The scenario within Punjab and its neighbourhood is now a matter of some concern. The pro-Khalistan outfit, Sikh for Justice, has taken responsibility for the daring rocket-propelled grenade attack on the Intelligence headquarters in Mohali, Punjab, on Monday night. It has also claimed responsibility for the recent raising of the Khalistan flag at the Dharamshala assembly complex in Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh was in the spotlight after the state banned use of Khalistan flags on vehicles. The open advocacy for Khalistan through a social media post by a senior politician in Himachal, Harpreet Singh Bedi, has come as another provocation to the nation.
Curiously, the uptick in militancy in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh happens in the aftermath of the assembly polls, a change of government and the installation of an AAP government led by popular entertainer Bhagwant Singh Mann in Punjab. This does not however mean Mann or his government has anything to do with these offensives. Rather, the chief minister’s nationalistic credentials are beyond doubt. The AAP however cannot ignore the fact that Bedi was a former AAP leader. While the party is now set to stretch itself out to all-India level, its leader Arvind Kejriwal must be mindful as to whom he keeps company with. Notably, the pro-Khalistan elements have issued a threat to Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jairam Thakur that it would turn the assembly poll on June 6 into a Khalistan Referendum 20-20. All these are perhaps just kite-flying and things so far seem to be well under control.
Sikhs are among the most-patriotic of Indians, vouched also by their prominent presence in the Indian military services. The Sikh Regiment has always been India’s pride. Despite all these, the Khalistan movement sprouted in Punjab and played mayhem there for some years leading also to the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the consequent Delhi riots. Large numbers of Sikhs lost their lives. Thereafter, a sense of insecurity gripped the community and large numbers of its youths migrated to Canada, which is today Sikhs’ second home. Khalistan militancy was funded by sections of overseas Sikhs and more prominently by the ISI of Pakistan. They are still not tired. However, militancy is not a winning proposition anymore. The pro-Kashmiri outfits have learnt it the hard way; so did the Khalistanis. State power today is such that such offensives are bound to fail in the long run as had happened with the LTTE too. At best, they shed blood and made life miserable for some regions for some time.