Amritsar Blast: Revives Horrific Memories

by November 20, 2018 0 comments

Amritsar’s Nirankari

Reviving gory memories of the intense terror in Punjab of a decade ago, the Amritsar blasts must be nipped in the bud.

The deadly grenade blast inside Amritsar’s Nirankari Sadan last Sunday, which killed at least three and injured 20 persons, is a chilling reminder that the surface calm in Punjab betrays the tensions that lie beneath. It has been known for some time that unwilling to throw in the towel after secessionist terror was mostly quelled, Pakistan’s ISI has tried continuously to revive militancy in the border State which has a history of unrest. Although public sentiment never endorsed secessionism in Punjab and all efforts to cause a permanent rupture between Hindus and Sikhs were conclusively defeated, Pakistan has never tired in its bid to avenge its humiliation in the Bangladesh war of 1971. Pakistan has focused on fomenting insurgency on a mass scale in Jammu & Kashmir after getting a bloody nose in the 1980s and 90s, but there too it has not encountered the success it had hoped for as Indian security forces have put up fierce resistance and routinely felled a growing number of militants sent from across the Line of Control.

Since terrorism in Punjab has a bloody history and cost India over 30,000 lives, any fear of a return to gun culture causes alarm bells to ring in Chandigarh and New Delhi. Incidentally, Sikh militancy in the 80s had also begun with wanton attacks on followers of the Nirankaris, a sect not recognized by the Khalsa as being part of the community. Clearly, there is an attempt to fall back on that gory past and invoke memories of bloody clashes with that sect in order to revive the cult of terror in Punjab. No chances, therefore, can be taken with the perpetrators of Sunday’s crime. Punishment must be fast and severe in order to nip this mischief in the bud. On a previous occasion political patronage of Sikh radicals by sections of the Congress and Akalis had helped secessionists to proliferate. This time, no quarter must be allowed to them and both the ruling and Opposition parties of Punjab must leave aside political calculations to deal with budding terrorists ruthlessly.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh faces a serious challenge yet again in his long political career. This time, he is required to remain steadfast in the face of all odds and firmly instruct the intelligence and law-enforcement machinery to root out terrorism in all its manifestations. He also has to ensure that frustrated elements in his party and the bureaucracy don’t resume playing footsie with secessionists as they had done in the past. Terrorism cannot flourish without covert state patronage and it is the job of Punjab’s rulers to ensure that those suspected of extending such support are weeded out of the system without mercy. For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, this is a huge challenge in an election year. Much of his rhetoric against the Congress will sound hollow if he cannot ensure that terrorism in Punjab, which was stamped out by a Congress Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao, does not come back to haunt India despite a strong leader at its helm. In many ways, Punjab is a jewel in India’s crown, not just its granary or mainstay of its security. We cannot afford to let it drift again.

Writer and Courtesy: The Pioneer

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