OPINION

Monthly Archives: NOVEMBER 2018


KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM
We need to ask what is the worst that can happen?
30.11.18 - AMANDEEP SANDHU
We need to ask what is the worst that can happen?



KEEPING HIS PROMISE, Pakistan premier Imran Khan today performed the ground breaking ceremony for the proposed Kartarpur Sahib corridor. On Monday, Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and east Panjab chief minister Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone at the Indian side at Dera Baba Nanak, 4 kilometers from the Gurdwara where Guru Nanak spent the last 17 years of his life. The fruition of the project by next November, the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak, could mark a sea change in relations between arch rivals India and Pakistan. It could set a precedent for the role religion can play to bring peace in south Asia. 

Perhaps the most common critique of all religions is Karl Marx's phrase: opiate of the masses. The fact is that this phrase follows a longer sentence in which Marx describes the value of religion in human society. 'Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.' 

Since Marx’s utterance, while bashing religion, we often forget the value of religion and pick only its negative consequences. There are good reasons for it. There are umpteen examples of how communalism spreads, how politicians use religion to divide society, how competitive one-upmanship leads to violence, pogroms, riots and sectarianism. The Partition of India and Pakistan is considered the greatest exile in human history. It caused 1 million deaths and 14 million displacements.Ordinary people turned looters and plunderers. Even neighbours turned against each other - all in the name of religion. 

For the Hindu and Muslim populations the Partition caused loss of a sense of belonging to their birth and natural environments and devastated their economies. For the Sikhs, who opposed Partition, in addition to loss of belonging, the event also caused separation from some of their most significant religious places, including the place of birth and passing away of their founder Guru Nanak. The Sikhs prayers include the Ardas performed in the presence of the Granth Sahib or for various small and big ceremonies. The Ardas has three parts. The first and third part are fixed but the second part can be changed to suit the occasion. After 1947, the Sikhs included the following text in the second part of their Ardas:

Sri Nankana Sahib te hor Gurdwarean, Gurdhaama 
jinhan ton Panth nu vichorea gea hai de
khulle darshan didar te seva sambhal da dan 
Khalsa jee nu bakhsho. 

Restore to the (Sikh) Panth, 
the access and privilege of service 
at Sri Nankana Sahib and other centres of religion,  
from which we have been separated.

For 71 years now, in spite of how New Delhi and Islamabad define the relationship between India and Pakistan, the Sikhs have been making the prayer to unite with their Gurdwaras. The desire to go to Kartarpur Sahib has been a sigh of the people of the Indus Valley Civilization, a plea for peace in a sub-continent divided by the one of the most militarized borders, a soulful cry not only of the Sikhs but also of around 12 crore people of different sects, affiliations, who believe in the name of Nanak. 
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We need to ask what is the worst that can happen? At worst we will return to where are right now. We are already there, should we stay locked in status quo or should we not venture?
------------
The developments this week seemed impossible just three months ago when Panjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan and hugged their Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa who had proposed the corridor. The nationalist television studios, the ruling right wing Bhartiya Janata Party, called him a traitor. Sidhu was abused and mocked.
 
Today the same Indian government is supporting the corridor. The BJP, which has made ‘hate Pakistan’ its major agenda, would have never agreed for such a project but was checkmated by Pakistan and came in to glorify its beleaguered alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal. This was amply clear from the Indian ceremony where the foundation stone became a billboard for advertisements of the SAD leadership who have had little to do with the corridor, at least in recent times and were the first to blame Sidhu for hobnobbing with Pakistan.

Guru Nanak says, 

Jo To Prem Khelan Ka Chaao/Sir Dhar Tali Gali Meri Aao

If you yearn to play love/enter with your head on your palm.

It is that moment for India and Pakistan. The call is whether we - both nations - want to play love, in this context with our neighbour. 
------------
The BJP, which has made ‘hate Pakistan’ its major agenda, would have never agreed for such a project but was checkmated by Pakistan and came in to glorify its beleaguered alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal.
------------
To fall apart, the proposal just needs:

  • Activities by Sikh organizations such as Sikhs For Justice and Khalistan Liberation Force who seek to further the Khalistan agenda. They find little resonance in today’s Panjab but could lead to the proposal being shelved for security reasons.
  • Plants by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence to be apprehended by Indian security.
  • The scenario post 2019 elections, when the project is still mid-way, hangs as a Damocles sword on the corridor.
  • The Panjab CM mentioned travel will be Visa Free.The travel will be restricted to the Gurdwara but will be free. It needs to be implemented to be believed.

