Latest occasions in Punjab carry again reminiscences of a dialog within the mid 2000s with an editor of a tough line right-wing Pakistani newspaper printed from Lahore. I’m not positive if I can go as far as to name this editor a pal, however we have been capable of discuss very frankly with one another. Through the course of our dialog, he instantly requested me concerning the state of the Khalistani motion in Punjab. This was stunning as a result of the again of the Khalistanis had been damaged by the mid Nineties. The darkish days of terrorism in Punjab have been a distant reminiscence on the time I used to be speaking to the Pakistani editor. The remnants of the Khalistanis had been lowered to the perimeter of the perimeter.
I requested him the place this query got here from. He replied that that is precisely what he had heard from a pal of his within the ISI who advised him that whereas Pakistan was making an attempt laborious to revive the motion, they have been getting no traction in any respect. However the editor cautioned that the ISI was not dumping the Khalistan card, solely placing it on a backburner. They might preserve at it and hopefully it will discover some resonance sooner or later.
It was round that point when the primary indications began rising about Germany turning into one other hub for the Khalistanis. However because the motion was all however useless in India, and Khalistanis within the UK, Canada and the US had slinked again into their holes, the main target of consideration in India appeared to have shifted away from them. The Khalistani terrorism was seen as a foul nightmare which had handed, and was due to this fact greatest forgotten. This was clearly a blunder as a result of a decade-and-a-half later, intimations of one other nightmare unfolding in Punjab are upon us.
Indications that issues have been slowly however certainly slipping have been there for almost a decade. The Khalistani components had began to reassert themselves within the West. They’d began to seize gurdwaras and have been overtly hobnobbing with the Pakistanis. In Canada, Pakistani diplomats have been overtly addressing Khalistanis in gurdwaras. Within the UK, bans on some Khalistani outfits had been lifted. The propaganda campaigns of Khalistanis being run from overseas utilizing social media and different on-line platforms have been being unleashed. Politicians within the UK and Canada have been stoking the fires and lending their assist to the Khalistani terrorists. Inside Punjab, goal killings made a comeback. A high RSS chief was assassinated. Different Hindu and Sikh leaders and activists related to the BJP, the RSS and different Hindu organisations have been killed. There have been stories of gurdwaras turning into hotbeds of anti-state exercise. There was an fringe of stridency in political rhetoric round Panthic points, notably after the clearly orchestrated incidents of Beadbi (sacrilege).
Whereas the bottom was being readied by India’s enemies for setting Punjab on hearth, the Indian political class was dumbing it down by insinuating, even alleging, that these incidents have been nothing however electoral stunts. Even after the Ludhiana court bombing, comparable assertions have been made by not simply the ruling social gathering, but additionally the primary challenger and the erstwhile ruling social gathering. What these geniuses didn’t realise is that election time is right for agent provocateurs to do their factor. Wittingly or in any other case, politicians play into the fingers of those miscreants and recreants. As a substitute of taking a stand towards precise perpetrators — there may be nothing greater than a professional forma condemnation however with out naming the primary culprits and beliefs that’s behind these acts of incitement and violence — they’re busy accusing one another.
Affluent to Debt-ridden
The tragedy of Punjab is that the state is strolling right into a catastrophe with its eyes vast open. Everybody can see what is going on, however they’re both too lazy, or too blasé to do something about it. What the enemies of India are doing, or making an attempt to do, is being aided in giant measure by our personal failures — political, financial, governance — in Punjab. The politics of the state is a multitude.
There’s a ruling social gathering which is riven by infighting. Its provincial president is somebody who has stoked the fires by latching on to a conspiracy by components linked to Pakistan to additional his personal political profession. Worse, for the Pakistanis he’s somebody who could be exploited to additional their agenda. He advocates opening borders for commerce with Pakistan though his personal ‘elder brother’ Imran Khan shut down all commerce between the 2 international locations. Whereas each ‘brothers’ are vacuous and filled with themselves, the grating garrulity and cringe-worthy bombast of the youthful ‘brother’ will go to the identical catastrophe on Punjab that the elder brother has on Pakistan.
