The battle against Khalistan separatists during the ‘80s in Punjab was, to say the least, a messy one. Considering the unexpected source of the challenge to India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the system was caught on the wrong foot and force levels had to be progressively increased to the point that the most sacred Golden Temple became the scene of confrontation more than once. Although, Punjabi society, in general, does not seem to have inoculated itself against this virus, it is evident that the establishment has learned some necessary lessons.
The arrests of separatist Amritpal Singh and his cohorts by the Punjab Police without stoking any controversy that could provide fuel to religious ire is the result of having internalised the lessons of the past. While the central security agencies can be lauded for ensuring Amritpal could not flee India, the Bhagwant Mann led AAP Government and the Punjab Police did well to isolate and track down the fugitive. This is yet again an example of how much backing an elected government has from the people when push comes to shove.
This has obviously come as a big blow to the extremists’ handlers in Pakistan, but if anything is to be learned from the past, they will be at it again. The only thing consistent in Pakistan’s civilian and military governments has been the commitment to anti-India terrorism of any kind. The policies of the Indian Government under Prime Minister Modi have ensured, thus far, that a heavy price is being paid by Pakistan for this policy. This needs to be persisted with till such time the costs for the western neighbour become too heavy to bear.
There are also elements in the Sikh Diaspora in Canada, UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, particularly, that have sold out for various reasons to the Khalistan delusion. Such persons are being dangerously irresponsible, particularly with regard to their brethren who reside in all parts of India. The actual roots of their ideology become obvious considering the fact that they do not include Pakistan’s Punjab as part of Khalistan, or Lahore as its natural capital! It is just the greed and hubris of individuals seeking to obtain clout in the countries where they reside by offering themselves up as anti-India assets to whoever is willing to use them. The intelligence agencies in these host nations should know better than to play this game, because it is only a matter of time before these ‘Bhasmasurs’ turn on them. Remember Osama bin Laden?