How fragile even peace talks are in the context is evident from the fact that as soon as the ground breaking ceremony was over the Indian media picked up the case of Navjot Singh Sidhu’s photograph with alleged Khalistan activist Gopal Singh Chawla. The fact is in other photographs both union ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, and Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee head Gobind Singh Longowalare also seen with the same man. Yet, jingoistic Indian media won’t dwell upon that. 

The cynical propaganda against the corridor shows how far the national narrative is from both east and west Panjab whose people share language, culture, deep bonds and have always aspired for peace. That is why the discourse does not get a simple fact: when two Panjabis meet, they hug as a way of greeting each other. It does not get it that former cricket stalwarts Imran Khan and Navjot Sidhu, who excelled on the field, now seek to re-write history. 

In this context, we need to focus on two statements by Imran Khan in his speech. He said and I paraphrase, for long Pakistan is known to have two parallel power structures: the elected government and the Army. This time the political leadership and the Army stand together on this issue. This is significant as far as the ISI sponsored source of terrorism in India is concerned because the Pakistan government is willing to be accountable and wants to shed its earlier image. The second statement is even more significant. Imran Khan said, both India and Pakistan are nuclear powered nations. Any misadventure will be either extreme foolishness or madness. It will leave no winners or losers, it will devastate us all. Peace is our only option,making this corridor is a step towards that.

At the same time, it is important to maintain that the management of the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara stays with Pakistan’s Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and there should be no claim on it by the now Parkash Singh Badal controlled SGPC. The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara was freely accessible until the 1960s.  In 1974, India and Pakistan signed a Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines to facilitate the granting of visas to pilgrims, but the draconian visa regime followed by both countries has kept the religious sites out of bounds for most pilgrims. In early 2000s, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power,Pakistan made an attempt to open access. The efforts failed. The SAD was an alliance partner with the BJP and in power, the SGPC was in control. One of the reasons is not talked about much but is clear when you look at how SGPC functions: it won’t be able to put their hands on the Guru ki Golak, the offerings of the people at the Gurdwara directly associated with Guru Nanak. 

If this project succeeds, it may lead to access to other 194 Gurdwaras included in the Sikh Ardas. It may lead to better trade and cultural ties between the two Panjab’s and nations. Most of all, it would lead to demilitarization of two poverty stricken nations and better spending on education, health care and employment. Certainly those are what people of both nations seek from their governments. 

Instead of tilting at windmills, we need to acknowledge that a step such as this finally boils down to faith of those who know the cultural context. In this case a huge population that believes in Guru Nanak. We need to ask what is the worst that can happen? At worst we will return to where are right now. We are already there, should we stay locked in status quo or should we not venture?

It is a razor’s edge. As we say in Panjab: Rabb Rakha!  

   
Amandeep Sandhu is working on a book on Panjab.



Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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DISSECTING POLITICS OF SELECTIVE SILENCE
Did Army Chief miss mentioning “internal linkages” on actual terror in Punjab?
17.11.18 - I P Singh*
Did Army Chief miss mentioning “internal linkages” on actual terror in Punjab?



RECENTLY AT A SEMINAR in Delhi Army chief General Bipin Rawat said that attempts were being made through "external linkages” to "revive insurgency” in Punjab. "Let us not think that Punjab (situation) is over. We cannot close our eyes to what is happening in Punjab. And, if we do not take early action now, it will be too late” he said. Former UP DGP Parkash Singh also echoed General’s observation. Within 10 days, the General underlined this "external” element for the third time, stating "While outsiders will attempt to revive militancy, the people, are very strong, will not allow it,” while speaking at an army function in Pathankot on November 12.

While there can be arguments about Chief of Army Staff expressing apprehensions about law and order situation in a state, we are confining here only to one point – internal linkages – which General Rawat apparently missed when he argued that internal security was one of the biggest problems in the country and "why we have not been able to find a solution, because it has external linkages”.

The latest and biggest terror strike in Punjab in around a decade was a deadly blast at Maur Mandi town in district Bathinda on January 31, 2017, just four days before the assembly polls, in which seven persons were killed including four children and it has already come out that the case has very strong Swadeshi (internal) linkages. However, we have not been hearing any army general, politician, former intelligence officials, former or serving top cops – who often delve in great details as they discuss apprehensions of trouble in Punjab, talking about this biggest terror strike in Punjab. Bizarre. Isn’t it?

The blast was apparently aimed at Sirsa Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s close relative and Congress candidate from Maur Mandi assembly segment, Harminder Jassi. Latter had a narrow escape and his personal assistant was among the seven killed. In February this year, Jassi himself claimed that he was the target of the blast. Jassi’s daughter is married to Dera head’s son.

