Tuesday, March 28th, 2023 01:17:36


By Manoj Dubey
Updated: March 15, 2023 4:22 pm

The word Punjab is the combination of Persian words Punj(five) and Aab(water), literally meaning, ‘the land of five rivers’ namely Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej, all tributaries of the river Indus. The plains of Punjab with their fertile soil and abundant water supply are naturally suited to be the ‘bread basket’ for India. Punjab is the land of exciting culture with brave and hardworking people. The state has achieved tremendous growth over the years due to the success of Green Revolution in the early seventies. The contribution of the Punjabi people is praiseworthy.

Punjab has always been the land of great saints and fighters. Sikhism was founded here by Guru Nanak Dev. He was born in Nankana Sahib. He taught that there is only one God, his name is truth, he is the creator, fearless, without hate, immortal, beyond birth and death. The hymns composed by him were later collected in ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the central religious scripture of the Sikhs. The tenth Guru Govind Singh established this scripture as his successor, bringing to a close the line of human gurus and thus Guru Granth Sahib is known as the 11th and the last eternal Guru. The holiest of the Sikhs Shrine, the Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) is in Amritsar. The five Takhts (Temporal seats of religious authority) are Akal Takht Sahib (Amritsar), Damdama Sahib (Bhatinda), Keshgarh Sahib (Ropar), Hazur Sahib Nanded (Aurangabad) and Patna Sahib (Patna). The first three Takhts are in Punjab itself. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was the first independent native Indian ruler after centuries of slavery.

In 1947, India was partitioned based on religion and Pakistan was created. 56% of western Punjab went to Pakistan and 44% eastern Punjab remained in India. The contribution of the Punjabis in the freedom struggle is exemplary.

The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement seeking to create a homeland for the Sikhs by establishing a sovereign Sikh state called Khalistan (land of Khalsa) in the Punjab region. In 1947, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) demanded autonomous state for the Punjabi people. The Indian govt. initially rejected the demand because creating a Punjabi majority state would effectively mean yet again creating a state, based on the religious grounds. However, in 1966, the Union govt. led by Indira Gandhi agreed and ‘The Punjab Reorganization Act’ was passed in the Parliament and implemented. Accordingly Punjab was divided into the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh, the centrally administered Union Territory, was made the common capital of Punjab and Haryana. A canal system was put in place over the rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej which flowed through Punjab to supply water to Haryana and Rajasthan. The sharing of the capital city and water made Punjabis unhappy. In 1969, Indian politician Jagjit Singh Chohan moved to UK to start his campaign for the creation of Khalistan. He formally announced the Khalistan movement at a press conference in London in 1970. After the 1971 Indo Pak war, he visited Pakistan to get support for his movement. He also got support from the Sikh community in UK, USA and Canada. The Akali Dal put forward the Anandpur Sahib resolution in 1973 to demand autonomy to Punjab, transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and recognition of Sikhism as a religion separate from Hinduism.

In 1982, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a leading figure in the Khalistan movement and Akali Dal, launched the Dharma Yudh Morcha with the aim of  implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. At this time, the militancy was at its peak with the active support of Pakistan. Bhindranwale with his group moved to the Golden Temple Complex and made it his headquarters and started running his parallel govt. in Punjab from there. He accumulated large number of weapons and fortified the Akal Takht. In 1984, Operation Blue Star was carried out by the Indian Army to remove the terrorists led by Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple which resulted in the death of over thousand people including Bhindranwale, his group and the soldiers of the Indian Army. After this operation, in the same year, Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister, was assassinated by her own Sikh security guards.

After a few years, the terrorism subsided and Punjab returned to the path of peace and prosperity. A couple of years ago, during the farmers’ movement, the country saw Khalistani flags and posters indicating the resurfacing of old unrest with foreign hand.

Recently, the head of the organization ‘Waris Punjab De’, Amritpal Singh,30, rose to prominence in September 22 on his return to India from Dubai. He is a follower of Bhinderanwale and a supporter of Khalistan. In one of his speeches, he said, “Jesus could not save himself, how will he save everyone else?” This was termed as a hate speech by the members of the Christian community. In February 23, Varinder Singh lodged a complaint in the Ajnala Police station stating that he was kidnapped and beaten by the associates of Amritpal Singh. An FIR was registered against Amritpal and six of his associates at Ajnala Police station. The Police arrested one of his close associates, Lovepreet Singh Toofan. After the arrest, Amritpal issued an ultimatum to Punjab police to revoke the case and when the Police did not respond, Amritpal supporters broke the barricades and stormed the Police station, armed with guns and sharp weapons. Several Police personnel were injured and Police vehicles were damaged. The Police did not retaliate because the supporters of Amritpal styled their group like a Jatha, carrying ‘Guru Granth Sahib.’ Police later released Lovepreet Singh after court ordered his release based on Police report.

Amritpal threatened Union Home Minister Amit Shah, saying that he will meet the same fate as Indira Gandhi who was assassinated after ‘Operation Blue Star’ by her own Sikh bodyguards in 1984.

We remember how the Police was attacked at Red Fort during the Kisan movement by our Annadata injuring scores of Policemen and this time at Ajnala. In any democratic country it is the weakness of the administration and will have serious  consequences. How can a religious scripture be used as a shield against committing crime? I hope that the Punjab govt. acts firmly and sensibly to ensure that another incident like Ajnala does not happen. The central govt. should monitor the situation carefully. Our Constitution gives us the right to a peaceful protest and the courts are there to resolve disputes.


By Manoj Dubey 
Principal (REtD.) Delhi Public School

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