Sunday, 30 August, 2009

Did Sikh militancy ever die?

Did Sikh militancy ever die?

Manmeet Singh

LUDHIANA: Scrolling web pages never gives the impression that the Khalistani movement had ended in late 90s, when cops ostensibly controlled it claiming Punjab to be out of danger. Looking at videos and other web articles uploaded and hit by surfers regularly, it appears that militancy had just shifted its base from the physical world to web world. All through these years, a section of the Sikh youth had been passionately flaunting pictures and quotations of the militant leaders, especially Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala, on their T-shirts and motorbikes. To corroborate web presence of militancy are the sporadic incidents that have occurred in first decade of the new century, the time when police officials and politicians were very sure that militancy had been wiped out. With the recent arrest of Balbir Singh Bhootna and the trail leading to various other arrests, people have once again started speculating that militancy in state was reviving. Going through the streets, one can easily find youngsters wearing clothes carrying insignia of the movement. Even on Saturday, a player at a cricket match in city was spotted wearing T-shirt painted with a provocative statement of Bhindrawala, sufficient enough to justify armed struggle. “What’s wrong in wearing it, it’s not banned,” commented the youngster, as he seemingly related himself to the movement. Moreover, an inspection of the university hostels would easily reveal that separatist idea still fancies the tender minds. A university boarder in whose room was spotted the posters of Bhindrawala, strongly advocated the struggle of the 80s. “The web is flooded with videos and articles in favour of Khalistan. Search for keyword ‘Bhindrawala’ and over 50,000 results get displayed. Search for ‘Khalistan’ and there are over two lakh results,” said Satinderjit Singh Bal, owner of an outsourcing agency, for a world famous search engine. He said popularity of the stuff can be assessed from hits these videos get daily. “Some of the videos are watched by 100 viewers daily,” said Singh. Box: After evidence emerged of the involvement of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Mumbai terror attacks, India has brought up the list again, making it a test case for the Pakistan establishment to prove its much-vaunted anti-terror credentials. The list carries the names of 20 individuals India wants Pakistan to extradite. Apart from some known leaders of LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the list also carries the names of five Indian Sikhs belonging to the separatist Khalistani movement

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