1984 has a different kind of macabre connotations in India. Quite removed from the dystopian society of George Orwell’s imagination.
What remained buried under its mantle was the murder of 35000 innocent Hindus as a gory prelude and sequel to it.
One may blame the Akalis and Congress for its legendary mismanagement, both at the center and at state level, that led to the rise of the Insurgency in Punjab. Prakash Singh Badal’s party has long shrugged off its conscience in refusing to commemorate the deaths of Hindus by building a memorial in remembrance despite having supervised construction of one for the victims of Operation Blue Star.
Hindu lives never mattered.
It didn’t even then when they were being discriminately slaughtered specifically just for their faith by the militants in Punjab chasing the Khalistani dream. Hindu passengers in buses , trains were targeted purposely leading to suspension of bus services to Delhi even on national highways after nightfall.
While Nirankaris, Babbar khalsa later Akalis or bureaucrats and Punjab police lost their lives for opposing Bhinderwale or criticising him, Hindus died just for existing. Despite that there was just a single retaliatory strike back in neighbouring Haryana against the Sikhs at the peak of Sikh insurgency. Described in screaming headlines “the cauldron boils over ” in anticipation of countrywide lashback which did not occur.
The majority Hindus across India showed immense maturity, patience and peace as their brethren were targeted in Punjab, knowing well what had precipitated the crisis in the state. Until 31st October when the nation’s PM was gunned down , until Congress led mobs into the homes of Sikhs across the nation , until then the Hindus had held their breath and peace .
Indira Gandhi, after her stunning defeat post emergency, was quite unforgiving of any opposition when she returned to power as the Janta party decimated within two years of assuming power due to infighting.
Akalis and newly birthed BJP were a formidable duo that she dreaded. Inherently astute in her brand of politics, the natural Hindu Sikh camaraderie served as a thorn that she needed removed. Her devious son Sanjay Gandhi and trusted aide Gyani Zail Singh set on a mission to accomplish what would lead to a decade of death and disaster across the nation. The discovery of Bhinderwale as an opposition to Alkalis, the dithering politics over Anandpur Sahib resolution instead of resolving it. Water politics on rivers and the issue of ownership of Chandigarh as state capital contested closely between Punjab and Haryana.
Each issue was left much debated and discussed but never laid to rest. To undermine the power of Akalis leaving them to be mocked at by Bhinderwale for their incapability to extract anything substantive for the Sikh cause from the centre. To interference within Punjab Congress by Zail Singh to reduce the impact of his arch rival in state – the then Chief Minister Darabara Singh. Mrs Gandhi wished to emerge as a Hindu saviour a title that she wanted to snatch from BJP.
As Punjab tottered on the brink of anarchy oscillating between the fundamentalism of Bhinderwale, the ineptitude of the Akalis, the inflow of foreign funds from Canada and weapons from China, the infighting and interference within state Congress, the conniving complicity of the Prime Minister and President with an extremist posing as a saint who declared he would not refuse if offered Khalistan.
India lost revenue, productivity along with innocent lives as industries fled to neighbouring Haryana and Punjab that had clocked the highest GDP a few years ago slowly descended into a downward spiral that took more than a decade to halt.
It is for Punjab to decide which history will they choose. They have seen the best and worst of it. They have risen from ashes after partition only to descend into abyss as much of their own making as that of the politicians within two decades.
Researched and compiled independently by Tanuka Banerjee.
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Feature Image Credit: OpIndia.com
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