It is the 32nd anniversary of Operation Bluestar (June 6) and Punjab is keeping its fingers crossed, wishing the day passes off peacefully. Every year the state gets tense on this occasion for the episode having left an unforgettable unfoturnate impact on the social, economic, political and religious affairs of Punjab in 1984. This time, when the state has come much close to the Assembly polls, scheduled to be held just a few months from now on, the anniversary assumes special significance. Reason: People in Punjab have seen many disturbing developments over the last one year and all this clubbed together has aggravated the situation.
On then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s orders, the Indian Army conducted Operation Bluestar to flush out terror group from the Golden Temple in 1984. While the official death toll has been pegged at 492, human rights groups see the number much higher. Army had also lost numerous officials in the operation with also hundreds of soldiers sustaining injuries. Though the bloodshed paralysed hundreds of families in the state, the damage to Akal Takht Sahib in the operation pained the Sikh community more than anything else for it being the Sikhs’ highest temporal seat. The resentment against the damage to the complex is still there in the hearts of a huge section of the society. Notably, the party in power as well as those in the opposition all admit this fact–overtly or covertly.
The ‘pain-resentment’ was so high in the hearts that just a few weeks after the operation, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, which further triggered anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and some other parts, followed by a dark period of militancy in Punjab. As violence is generally against the interest of the society, everyone suffered loss, in terms of finance, family and all other spheres related to a human being. Though the situation came under control after years’ struggle, the wounds which everyone suffered are still need a proper healing touch.
However, it’s the irony of the system that a variety of people, including politicians, have started exploiting the things for vested reasons. Rather than taking the society forward, if one political group accuses other of having played key role in enticing society against Sikhs and also launching Army attack on their Supreme Shrine, the other group comes up with counter accusation of patronising the militants. However, the fact is that the black chapter of history, which also swallowed various politicians, still being exploited by politicians for settling scores with each other.
Ironically, none of them minds picking leafs out of that painful memoir to touch the sentiments of the society, with a clear motive to encash them in the shape of votes. It is also not incorrect if one says that the things were relatively not so aggressive in the past one decade but Punjab has witnessed a build-up of religious tension in the state during the last one year, which is now at its peak. It started with a series of incidents of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib. The holy book was stolen from gurdwara at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village in Faridkot district last year, which made the radical Sikh leaders to come out with their provocative speeches and agitations.
The situation turned worse when more than 110 pages of the Guru Granth Sahib were found lying on the streets at Bargadi village. Within days, almost every part of the state witnessed such incidents and public then responded to the attacks with massive outcry and protests. Two persons were killed and several injured when police opened fire on protestors near Behbal Kalan village in Faridkot further fuelling the unrest. Amidst demands for the imposition of President’s Rule, a large number of Akali politicians, a Congress MLA and even the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) resigned from their positions in protest over the failure of system to protect the holy books.
The matter reached with CBI but the premier agency also failed to trace the accused and announced cash reward for the informers. Furthermore disturbing, the desecration incidents also led to various more serious developments, including the by-election of Khadoor Sahib Assembly segment and organisation of radicals Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba village in Amritsar, where the hardliners also went on appointing their own Jathedars of three Takht Sahibs including Akal Takht, challenging the authority of Akal Takht and SGPC. Amid all this, a recent murderous attack on Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala also led to another controversy, in which Damdami Taksal chief Harnam Singh Dhumma also got involved.
Things are all very painful as these are again making people recall the black days of history, the wounds of which are not yet properly healed up. Some serious efforts would have to be put to kill the terror among the hearts of the masses with engaging everyone into developmental things. Observing the events and recalling the things happened in past is not wrong rather sometimes the assemblage gives soothing touch to the wounds but if it all disturbs the future then certainly all need to think about it. Society will have to stand up against the nefarious designs of anti-social people and putting up a united face we all have to express the desire to move ahead, leaving the blackened part behind, for the sake of our coming generations.
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