Terrorism and fundamentalism can be active or dormant. But, never extinguish. For there will always be people justifying it; propagating it. Notwithstanding how few!
Khalistan movement, on the same note, never ceased to exist. It changed its course after 90s decade. It had failed so miserably, after all. Other than, government crackdown, people so vehemently discarded the very basis and fundamentals, this extremism and madness it assumed to be base. Khalistan was never an organic movement. It was not even a movement. Age old sentiments were immaculately engineered, to metamorphose it into a giant. A conflict against the state. Secessionism. Bloody days. And mayhem.
Aam Aadmi Party, which lost miserably in last Punjab state elections is accused in the past of taking a pro-Khalistan stand. Politics of AAP in Punjab has been centred around resurrecting the dormant secessionist movement.
In context of the accusation, AAP MLA, Jaikishan Singh Rodi was seen with Gurdial Singh, who has known links with outlawed Sikh body, known as International Sikh Youth Federation or just Sikh Youth Federation (SYF) mostly funded by Germany based Balbir Sandu, and also soliciting votes for him. And also, journalist turned politician, Jarnail Singh of AAP was reported to be involved in collecting funds for party from the UK for sake of keeping, Khalistan movement alive.
Khiara had gone on record to say (emphasis added), “Those demanding a referendum are within their right. The injustice meted out to Sikhs during the last 34 years has compelled people to make a demand like this. You give justice to anti-Sikh riot victims you will come to know that the justice exists in India. We have nothing to do with the referendum. But can you stop people living in independent countries? Their sentiments were hurt so whatever they are doing, they are doing within their rights.”
AAP is always seen giving pro-Khalistan voice, on stage.
Canadian PM was on an 8-day visit to India recently, and Canadian convoy had expressed aversion to meet Captain Amrinder Singh, despite Captain being the CM of Punjab, fearing reaction from Pro-Khalistan diaspora of Canada. Instead of critiquing Canada, AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh lashed out at centre for not extending warm welcomes towards Trudeau like it did with other state leaders. He was outrightly hinting at PM Modi for not receiving PM Trudeau at the airport.
What Sanjay Singh, must have realized is that Canada has become a hub of Khalistanis. Trudeau government has been soft in cornering the radicals. Avoiding Trudeau at airport, and not even acknowledging his presence for straight 6 (in which he was merely touring here and there, donning attires which is even odd for Indians) days by PM, and his unaffectionate welcome as a State Leader, Centre was tough on giving a clear message, ”If you are indulged with radicals with agenda of balkanization of India, you are not welcome here“.
Back in 2014, newly formed Modi government had cancelled visa of Jagmet Singh of New Democratic Party, who didn’t even condemn the blowing of 1984 Air India Flight 182 with 329 civilian casualties.
Dharamvir Gandhi, former AAP supporter, also felt “Khalistanis have right to separate homeland”.
All these events, strikingly draw parallels with politics of the 70s and 80s and today’s politics revolving around Punjab. Maybe these leaders, don’t realize what doom that demand for “homeland“ had brought to Punjab.
Hardly anyone can get horrors unleashed in decades of the 80s and 90s out of there mind. What we hear of Kashmir turmoil today, people read in newspapers then. 15 years up to 1995-1997 Punjab’s clash with Centre seemed would never end, or end with government kneeling against violence and sanction formation of Khalistan.
Seeds of an idea of formation of a theocratic Sikh state could be traced back to partition (or even before), in which Sikhs felt they are left behind without a homeland between the distribution of Punjab between Muslims and Hindus. But, it wasn’t a tough decision for them, as which side would be more safer, so eventually, the majority of Sikhs migrated to the Indian side of Punjab.
After Indo-Pak war of 1965, the government accepted demands of formation of a Sikh majority state by cutting down Haryana and Himachal Pradesh both Hindu dominated, from Punjab. Demand grew for more autonomy for State alongside various other issues including safeguarding linguistic identity.
Indira Gandhi government couldn’t keep up with these demands, these gave rise to leaders like Jagjit Singh Chauhan (who was PUSHED to Khalistan movement) Who started travelling abroad, even to Pakistan, and started publishing anti-India diatribes and vociferously rising banner of Khalistan.
Like minded people on foreign lands started collecting fund and sponsoring it. Here are how events unfolded in distant future.
Punjab has always been a challenge for parties having power at centre. When Indira Gandhi had an outstanding majority in Lok Sabha, Punjab didn’t have Congress government and even now it is out of the hand of full majority Modi government.
Against these backdrops, 1978 elections of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee( SGPC) were in offing. Akali Dal which grew to prominence in Punjab in between the 70s and 80s, was giving a tight electoral competition. Indira Gandhi along with Giani Zail Singh (Who later became president of the country) meted out a strategy to divide Akali votes.
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was a missionary and leader of Damdami Taksal, who roamed villages to villages and endorsed youth to give up drugs and live by tenets of Sikhism. Perfect posters boy was discovered by Congress. Indira Gandhi backed Bhindranwale in SGPC elections and in turn, Bhindranwale helped Congress grapple Akali dal in following elections. Bhindranwale was a rising star, once a small missionary, Zain Singh helped him to be hailed as Sant Bhindranwale.
