Punjab political scenario

It is common among our leaders to arouse our sentiments without considering that ultimate harm will come to us - TARLOCHAN SINGH, EX-MP

L-R: Sukhbir Singh Badal, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Imran Khan, Giani Zail Singh and Surjit Singh Barnala
By Tarlochan Singh OPINION |

Normally the Punjabis, and especially the Sikhs, take more interest in political activities. This is common with the Sikhs in Punjab, India and all those who are settled in different countries of the world. The community is very sensitive and they react even to a small incident.

After the completion of the Kartarpur corridor, done in spite of Indo-Pak tension, the Sikhs all over the world praised the role of Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan. In many countries the Pakistan ambassadors were honoured in the Gurudwaras.

But when the news of a Sikh girl eloping with a Muslim boy in Pakistan appeared, the Sikhs started burning the effigy of Imran Khan. This shows that there is the least tolerance among us and the reaction starts without investigating the incident. After few days, a statement appeared that the girl has refused to come to her parents.

Similarly, there was news about a murder of a Sikh boy in Peshawar, Pakistan. Again the attack on Pakistan government was launched by the entire media and the Sikhs. Later on, a news came that the killing was organised by his girlfriend.

By quoting these two incidents, the abrupt outburst attitude of the Sikhs is evident. We have never tried to overcome these incidents or had have some patience to understand and analyse the happenings.

If one is to review the past 50 years of Punjab history, they will be able to observe our wrong decisions taken at various occasions.

It is common among our leaders to arouse our sentiments without considering that ultimate harm will come to us. We have not even analysed the entire painful episode of 1980’s where we lost thousands of Sikh youth and also the damage to our holiest shrine the Akal Takht.

The Akal Takht is the supreme religious authority of the Sikhs and there are very interesting tales that even Maharaja Ranjit Singh appeared before the Jathedar seeking punishment. This tradition is unparalleled and there is no such example with any other religion.

SHOW OF FORCE: Sukhbir Singh Badal addressing the Sangrur rally – Photo: Sukhbir Singh Badal facebook page

In recent times, Punjab chief minister Sardar Surjit Singh Barnala was summoned and punished. Giani Zail Singh, former President of India, sent an emissary to appear on his behalf before the Jathedar of Akal Takht to plead his innocence but there are reports that many Sikh organisations have criticised his role and have started a campaign to frame new rules for his appointment.

At present, the Jathedar is appointed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which is elected through votes and is controlled by a political party which is Akali Dal. There is a demand in the Sikh diaspora that Jathedar should be fully independent and free from any political pressure.

Haryana was formed a new state in 1966, but the SGPC is still common. The Sikhs in Haryana have been demanding a separate Gurudwara Act, to elect their own Gurudwara committee. Akali Dal has been opposing it and they have put pressure on central government not to bifurcate SGPC.

The previous Congress government in Haryana had issued a notification of having a Haryana state Gurudwara committee. This was challenged in the Supreme Court and the case is pending but it has suddenly taken a new turn by an affidavit filed by the Punjab government giving consent for a separate Haryana committee. Akali party has reacted and are accusing Punjab congress government for interfering in religious affairs.

Along with this, the demand for SGPC election is being raised by all the dissident Akali leaders led by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. The elections have not taken place for last four years. Government of India has the authority to announce the election. Akali’s are allies with the BJP government and they’re using their influence not to have elections.

Akalis are out of Delhi assembly elections because the BJP has not given any seats to them. In the last elections, four seats were allotted to them. In Haryana, UP and Rajasthan, Akali’s were not given any seat by the BJP. This has done a great political set back to Sukhbir Singh Badal, president of Akali Dal.

Tarlochan Singh is a ex-MP and former chairman of India’s National Commission Minorities (2003 to 2006). This is his maiden column for Asia Samachar


Akali Dal revolt (Asia Samachar, 5 Jan 2019)

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  1. A welcome perspective from S. TarlochanSingh. Obviously we suffer from a reactive mold that that is immortalized in ALICE IN WONDERLAND –Judgment first, trial afterward if at all. The early Sikhs and Gurus fought many wars but were never driven by the adage of war first, the trial be damned. A battle should remain the last resort. So teaches Sikhi.