The BJP-led NDA Government is proud of its decision to release eight Sikh prisoners and remove the names of 312 Sikh foreign nationals from the blacklist in the wake of 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
In reality, it’s anything but a matter of pride.
There’s no doubt that Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a Messenger of God, who inspired millions with his spiritual beliefs. There’s also no doubt that his teachings on equality, goodness, and fraternal love are needed today more than ever. Moreover, the idea of grandiosely commemorating the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism’s founder across the globe is admirable.
But when you exploit the teachings of such a great spiritual enlightener for political gains, it becomes cringe-worthy, rather than praiseworthy.
It was uncannily striking enough when the government decided to open a visa-free corridor to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan (something that I wouldn’t have endorsed, even if it was a Hindu temple). Now, by granting a special dispensation to Sikh prisoners, the government is setting a bad precedent and sending a wrong message to religious radicals and aggressors.
Soon, other religions may follow suit. And if that happens, will the government agree to the demand of Muslims to release Muslim prisoners on the occasion of Eid? And will it release Hindu prisoners on Diwali? After all, why let the inmates remain confined to the high walls of the prisons based on religion?
Note that had there been a Congress government in the centre and had it released Muslim prisoners, the BJP would have surely created a chaos in the country.
Perhaps, most telling point of this decision is how commuting the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana is no cause of concern for the government. Let’s not forget that he is a member of the banned terror group Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), and was convicted for killing the former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.
As a Punjabi Hindu, I can vouch for the fact that Beant Singh’s assassination has been an irreparable loss for the people of Punjab. We lost the man who was accredited with stamping out militancy from Punjab along with the super-cop Late KPS Gill.
So, when the BJP government decides to spare terrorists disregarding your so-called tough stand on terrorism, it reeks of sheer humbug. It shows that it’s all okay with keeping the nation’s security at stake as long as it’s winning the hearts of Sikhs, who constitute 60 percent of the population in Punjab.
The government has also ignored the fact that Punjab, being a bordered state, is highly vulnerable. At a time when India and Pakistan relations have already hit rock bottom, releasing hardliners is like playing with fire.
ISI’s K2 Plan vs. Releasing Sikh Prisoners
While the world was celebrating Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October, which is also observed as International Day of Non-Violence, Punjab was once again dealing with a form of violence. A Khalistani terrorist from Amritsar was arrested on the same day for destroying a Pakistani drone and selling two pistols that were airdropped.
There is no denying that Pakistan has always used Khalistan as a tool to strike terror in India. And with recent cases of drones being used by Pakistan to drop the consignments of arms and ammunition in India through bordering areas of Punjab, this casual approach towards releasing Sikh hardliners and playing with the nation’s security needs to be resisted at all costs.
Over the past month, Pakistani-origin drones have dropped at least 80 kg of weapons, which include AK-47 assault rifles and grenades.
The ISI’s ‘K2’ (Kashmir & Khalistan) plan to exploit sentiments in Kashmir and Punjab is in full bloom. And to make matters worse, the Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) group has been aggressively pushing for “Referendum 2020”, which aims at seeking a separate homeland (Khalistan) for Sikhs in Punjab.
The Vote Bank Malady
Although the BJP government has brilliantly championed the cause of Kashmiri Pandits and rightly so, forgetting Punjab’s Hindus who lost their lives and homes to extremists during the Punjab militancy era is beyond the pale.
More important, unlike the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus in 1989 and 1990, nobody talked about the Khalistani terrorists mercilessly gunning down over 20,000 Hindus in Punjab during the insurgency.
It quickly became the elephant in the room. Why?
That’s because the Congress, who had already upset Sikhs after the 1984 riots, didn’t want to complicate matters further and decided to stay on the sidelines. And the BJP joined hands with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), who had a crucial role in Operation Blue Star.
The opposition never failed to blame Indira Gandhi for the emergence of Bhindranwale. And the Sikhs never forgave Indira for the army-led Operation Blue Star to flush out militants from the Golden Temple – one of their holiest shrines. But nobody calls out on the Akalis who helped Bhindranwale to live and hide in the Golden Temple. After all, how else did he get an entry into the premises of the Golden Temple and Guru Nanak Niwas without the permission of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Akalis?
They say Indira Gandhi and the Indian Army desecrated the sanctity of Akal Takht. But was it not an act of sacrilege when Bhindranwale and his Naxalite militia treated this shrine as a hideout and gradually transformed it into a fortress?
Was it not an act of disrespect when a holy place was becoming a sanctuary for terrorists with various arms and ammunition including machine guns, sten guns, and hand grenades?
Was the purity of Darbar Sahib not defiled many were tortured and extorted, innocent lives were taken, and women were raped – all within the complex of one of the world’s most sacred sites?
As a Punjabi, I truly believe that had Bhindrawalan been in the Durgiana Mandir, Hindus would have accepted the government’s decision. Because nation is above religion.
Unfortunately, our political parties can’t and won’t let religion separate from politics.
Following in the long tradition of appeasement politics, the Union Home Ministry has decided to reopen seven anti-Sikh riot cases. With Delhi Assembly elections and Punjab Assembly elections in the offing, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
Learn from the past, don’t ignore it
Instead of being cautious of its moves to open the Kartarpur Corridor and releasing Sikh hardliners, the BJP seems occupied with using religion as a poll plank.
It looks like the party has forgotten history. Let’s recall the 1999 IC-814 hijacking. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his BJP-led government were forced to release three terrorists imprisoned in Indian jails to save the lives of over 180 passengers and crew who were on board the hijacked plane. One of the terrorists released was Masood Azhar, Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, who was behind the 2019 Pulwama attack.
I understand that the government was under compulsion to release terrorists in 1999, but what’s the obligation now? Why to put the national security in jeopardy once again?
And it’s even sadder to see the Punjab State government supporting this decision. It lost its tallest leader, Indira Gandhi to Khalistani extremism. This 30th October, it will be 35 years to lose Indira Gandhi. It also lost Beant Singh to Khalistani extremism. In fact, Punjab lost an entire generation to Khalistan militancy sponsored by the ISI.
But clearly, Congress hasn’t learnt anything from its past.
It’s not about Sikh, Muslim, or Hindu. It never was. It’s about keeping religion separate from politics. It’s about thinking for the greater good of humanity.
As said by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the God is One.
So, to celebrate his 550th birth anniversary, nothing will be a gift better than protecting the entire humanity and safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty by not releasing hardliners who are a threat to the security of the nation.
And I am sure, Sikhs will agree, for they are the warriors who have saved the oppressed time and again. They are the ones who have fought for Hindus the most. They are the ones who have always stood tall against all warmongers who suppress others.
And, a few fringe elements can’t negatively influence the brave and patriotic Sikh community founded by one of the world’s greatest spiritual and religious leaders