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

Opinion Politics Keeps Violence Alive In Punjab: Prof Manjit Singh

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Politics keeps violence alive in Punjab: Prof Manjit Singh

The Daily Pioneer
January 11, 2011

Baninder Rahin - Chandigarh

Prof Manjit Singh is a known sociologist of the region, and currently teaches at the country’s leading seat of learning — Panjab University (PU). He looks at the problem of violence in Punjab more as a political issue than something which is rooted in the State’s socio-economic divides. He says that society is a well-knit unit of relationships. "It is we the people who disturb the social structure and indulge in violence for material satisfaction and fulfillment.

"It is the political interest that creates unrest in Punjab. The people of the State are the most peace loving lot in the country, but politicians of different hues do not want them to live in peace," said Prof Singh, while talking to The Pioneer on the issue of recurrence of violence in the State. Here are excerpts:

Violence keeps Punjab haunting throughout the year

That is unfortunate. I blame the State’s political class for promoting violence. It is our politicians, who keep violence alive in the State for their own vested interests. Otherwise violence is not a part of our society. From terrorism to today’s violence, I solely blame the political class for Punjab’s social woes.

How do you look at the social fabric of Punjab?

If one talks about the social fabric, our society is still largely embedded into rural culture despite all sort of modernisation or what we call westernisation. Till date primordial identities of the people are caste and religion and they play a great role in our life. At the level of market or consumption, we all have become Americans but at societal structure we are still traditional. This is a fact and I must say that.

Consumerism is at peak. If one takes into consideration relationships, then we become choosy. At the time of conflict, the like minded people join together to fight for the cause. The rest political institutions existing in the society are working at the larger scale and hence constitute a major part of the social fabric. In a nutshell, I must say that Punjab’s social fabric is still receptive to ideas, though traditional ethos and values are respected.

Why sectoral violence reoccurs in Punjab?

I denounce violence of any hue and taking place in any forms. All sects or religion have their own followers in every socio-eco order, which means that along with political instigation, material basis works here. Conflict occurs when the material interest of one sect acts against others. There is a potential basis that can be triggered with this. Take any religion, sect or identity, everything is politicised. Later, these political dimensions get converted into economic terms which further ruin and intensify things. So what I said can be taken as reasons for what happened recently in Bhikhi in Mansa in Punjab.

Do you think that people of Punjab maintain zero tolerance against any interference or criticism of their religion or faith?

As I said earlier, one must understand that we are living in a different world order today. Reaction is more to do with cultural psychology which is paradoxical majority of the time. But one thing is true in the case of Punjabis that they forgive big losses if the opponent is polite. If he is not so, then they do not hesitate to fight even for the smallest thing. Even if you read Prof Puran Singh, even he says that Punjabis are very strange community. It is not negative all the time. But yes, when political angle comes in, they get more intensified unnecessarily. It is then religion is used as politics and brings divide in the community. Culturally, we are one.

Such violence does not seem to be the law and order problem?

When such violence occurs, it turns into the problem of law and order. It is the alienation of a particular sect from a State or from other existing communities. It ultimately gives rise to the problem of law and order. One can say that it is one of the consequences of violence.

Do you agree that it was such acts of religious interference or intolerance which was responsible for the rise of terrorism in Punjab?

If you look in retrospect or before and during emergency period, it was the leftist approach and student unions initiatives to fight over real issues. That time the communists were very eager and the youths of those days used to get motivated by the ideologies. As people were more group centric and were responsible, they loved to become revolutionaries. It is the high positioned people who link them to religion or caste. What is asked in the question can be taken as a reason up to one extent. Now things have taken other dimensions.

Do you think that political centric violence can survive for long?

It is difficult to give a definitive answer in this regard. Conflict and politics do go side by side in many places. So far as Indian or Punjab’s society is concerned, I do not think the political merchants of violence can log success for all the time to come. People are becoming more and more development oriented. Violence is loved by none. I am hopeful for a social order in Punjab which is more accommodative, responsive and sensible and humane in approach.


May 2007: Violence broke out in several Punjab towns following clashes between the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikh organisations over a controversial advertisement featuring sect head Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim as Guru Gobind Singh. Bathinda, Amritsar, Patiala, Jalandhar and several other cities were on boil for several days.

May 2009: Several coaches of trains were torched at Jalandhar Cantonment a top leader of Dera Sach Khand sect Sant Rama Nand succumbed to his bullet injuries in Vienna. The Dalit Sikh community came out on the street in a large number in Punjab’s Doaba belt leaving life in Jalandhar, Phagwara, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr affected.

December 2009: The migrant labourers protested against the failure of the police to register cases in connection with three incidents of snatching of cash from them. Their protest turned violent in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and other parts of Punjab

February 2010: Violence erupted in different parts of Punjab after the supporters Dera Sacha Sauda sect protested against the registration of another murder case against their spiritual leader Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.

January 2011: Curfew had to be clamped in Bhikhi town of Mansa district after a group of Sikhs clashed with the followers of another Sikh religious outfit and damaged at least six vehicles, injuring many police personnel.

source: http://www.dailypioneer.com/309706/Politics-keeps-violence-alive-in-Punjab-Prof-Manjit-Singh.html



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