The grenade attack on Nirankari Satsang at Adliwal Village in Amritsar District of Punjab on November 19 claimed the lives of three innocent persons and injured about 20. The attack has generated the sense of insecurity throughout the state. No doubt, it is not the first of its kind incident, but the previous incidents show that any particular person was on the target. In this attack, the terrorists have not targeted any individual but the innocent people, as happened during the 1980s and 90s.
At the very land, from where the Guru Sahibs spread the message of “Ek Pita Ekas ke Ham Barik” and “Apana Meet Ham Sabako Keena, Ham Sabhana Ke Sajan” world over, the distrust, suspicion and repeated massacres have claimed the lives of many and countless families have lost their support. Terrorism has impacted the life of an entire generation in the state. This has deteriorated economy of the highly prosperous state to the extent that the government does not have money even to pay the salary of its employees in time. The people of various religious sects are suspecting each other. Lakhs of youth are migrating to foreign countries in search of jobs. Who is responsible for this situation in Punjab? What is the solution to it and who should initiate for restoring permanent peace and brotherhood? The political games being played since the 1950s whether in the name of making Punjabi the mother tongue or others have socially divided a sect.
The killings in Punjab basically began with the incidents of insulting ‘Shri Guru Granth Saheb’ and subsequent ineffective actions by the administration against the culprits. The release of Bhai Amrik Singh and Bhai Dara Singh were also turned religious by the then political leadership. Bhai Amrik Singh and Bhai Dara Singh were released in 1983, but the ‘Dharmayuddha’ for political demands continued for a long period. The military action against Shri Darbar Sahib and Shri Akal Takht Saheb made the things more complicated.
Punjab is the border state of the country. The Sikh warriors, both officers and jawans, displayed exemplary courage during the wars against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 and defeated the enemy. Every person living in border areas stands like a rock behind the army men.
Today, the Sikh population in Pakistan is not more than 30,000 and most of them have migrated from Afghanistan during the last 20-25 years. After Operation Blue Star, the youth who reached Pakistan were instigated by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to deteriorate the atmosphere in Punjab. But the question is whether the Indian intelligence agencies can be acquitted only by blaming Pakistan’s ISI for the deterioration. Whether curbing the culprits is not their responsibility?
The killers of innocent people have no religion, nor any way of worship permits the killing of innocent people. Sikhism is the path of love, where sewa is extended highest regard and one is taught to protect an innocent person even by sacrificing one’s life. But, whether it was done under any conspiracy or something else, a section of media by connecting all the incidents with the religion, termed all the Sikhs as culprits.
The police, throughout the world, first gather evidence against a person and then arrest the accused. But in Punjab, the innocent, respectable and popular personalities were insulted by security agencies merely on suspicion right from the Asian Games of 1982. Any accused should be identified for the crime he/she has committed and not for his way of worship so that there is no hatred against the people of a particular society or sect. Arrest without evidence or insult, as well as humiliation in Police custody, sometimes pushes even a peace-loving person into crime. All peace loving persons should help the police and government machinery to detect a criminal. If people want peace, they should not refrain from discharging their duty towards the society and the country. The social workers, religious leaders and the common citizens can play an active role in strengthening mutual trust and brotherhood. There used to be ‘Sarab Parties’ of ‘Peace Committees’ involving social workers and religious leaders at district, subdivision and police station level in Punjab. It has now been stopped as politics started dominating the official machinery. But even then the common citizens should not refrain from discharging their duty.
Everyone should respect all ways of worships and religious books. At the same time, everyone should be ready to discuss how to strengthen mutual trust religiously and eliminate any suspicion towards each other.
Sikhs live in many countries of the world and they follow the local laws and rules there. Even then many of them want to maintain good relations with Punjab, no matter they have acquired the citizenship of those countries.
The biggest problem in Punjab today is unemployment, lack of good quality education, growing loss in farming and spreading network of drugs. Every day there are deaths due to any of these ills. The government efforts in curbing such deaths have proved to be ineffective so far.
Some foreign citizens while sitting in foreign land talk about Referendum in 2020. There are elections in our country, whether for Assembly or Parliament, after every two and half years. Now the general elections are due in 2019, which is nothing but a refrendum. If those who talk about referendum in 2020 field their candidates in Lok Sabha Elections in 2019 and ensure their victory they can present their views in the Parliament more effectively. Even the Government of India would not object to it and the truth will also be exposed.
There is a need to pay attention to some political and other demands related to Punjab. The investigation into the cases pertaining to the insult of ‘Shri Guru Granth Saheb’ still seems to be politically influenced. These cases should be investigated with full honesty and transparency. If we capture the real culprit, we shall be able to capture their associates too. Those who have completed their jail term should also be released for permanent peace. It will strengthen the trust of people in the equality of law.
The need of the hour is to draw a lesson from previous mistakes and strengthen the atmosphere of peace and security in Punjab. It will not only heal the old wounds but will also cease the opportunity for adversaries to play further mischief. Hence, we all need to move in unison.
(The writer is retired DIG of Punjab Police)