A day after the blast, Punjab DGP Suresh Arora had termed it a "targeted terrorist crime” and it was also reported in sections of the media that in his briefing to the Election Commission he had flagged "credible intelligence reports” suggesting that certain foreign-based militant might stage a terror attack to create communal rift and chaos ahead of the polling day on February 4.
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Is it not bizarre that nobody wants to talk about a terror case, nine months after the breakthrough, in which a highly protected candidate is targeted in a bomb blast in Punjab (where situation, in Gen. Rawat’s words, is not over) and seven persons are killed?
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Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had termed it a "senseless act of terrorism”. Former Punjab DGP K P S Gill had reportedly said that the blast was "very very serious”, claiming that he had "predicted that because of the activities of certain political parties there will be terrorist incidents.” From "certain political parties” Gill meant AAP as he had said, "AAP is providing a platform to radical Sikh diaspora settled abroad in order to create a big base from which to operate”.

Then-deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also held the Home department at that time, was unequivocal in pinning the blame on AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and Sikh radicals for the blast and alleged hobnobbing between them. "Whatever has happened in the recent past, including the blast last night, occurred due to the support extended to radicals by AAP. Kejriwal has openly courted radicals”, he had said and named Sikh militant outfits while alleging they’re hobnobbing with AAP.

However, after a major breakthrough in the case nine months back, the eloquence and clarity of thoughts and expressions have been replaced by complete silence of the political and police establishment of the state.

In February this year, exactly a year after the blast, Punjab Police SIT headed by DIG Ranbir Singh Khattra cracked the case. However, it came out that these were not "certain foreign-based militants” or "external linkages” for this terror attack but the internal elements, whose "spiritual head” was certainly not known for hobnobbing with AAP and remained bedfellow of SAD, BJP and Congress at different times before he landed in Sonaria jail in Haryana. The motive of the blast is yet to be heard from the police brass if it was aimed ‘to create communal rift and chaos ahead of the polling day’ or just to eliminate Jassi or to achieve both the targets. The blast and the quick allegations by Badals of involvement of Sikh radicals and implicit suggestions by cops and "experts” on the same line helped to create fear among Hindu voters and the common refrain among politicians and political observers  was that they voted against AAP.

The SIT got recorded statements of four witnesses before a magistrate who revealed that the car used in the terror act was painted and prepared in that workshop of Sirsa Dera head where only latter’s cars were modified or repaired. SIT has already named three suspects in the case – all from the Dera, including in-charge of the workshop, Dera head’s security guard and an electrician there – and has got them declared proclaimed offenders.
 ----------
There is nothing in the public domain till now which suggests that something has been done to question the Sirsa Dera head, his number two or three in this terror case which was apparently plotted right inside the Dera
----------
However, unlike the hype around cracking important cases or still being planned plots, when top police brass rush to the town to claim credit and to dish out the details of the plot and the profiles of the accused, their linkages including foreign hands etc. with a lot of clarity and authority, no such enthusiasm has been visible on the part of the Punjab Police top brass or Punjab government to claim credit or to provide the "explosive” (sometimes exclusive also) details in this blast case. Whatever information has come out is through informal channels or SIT chief has just been confirming the basic information after journalists would ferret it out. Top cops have been refraining from commenting on the case saying investigations are still underway. But the investigations were still on when they issued detailed statements in other cases related to "terror plots” still at planning stages, busting of sleeper cells or the modules.

Is it not bizarre that nobody wants to talk about a terror case, nine months after the breakthrough, in which a highly protected candidate (whose party comes to power with impressive victory) is targeted in a bomb blast in Punjab (where situation, in Gen. Rawat’s words, is not over) and seven persons are killed?

What really stops the top cops and political establishment of Punjab from claiming credit for cracking the case or even talk about this "very very serious” "targeted terror attack” or "senseless act of terror”, while they have been talking and reiterating about the handlers in other cases? Why should this case not be part of the lectures on terrorism? Notably, a year and a half before this blast major attempt to disturb peace in the state was made through a series of major sacrileges and now latter have also been traced to the Dera. Badals had claimed a foreign hand in sacrilege cases also.

For the record, there is nothing in the public domain till now which suggests that something has been done to question the Sirsa Dera head, his number two or three in this terror case which was apparently plotted right inside the Dera.
 

This contrast in the approach appears to be suggesting that this particular terror case is being treated differently, at least in the public domain, if not at the investigative level. But then the entire discourse, as well as rhetoric on terrorism is happening in the public domain. Should one not draw the conclusion that silence on this terror case  selective as this does not fit in the narrative on terrorism and it embarrasses the big political parties?

