Khalistan Issue

Context: The radicalistic threat appears to be raising its head again in Punjab. of this are already visible in areas of the globe where a sizeable concentration of the Sikh diaspora exists. The emergence of a self-styled Sikh extremist preacher, Amritpal Singh modelling himself on Bhindranwale of yore is, hence, to be seen at best as a cover for something that has deeper roots.

Dangerous consequences of ignorance:

  • The real cause for concern is that the current security dispensation does not appear to have learnt the right lessons from past mistakes. The Bhindranwale phenomenon was not a sudden development, which, if properly handled, could have been checkmated well before 1984, and the subsequent violence leading to ‘Operation Blue Star’ and the damage caused to Akal Takht avoided.
  • There is trend of galvanising the extremist fringe among the Sikh youth, including the Sikh diaspora in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. The ‘core group’ has been able to establish links with pro-Khalistan groups such as the ‘Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), the Babbar Khasla, and the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF)’. Hence, it would be a grave mistake to ignore what is happening.
  • All serious threats that have developed in the past was from misreading sentiments that remain unheeded by those in authority. Blaming the current violence on the drug mafia with links to Pakistan can at best be a proximate, but not the real cause.

Missing intelligence 

  • The over reliance on modern gadgetry and the portrayal of intelligence agencies in the celluloid world by employing futuristic weapons has derailed the real intelligence usage. Intelligence analysis has low priority today.
  •  The real world of intelligence demands hours of painstaking hard work in difficult conditions to pick up nuggets of information, which then have to be carefully assessed and analysed by experts.
  • In the present scenario the central and State intelligence agencies have missed signs of growing insecurity among sections of Sikh youth and discontent prevailing among the Sikh peasantry essentially over the decline in their economic conditions, as also the threat posed to the Sikh religion from conversions to other religions, such as Christianity.
  • The protest against the farm laws  was not merely a visible symbol of agrarian protest but also implicitly carried the seeds of self-determination that India believed it had put to rest by the late 1990s. What transpired in 2021 on the outskirts of the National Capital, thus was needed to be revisited to determine whether there were also other factors leading to the protests and violence.

What can be done?

  • Criticising foreign governments after the violent events took place, and resorting to ham-handed steps by way of retaliation will not help. India needs to effectively convince the rest of the world of the threat posed by radicalised forces such as the KLF and the SFJ.
  • India should not yield to the temptation of resorting to hard measures without understanding the true causes and join the ranks of nations that solely believe in strong-arm methods
  • India needs to find the ways and means to defeat the ‘siren call’ of radical extremists of every hue, whether they be Khalistanis or other kinds of extremists. 
  • India needs to steer between the extremes of the right and left, and ensure a greater sense of unity within the country, according due respect for individual dignity and human progress, and demonstrating leadership in the comity of nations.

To read more on the recent issue of Punjab crisis and the history of Khalistan issue( )

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