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Democracy V/s Dictatorship


Jun 1, 2004
Democracy v/s Dictatorship

In their rush to scribble newspaper articles arguing a line that the Indian state would love to hear, many journalists have succumbed to the temptation to compare Lal Masjid flushing out operation by the Pakistani commandoes to the Operation Bluestar attack on Golden Temple in Amritsar conducted by the Indian army and the state.

While we in the last edition of the WSN have made it clear how the two are as different as chalk and cheese, I am now on the very narrow subject of dealing with the body of the leader in the two cases.

It is all the more important and appropriate at this moment to discuss the issue since Sardar Apar Singh Bajwa, who the army tasked with identifying the body of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, has just died and this very issue of the WSN carries a detailed report on the man and his views.

The Operation Bluestar was conducted in the times of Doordarshan, while the Lal Masjid happened in times of hundred channels blooming. The electronic media in Pakistan is fast coming into its own and the coverage of Lal Masjid as also of the earlier confrontation between the judiciary and the executive have been milestones in the history of development of electronic media norms in Pakistan.

But we are currently on the role of the government and its various wings. If there was anyone who could have justifiably claimed the body of the Sant, it was either the Damdami Taksal that he headed, or his family. Alternatively, the government could have called any group of Sikh leaders, or scholars and handed over the body. It could also have put restrictions on the crowd at the cremation or ensured a private burial by the family or any chosen group. Instead, it asked a police officer to identify the body. The claims of others, of an entire community, were brushed aside. How many days it took the Sikhs and even the Damdami Taksal to actually come to the conclusion about the death of the Sant?

And for how long the people were prevented from visiting the Golden Temple? How did the Indian judiciary react to the way the Sant's body was disposed, or for that matter the bodies of all the innocents as well as militants who were admittedly killed inside the Golden Temple?

Now, for those hell bent on comparing the Lal Masjid with the Operation Bluestar, this is how the Pakistanis handled it. The remains of Maulana Ghazi were brought to Basti Abdullah from Islamabad by a helicopter after a dispute arose where to bury the dead body. Maulana Ghazi's will stated that he was to be buried in Islamabad.

Even though the government refused to
abide by the wish of the Maulana, on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered that the body of Maulana Ghazi should be buried as "amanat (for a temporary period)" in his native town, Rojhan Mazari, Rajanpur. It heard the plea of the sisters of Maulana Ghazi.

The two member bench of the apex court said that as the body has been taken away to the area, so it should be buried as ‘amanat', to be taken back to Islamabad at an appropriate time. The government even allowed the detained Maulana Abdul Aziz in leading the funeral prayers of his younger brother, though under stringent security arrangements.

Now come to think of it. Which court in India would have admitted a petition that fast to the effect that someone wanted the body of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to be cremated at a particular place? No one even bothered to approach India's justice dispensing machinery. It says a lot about Indian establishment and the Sikhs' faith in it.

For the record, Pakistan is a military dispensation,and India is the world's largestdemocracy. We rest our case.
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