 

*I P Singh is Assistant Editor at The Times of India, Jalandhar. This article first appeared in timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs and is being reproduced here courtesy TOI.

 
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 
 

 CONGRESS IN SGPC - Tript Rajinder Bajwa marks 60 years of this Congress dream

1984 ANTI SIKH VIOLENCE – 34 YEARS OF KADDU FARMING

THE ADHAR CARD-YUKT JASOOS - THE FOUR MUSKETEERS OF IB

FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE

Amarinder Singh, the coup in the CBI & the ED case: Headline is missing, so please read it between the lines

COP Vs. COP IN PUNJAB: Saiyan Bhaye Kotwal Ab Dar Kahe Ka

SURGICAL STRIKE DAY & WE THE PEOPLE The story of the gate is not the story of the house

Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous

UNHOLY HASTE To save the faith

Hua Panthik-Panthik Punjab - How do we reclaim real politics?

The Yuba City Attack on Manjit Singh GK & General Sambit Patra

Pakistan, Navjot Sidhu & the hug: Amarinder Singh 2018 is opposing Amarinder Singh 2004

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

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Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

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The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

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Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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FRONT VIEW MIRROR
CONGRESS IN SGPC - Tript Rajinder Bajwa marks 60 years of this Congress dream
17.11.18 - S Pal
CONGRESS IN SGPC - Tript Rajinder Bajwa marks 60 years of this Congress dream



ON NOVEMBER 16, 2018, a senior minister of the Amarinder Singh government openly declared that the Congress-affiliated Sikhs will fight the elections to the SGPC to oust the Akali Dal.

Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa was marking the 60 years of the first major attempt by the Congress to snatch away the SGPC from the Akalis and make it an instrument of the Congress party.

It was on November 16, 1958 when Giani Kartar Singh defeated Master Tara Singh by 77 votes to 74 votes after becoming a henchman of Pratap Singh Kairon.

But the situation had reached this stage after a lot of drama, much of it centred around charges of corruption against Kairon. Today, if the Badals find themselves in similar circumstances, they should not be surprised. Corruption has the undoing of many tall men.

In fact, history of yore is often the mirror image of our present. The talk of be-adbi is very much in the air today, as signified by the Bargari Morcha. It was no different in the heady 1950s. 
----------
Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa was marking the 60 years of the first major attempt by the Congress to snatch away the SGPC from the Akalis and make it an instrument of the Congress party.
----------
Arya Samajists had started a Hindi Raksha morcha in 1957. It witnessed very provocative, abusive lectures and slogans to which the Sikh community took serious objection. 

* In the first week of July 1957, several cigarette cases were thrown into the sacred sarovar of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. 

* On August 8, 1957, pages from the holy Sikh scriptures were torn and scattered on the road leading from Chowk Lachhmansar to Chatiwind Gate, Amritsar.

* On August 16, 1957, a packet of cigarettes was found thrown in Gurdwara Sikh Sewak Jatha, Patiala.

* A similar incident took place on September 13, 1957 in Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Hissar.

* On December 24, 1957, a tobacco packet was thrown in the sacred sarovar of Sri Darbar Sahib and a poster appeared that carried threats to the Sikhs.

Ambala and YamunaNagar witnessed processions in which participants shouted — Oora Airra Nahi Padhenge, Gandi Bhasha Nahi Padhenge.
----------
Ambala and YamunaNagar witnessed processions in which participants shouted — Oora Airra Nahi Padhenge, Gandi Bhasha Nahi Padhenge.
----------
In response, a silent procession of the Sikhs was organised in Delhi on February 2, 1958 by Master Tara Singh.

Here is Master Tara Singh in his own words:

"After the end of the Hindi Raksha Morcha, the Punjab Government has come out with redoubled zeal to interfere in the management of our Gurdwaras. A so-called Malwa Akali Dal has been organised overnight, and the Chief Minister, after dissolving the Pepsu Gurdwara Interim Board has reconstituted it giving this new Malwa Akali Dal members equal in number to that given to the Shiromani Akali Dal...Why should these fresh attacks upon our Gurdwara management by the Punjab government coincide with the postponement of the Hindi morcha? Is there some concerted plan?...I blame Arya Samajist leaders for the most offensive attacks against Sikh religion... Religion should be the last thing in which our secular government should interfere; and Government should consider itself bound to protect the freedom and especially the religious freedom of every minority." 

