Monday 26 October 2020

Killing of Dera Sacha Sauda leader is unleashing of historical Sikh psyche

- Posted on 24 June 2019

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, June 24: For those who attribute militant struggle that was triggered in 1978 to the conspiracy theory, the killing of Dera Sacha Sauda leader Mohinder Pal Bittu should be an example of the phenomenon of unleashing of  historical Sikh psyche.

It was this psyche that motivated Bhai Sukha Singh and Bhai Mehtab Singh to behead Amritsar governor Massa Rangar for defiling Golden Temple and take away his head to Budha Johad where the Sikhs were then camping to escape persecution.

It was this psyche that motivated an ordinary Sikh Ranjit Singh to gun down Nirankari chief Gurbachan Singh in Delhi on April 24, 1980 to avenge the Sikh-Nirankari clash on the Baisakhi of April 13, 1978 in Amritsar. He decided to take the revenge at his own and later sought logistical support from Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

It was this psyche that again inspired two ordinary Sikhs Beant Singh and Satwant Singh to kill Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 to avenge Operation Bluestar, the storming of the Golden Temple complex by the army in June 1984.

There are similarities at another level. Parkash Singh Badal, the chief minister from 1977 to 1980, was accused by the then Akali Dal senior leadership of not only soft-pedalling the Nirankaris but also protecting them.

It was Badal who insisted on the candidature of then revenue minister Jiwan Singh Umranangal in the SGPC elections in 1979 despite opposition from Akali Dal chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Sant Bhindranwale. This was the situation that dictated the decision of Sant Bhindranwale to put up Amrik Singh. Sant Bhindranwale was willing to withdraw from election provided Umranangal was not the candidate. The Punjab Congress extended support to Sant Bhindranwale mainly to take advantage of the situation in that was not of his making.

That is a long history.

Now the same Badal has been accused of being in cahoots with Dera Sacha Sauda for seeking political support in elections as this sect has sizeable following in parts of Malwa. The narrative relating to sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 during Badal regime is being probed at various levels.

Mohinder Pal Bittu was arrested after the change of government in Punjab for his alleged role in the cases of sacrilege. He was suspected to be the main instrument. Some vital links in the chain are missing as the three remaining main accused have gone underground. The probe would make further progress with their arrest.

There is yet another parallel. Gurbachan Singh was killed after his acquittal by the court and the decision of the Punjab government against filing the appeal. The court had delivered the judgment  when Badal was still the chief minister. He showed no urgency in clearing the file  that had been moved to file appeal. His government was dismissed and the Governor decided against filing of appeal.

In the present case, the probe made no progress during the Badal regime. The progress in the case is slow.

Now two convicts in Nabha jail acted to target Mohinder Pal and the details would emerge later. However, both are Sikhs. They killed him with  an iron rod.

An accused is not guilty until and unless proved otherwise. However, it is the perception that matters in such cases. Revenge psyche has its own logic.

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