The Akali Dal is convinced that Waris Punjab De and Amritpal Singh are part of a bigger plan to create a law and order problem in the state, leading to the imposition of central rule and even the exclusion of Punjab from the Lok Sabha polls as was done in 1991.
Last month’s events in Ajnala, Punjab, were both shocking and mysterious.
Supporters of Amritpal Singh, who claims to have ‘inherited’ the leadership of an organisation called Waris Punjab De, broke through barricades and stormed a police station in Ajnala, on the outskirts of Amritsar city, demanding that Lovepreet Singh alias Toofan, an accused in a case of kidnapping, be released.
The police capitulated and released Toofan.
Former chief minister and BJP leader Captain Amarinder Singh said: ‘This is not only a complete collapse of the law and order situation in Punjab, it is more serious than that. The incident has security implications for the state and the country.’
Very little is known about Waris Punjab De beyond the fact that it was founded by Deep Sidhu, the actor-model who became the face of the farmers’ agitation because he planted the Nishan Sahib, or Sikh religious flag, atop the Red Fort on January 26, 2021.
In his Facebook post, Sidhu claimed credit for climbing on top of the 370-year-old monument to fly the flag, clarifying that the national flag was neither insulted nor taken down.
‘To symbolically register our protest against the new farm legislation, we put up the ‘Nishan Sahib’ and a farmer flag and also raised the slogan of Kisan Mazdoor Ekta,’ he said.
This was a career change for Sidhu, the winner of the Kingfisher Calender Model Hunt, which began his career in glamour.
He walked the ramp for designers such as Hemant Trivedi and Rohit Gandhi.
After this, he studied law and worked with several firms such as Sahara India Pariwar and Balaji Telefilms.
He also opened his own law firm, Lex Legal, which handled clients such as Vijayta Films, Red Chillies, PVR Pictures, Colors, and Sony Pictures.
Later, as the central government tightened its grip around him, he was charged with a number of violations of the Indian Penal Code.
The National Investigation Agency also lodged an investigation into his connections with Khalistani groups.
A few months into the case, he was killed in a road accident.
Earlier this year, Amritpal Singh was anointed the head of Waris Punjab De at a ceremony held at Rode in Moga district, the native village of slain militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
His followers vandalised chairs and set them on fire in a Jalandhar gurudwara, since he believes that the use of chairs and other facilities inside gurdwaras is against the maryada (code of conduct) of Sikhs.
Sidhu is dead, but the issues he had flagged remained. And new ones were added to these.
“It all began with the farm Bills. They (the central government) promised that they would give the farmers a minimum support price. They did not, and it was a betrayal. And then they shoved crucial issues under the carpet — like releasing those who had completed their jail term for sedition,” said an Akali Dal leader and former Rajya Sabha MP who did not want to be named.
“People are rotting in jail for 30-32 years. They have released Rajiv Gandhi’s killers … they have released Bilkis Bano’s rapists. But not those who have completed their prison terms,” the former MP added.
But there is another twist in the tale which was made public by Sikh preacher Bhai Sarbjit Singh Dhunda.
During his address to the Sangat (congregation), Dhunda wondered why the community and religion were being involved in the issue.
“Why involve the Sangat in it? We have faced so many FIRs and fought these in court. We have never asked the Sangat to join us in that,” he said.
“While it is claimed that his (Amritpal) battle is with the Centre, what happened in Ajnala has actually benefited the Centre in building up a case to impose central rule in Punjab,” said Dhunda.
The Akali Dal is convinced that Waris Punjab De and Amritpal Singh are part of a bigger plan to create a law and order problem in the state, leading eventually to the imposition of central rule and even the exclusion of Punjab from the Lok Sabha polls as was done in 1991.
“The Aam Aadmi Party is completely inept. The CM has to await instructions from Arvind Kejriwal in dealing with these kinds of problems. The Centre is so quick to lodge Enforcement Directorate investigation against ‘criminals’ in politics. Why isn’t it investigating the source of funds of Waris Punjab De and Amritpal Singh? Why has he not been detained?” asked an Akali Dal leader.
Congress leader Raja Warring said in a tweet: ‘When will you act against Amritpal, @BhagwantMann? What are you scared of? If you don’t take any action against him we, @INCPunjab, will be forced to come out on the streets. We won’t let go hard-earned peace of Punjab. Nip evil in the bud.’
The global investment summit hosted by the Punjab government aroused considerable interest.
But Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral warns against complacency. “If there is a law and order problem, investment will just walk away from the state,” he said.
“The Punjab government must, in coordination with central government agencies, ruthlessly crush these separatist forces, which are increasingly showing their ugly head and are hell-bent on creating mayhem in Punjab with the intent of rupturing the Hindu Sikh amity, which is the lifeblood of Punjab,” says Gujral
“Or else, history will repeat itself.”
The state government, in the meantime, is waiting for the Centre to act: A meeting was held between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and CM Bhagwant Mann a few days ago.
The state government is waiting to see the outcome.
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