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India Building A Memorial For Those Who Died In Operation Bluestar Would Not Serve Any Purpose

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Sunday, 10 June 2012 22:33 Amitabh shukla - Senior Editor, The Pioneer, Chandigarh

Building a memorial for those who died in Operation Bluestar would not serve any purpose

It seems there is a conspiracy of silence in Punjab. It was this silence by those at the helm which led to a secessionist movement in the State not long ago. The nation bore the tragic consequences with thousands perishing in the violence which engulfed the State for a decade and a half.

Now again, by acts of omission and commission and glossing over a situation which has the potential of creating trouble, the foundation stone laying ceremony to build a memorial for those killed in Operation Bluestar was allowed in Amritsar. The symbolic move, which has the support of the Sikh clergy, could snowball into an issue which could trigger trouble in the State, if not immediately, then in near future.

This is not a kind of symbolism which the State and the country can afford at this juncture when peace is still fragile and fringe elements active and looking for an opportunity to foment trouble.

Killing of a Chief Minister and over a dozen innocent people along with him was also sought to be given legitimacy at the same time. Balwant Singh Rajoana, the assassin of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh who is awaiting an imminent death sentence in Patiala Jail, was given the title of “Zinda Shaheed’ (living martyr). Honouring Rajoana by the five head priests can lead to only one conclusion. Killing people, including a Chief Minister, for a cause, however misplaced it may be, is justified if it has the backing of the religions leadership.

There was frenzy all over Punjab when a lower court in Chandigarh directed that Rajoana be hanged in March this year, soon after the Akali Dal-BJP Government came to power for the second time in a row. There were protests in several cities, an intensive campaign on the Internet was launched, the hardliners came into picture, the political leadership supported the killer, the Sikh clergy came out in open support and the entire establishment wanted the hanging to be deferred.

Personally, I am also against death sentence. Simply, because it is irrevocable and in the case of Rajoana the entire process of law had not played itself out. This means that after the lower court awards death sentence, it goes to the High Court and if rejected, it goes to the Supreme Court. Finally the matter goes to the President of the country for clemency and if rejected, only then death sentence can be executed. This did not happen in the case of Rajoana.

But a memorial for those who died in Operation Bluestar of 1984 is obviously an entirely different matter. By building a memorial, the perpetrators of violence are being given a legitimacy which will affect an entire generation. By this act, you are portraying the soldiers who laid down their lives and the Indian State which ordered the operation as villains. Will anyone deny that arms of all hues were stored in a religious place and it was nothing else but waging a war against the nation. And mind you, these were not traditional arms, spears, swords, bows and arrows but modern killing machines.

Police officials who fought terrorism throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s say that all the ingredients of radicalisation and militancy exist in the State even today. They cite mixing of religion and politics, increasing relevance of the radical groups and their new role as lobbyists for the radical cause and a hostile neighbour as factors which could help revive the embers which were doused after great efforts. Unemployment on a large scale, drug abuse, diminishing returns from agriculture and the failure to bring in the second green revolution could be the other contributory factors.

What has added fuel to fire in recent months and years is the reach of social networking sites and the new media through which radicalisation is taking place at a much faster pace. Such a powerful medium did not exist in the 1980s and early 90s and clearly intelligence and police officials are worried about its impact.

There are hundreds of websites, blogs and Facebook pages which extol the terrorists of yesteryears and carry their pictures, life sketches and glorify their acts of terror, portraying the Government in extremely poor light. The Government can do little about it as they are hosted from foreign countries and even if you ban one, they change the domain name and appear again. There are websites which ask for

donations for the cause of a separate State and even ask for as little as $5 as contribution. The case of Rajoana was fought not only through official channels but also through the cyber world where a few thousand “liked” the page on the assassin and added their comments on it.

Rajoana’s case was not an isolated one. There were several other incidents in the recent past which clearly suggested that the radicals can mobilise the people of Punjab with little or no effort. Controversy on the voting rights of the Sehejdhari Sikhs last year, killing of Sant Ramanand of Dera Sachkhand in Vienna in 2009 and before that the controversy involving Dera Sacha Sauda’s Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim in 2007 led to widespread disturbance.

The radical elements are waiting on the fringes as the Shiromani Akali Dal occupies the main political space in the state. But overlooking the warning signals could prove to be counterproductive and it is here that the ruling party in Punjab will have to be on guard.

There is a section which believes in the “safety valve theory” insisting that the Akali Dal allowed the foundation stone laying ceremony for the 1984 memorial and tacitly supported some other similar developments so that tempers do not run high and the radicals find an outlet to express themselves through the “official channels”. Even if that is the case, it cannot be taken too far lest it gets out of control. Many believe that Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was a creation of the Congress to counter the Akalis in state politics. He soon had a dedicated following of his own and the consequences were disastrous.

There have been voices of dissent, both from the Congress and the BJP against the proposed memorial. Even the Akali Dal has distanced itself from it though an overwhelming number of SGPC members were elected on its ticket and the SGPC President is always an Akali nominee. Several intellectuals of the state too have come out against radicalisation, citing the past experience and the accompanying turmoil.

Playing with fire leaves you with burnt fingers. A line has to be drawn and clearly the Akali Dal has to take a lead.

(The writer is Senior Editor, The Pioneer, Chandigarh)

source: http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-e...time-to-look-beyond-memorials-in-punjab-.html

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
The most unbalanced and extremist viewpoint so far expressed...the writer never mentioned that to be fair first of all remove all memorials to Indira, Rajiv, Beant etc. Why are those allowed ? The Dera Ballan is a divisive force created for violence and separatism...AGAINST Mainstream Sikhi...
Nov 23, 2010
The author also fails to mention the systematic, cultural, religious, and actually genocide perpetrated against the sikhs since before independence as a possible cause of this unrest.
As U.S. born decendant of vikings living in Mexico,though now a Sikh myself, I have no vested interest in Khalistan. As a somewhat of a history buff I don't understand why It doesn't exist already. Sikhs had and still have more of a claim to a seperate nation than even the muslims did. What has happened and continues in India reminds me of the Spanish Inquistion. The inquistion used religion as a tool to force a nationalist agenda. The message was the same for Jews and Muslims then as it is for Sikhs today. Assimilate or die.


Jan 29, 2011
Vancouver, Canada
A image shared on FB said that after Jallian Wala bagh incident, the British helped in giving back the dead, identified them and paid some monetary amount. But even that didn't help ease the situation. And here the government is attacking with tanks what should have been a protected cultural monument, killing innocent civillians, cremating everyone as unidentified or terrorist, denying their genocidal actions and expect Sikhs to forget their history.



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