Master Tara Singh 
 
Unlike the Akali Dal of today, led by the Badals, whose approach to incidents of sacrilege of scriptures was reactive in nature and which tried to paint it as a conspiracy merely directed against their government at that time, the Akali Dal of the 1950s took the lead in making clear its pain at such sacrilege. The silent march in Delhi symbolised that.

Master Tara Singh wrote: "We have taken out this mourning procession in order to draw the attention of the world to our pitiable condition. Most insulting and unparalleled sacrilegious acts are being committed to demoralize us. We have been perfectly peaceful and calm in spite of these worst sorts of provocations. Our opponents have so far failed to incite us to retaliate. We mean to live and live with honour." 

On February 2, 1958, a five-mile-long silent procession was taken out from the Red Fort in Delhi at 1:00 p.m. and it dispersed at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. The Tribune gave the number of the participants as 150,000. It was led by Giani Bhupinder Singh, Head Granthi of the Golden Temple while Swami Ganesha Dutt also joined it, along with other Akali leaders.

Partap Singh Kairon with Pt. Nehru 
 
By this time, Chief Minister Kairon was facing considerable opposition within the ruling party, including serious allegations of corruption. In June 1958, Kairon was required to seek a vote of confidence, and his fate seemed uncertain but on the eve of the Punjab Legislative Congress Party meeting, PM Nehru came to his rescue as he ridiculed the constructive responsibility theory and made it clear that he did not believe that Kairon was dishonest.

This was a very timely clean chit and Kairon's supporters went all out to mend fences with rivals. In the June 5, 1958 contest, he won with 102 votes against 54, and then wanted to drop challenger Giani Kartar Singh from the ministry, but was not given a go ahead by the central leadership. 

However, he did manage to cut down Giani Kartar Singh to size by taking away from him the important portfolios of revenue and local bodies and made him the minister of an unimportant portfolio.
----------
"Religion should be the last thing in which our secular government should interfere; and Government should consider itself bound to protect the freedom and especially the religious freedom of every minority.” — Master Tara Singh
----------
Master Tara Singh on September 16, 1958, stated in Delhi that Sikhs' aspirations were not being met and renewed the demand for Punjabi speaking state. The first Punjabi Suba conference was held at Amritsar on October 12, 1958, bringing the confrontation to a climax.

This was the cue for the Kairon-led Congress and the entire Punjab government machinery to start working overtime to remove Master Tara Singh from the presidentship of the SGPC.

 Giani Kartar Singh
 
By this time, Giani Kartar Singh had deduced that Kairon had proven to be strong. He wanted to bury the hatchet with the CM. Kairon made him a hatchet man by giving him the task to cut down Master Tara Singh to size. Both, Gian Singh Rarewala and Giani Kartar Singh ganged up against Master Tara Singh.

Giani Kartar Singh was successful in bringing together all the opposition groups, including 22 Communists, with his own group by promising them important offices in the executive of the SGPC. 

Prem Singh Lalpura with Sant Fateh Singh 
 
On November 16, 1958, Master Tara Singh was defeated by 77 votes to 74 votes, a development applauded by the entire communal Hindi press. It was declared as a vote against the Punjabi Suba issue. It was Prem Singh Lalpura who had defeated Master Tara Singh.

Master Tara Singh found himself back in the reckoning on February 13, 1959 when he was elected as the Akali Dal president.

He was soon arrested to sabotage the march he had planned in Delhi. The silent march took place on March 15, in which more than 4 lakh Sikhs participated.

Master Tara Singh, who was kept in the Dharamshala jail, wrote to Nehru, suggesting that an impartial person should arbitrate on the question whether the Punjab government of the Congress party had interfered in the religious affairs of the Sikhs by passing the Sikh Gurdwara Amendment Act. He also questioned the motives of Giani Kartar Singh and proposed that his complaint be referred to Acharya Vinoba Bhave, or C Rajagopalachari or Jai Prakash Narayan, or all of them.

Nehru wrote back to him in jail, saying it would be unprecedented to refer an Act passed by the legislature to any arbitrator.

Master Tara Singh was finally released on March 21. The Akali Dal was preparing to contest the elections to the SGPC on the issue of Punjabi speaking state. The Congress seemed to be fully prepared to interfere. Maharaja Patiala suggested that instead of holding the elections, the members be chosen by the sangat, or through a draw of lots carried out within the gurdwara premises.

On April 8, 1959, Pratap Singh Kairon issued a statement claiming that the Patiala Maharaja’s stance was the best way to end the bitterness between the government and the Akalis. 

