Centre Swiftly Puts Activists, Journos In Jail; But Amritpal Was Given A Long Rope, Why?’

Jagrup Singh Sekhon, a writer, academician & political observer, says the way Amritpal was given a free run despite openly challenging the State, raises questions behind his rise. His views

Undue publicity has been given to Amritpal Singh and there seems a pattern repeated from the past. The recent violence in Ajnala, Punjab, organized and executed by his followers, was instigated by him – that is clear. One should therefore look at the ideological lineage of this violence.

Deep Sidhu – who was he? Everybody knows what his political allegiance was. His pictures were all over the media with top leaders of the ruling party at the Centre and Sunny Deol, BJP MP from Gurdaspur, Punjab. One should check his role in the peaceful and protracted farmers’ movement in which tens of thousands of farmers from Punjab participated.

The core of the movement was led by progressive and democratic forces. It was a non-violent, mass movement from below. So, what was Deep Sidhu doing in this progressive and Left-backed movement with his allegiance so widely seen and proved?

When the farmers were detained on the Punjab and Haryana border, during their protest against the three controversial farm laws, how come Deep Sidhu was allowed to enter Delhi on the Republic Day, 26 November, 2020? His alleged instigations to his followers a day before the tractor march led to the unfortunate incident at the Red Fort. It is believed that it was an attempt to malign the peaceful movement and divert attention of the struggling farmers from their core demands.

These are the questions we must ask when we try to understand the current case of the rise of Amritpal Singh.

Who is Amritpal Singh and from where has he emerged suddenly? Why was he given so much media attention in the first instance despite his aggressive and provocative statements, including justifying violence? When he even challenged the government openly and brazenly, how come no action was taken? So many peaceful dissenters, journalists, human rights activists and critics of the BJP are languishing in prison! So how come Amritpal Singh was given such a long rope by the Indian State?

ALSO READ: ‘Sikhs Understand The Agenda of Amritpal Singh’

Religious polarization and communal politics are a thing of the past in contemporary Punjab which wants peace, and has been peaceful after suffering for so long under the spell of violence, from both sides, that is, State and non-State actors. The Sikhs have suffered the most, especially Jat Sikhs.

The Indian State has a massive, armed, security apparatus. Almost 50 per cent of the total area of Punjab is under the border belt, which directly comes under the control of Centre for security purposes. The State has a 553-km long international border with Pakistan which is one of the major reasons of the suffering and tragedy of the people of Punjab, as it made them the structural victims of the Partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

Akali Dal has always proclaimed itself as the protector of the Panth, but, now, it has lost its political relevance – it has been rejected by the people. The Congress has also been rejected by the people. The BJP was never a major player in the state. A section of supporters of the weakened Congress have thereby shifted to the BJP. In this context, AAP has emerged. However, it has no organizational base – which the BJP has. Hence, the BJP is desperately trying to enter Punjab – this way or that.

Even after the violence, aggressive and inflammatory statements, no case was registered against Amritpal Singh. Why? Just look at the extremely harsh steps they have taken against Rahul Gandhi! Anyone who dares to speak out is hounded in this country under the current dispensation in Delhi. So, why was Amritpal Singh being allowed to roam free and make provocative speeches and incite violence so brazenly – that is the main question!

The narrator is a former Professor in the Dept of Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He has co-authored Terrorism in Punjab – Understanding Grassroots Reality (along with Harish K Puri and Paramjit S Judge), Har Anand Publications

As told to Amit Sengutpa

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