ANI Photo | No justice in Punjab for Sikh people for last 40 years: Punjabi activist Amandeep Sandhu

Author and Punjabi activist Amandeep Sandhu on Saturday expressed concern and said that the Ajnala incident where the supporters of Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh laid siege to a police station was rather shocking for the whole country.
“The Ajnala incident was rather shocking for the whole country. That religious group using the Guru Granth Saheb breaks barricades, reaches the police station and takes over for some time at least is totally uncalled for,” said Amandeep Sandhu while speaking to ANI.
Sandhu said that the same word “Khalistan” has been used over the last 30-40 years for various things in Punjab and that the term is Khalistan but it is a “quest for justice.”
“Over the last 30-40 years we have used the same word Khalistan for various things in Punjab.
In my reading of Punjab, the term is Khalistan but its a quest for justice. Justice has not happened in Punjab with the Sikh people for the last 20-40 years at least, this is since militancy and before that militancy happened because Sikhs felt the nation-state was not doing justice for them and this is not for one party this about the Centre and the state,” he said.
“The support for Khalistan in Punjab per se is very very low. During the partition of India, there was a demand for Azad Punjab for the Sikhs. Post-independence there was the Anandpur Sahib resolution – these were a quest for greater federalism. Both those documents were translated in 1980 when the Sarkariya Commission came now we know what excessive centralisation has done to the country with the new party in power. The need is for all states to be more federal,” he continued.
Referring to the farmers’ agitation, Sandhu said that the farmers during their protest were not violent and it was done with utmost dignity.
“We just did the farmers protest 1.5 years back and that was done with such dignity – there also barricades were broken, there also the farmers moved towards Delhi. The farmers did not do violence,” he said.
Mentioning ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh, he said that the latter’s cadre has waxed and waned – sometimes he has got a lot of support on some issues sometimes he has got less support.

“I see in the rise of Amritpal Singh that he has been about for six months his cadre has waxed and waned – sometimes he has got a lot of support on some issues sometimes he has got less support. He initially started by saying Punjab is riddled with drugs and there is a lot of migration and we need to stop the outward migration and we need to curb the drugs and for that if you become Amritdhari Sikhs and it’s a good way of controlling yourself from those tendencies. I think that is nice. He has also been raising demand for it’s not very clear for a separate state, an autonomous state but Khalistan and it is in the use of these words that I find difficulties,” said Sandhu.
Sandhu further added that Punjab is hurting and its indices have fallen so low that eventually there will be the likes of Amritpal who will pick up these issues and people will get agitated and such violent incidents will happen.
“We saw in the 80s one thing led to another – the Sikh clergy did not speak, the Granthis did not speak, the Gurudwaras did not speak the state allowed things to pile up and become a grave issue that they finally wrongly attacked Darbarsaheb with Operation Blue Star. Then the Rajiv-Longowal accord which no one agreed to and then you conduct state elections again but violence does not end and then again you impose the President’s rule for five years. We don’t want a cycle like that. We need to heal. That has been my urge always and in every part of the country to look at Tamil Nadu’s issues, and what the Naga’s issues are. These are the outliers of the Indian state you need to keep these borders happy,” he said.
Referring to the current state of Punjab he said that Punjab’s indices have fallen so low, its youth is migrating and these are deep concerns.
“Punjab needs to be attended to as you are attending to somebody who is wounded. Punjab needs healing. Such violent incidents are very sad because ultimately you need some peace some calm so that the state can develop. Those issues can get sidelined if we just throw this term Khalistan – but we are not solving Punjab’s tight knots, political economy, social knots, or even religious issues and that is unfortunate to me,” said Amandeep Sandhu.
He added that the current demand is for justice and the state needs a truth reconciliation.
“Right now the demand is for justice. Thousands of disappearances happened during militancy we have no account of them and look at what happened in Ajnala when these people took over the police station the police agreed that the guy they caught was innocent. Yesterday the court ruled that he can be freed. But this is not enough. Punjab needs truth reconciliation and we should all raise that demand whichever be the government we should all move towards peace. Peace does not mean peace is imposed, people should feel assuaged, people, feel courts work, and people get a sense of justice happening,” said Sandhu.
He continued, “You see what is happening in Kashmir – a travesty of justice. 3.5 years ago they abrogated 370, took away statehood and said they will reinstate statehood and do elections but there is no news of elections. If the government fails then what are the people going to do? The urge is to let us not fail the people.”
Taking a dig at the Aam Adami Party (AAP) he said that the party won in Punjab after the farmer agitation because the people were unhappy with the Congress and the Akali Dal.
“It was never a pro-AAP vote it was always an anti-Akali anti-Congress vote. It is going to complete its one year and it has not performed well in the state. It has been worse than the previous governments. When you are in Punjab you are not looking at CM Mann but Raghav Chadha who is running the state and it has been an abysmal failure on every account whether it is jobs or farmers or any other issue. Right now there is a long-drawn protest against polluting distilleries. The people demand a law in the assembly. People are unhappy with the party,” he said.

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