Akali politics – No Lessons Learnt

NewsBharati    03-Apr-2021   
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‘Dictator’ of the Dharam Yudh Morcha, Harchand Singh Longowal declared, "He [Bhindranwale] is our danda [stave] with which to beat the government. Bhindranwale, however, had his own agenda. "Every Sikh boy," he said, "should keep 200 grenades with him…I had earlier directed that each village should raise a team of three youth with one revolver each and a motorcycle.”

Punjab: The Knights of Falsehood IV– South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/publication/nightsoffalsehood/falsehood4.htm
Akalis had mounted a tiger created by Congress, believing they could use it and even control it. But, neither they nor Congress could dismount it. It cost thousands of lives and lives of many top leaders, including Sant Longowal and Smt Indira Gandhi. It also took toll of Congress CM Beant Singh who alongwith bold cop K P S Gill took the battle into terrorist camp. It took more than a decade to bring back peace to Punjab. By the time calm returned in 1995, 21532 people had lost their lives. Of these 11696 were civilians, 8090 terrorist and 1746 were from security forces. Majority of the civilians killed were Sikhs. (Official figures quoted from SATP portal). But, neither Akalis nor Congress party seem to have learned any lessons or forgotten the bloody history.

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There was one social organisation that stood up against separatists, the Khalistanis. It was RSS. It refused to be cowed down despite sustained threats. RSS asserted that Hindu-Sikh relation was that of nail and skin that cannot be separated. Sikh may be a separate religion but it is closely entwined with the Hindu society as its roots are primarily Vedic and Hindu. I am a Punjabi with many Sikh relatives. Most Punjabis and Sikhs understand and love these close bonds. But, it doesn’t suit the narrative of separatists nurtured on Sikh history created by a British Max Arthur Macauliffe. RSS paid a heavy price for its resistance to creating fissures between Sikhs and Hindus. Three RSS shakhas were attacked with lethal guns apart from other isolated incidents and more than 30 swayamsevaks lost their lives. But, RSS carried on its efforts nevertheless. RSS Sarsanghchaalak and Sarkaryavah toured Punjab to spread the message of unity. RSS members stood with Sikhs and did their best to protect them during 1984. It is documented history.
Look at the irony now.
Congress created distrust and seeded the anger
During partition, revered Nankana Sahib, the holy place of Guru Nanak Dev was just 5 km from the newly border created by Redcliff. But, Congress did not even try to get the borders changed to include it within partitioned India. Congress dilly dallied on making Punjabi as the official language of Punjab. It delayed the creation of Punjabi suba (state) till 1966 fuelling anger in Punjab though state re-organisation began in 1952. RSS supported Punjabi and Punjabi suba on every occasion. Guruji even reprimanded Bharatiya Jan Sangh when some leaders worked with Arya Samaj to promote Hindi as mother language. He clearly said Punjabi must be recorded as your mother tongue because it is your mother tongue. These facts are well referenced in my thesis and forthcoming book. 1984 Sikh massacre was instigated and allowed to spread by Congress, while RSS, BJP stood with Sikhs. But, Akalis and Khalistanis are targeting RSS!
Rise of religious extremism in Punjab and impetus to separatism
As noted above, the sin of omission and commission lay at the door of Congress before Punjab finally erupted. Akali Dal came to power in 1967. But, it was not allowed a free run till 1978 when Indira Gandhi lost elections. Prof Rajni Kothari in his report in 1987 recorded the dismissal of Akali government in 1972 with fresh elections and installation of Giani Zail Singh as CM. He noted that Giani Zail Singh tried to undermine Akali based among Sikhs with different stratagem. Akalis governments were felled time and again. Patronage of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was the biggest mistake that cost Punjab and India dearly. Akalis too stoked the fires with Anandpur Saheb Resolution in 1973 that chalked out the theory of Sikh Nation. This rhetoric was toned down when it came to power with Janta Party in 1978. He believed that both parties played with communal sentiments to compete for power. Interestingly, after 1964, after Punjabi Suba was formed in 1966, the Chief Minister of Punjab has always been a Sikh, though Punjab has 39% Hindus. These numbers have dwindled post 1980s violence.
Akalis tried to use the dominance of Bhindranwale to rise in politics. They were the soft face of separatism. They went soft on Anandpur Sahib Resolution only in 1978 due to alliance with BJP. This relation worked well till this year. But, during the period of terrorism, when Bhindranwale and his associates became so powerful that even Akalis were afraid to open their mouths and running around to save their lives, RSS remained firm. However, Khalistanis and now Akalis are finding RSS as their enemy, not Congress!
Truth is that Akalis control SGPC. So, the policies declared on and off by SGPC have silent approval of Shiromani Akali Dal. The latest resolution against RSS is a logical extension of their distancing themselves from BJP. It is not the first time, Akali Dal and SGPC have played footsie with extremist politics. It is not the first time RSS or its associates have been targeted. Even earlier, there have been clear instructions of not associating with RSS or its associate organisations. They are again on the extremist path to consolidate Sikh votes. The resolution accuses RSS of trying to impose Hindu Rashtra.
RSS has never talked of theocratic state. It has talked of culture of Bharat being Hindu or Bharatiya, this definition includes all religions born out of Indian soil. It has claimed that all the people who believe that India is their motherland and their ancestors are same as that of Hindus and own up Indian history are culturally Hindus though they may profess different faiths. By very definition of ‘Ekam Sat vipra bahudha vadanti’ and respect for diverse viewpoints, Hindus and RSS respect and celebrate diversity. So, there is no question of absorbing Sikhs into Hinduism. On the other hand, Anandpur Sahib Resolution clearly talks of primacy of Sikh religion in affairs of the state! The resolutions said, “The political aims of the Panth are definitely ingrained in the orders of the 10th Guru in the pages of Sikh history and in the perspective of the Khalsa Panth, the purpose of which is the pre-eminence of the Khalsa. To give this "birth right" of the Khalsa a practical shape, creation of the necessary environment and achievement of a political constitution are necessary steps. To achieve this end the Dal will use all possible means.” So, who is trying to impose religion over the non-Sikh people of Punjab?

