The hardliners in Punjab may have become louder with their demand for Khalistan, but the state does not face any immediate threat of revival of terrorism. However, high-level sources in the state government said that there are intelligence inputs that select people may be targeted and that contract killers may be hired for the purpose.
The state, which was in the grip of terror in the 1980s and the early1990s, has witnessed peace for the past 20 years. Barring the Dinanagar fidayeen attack in July, there has been no major incident of violence in Punjab. But the state has seen disquiet over the past few months due to one reason or the other. First it was the aggressive farmers’ protest and then the ruckus following the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs.
The massive gathering at “Sarbat Khalsa”, held on the eve of Diwali, has shocked many as the state government had left no stones unturned to turn it into a flop show. The event has set alarm bells ringing for the administration, with many debating whether it has brought life to what looked like a buried demand for a separate Sikh state. Sarbat Khalsa’s organiser Simranjit Mann now admits it was indeed a platform to reignite the Khalistan issue.
Social media is abuzz with Khalistan related talks and one can see an increase in Khalistani flags and stickers of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the militant leader killed in Operation Blue Star. One can even hear songs extolling the “sacrifices” of militants being played in cars and tractors. However, observers say these are no indications of the revival of terrorism. Even those who express anguish at the failure of the Khalistan movement do not approve of its revival.
Experts believe that some elements are trying to exploit the general frustration with what they called the “misgovernance” of the Akalis, who have been in power for nearly nine years now.
When this correspondent asked Tarn Taran resident Harmeet Singh, who was draped in a cloth that had a picture of former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassin Jagtar Singh Hawara, whether he wanted Khalistan, he said: “We want to be heard, we are fed up. The Badals control everything, and now we see even our religious institutions are not spared.”