A super-confident Kairon, Giani Kartar Singh and Rarewala were instrumental in setting up the Sadh Sangat Board to oppose the Akali Dal in the ensuing SGPC elections. Giani Kartar Singh, in fact, quit his ministry after some people objected to a minister meddling in gurdwara polls.

Now, the aim was clear — ousting the Akalis from gurdwara management.
 

Since the Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee still had Akali leadership, Kairon was keen to shut the financial tap. On May 20, 1959, Lalpura suspended the DGPC and replaced it with an 11-member committee with Sajjan Singh as the president.

But the committee failed to take the actual control of the gurdwaras. Finally, about a 100 armed-to-the-teeth men of the Congress swooped down on Gurdwara Sisganj Delhi for taking forcible possession but the Master's group thwarted the effort. 

The showdown also witnessed tear gas shells. A total of 68 people were arrested. 
----------
Neither the Congress nor the communists leave any stone unturned in their fight to take control of the gurdwaras
----------
Master Tara Singh addressed a public meeting in Delhi on May 25 and expressed his desire to set up a volunteer force of 1,000 marjeevras to prevent anyone from taking control of DGPC. Finally, an agreement was signed between Master Tara Singh and Lalpura on May 30, 1959 at the residence of Baldev Singh.

Cartoon in Daily Pratap: Supporters of Pratap Singh Kairon have turned themselves into a party to contest Gurdwara elections.  
 
When Giani Kartar Singh and others realised that Master Tara Singh could sweep the SGPC polls, the Congress propped up a Sadh Sangat Board. The communists also came to their help and their Desh Bhagat Board also joined in these efforts. The two reached an electoral alliance on December 30, 1959.

Neither the Congress nor the communists leave any stone unturned in their fight to take control of the gurdwaras but the election results showed the Sikhs rebuffing such designs. 

On January 16, 1960, about 18,50,000 Sikhs voted to elect 136 SGPC members. Three days later, the results were declared. The Akali Dal secured 132 seats, the Sadh Sangat Board won 4 and the intellectual prowess of the Desh Bhagat Board comrades could not get them a single seat.

Tripat Singh Bajwa with Sikh leaders
 
Now that Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa has marked the 60th anniversary of the ousting of an SGPC chief by the proxies of the Congress party, it is anyone's guess what this power tussle can lead to, but if history is any guide, then the Congress in Punjab will be treading where fools have been before, and singed themselves badly.
 
Post Script: 

When Communists Supported Khalistan

Some of the younger readers would be surprised to know that there were 32 Communist members of the SGPC who backed Giani Kartar Singh's efforts. 

The fact is that India's communists are recent lovers of the 'unity and integrity of the nation' mantra. While their fulminations now match those of the saffron-hued politicians, the fact is that there was a time when Communists were more bothered about the poor and the downtrodden than about painting themselves champions of national integrity.
 

Travel back to the times when hectic confabulations were on about the fate of India, Punjab, and the Sikhs. The Communists, hold your breath, were a strong votary of a separate Sikh state at one time.

When the SGPC passed a unanimous resolution on March 9, 1946, demanding a separate Sikh state, it was supported by the Communists along with the Nationalists and the representatives of the princely states. Of course, it was to counter the demand for Pakistan.
 

Cartoon in Daily Pratap dated July 11, 1959, making fun of Maharaja Patiala's

suggestion about choosing members of the SGPC either through Sangat or draw of lots.  

 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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1984 ANTI SIKH VIOLENCE – 34 YEARS OF KADDU FARMING
“Elections were coming up…Everybody wanted to forget the killings”
01.11.18 - S Pal
“Elections were coming up…Everybody wanted to forget the killings”



"Three thousand Sikhs were killed in Delhi in just a couple of days. And still through those days, as through Blue Star earlier, hardly a Hindu was attacked across Punjab. In 1984, I grew proud of Punjab, and ashamed of Delhi."
— Sanjay Suri; 1984: The Anti-Sikh Violence and After; Harper Collins, 2015. Page 185
 
 
ON NOVEMBER 1, 2018, a deafening silence prevailed in Punjab, in fact, across India, about the 34th anniversary of the anti-Sikh massacres in Delhi in 1984. 

Not one leader of the ruling Congress party, currently working overtime to ensure the sanctity of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, issued a single statement to assuage a community hurt very, very deeply because of denial of justice for over three decades now.

Not one leader of the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal, which stresses its monopoly over all affairs panthic and lords over the SGPC, has issued a single statement to at least push its alliance partner BJP government at the Centre to make the wheels of justice grind faster. 

