Five arrested in Punjab for putting up Khalistan posters
Mansa district police chief Narinder Bhargav said that the
posters, containing seditious material spreading hatred among
religious communities, were noticed in the towns of Bhikhi, and
Budladha and nearby villages in the early hours of Monday,
Just a few months after he was hand-picked by Punjab's Deputy
Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to be the state's director
general of police (DGP), Sumedh Singh Saini and Badal seem to be
on a different page on whether terrorism is reviving in the state.
The DGP recently told the media that Punjab Police had
intelligence reports about attempts by certain quarters to revive
terrorism in the state. This was quite contrary to the one made by
his boss. Less than three months ago, in October, Badal had
categorically stated that "there was not a single case of
militancy in the state".
In fact, Badal went a step further and blamed the main opposition
Congress for "intentionally raising the bogey of militancy on the
eve of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections".
"Raising the issue of militancy, especially before any elections,
is the old experiment in the political laboratory of the Congress
party and the intelligent electorate is now mature enough to see
through the party's divisive games," Badal had said.
Badal added that he, as home minister, was "fully committed to
maintaining peace and tranquillity in the state and would not
allow the Congress party to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in
It is another matter that, by Badal's own admission, Punjab Police
"arrested 184 militants during the last six years and five
militants surrendered due to intense operations".
Badal stated that 21 militants were arrested in Punjab in 2007, 32
in 2008, 52 in 2009, 58 in 2010, 11 in 2011 and 10 (up to Sept 30)
But last week, Saini told the media: "We have reports from the
highest quarters about the attempts to revive terrorism (in
He refused to detail the measurs being taken to curb these
attempts beyond saying that the recent arrest of a former
militant, Daljeet Bittu, was one of the steps taken. He said that
the activities of radical elements, particularly during March-May
2012, were aimed at creating disturbances in Punjab.
Punjab had witnessed a bloody phase of terrorism from 1981 to 1992
as separatists demanded a Sikh homeland - Khalistan (Land of the
pure). This left over 25,000 people dead, including hundreds of
personnel of the security forces.
Heavily armed terrorists, led by separatist leader Jarnail Singh
Bhindranwale, had to be flushed out by the Indian Army Operation
Bluestar on the Golden Temple complex (which houses the holiest of
Sikh shrines, Harmandar Sahib) in June 1984. Then prime minister
Indira Gandhi, who had ordered the army operation, was
assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in October of the same year.
Gen. A.S. Vaidya, who was army chief during the operation, was
assassinated in 1987.
The confusion created by Badal and Saini on the terrorism issue
has given fodder to radical elements and NGOs in the state.
The Punjab Human Rights Organization and the Khalra Mission
Organization (KMO) pointed out that just a week ago, the DGP had
been denying such reports. "But when the police and state
government were in the dock over the law and order situation, he
raised the bogey of terrorism," a joint statement by the
Punjab Police, in recent weeks, have drawn flak for their inaction
in protecting its own officers from the onslaught of ruling Akali
Dal leaders. While an assistant sub-inspector was shot dead near
Amritsar last month for trying to protect his daughter from being
harassed by an Akali Dal leader of the area, a senior police
officer was beaten up by another former Akali Dal leader in
The Dal Khalsa radical Sikh organization said that the DGP was
raising the bogey of terrorism "only to cover the failures of his
department in maintaining the rule of law in the state".
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at email@example.com)