Chandigarh, May 23: What is happening in Punjab can’t be wished away as efforts by some fringe groups to get attention and importance in the run up to the February 2017 Assembly elections as there could be deeper design to raise communal tension from which the state has been free all these years. However, some known and unknown extreme but peripheral groups from both the Sikh and the Hindu society are trying to provoke each other and this is bad omen for the people who suffered for more than a decade earlier. The past seems to be time travelling as the memories of what happened then are still afresh.
The ironic part is that many of the leaders from these marginal groups have been provided police protection. Threats are being exchanged by the so called Shiv Sainiks from different groups and Khalistanis on the social media but the state government has given no sign of taking action against them. The latest is a video released by one Sudhir Suri of Shiv Sena (Shere Punjab) from Amritsar holding a big trishul and surrounded by two gun wielding associates throwing challenge to the extreme Sikh groups.
The Sikh religious domain is already on the boil after murderous assault on preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale by men from Damdami Taksal and they have owned it while issuing further threats. Two of the vehicles used in the crime are registered in the name of Taksal chief Harnam Singh Dhumma whom Dhadrianwale had called ‘Sarkari Sant’ for his proximity to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. Going by the newspaper reports, the effort is to establish that Dhumma had no knowledge of his associates planning this action. Interestingly, despite the fact that the attackers followed Dhadrianwale’s cavalcade upto about four kms, it is being said that they had no intention to kill him. None has explained as to why he was followed by the attackers. One person in Dhadrianwale’s car was killed in the attack.
It is under such a explosive situation that yet another dimension has been added. It was till now unheard of Shri Hindu Takht, All India Hindu Students Federation and a Hindu Suraksha Samiti that gave a call to take out Lalkar Rally from Patiala to Amritsar against Khalistanis. Some Sikh group retaliated throwing a challenge saying the Lalkar Rally would not be allowed to cross Beas river bridge. Yet another Hindu group from Amritsar today joined the fray. The Lalkar rally has been withdrawn by its organisers. In Phagwara, abortive attempt was made to provoke clash. It may be mentioned that some Hindu groups have been active in Phagwara who have also tried to attack Pakistan bus two or three times. The decision to withdraw Lalkar Rally has been reported in a Punjabi daily quoting leaders including Nishant Sharma and Vaid Amarjit Sharma.
For the last six months, the situation has been deteriorating to such an extent that the feeling among the people is deepening that the law and order machinery has totally collapsed. Gang wars have been reported with astonishing regularity. The way attack of Dhadrianwala was attacked is yet another example. Vitiating the situation further are these fringe groups about whom the state government is maintaining studied silence. It is being apprehended that the situation is being allowed to deteriorate by some forces in the run up to the Assembly election. One can’t say as to who will be the gainer but the loser can be the Aam Aadmi Party. Communal polarization would not suit this non-ideological conglomeration having Khaas people from various shades.
It is time for the saner elements in the state to assert against what can be termed as anti-social groups of various shades for whom being leader of some little known extreme Hindu or Sikh group is just a cover. As a first step, the state government should withdraw police protection provided to them. Some of these people were propped up by the police officers to use them as tools earlier.
Punjab cannot afford yet another destablisation. This entire region in Asia from Syria to Pakistan and Kashmir in India is already part of the political seismic zone and it was only Punjab where the situation could be controlled earlier. The signals are portentous.