The morcha at Bargari, which is of such pious people that anyone having any reservation about the mode of struggle for the adab of the Guru is automatically declared a traitor, has not issued any statement about the 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which at one stage was very eager to claim ownership of the issue of denial of justice and wanted credit for setting up an SIT, has chosen to remain pragmatically mum on the issue.

The breakaway faction of the AAP, headed by Sukhpal Singh Khaira who is always eager to sport a black band on his forearm as a mark of his late recruitment into the panthic flank, also forgot to mark it on its calendar.

The communists are too busy fighting for human rights and civil liberties and spent October 30 to November 1 at the Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall to remind us of the atrocities on Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, and in the process did not surprise us at all by not issuing a single statement demanding justice for those affected by the 1984 mass killings.
----------
In fact, the Congress and the Akali Dal in Punjab have been playing a game in almost a lockstep by raising such issues in a loud pitch that drown out any possibility of anyone reminding them of issues of legacy. Their silences are also conjoined.
----------
A number of Punjab-hitaishis trundled out on the roads on November 1. They spoke of autonomy, federalism, Punjab’s claim over Chandigarh, but 1984 was not their issue.
 
US Sikhs were also out in force with banners in hand: "We stand in solidarity with Jewish community.” That’s such a nice thing in these times of poisonous anti-Semitic talk, but it would have been nice to also speak about those killed in 1984.

The nation, of course, heard about Indira Gandhi. The Prime Minister tweeted about it. Amarinder Singh went a step ahead, put his face next to hers, and certifying that that she was "always” right – "for the state and its people, always.”

In fact, neither the Akalis, nor the AAP or the comrades had any problem with the huge advertisements in the print media splashed at the expense of the taxpayer that sang hosannas to Indira Gandhi and taught us how she preached "courage of different kinds," but did not say a word about the thousands of Sikhs burnt alive, killed, maimed, beaten, assaulted, raped on the streets of Delhi in 1984.

"Capt. Amarinder Singh pays tributes to the former Prime Minister on her 34th death anniversary," the Govt of Punjab announced in the advertisement, duly stamped with a Govt of Punjab logo, and embellished with the smiling pictures of Amarinder Singh and Indira Gandhi.

It was also the 34th death anniversary of a lot of other people. It would have been nice to add a line that the chief minister was also committed to continue to fight for justice for the victims of 1984 massacres. "Always” would have been a nice touch.

In fact, the screaming headlines in Punjab newspapers dealt with things entirely different. The Akali Dal is now out to reclaim the panthic domain by making noise against a school textbook already scrapped by the government. In fact, it announced a 48 hour dharna for that purpose, thus ensuring that 1984 no more remains in headlines.
----------
The Congress, the SAD, the AAP, and those at Bargari or Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall’s Mela Gadri Babiyan Da, have maintained a pragmatic silence in complete lockstep.
----------
Sample this: On this November 1, 2018, the 34th anniversary of the anti-Sikh violence in Delhi and elsewhere, the only official statement issued by Sukhbir Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, said he has asked the Punjab government to immediately announce an enhanced State Advised Price (SAP) of Rs 360 per quintal for sugarcane procurement in Punjab. The SAD president considered it wise to delve deep into history and inform us that his government had announced an additional SAP of Rs 50 per quintal, and had also facilitated Rs 200 crore worth of soft loans to private sugar mills.

Was this exactly the kind of thing the entire Sikh community wanted to hear on October 31/November 1, 34 years after seeing men, women and children being hacked to death in the streets of Delhi which is almost a second home to Punjab's rulers of all shades?

In fact, on the morning of November 1, when Sukhbir Singh Badal and company landed at Akal Takht to offer Ardas before beginning their two-day dharna against the impugned history book after announcing their intention to do so and having issued statements to that effect, the mention of the anti-Sikh violence was quickly tagged on to the Ardas.

Not one newspaper in Punjab published a single editorial about the events in Delhi circa October/November 1984.

In fact, the Congress and the Akali Dal in Punjab have been playing a game in almost a lockstep by raising such issues in a loud pitch that drown out any possibility of anyone reminding them of the issues of legacy. Their silences are also conjoined.

The house-trained media is also playing footsie with this approach.
----------
Do you think everyone in the Akali Dal forgot that April 2018 was the 40th anniversary of the Nirankari clash?
----------
So, the Baisakhi of April 2018 passed off very "peacefully” without even a single newspaper article, editorial or news headline mentioning that this was the 40th anniversary of the 1978 Sikh-Nirankari clash in which 13 people were killed and which stoked the fires of terrorism in Punjab and a rift with a sect that lasts till date.

Do you think everyone in the Akali Dal forgot that April 2018 was the 40th anniversary of the Nirankari clash? The truth is that everyone in the top Akali Dal echelons made it a point to forget to remember the date.