What Indira government didn’t know was what will start as the antagonism between INC and Akali dal will soon degenerate to a direct confrontation of centre with very people she was having a liaison with.
Between 1982 and 1984, more than 1500 cases of violence were reported leaving hundreds dead and thousands injured. Most vulnerable people of this violence and madness were Hindus. Buses and trains were raided and many Hindus were massacred in Gobindgarh and other places. DIG AS Atwal was assassinated in 1983.
All of these incidents could have been avoided if Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had nabbed Bhindrawala after Gurbachan Singh of Nirankari sect, an electoral rival of Bhindranwale, was shot dead by Khalistani fanatics. She had gone soft on perpetrators of these incidents and turned blind eye towards hoarding of Golden temple with arms and ammunition, since the 1980s. Police and army were asked not to check trucks entering Temple, even when the government had clear intelligence that they carried arsenal smuggled from Pakistan.
Bhindranwale stance changed and he supported Anandpur Sahib Resolution of Akali Dal. This was a major turning point in events leading up to Bluestar. The government labelled resolution as secessionist agenda and heavily cracked down on Akali Dal, and eventually banned it.
By the time Indira Gandhi government realized the gravity of the situation, Golden Temple was already fortified by militants led by General Shabeg Singh (Man who had an important role in the training of Mukti Vahini in 1971 Bangladesh liberation war). Negotiations failed with Bhindrawala and Bluestar was launched. What I will call one of the most ambitious decisions taken by PM Gandhi. It was unfortunate, that holiest place of Sikhs was subject to destruction and many innocents were also killed.
Ramifications were even more lethal and horrifying.
Sanctity of Sanctum Sanctorum was obliterated by Khalistanis when they stockpiled shrine with weapons and militants exported by ISI of Pakistan. So hardliners who lament on every anniversary of Bluestar and label Army and Government to be complicit in the deliberate desecration of shrine holds no water.
People Indira Gandhi had forged an unholy alliance with, seeds of separatism which she had allowed to be watered and grown resulted in her own assassination by own bodyguards. A price India was not ready to bear. A PM was killed for protecting the idea of India.
On 31st October, 11 AM, All India Radio reveals about the incident and reported assassins of PM being Sikhs.
News spread like wildfire. Like plague, riots consumed Punjab and Delhi. Gurudwaras and other Sikh places were subject to arson. Women and children were burned alive on streets.
Delhi was worst hit. In 2009 high court observed, “……the sheer mention of the incidents of 1984 anti-Sikh riots in general and the role played by Delhi Police and state machinery, in particular, makes our heads hang in shame in the eyes of the world polity.”
Fate befallen to these innocents, started with politics, a lust for power. A handful of them who started all this in the first place was safe, mostly abroad. The common citizen was paying the price. Huge price. In no sense, riots were spontaneous. What following investigations unfolded was that it was a manufactured pogrom.
Nanavati Commission in its report stated that Rajiv Gandhi government did little or nothing to prevent riots. Paramilitary was asked not to respond at earnest. Delhi police did not cooperate with army and curfew was not strictly implemented in many places. Several INC leaders were accused of instigating violence including Gandhi family loyalist Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. But, UPA dismissed Commission reports and its demands were not paid heed.
Despite, many other commission and committee reports not even one of prominent Congress leaders were awarded punishment instead they were awarded ministerial berth by Rajiv Gandhi.
Still, many convictions happened, over course of years. Many were incarcerated for 10 years others imprisoned for life and around 50 perpetrators were sentenced to death.
Victims of tragedy, still await justice for main perpetrators are still out of reach of the law.
No one wishes to see this again. How seeds of poisonous ideas engulf humanity is clearly evident. What leaders like Khaira don’t understand, is the gravity of words they speak. Who doesn’t want justice for victims of ‘84? Labelling, the inefficiency of Judicial system as systematic discrimination against Sikhs, because they are in minority seems a clear-cut instance of political vendetta. Let me remind them, Hindus consist of 80 per cent of India’s population. Kashmiris Pandits still await justice for the 90s ethnically cleansing by Jihadi forces. They even now are immigrants in their own country.
When oppressor convinces others that they are victims, narrative even starts to come out with a euphemism for felonies.
Let me be vocal. Khalistanis are and were no victims. Anyone compassionate with dead militants of Bluestar is not a victim. Victims are 350 Sikhs of Trilokpuri colony, who were massacred in the madness that lasted for 72 hours. These politicians don’t speak for them. Unfortunately, no government does either.
Juxtaposition between situation and level of politics of these two different eras may sound anachronistic to many . But, using our hindsight may tell you what was wrong then, what is wrong now. Appeasement. Liaising with radicals. India isn’t a perfect federal structure. Instead of addressing issues with it, politics shape it into rage. It has been almost 70 years we have evolved and yet still evolving.
After 47, British thought India won’t hold long because of ethnic and linguistic complexities. We did. After 92, intellectuals thought, India will go USSR way. We didn’t.
Let me leave you with this, quote and deliberate. Why?
The most successful of the nations of the world are those who do not fall into the lure of secession but who, through thick and thin, forge unity in diversity.