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Dangerous Signal

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The killing of Shiv Sena leader Sudhir Suri in Punjab recalls the worst days of terrorism that hit that state in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Before the recent assembly elections, the leaders of the generation that had faced the brunt of the troubles had warned the Aam Aadmi Party to stay clear of Khalistani elements. Sadly, the present AAP Government is now facing the consequences of associating with the extremists. The worst aspect of these acts is that killings of unarmed persons and innocents are considered valid in the pursuit of a communal and separatist cause. This is a complete betrayal of the tenets of Sikhism, but no one seems to care about that. Clearly, the required lessons have not been learned from past experience. In the bid to get the better of the Akali Dal, the Congress had provided political space to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, and the consequences were there for all to see. The nation and the Sikh community had to pay a heavy price for this strategic mistake. The lessons from this experience should have been internalised by the people of the state so that there was no possibility of a recurrence. Instead, it seems there has been collective amnesia, which has put the new generations at risk. Also, a culture of violence has taken further hold in Punjab, with gun wielding, as well as liquor and drug abuse, becoming immensely popular memes among the youth. One needs only to see the popular music videos and the lifestyles of celebrity singers to realise how deep it runs in the psyche. The obsession with emigrating to the West has also weakened the patriotic spirit, making it easier to compromise on principles. Going forward, the Sikh community and the state should ensure that the Gurudwaras are kept free of the presence of separatist and criminal elements. As it is, there are enough sympathisers for this destructive cause in many management committees, who from time to time create embarrassments for the Sangat. The elders of society should actively make the youth aware of the folly of falling into the fundamentalists’ trap. The connection with the ISI and other disruptive forces should be highlighted. They must be told about the damage the years of terrorism caused to the Punjab economy, setting it back decades on the development path. Political battles should be fought in the democratic spirit and those seeking short-cuts to power should know of the terrible consequences of doing so.