Punjab on the edge

AuthorPublished: 22nd Nov 2018  12:12 amUpdated: 21st Nov 2018  8:37 pm

The deadly grenade blast inside Amritsar’s Nirankari Sadan, leaving three dead and several injured, is a chilling throwback to the turbulent past. Though it was largely believed that the secessionist terror has been quelled effectively, it has now raised its ugly head again. A growing evidence points towards the involvement of Pakistan-based terror outfits out to revive the Khalistan movement in the sensitive border State. The markings on the grenade bore a resemblance to the ones made in the Pakistan Ordnance Factory, a fact confirmed by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. There can be little ambiguity about the attack being a professionally-executed terrorist act. Preliminary probe has revealed that the strike was planned in Lahore with the involvement of pro-Khalistani Sikh diaspora in Germany and Canada. This is a serious development as it reflects a desperate attempt to revive militancy in Punjab. Pakistan has focused on fomenting insurgency on a mass scale in Jammu & Kashmir after getting a bloody nose in the 80s and 90s, but there too it has not encountered the success it had hoped for as Indian security forces had put up fierce resistance and routinely felled the militants sent from across the Line of Control. Since terrorism in Punjab has a bloody history and cost India over 30,000 lives, any fear of a return to the gun culture sets alarm bells ringing in Chandigarh and New Delhi. Incidentally, Sikh militancy in the 80s had also begun with wanton attacks on followers of the Nirankaris, a sect not recognised by the Khalsa as being part of the community.

Clearly, there is an attempt to invoke memories of bloody clashes with that sect in order to revive the cult of terror in Punjab. This must be nipped in the bud and the perpetrators of Sunday’s attack must be given an exemplary punishment. In the past, political patronage of Sikh radicals by sections of the Congress and Akalis had emboldened secessionists to proliferate. However, it is time all political parties joined hands to root out terrorism in all its manifestations. The Amritsar attack comes amid intelligence alert that Pakistan has activated the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) network to strike in the Indian hinterland before the general elections next year. Pakistan Army has been making attempts to stir militancy in Punjab when the Kashmir Valley remains disturbed, similar to what Islamabad did in the 80s. No India-Pakistan war could be fought with Punjab in turmoil and it also ties down the security forces, thus leaving Kashmir open to Pakistani exploitation. There are also clear indications of a diabolic plan to incite faith-based conflagrations in the sensitive border State. The State and Central governments must work together to tackle the emerging threat.