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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I L B A G

Looking beyond Ghadar spirit

I read S. S. Dhanoa’s article “Spirit of Ghadar” (Perspective, Feb 25). He is a respected former civil servant and I go through his articles very carefully.

Since he was Punjab’s Chief Secretary during the period our state went through turmoil, Mr Dhanoa was the executioner of a policy framed by Rajiv Gandhi that unleashed state terrorism in the state. Illegal detentions, extra-judicial murders, torture and cruelty perpetrated by the Indian state became the order of the day. Thousands of Sikhs were cremated across the states and their identities were hidden. S.S. Virk, the previous DGP, has admitted all this but with impunity.

I think the writer is minimising the terror of the state when he writes that under “the pretext of disturbed conditions” many (Sikhs) sought “political asylum” abroad. He mustn’t forget that Rajiv Gandhi had the 59th Amendment bill passed in Parliament that nullified Article 21of the Constitution and took away our right to life. He must understand the gravity of the crimes committed after 1984.


 

The writer then informs us of the attack of Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1762. Indira Gandhi in 1984 did exactly what Abdali did earlier. Both attacked and reduced to rubble the Darbar Sahib complex.

Then he writes that the British assumed extraordinary powers to rule over Punjab and declared it “non-regulated territory”. Since 1984 to this day we are being ruled under the draconian Disturbed Areas Act. He then says the British “blew away Namdharis from artillery gun mouths”. After 1984 Punjab administration followed the same practice but altered the method of executions. It tied Sikhs to trees on secluded canal banks and shot them dead at point blank range from their Soviet AK 47 rifles.

During Mr Dhanoa’s tenure to this day, Punjab districts are administered by Deputy Commissioners and Commissioners. Why didn’t Mr Dhanoa recommend the abolition of this system if he found it wicked and tyrannical?

If the Ghaddarites felt disturbed over the ruthless conditions in Punjab and came here in early 20th century to fight against such rule, as the writer says, so did the Sikhs after 1984 feel the same way and came to India in hundreds to enquire after the welfare of their kinsmen.

Subsequently, India prepared a black list for such Sikhs. Till today India maintains this list and hundreds are barred from visiting their homeland. My name is also in this list. As such when I am not elected to Parliament my passport remains impounded, against UN norms of human rights, though under Article 51 of the Constitution, the Indian government is constitutionally bound to follow its international obligations.

Even today, Gurdwaras here and abroad remain a “meeting place” for all activities, irrespective of religion. During the Emergency many Jan Sanghis took shelter in Gurdwaras.

I always appreciate what Mr Dhanoa writes but he should not minimise the wickedness of the post 1947 Indian state and only inform us of the evils of the British Indian state. For us its twiddledum and twiddledee.

SIMRANJIT SINGH MANN, Quilla S. Harnam Singh,(Fatehgarh Sahib)

Give Central police units their due

Lt-Gen Harwant Singh’s article (Sunday Oped, Feb 11) was informative. However, his observation regarding the performance of officers of Central Police Organisations (CPOs) is rather lopsided. The CPOs’ role is different from the Army — the BSF has to guard the international borders during peace; the CRPF has to deal with internal civil disturbances; the ITBP has to man high altitude northern borders. Yet, in times of need, they have to assist the civil police as also perform war-like duties in conjunction with the Army whenever required.

In Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-east, the CPOs are placed under the operational command of the local Army formations actively engaged in counter-insurgency operations. The CPOs engaged in such operations in Kashmir and elsewhere have taken the insurgents, bullets on their chests while leading their troops and detachments, providing the required motivation and leadership. They have lost officers — from DIGs to Deputy Commandants and won laurels posthumously.

The BSF’s performance in the 1971 war, to a very large extent, was instrumental in the outcome of the Indo-Pak war, which led to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s comment that the BSF’s contribution in the 1971 war was no less than that of the Army.

P.S. BEDI, DIG BSF (retd), Chandigarh

Farmers’ suicides

This refers to the book review, “When peasants take their own life” by Nirmal Sandhu (Spectrum, Feb 11). The writers of the book have used the observational method. If they had gone to the field, done a survey and collected data about the farmers’ plight, their views might have been quite opposite.

A wave of modernisation is blowing in society and the farmers too could not escape this wave. Most farmers have purchased cars, tractors and luxury goods by raising loans. The banks advanced loans to them without seeing the viabilities of repayment.

They have imparted education to children up to postgraduation but often the children are unemployed. They have become a burden on the parents and many farmers face domestic problems. Some of them indulge in litigation and spend a huge amount on it. Only after a thorough survey will the government know the real position.

DILDAR SINGH SIMBALPURI, Phillaur

 

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