The primary challenger is a celebration which is once more tall on discuss however has flirted with doubtful, anarchist and separatist components and given them an opportunity to enter mainstream politics. The erstwhile ruling social gathering is a kleptocracy of the worst variety. In its ten years in energy, it ran Punjab to the bottom. Its former alliance associate noticed this occur however went alongside with out ever objecting to the plunder that was making Punjab an financial and cultural wasteland. What was as soon as one of the vital progressive and affluent states within the Indian Union, is immediately a shadow of itself, left behind within the race of growth. The economic system of the state is in a multitude. It’s among the many most indebted, and maybe additionally essentially the most corrupt, state within the nation.
An industrious and revolutionary individuals are immediately within the throes of a poisonous tradition which is mirrored within the music. The place as soon as music was about uplifting issues, it’s immediately suffused with poisonous masculinity through which dope, weapons, violence are glorified. A whole technology has been destroyed by the narcotics epidemic which might be essentially the most profitable trade within the state, one through which not simply politicians, but additionally cops, bureaucrats, businessmen, pharmacies partake. The individuals are in the meantime voting with their toes as a result of they see no future for themselves or their youngsters within the state. One of many greatest industries within the state is now emigration to the West. There are even programmes on TV channels devoted to advising individuals easy methods to to migrate. Networks of human smuggling are raking within the moolah by sending out those that can’t take authorized channels emigrate to the West.
The state has one of many largest police forces however little or no policing. A small state like Punjab has almost two dozen police districts and half-a-dozen ranges. The nexus of felony gangs, traffickers and terrorists, all being run and orchestrated from throughout the border, has solely strengthened through the years. Narcotics is immediately the foreign money of terrorism. One doesn’t should be a rocket scientist to determine this out. And but, the narcotics commerce is flourishing. There isn’t any method that the issue of terrorism will ever be sorted out with out first dismantling the narco-infrastructure within the state. However with everybody both concerned or too scared to maneuver towards these criminals, maybe that is asking for the moon.
Appeasement By no means Ends Nicely
It’s towards this background that the present occasions in Punjab should be seen. The Pakistanis confirmed uncharacteristic persistence to organize the bottom for resurrecting the Khalistan motion. Now they’re shifting gears whereas we’re nonetheless within the mode of political point-scoring towards one another. The way in which the Khalistanis inserted themselves into the farmers’ protest ought to have been a wake-up name. Much more necessary alarm bells ought to have began ringing when the Pakistanis beneath the fascist hybrid regime of which the ‘elder brother’ is the figurehead chief proposed the Kartarpur hall. However we walked into this lure with our eyes open as a result of for some unusual motive non secular appeasement – free pilgrimage is now an electoral sop – is a factor in Indian politics.
The Pakistanis noticed Kartarpur as a strategic mission and permitted it as such, and but we refused to see their game-plan. Or we thought we have been being cleverer than them? Equally, simply when the Khalistanis had began turning into energetic within the West, we eliminated lots of them from the blacklists and allowed them entry into India. Whereas this was achieved in good religion, the presumption that Khalistan was vanquished, useless and gone and it had no resonance left was clearly mistaken. Appeasement of terrorists, separatists and criminals by no means ends nicely and we’ll study this the laborious method within the months and years forward.
For over a 100 years, a concerted marketing campaign first by the British colonialists and later by the Pakistanis to drive a wedge between Sikhs and Hindus has been underway. Two communities reduce from the identical material, from the identical womb, are being torn aside. However there was no sustained counter-narrative to debunk the separatist or exclusivist narrative that Khalistanis and their Pakistani masters have been peddling. Fairly on the contrary, now we have an schooling minister who takes delight in the truth that he didn’t change a single comma within the poisonous, leftist curriculum that’s being taught to Indian children in Indian faculties, making them hate their very own nation and tradition and elevating a technology of deracinated Indians.
The wages of our acts of omission and fee shall be paid in Punjab. However we’re solely frightened concerning the subsequent election. Brace your self for what is going to comply with from that.
Sushant Sareen is Senior Fellow, Observer Analysis Basis. The views expressed on this article are these of the creator and don’t symbolize the stand of this publication.
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