiry is the need of the hour to identify and catch the real culprit or culprits who decided to sleep merrily when Patiala, and for that matter, God forbid, the entire Punjab could have got enflamed in a frenzy.
This unfortunate incident certainly was not a religious or a communal one. So-called Khalistan never was such an issue which could fall within this category. That is just a political agenda floating out of the offices if the evil ISI. It was basically nothing but a clash between two groups, both of which had personal agendas. I am sure rest of the story will emerge once custodial interrogations of both groups get competed.
Shashi Kant is a former Director General of Police, Punjab.
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