Ratan Sharda articles_1&n 
Ironically, Khalistanis don’t demand land for Khalistan from Pakistan where the major empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was. No one has answered this question. Only reason could be Pakistani backing to the separatists.
Entry point for Khalistanis opened by Congress and Akali Dal
Farm Reforms are long overdue. However, the big farmers, whose support base is important for Akali Dal, have opposed it. Due to communication failure of BJP and the government, most of Punjab has turned against the new laws due to massive propaganda based on half-truths and untruths. In creating the mess and chaos, Capt Amrinder Singh, like earlier Congress CMs too has played his role by encouraging farmers to go to Delhi even though he had already refused to implement new laws. I have explained in a separate article how the problems of Punjab won’t be solved even if Farm Laws are withdrawn. Because, the problem is structural.
(https://www.organiser.org//Encyc/2020/12/22/Ok-Farm-Laws-repealed.html) It is funny that Punjab has been one of the earliest adopter of contract farming and Pepsi started its contract farming enterprise, but both parties who ruled Punjab alternatively are opposing it.
Unfortunately, politicians instead of finding solutions have mixed them up with religion, thus allowing entry point for Khalistanis, who are now much better armed with funds from overseas and powerful Social Media and their networking with anti-India lobbies in the West. It is surprising that Akali Dal even opposed CAA that is meant to support quick asylum of minorities (including Sikhs) persecuted in neighbouring countries. Biggest disgrace was kidnapping of the daughter of the granthis of Nankana Sahib. But, will Akalis learn any lesson?
The current situation is more dangerous than it was in 1980s. By playing with fire that scorched them in 1980s and resulted in thousands of deaths of innocents, both Akali Dal and Congress have turned Punjab back towards those dangerous times. They should remember that they might lose control just as it happened in that period. But, who cares! Removal of a popular leader like Modi is more important than peace and development of the nation. It is a cliché that those who refuse to learn from history are bound to repeat it. This fear of 1980s redux is real. It is not just Congress and Akali Dal or BJP but our nation that is going to pay the price. There is still time for politicians to take a step back.