Intentional Inactivity? Reading The Silence Of AAP On Punjab

Intentional Inactivity? Reading The Silence Of AAP On Punjab

by Rohit Pathania - Feb 14, 2023 02:53 PM +05:30 IST
Intentional Inactivity? Reading The Silence Of AAP On PunjabWhat is the AAP government doing to maintain law and order in the state.
  • Recent events have made it plain that a cocktail for an explosion is being created all over again in Punjab.

    Will the state government step up before it's too late? Does it want to step up?

The latest attack on police by thuggish elements on the Chandigarh Mohali border has seen countless police personnel being injured. 

Whatever be the stand, the absence of any concrete instant action by the Chandigarh Police has only led to embarrassment for an otherwise professional police unit.

With 11police personnel, including women, hospitalised for injuries, and scores of others having received injuries, questions have also been raised on what exactly is the incumbent Punjab government's intentions.

It is rather surprising that there is a law that prevents people from brandishing guns, and some artists were also subject to FIRs within the state upon the enforcement of the law.

However, the fact that so many supposedly peaceful protesters could brandish guns openly on the Punjab side of the border and the state police stood mute raises a lot of questions. 

Is the Bhagwant Mann-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government even interested in tackling the law and order situation inside Punjab? 

The questionable links of AAP with Khalistani terror sympathisers have been a talking point for long. Indeed, Arvind Kejriwal was seen to have stayed with one such sympathiser during the 2017 state assembly election campaign. 

Even one of their Delhi MLAs was seen canvassing for the support of Khalistani organisations in the diaspora to influence the election outcomes. 

Supporters may claim that the issue in question — the release of terrorists labelled as 'Bandi Singh' by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Sikh extremists — has its own answer from the AAP. Many of the terrorists, housed also in Delhi, have not been given a release by the government of Arvind Kejriwal. 

What such a statement sidesteps however is the studied silence on the issue. So far, not a word of condemnation has been issued by the government on this question. It's perhaps even more telling because the protesters' demands also includes the release of names like Balwant Singh Rajoana, a key man behind then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh's assassination in 1993. 

Other names include terrorists in jails convicted for killing scores of Punjabi Hindus. Given how the AAP also received votes from the community in big numbers in 2022, it is surprising how no effort has been made by the AAP leaders to condemn this. After all, wasn't it Kejriwal who had asked why the state could not have a Hindu CM?

A worrisome trend has been the fact that the SGPC has been allowed to raise the Panthic bogey in its demand for the release of Bandi Singh. The double game being played by the SGPC and its conjoined twin, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), is definitely not lost on anyone. 

On the one hand, we hear their leaders like Bikramjit Singh Majithia decry demands for Khalistan; on the other hand, the SGPC controlled by the Badal clan continues to stoke communal fires and rouse passions in the name of religion. 

The campaign's communal fires have also reached the doors of Delhi, with pro-Khalistan slogans being heard in western Delhi recently.

Given how the various Akali Dals have come together, be it Punjab or Delhi, on the question of Bandi Singh on the 'hukam' of SGPC, it is necessary that both the Akali Dal and the AAP explain their stance openly. Silence or doublespeak on the question is certainly not tolerable.

Another band of people who are today facing the public's ire are the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha. The veneer of their stance being pro-common man continues to fall away. 

Having made life hell for the ordinary citizens of Punjab, the latest round of protests happening now are nowhere close to any sense of closure or discontinuation.

The morcha members continue to insist on meeting Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann. They have even threatened to gherao the houses of the 117 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and their relatives to put pressure on them on the question of Bandi Singh. 

Emboldened by the withdrawal of the farm law amendments earlier, the morcha has now announced another gherao of Parliament to pressurise the government for a Minimum Support Price (MSP) law.

Inaction of the police had seen people's lives being inconvenienced for the longest time in and around Delhi-NCR.

The Punjab government will surely not do anything to stop such a march to Delhi, and previous experience suggests that the Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments may also not have a very different response. 

What we wonder about though is the question whether Khalistani sympathisers will be allowed to hijack the spectacle all over again. 

As it stands, the Punjabi media has been fanning the flames on the Bandi Singh issue without any course correction or modicum of sobriety. The perfect cocktail for an explosion is being created all over again, if not addressed in time. 

Unless rule of law is established firmly, anarchist elements in Punjab will continue to have a field day. The question then is this — will a self-declared anarchist-led party's government in Punjab see the light of day and act accordingly?

Rohit Pathania works in the space of renewable energy and environment. Other interests include politics and the economy.
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