Akali Dal can’t escape accountability for Modi government actions on Sikh issues

Chandigarh, June 15: Being part of the Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party government at the centre, here is yet another issue that seeks answers from the Akali Dal.

It is related to the most tragic chapter of the Sikh history during the last more than 100 years and it was the storming of the Golden Temple complex by the army code named Operation Bluestar in the first week of June, 1984 using tanks and artillery to what was said to flush out armed men holed up there under the command of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

This army action has been part of every electoral discourse in Punjab since then.  However, the Akali Dal, despite being in power in Punjab four times since 1985, has not clarified even the number of deaths in that operation.

Now the alliance government at the centre has put in application in the court to block even compensation to some innocents who were arrested from the Golden Temple complex and later detained in Jodhpur jail.

An Amritsar court had last year granted Rs 4 lakh compensation each to 40 such detainees who had filed a petition to this effect.

The Akali Dal-BJP government at the centre has challenged this relief in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and that too on technical ground. This government has clubbed these detainees who were innocent devotees with ‘terrorists’.

Going by the reports in the media, the government has extended the logic that the Golden Temple was not even attacked by the security forces and that the terrorists had entrenched themselves in an around the Golden Temple complex.

One can tend to agree that the sanctum sanctorum was not targeted by the security forces. However, Akal Takht is part the Golden Temple complex.

And further, the Golden Temple was not attacked but the Bir of Guru Granth Sahib installed on the first floor was hit by bullet. Then these are joust technical issues.

This journalist who was part of the group of media persons airlifted by the army a few days after the operation had covered with the only piece of cloth lying there that was blood soaked. This is part of the bitter memories.

The Akali Dal can’t absolve itself of such sensitive decisions of the Modi government. The issue is not just the compensation for these innocent detainees. The larger issue is that of the attitude of the BJP government at the centre of which the Akali Dal is the part to this most sensitive issue concerning the religio-political dynamics of the Sikhs.

It is the Congress government that had taken this extreme step at that time but the present government seems to be following that very line broadly.

It is now too well known that majority of those who were killed by the security forces were innocent devotees and so were majority of the detainees. This is the issue that should have been clarified by the Akali Dal as alliance partner earlier in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government and now in the Modi government.

Not even one issue rooted in dynamics of Operation Bluestar has been settled by the Akali Dal with the centre. This includes the Sikh reference library.


Jagtar Singh


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