Sukhbir must press Modi to order judicial probe into Congress role in Punjab militancy

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, November 19: With Akali Dal chief and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal forcefully raking up the alleged role of the Congress in aiding and abetting militancy in Punjab beginning 1980s in the context of yesterday’s grenade attack on Nirankari Bhavan near Rajasansi in Amritsar, it is high time that promise made by the Akali Dal in its manifesto for 1996 Lok Sabha election to order judicial probe into militancy that rocked the state for a decade and a half should be re-visited to bring out the truth.

Here is the very first promise made by the Akali Dal in 1996 manifesto: “Shiromani Akali Dal is for a probe by a Commission comprising Supreme Court judges to probe the role of the Congress in encouraging fissiparous and secessionist tendencies and terrorism  so that the misuse of the unbridled power, exploitation, loot and  excesses are put to an end forever”. This promise was repeated in 1997 common minimum programme for Assembly election released by Akali Dal and its alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party.

The party has been extending very weak arguments as to why Parkash Singh Badal backtracked from this promise in August 1997 after taking over as the chief minister. Badal completed three full terms as the chief minister since then but never took any step to come out with the truth.

Sukhbir today squarely blamed Rahul Gandhi, the Gandhi family and Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for the Rajasansi blast while referring to the role of the Congress in aiding and abetting ‘terrorism’ earlier ‘25’ years back.

He perceived the same design being implemented, this time in league with Bargari Insaaf Morcha leaders Dhian Singh Mand and Baljit Singh Daduwal. The Bargari agitation is for punishment to the guilty of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and the related cases in 2015 when Badal was the chief ministers. Badals are facing the SIT probe in these cases.

Daduwal, in turn, while calling for thorough probe into yesterday’s attack that he strongly condemned, blamed Dera Sacha Sauda, Sukhbir and his brother-in-law and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia. He offered total cooperation in the probe.

Punjab is getting vitiated by this blame game.

However, the political class should not get away by just levelling allegations and counter-allegations.

The Badal government  went back on the promise to expose Congress hand in Punjab militancy. Now Sukhbir has revived the same narrative.

Akali Dal is part of the government at the centre with Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat Kaur being a minister in cabinet rank in the government headed by Narendra Modi. The time with the Modi government, of course, is too short.

However, it would be logical to order judicial probe by a judicial commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court into all aspects of militancy beginning with the Sikh-Nirankari clash of April 13, 1978. It continues to be mystery as to on whose orders then Nirankari chief Gurbachan Singh was escorted out of Punjab after that clash. He was present on the stage for at least two hours after the clash in which 13 Sikhs, three Nirankaris and two passers-by were killed.

Full facts of the 1978 clash have never come out. the chief minister at that time was Parkash singh Badal.

If the Congress and the Gandhi family are involved in putting Punjab on fire again, this should be the first priority of this probe.

Sukhbir also referred to some pictures displayed at the Bargari stage. One of the pictures is that of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale whose memorial has been raised in the Golden Temple complex. This memorial was cleared by Badal like all other decisions taken by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

Let the truth prevail and Sukhbir Singh Badal should take the initiative to get high level probe ordered beginning April, 1978. Punjab has already suffered too much, about 50,000 people having been killed during that period. The killings continue, belying the claim of the state being peaceful.

Jagtar Singh


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