On the night of December 9-10, 2022, a Rocket Propelled Grenade was fired by two motorcycle-bound miscreants at the Sarhali Police Station in Taran Taran district of Punjab. The RPG hit the gate of the Police Station but did not explode. Instead, it got diverted and landed unexploded in the adjoining Saanjh Kendra. This is the second attack on a Police Station in Punjab since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) formed the Government in Punjab. The first one was at the Punjab Police Intelligence Wing Headquarters in Mohali.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the Government of Punjab took the rather redundant action of transferring the officials of the Police station under attack and posting a new set. Such actions result in the loss of precious time and intelligence and are, as such, quite counter-productive.
The Police has hinted at a foreign hand in the attack and stated that the RPG was possibly smuggled into Punjab through a Drone. Whatever may be the mode of smuggling, the moot point is that there was a set of people available in Punjab to take delivery of weapon consignments and then use it for the attack. This implies that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is activating its sleeper cells in Indian Punjab.
The Police has also stated that 12 persons have been detained for questioning in the case, of which, at least four were used to provide logistic support. It further indicates that strikers and Over Ground Workers (OGWs) are available in Punjab to conduct terrorist activities. The emerging situation is causing widespread disquiet among the people who are worried about a repeat of the terrible period of the 1980s when foreign-sponsored terrorism wracked havoc in the State and caused tremendous misery to the people.
Over and above the attacks on Government establishments, Punjab is witnessing a proliferation of well-structured gangs that undertake all sorts of illegal and criminal activities like murder, extortion and anti-national activity while also strengthening the narcotics, mining and land mafia. The end result is a marked increase in drug consumption as well as illegal sand mining, even as high-profile daylight murders, among many other killings, have become a routine activity.
The AAP Government had promised to eradicate the drug menace and illegal mining within 24 hours of coming to power. One can excuse the 24-hour rhetoric as an election spin, but being unable to keep the promise after being in power for more than nine months and having nothing to show as progress is something that cannot be overlooked. The people of Punjab look at this failure as a breach of trust by the incumbent Government.
Deteriorating Law and Order Situation under AAP
- Rocket-propelled grenade attack on police station in Tarn Taran
- Supporters of Amritpal Singh create a ruckus at Gurudwara, break the chairs and burn them
- Panjab University student arrested on suspicion of terror links, was receiving funds from ISI
- Dera Sacha Sauda follower Pradeep Singh, accused in 2015 Bargari sacrilege case shot dead in Faridkot
- Shiv Sena Taksali’s Sudhir Suri shot dead outside a temple
- Pro-Khalistan slogans found on walls of forest department office in Bhatinda
- Three persons possessing 1.5 kg IED-RDX and two pistols arrested by the Punjab Police
- AAP Municipal Councillor Akbar Bholi killed in Malerkotla
- Minor boy Savan Kumar, slaughtered in police presence in Ludhiana Civil Hospital
- Grenade attack on Punjab Police Intelligence Headquarters in Mohali
Embarrassingly, AAP failed to retain the Sangrur Parliamentary constituency seat from where Punjab Chief Minister, Bhagwant Mann, had won two terms to the Parliament as the party candidate. This led to the forfeiture of the seat to Simranjit Singh Mann, who openly advocated a separatist policy and had been kept in the irrelevant fringes of Punjab politics by the people for more than two decades. He won due to the frustration of the people against the AAP, whose ineptitude as a ruling dispensation had become very apparent within a few months of it forming the Government. His winning the Sangrur constituency opened the spectre of separatism in the State yet again.
Suddenly, Amritpal Singh, an unknown person who had spent the last decade in Dubai, appeared on the scene as yet another mouthpiece of the separatist Khalistan ideology in support of Simranjit Mann. He gained legitimacy by taking over as head of the “Waris Punjab De” organisation formed by the late actor-cum-activist Deep Sidhu, who died in a car accident on February 15, 2022. Amritpal Singh has positioned himself as a clone of Khalistan advocate Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The striking physical resemblance between the two is now being exploited to the hilt. To a person who has expertise in the modus operandi of the ISI, it becomes very obvious that Amritpal Singh has been indoctrinated and trained by the organisations and is now being provided financial and media support by the same establishment to carry out activities as directed by it.
Meanwhile, the neighbouring country is leveraging the tenuous law and order situation, weak economy, frustration of the people due to misgovernance and fanning of separatist sentiment opportunity to the hilt, not only in India but also among the Sikh Diaspora. Its stooges like Gurpatwant Singh Pannu and his Sikh for Justice (SFJ) organisation, along with many others, are being fed with finances and information to keep the pot boiling in Punjab. In the aftermath of the attack in Taran Taran, SFJ had given a statement on social media that it will provide legal aid to Sikhs who have been detained by the Punjab Government.
The sudden increase in Drone attacks, activation of sleeper cells, rise in gangster culture, daylight murders, increasing separatist rhetoric with tremendous social media presence of Simranjit Mann and Amritpal Singh, and the activation of anti-India, anti-Punjab assets in foreign countries all bear the signature of ISI. The organisation wishes to open a new front in Punjab now that its activities in Jammu & Kashmir have been drastically curtailed.
Peace and stability in all border States is of primary importance in view of the belligerent neighbourhood that India has to contend with. Punjab is of particular significance since its very loyal Sikh and Punjabi community is looked upon by Pakistan as the biggest stumbling block in pursuance of its policy of attempting to dismember India. The Pakistani strategists feel that if Punjab is weakened, the doors for the Indian hinterland will automatically open up for them. A strong Government in the State is the best bet for breaking down the game plan of the enemy. It is, therefore, imperative for AAP to realise the responsibility that it holds and look at good governance in Punjab as its primary national duty that goes much beyond its political and electoral aspirations. The party has to overcome its desire to use Punjab as a financial tool to catapult to the national political scene. Blatant exploitation of Punjab needs to cease immediately, and a concrete effort needs to be made to address and eradicate the many challenges that the sensitive region is facing. Each and every issue in Punjab cannot be politicised or swept under the carpet by the Government.
The Union Government needs to reach out and support every initiative the State Government takes. It is also important for the Union Government to keep a keen watch over the situation in Punjab and intervene if the situation is not stabilised soon. There is simply no space for weakness in the management of Punjab.