Rightly or wrongly, Akalis are not known to contest serious allegations made against them individually or collectively in the Indian media. Sometimes attacks against the community too are ignored. Hence the mantle falls upon political parties and individuals to voice the other side of the picture to counter nasty imaginary fears about dissenting opinion in Punjab, dubbed as “extremist” by veteran commentator Kuldip Nayar in his article published in the columns of The Tribune on 18th June titled ‘Akalis owe an explanation to the nation’.
Whether the Akalis owe an explanation to the nation may be a bone of contention, but the learned author’s wild allegations are nothing but a bundle of insinuations and innuendo resting on the biased, bigoted thinking of the Punjabi lobby in Delhi, of which he is a stalwart exponent.
It comes as no surprise to us that filing a clemency petition for Balwant Singh Rajoana before the President of India by Chief Minister Parkash Badal has been termed a “horrifying act.” Not only that, this it seems is “to the horror of the whole country.” Who and how was this measured is anybody’s guess. Can we ask why is the filing of a clemency plea for anyone wrong or unpatriotic and not a humane gesture? By the way, when Ms. Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the Tamil Nadu legislature passed a resolution on clemency for Perarivalan, Santhan and Murugan, no horror struck this country.
The construction of the memorial in memory of all those who laid down their lives countering the brutal assault of the Indian army in June 1984 has just begun, but for the seasoned journalist, “the insurgents have now founded a memorial for Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale…”
Not very surprisingly, he is now seeking scrapping of the Sikh Gurdwara Act and the SGPC born out of it. Let me humbly inform him that he has had the privilege of accepting an honour and a purse on 2nd July 2006 from this institution (read SGPC) which “mixes religion and politics.” If the gentleman is so upset, he should return the honour and I am sure the SGPC will gladly accept it, as they can easily see that they made a mistake in the past.
As regards who is to vote for the SGPC and who is to participate in Gurdwara affairs, everyone who is not a Sikh must stay away. Sikhs in their collective wisdom are competent and qualified to do so and do not need any outside advice. If the government of the day wants to accept the author’s advice and open a Pandora’s Box again, choice is theirs. The government must know that such attempts have been made in the past but have miserably failed.
The Darbar Sahib is the theo-political centre of the Sikhs and Sikhs of all hues and shades—not only militant and insurgents—will go all out to protect its dignity and honour. Thousands of innocents killed within the Darbar Sahib precincts are a testimony to this. This Vatican of the Sikhs was not “polluted” with the blood of the martyrs, but purified and venerated. This Mecca of the Sikhs rejuvenated the spirit of the young Khalsa, leading them to lead the life of a true Sikh as enjoined by the Gurus.
By quoting Lt. Gen. (retd) Kuldip Brar who led the blasphemous attack on Darbar Sahib, insult has been added to injury. Neither this Kuldip nor the other can fathom the deep respect Sikhs have for martyrs for the cause of Sikhism.
All contentious issues which made the Punjab problem are still live issues, notwithstanding the three decade long service of Punjabis like him. Punjab is the only state of the country which shares a capital with another state, has this ever bothered Kuldip Nayar ji?
For once, he honestly writes, “I do not know why no Sikh organisation or a non-political person of consequence from the community has condemned the honouring of a killer and the laying of the foundation for a memorial.” Simply because every Sikh holds Darbar Sahib dear to his or her heart and will never forget the desecration of June 1984. The Darbar Sahib memorial will serve to remind them about the glorious martyrdom tradition of the Sikhs.
The Akali Dal, especially the Badals are the prime targets in Nayar’s piece. Akalis must respond. Shri Nayar wants to teach them religion and politics, secularism, constitutional working with a call to its ally BJP to throw the gauntlet and destabilise the present Punjab government. Whether they want to learn from him or teach him statecraft will be watched closely by the Dal Khalsa and the Damdami Taksal.
Since the last three decades and more, my community has been unable to read “between the lines” the mind and intentions of Kuldip Nayar and his ilk. It is time they must do.