Amarinder and BJP provide legitimacy to Sikh Referendum 2020 campaign

Chandigarh, July 9: Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh and the some leaders in the state unit of the Right wing Bharatiya Janata Party are providing legitimacy to the  US based one man organisation known as Sikhs for Justice that has launched Sikh Referendum 2020 campaign. That this organisation does not have a single front man in Punjab, the home land of the Sikhs,  even to put up its posters needs no comment as it had to hire a Mohali based ad agency to put up its banners to which the BJP launched the campaign. This has come out from the arrests made by the Punjab police.

Capt Amarinder Singh had rightly ignored such posters when questioned at a news conference in Chandigarh but within hours, changed his stand and ordered action. He seems to have been arm twisted by the vote bank politics as the Hindus by and large had voted his party to power in Punjab in February 2017 Assembly elections and the next trial of strength would be the Lok Sabha polls in 2019. The vote bank has to be kept intact. In the process, it is the SFJ that has been getting undue publicity and legitimacy.

It is pertinent to mention that peacefully demanding Khalistan, or for that matter secession, is no crime going by the Supreme Court verdicts that have been quoted subsequently by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Supreme Court verdict goes back to 1995.

The BJP needs to go into these verdicts.

At another level, it is strange that this biggest democracy in the world shakes even  when nobodies raise such demands that is now allowed under the Supreme Court verdict. This biggest democracy should be further strengthened in practice to absorb shocks at its own. But unfortunately, it is getting converted to lynch democracy and the climate for that has been created during the last two years.

One has to go back to June 19, 2015 in the context of Sikh Referendum 2020 campaign as it was on that day that the All India Sikh Students Federation headed by Karnail Singh Peermohammad announced that it would launch awareness campaign about right to self-determination and holding of referendum in Punjab. The announcement to this effect was made by Peermohammad at Moga. None took any notice of it.

He had announced support to this campaign with reference to Sikh for Justice call for Sikh Referendum 2020.
And on June 6, 2017, he declared, “ Our motto is Ballot Not Bullet…The indigenous people of Punjab should have the final say on the issue of Sovereignty of Punjab. We will set up camps in every district to educate the masses as how to achieve the Sikh Sovereignty in a peaceful manner”.

This was at Amritsar when “hundreds of Sikh activists wearing T-Shirts of Shaheed Sant Bhindranwale carrying logo of AISSF marched from Gurdwara Shaheedan to Akal Takhat Sahib supporting demand of Separate state for Sikhs.”

He is quoted to have declared, “Sikhs have gone through genocidal violence at the hands of the Indian government starting from June 1984 army invasion of Golden Temple and now sovereignty of Punjab is the only acceptable solution”.

However, all hell broke loose for the BJP when couple of posters carrying forward the Sikh referendum campaign were put up at some places in the state.

Under mature democracies, referendum is something normal. Scotland has exercised this option twice in United Kingdom. India continues with the colonial laws like sedition enacted by the British rulers. And that very country allows referendum to the states.

Then there is the example of Canada where Quebec province opted for referendum. Such examples are numerous. When Capt Amarinder Singh objects to Khalistanis in Canada, he overlooks this fact that those democracies allow such ventilating of steam.  Resorting to conflict resolution through violence is different that no country would tolerate.

None in Punjab had taken notice of SFJ posters till the BJP objected. None should be happier that Gurpatwant Singh Pannun with whom the SFJ is associated. Its only claim to fame earlier was filing cases against Indian leaders visiting USA and Canada for human rights violations.

Jagtar Singh


Read more