Even as Sikh groups in Punjab and in the diaspora prepared to make the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar a memorable event, the violence in the Golden Temple complex on Friday has left them angry and disappointed at what most saw as a “senseless action that has brought disrepute to the community”.
The clash has been universally condemned even by hardline Sikhs, who were upbeat at the recent moves to request the United Nations to investigate alleged human rights violations during the army action on the Sikh shrine.
With new evidence about Operation Bluestar surfacing in recent months, the demand for an international investigation has acquired traction and all eyes were on New York where the Sikhs for Justice – a human rights advocacy group -- is submitting a formal complaint to the UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights. After the United Nations launched an investigation into war crimes and human rights' violations in Sri Lanka, Sikh groups and parliamentarians of Sikh origin in the UK and Europe have been pressing for the same for Operation Bluestar and its aftermath.
As news of the clash spread on Friday, many in the Sikh intelligentsia felt it is against the ethos of the religion and also that “publicity seeking gimmicks like this” would do more harm. According to Gurpreet Singh of the Kendri Guru Singh Sabha, “Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann lost his security deposit in the Lok Sabha elections from Khadoor Sahib. This clash looks like it was designed to get him some limelight and was avoidable.”
There is also dismay at the potential that incidents like this have in disrupting the peace of the last few years in Punjab.
The laxity of the security apparatus to anticipate trouble on a momentous event like this, particularly at a time when the pro-Khalistan elements in India and abroad are itching for trouble is being questioned. Says Mandeep Bajwa, a Punjab-watcher, “The Parkash Singh Badal government has failed to maintain law and order and this incident will be welcomed by the pro-Khalistan lobby lobby abroad.” For the past 30 years, the anniversary of Operation Bluestar has been usually marked by pro-Khalistan slogans and speeches with the kin of former militant being honoured at times.
Dr Gurtej Singh, another radical Sikh scholar, who still believes in the idea of Khalistan is equally critical.
“Is it reasonable to draw attention in this manner by pulling out swords? It displays a lack of imagination and failure of leadership. Mr Mann was given complete trust by the community in 1989 when he won the election with an overwhelming majority, but failed to do anything worthwhile,” he said.
Keywords: Golden Temple clashes