The conspiracies of silence need much coordination. One statement, one article, one editorial, one off the cuff remark can puncture the entire venture. In April this year, they pulled off their grand plan. In October/November this year, they have almost succeeded in doing it again.

Even the frontpage headlines about Hashimpura massacre court case sending 16 to life imprisonment 31 years after the killings of Muslims did not send a reminder to Punjab’s political leadership.
 
Amarinder Singh did pay tributes to the martyrs, but it was in Gallipoli, Turkey for the soldiers of Commonwealth countries. 

Now, all that’s left to do is to wait if HS Phoolka finds the time to issue a press release or a Jarnail Singh makes a perfunctory statement since he should still have one shoe left, having thrown the other one once. The first one took him far, he should find some use for the second.

In the late 1980s, I was a student at a university in Punjab where a teacher of English literature who had then recently flirted with Punjab’s Akali politics told me a shocking story of how he was pestered by an office superintendent to get an article of his published in some newspaper. 
----------
Even the frontpage headlines about Hashimpura massacre court case sending 16 to life imprisonment 31 years after the killings of Muslims did not send a reminder to Punjab’s political leadership.
----------
The office superintendent, working in the journalism department of the university, had suffixed a pen name to his name and wanted to see it in print. Since he was the one who would send articles of university researchers to newspapers, he put his own byline on one such write up and a leading Punjabi newspaper duly published it with an unprecedented credentials: "ਗਣਤੰਤਰ ਦਿਵਸ 'ਤੇ ਵਿਸ਼ੇਸ਼ - ਕੱਦੂਆਂ ਦੀ ਕਾਸ਼ਤ ਵਿਚ ਧਿਆਨ ਰੱਖਣ ਯੋਗ ਨੁਕਤੇ - ਮਨਜੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਮਹਿਰਮ.” (Gantantar Diwas Te Vishesh – Kadduan Di Kashat Vich Dhyan Rakhan Yog Nukte – by Manjit Singh Mehram.)”

Manjit Singh Mehram is no more. He was a kind soul, and I was never in doubt that apart from the wish to see his name in print, his concerns about those opting to enhance their kaddu production were genuine. I have serious doubts about the real intentions of politicians now worried about the concerns of sugarcane farmers on this 34th anniversary of anti-Sikh violence of 1984.

"I did not report the refugee story much…elections were coming up by end-December that I was assigned to cover. The election became the story. Everybody wanted to forget the killings and the survivors.”
—Sanjay Suri; 1984: The Anti-Sikh Violence and After; Harper Collins, 2015. Page 209.

You got it right, Sanjay Suri, at least 34 years in advance.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 
 

FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE

Amarinder Singh, the coup in the CBI & the ED case: Headline is missing, so please read it between the lines

COP Vs. COP IN PUNJAB: Saiyan Bhaye Kotwal Ab Dar Kahe Ka

SURGICAL STRIKE DAY & WE THE PEOPLE The story of the gate is not the story of the house

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The Yuba City Attack on Manjit Singh GK & General Sambit Patra

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Paragraphs that went missing from PM’s Red Fort speech could have pre-empted Opposition attack

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

Mr SY Quraishi, can you please help to save this pet dog locked inside this sealed building?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

Punjab is Silent as India Wakes Up to Talk of Refugees

AAP-CONG ALLIANCE: ARREY BHAI, YEH KYA LIKH DALA?

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS PLANNING HONEYMOON? 

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

DEATH EMBRACING LOGIC: Drugs in Punjab

PANJAB'S EMERGENCY: FORMAL AND INFORMAL

THE KASHMIR GOVERNOR, THE TRIBUNE TRUST & ETHICS - How Journalism Fails Readers?

"Congress Sikhan Di Dushman Jamaat Hai?” —Akalis need to dump broken record, shift gears

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

SARKAR IN MANALI: From Shahkot to Mohali Court, Sara Alam Bigrra Jaye

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

SIKHS & FEMINISTS – We hailed Harjit Sajjan; they didn’t hail Gina Haspel

AFTER BEING RAPED, I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOUR WAS NOT

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES

SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS

RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY

WHAT MAKE NEWS IN INDIA, AND WHAT DOES NOT?

HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?

PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA

APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties: The Coordinated Silence of Amarinder Singh & Badals

PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE

NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?        

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar

JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?   

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

J&K – RAM MADHAV LEAVES SPACE FOR MEHBOOBA’S POLITICS

SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi? 

MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER

PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT


 









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