The heavy price paid for Indira Gandhi’s Dictatorship

M.L. Sondhi

Malayanadu Weekly, July 8, 1984
(Translated from Malayalam)

The massacre of the Hindus and the Sikhs and the military operation in the Golden Temple was supposed to be one of the follow up actions of Smt. Gandhi’s so called national political goals.  The question “how terrorism flourished in Punjab and who destroyed the peaceful life which it had enjoyed till the end of 60’s” is emerging from the heart of many Punjabis.  Punjab was safe under Pratap Singh Kairon who was very bold and determined and was the architect of agricultural and industrial development in the State.  The problems faced by Punjab in the middle of the eighties had been more prevalent during the tenure of Shri Kairon.  He did not change its structure in spite of the threats by Master Tara Singh and Sant Fateh Singh for Punjabi Suba.  But Shri Kairon’s pragmatic approach was focussed on the problems attached to the economic development of Punjab.  He could maintain the balance of influence between both the Sikhs and Hindus.  But in 1966, Smt. Gandhi divided Punjab into Punjab and Haryana and the hill areas were annexed to Himachal Pradesh.  She asked help of the Sikh community to continue in power.  At the same time she was against Kairon’s developmental activities.  She could control the new States of Punjab and Haryana showing the power of New Delhi and they were finally trapped in it.

The Chief Ministers of these two small states without any popular backing in their own land had to work as ‘New Delhi’s faithful servants’.  Though Kairon was loyal to Nehru, Punjab did not get any favours in return.  To make Punjab a problematic State, the harmony between the Sikhs and the Hindus was destroyed by surrendering the control of Punjab to the Punjabi Hindus settled in Delhi.

Congress did not agree to the Jana Sangh and Akali Dal proposal for a compromise and thus precipated the downfall of democracy in Punjab.  Congress(I) was eager to clip the wings of selected religious and political leaders of Sikh community.  Akali-Janata Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal was one among them.  It is obvious that Gyani Zail Singh and Mrs. Gandhi were responsible for Sant Bhindranwala’s terrorist activities.  The official statements after his death were proved to be just foolish jokes.  The Central Government and the party in power has never denied the role of Congress(I) in strengthening the Khalsa Dal and backing Bhindrawala against the Akalis.  Though Bhindrawala is not alive today, he is living in Congress leaders.   Hiding the criminal participation by these leaders and finding fault with foreign involvement is felt only as a deceit.

Smt. Gandhi was portrayed as the great lady who stood for India’s unity.  Those who know the situation in Punjab very well will blame only Smt. Gandhi and her advisers.  First she was silent about the terrorist activities against the Hindus in Punjab.  Shri Ramesh Chander, the Editor of ‘Hind Samachar’ who was assassinated before the military being deployed by the Government says “The Prime Minister can easily solve the present crisis in Punjab.  But she allows Punjab to deteriorate dangerously.  This policy followed is just to gain electoral benefits.  We don’t know who will be the next scapegoat”.  The Government was not at all interested in the lives of the innocent people in Punjab.  The editorials in the ‘Tribune’ published from Chandigarh are good examples of the Government’s inactive policies.

The Central Government criticised Akalis for not having taken any effective steps against the militants.  But there is no evidence of the Government’s sincere participation in this matter.  The Government kept on postponing the discussions only to deepen the enmity between the Akalis.  The Prime Minister inaugurating the construction of a canal only helped worsen the dispute regarding sharing of water in Punjab.  This was given wide publicity.  But after some time this chapter was closed dissolving the department for constructing the canal.

If Chandigarh had been given to Punjab, the Sikh-Hindu conflict would not have arisen.  Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal’s extending support to the Hindu extremists to fight the Akalis was not a surprise.  Later the extremism in Punjab found new dimensions which were even beyond the control of its creators.  

The purpose of the military operation in Punjab was to avoid the certain defeat of Congress(I) in the then approaching elections because it gave an image of ‘working government’ to the people of India.  The violent life of the Sikh extremists was totally against the mainstream of the national movement. Congress(I) pulled down the Janata Government using all available means.  Smt. Gandhi must be aware of the price to be paid to those who helped the above movement

The media tried to compare the military operation in Amritsar with that in Bangladesh.  The people of India know how the “high decision making body of Smt. Gandhi” functions to consolidate its power.  They were totally blind towards the atrocities of murder gangs and told a series of lies to justify the encroachment of the army in the Golden Temple.

Russians have used all cruel methods to handle the problems of minorities.  Those who support such an approach can only add a sharper edge to Smt. Gandhi’s strange steps.  Russia will bless India even if she goes dictatorial.  The military operations for internal security cannot bind the democratic and responsible forces for the betterment of the country.  Thus the efficacy of the military operation in Amritsar is doubtful.
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