• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

A New Sheath

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
politics: punjab

A New Sheath
The Badals win over some ex-Khalistanis

Chander Suta Dogra - Outlookindia

Radical Change

  • Those who once supported the Khalistan cause are now allying with mainstream parties like SAD
  • Seminary that Bhindranwale once headed now supports SAD; in exchange, former ‘militants’ are being handed plum posts.
  • SAD is trying to keep radicals away from the Congress
  • Hardliners say greed has softened some of their colleagues

A strange realignment of forces is under way on the political landscape of Punjab. Radical Sikhs (read Khalistanis) who were once led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale have for the first time in nearly two decades joined hands with the moderate Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), led by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

As the Khalistan movement ebbed in 1990s, radical organisations like the Damdami Taksal (the seminary once headed by Bhindranwale) and groups owing allegiance to his nephew Jasbir Singh Rode withdrew slowly to the fringes, and over the years, the Badal-led SAD came to power repeatedly on the strength of its new identity as a Punjabi, rather than a Sikh, party. However, the radicals and SAD continued to take potshots at each other. But a few days back, Badal provoked much surprise by announcing that the Damdami Taksal, headed by Harnam Singh Dhumma and Rode, would be supporting SAD in the forthcoming elections to the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the cash-rich body that controls gurudwaras and other Sikh institutions, and also in the assembly elections.

The quid pro quo was immediately apparent. Gurdeep Singh, a former ‘militant’ of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF), was recently appointed vice-chairman of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation, a state government body, while Gurmukh Singh, a Rode loyalist, is now the head granthi of the Akal Takht. Earlier, the SGPC had amended the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar at the behest of SAD, going by suggestions from Dhumma of the Damdami Taksal. And the dress code for sewadars at the Golden Temple complex has been changed from yellow to blue, again a suggestion from the Damdami Taksal. Is political expediency turning the hawks into doves or making the doves befriend the hawks? A little of both, it seems.

“The aim, it seems, is to prevent radical groups from joining the Congress-backed Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (DSGPC),” says G.S. Lamba, the editor of Sant Sipahi, a journal of the community. “If the alliance holds, SAD will be saved the ignominy of further erosion of its Sikh vote bank.” In recent years, both SAD and SGPC, which the former controls, have been receiving flak from hardline Sikhs in India and abroad for dilution of its Sikh-centric ideology and for not doing enough to prevent the peasantry from drifting to the deras. After all, control of the SGPC, and through it, other Sikh institutions, is vital to Punjab politics.

So is it a return to panthic politics for SAD? When asked about the bonhomie with a baiter like Rode, Badal says he’ll welcome anyone who believes in the ideology and policies of his party. Rode and Taksal leaders have so far only offered support; they aren’t joining SAD. But negotiations are on for the SGPC elections and the Rode camp hopes to settle for one-third of the seats. “We have realised that over the years, when we opposed SAD, it only benefited the anti-Sikh Congress,” says a Rode aide. “We’d like to now work within the democratic system to fight for Sikh rights.”

But hardliners like Prof Gurtej Singh say the “so-called radicals” are only succumbing to the spoils of political power. “The Dhumma faction in the Taksal had given up politics after Bhindranwale’s death. Now, they have taken the easy route to political survival.”

source: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?266860


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
This article IMHO merits very detailed replies, considering the 1000 ways that the separatist movements have taken new incarnations in the past 20 years. And considering the 100 ways that political insurgency can be scripted. Somewhere in this picture there are "good guys." Somewhere in this picture money is changing hands. Somewhere in this picture there is a lot of fear and apathy. Somewhere in this picture some people have no shame. Somewhere in this picture there are those who are trying to be truthful and constructive. Somewhere in this picture some individuals are going to jail and worse.

Now let me ask one question.

Has anyone noticed how the panthic organizations have decried RSS and hindutva influences on the practice of Sikhism, yet continue to support the current leadership in SGPC and Akal Takht? This paints a picture of political double-speak working hand in hand with political naivete.



📌 For all latest updates, follow the Official Sikh Philosophy Network Whatsapp Channel: