Chandigarh: A prominent Sikh journalist-turned-author Jagtar Singh derided ‘Waris Punjab De’ president Amritpal Singh for mixing the demand for Khalistan with ‘Amrit Sanchar’ (baptising) and anti-drug campaign creating disharmony by delivering hate speeches in Punjab.
Known as a key commentator and chronicler of ‘Panthic’ affairs Jagtar Singh in an exclusive interview with indianarrative.com said, “it was wrong for Amritpal to carry Guru Granth Sahib with him while leading a protest to get one of his comrades named Toofan freed from Ajnala police on February 23, 2023.”
He said that it was now for the ‘Akal Takht’ (supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs) Jathedar to issue a suitable directive to all the Sikhs to stop carrying the holy book during protest marches.
He did not give any credit to Amritpal for doing something special for the Sikhs by organising ‘Amrit Sanchar’ ceremonies and anti-drug campaigns as these were continued for a long time by many other religious preachers. “What went against Amritpal was when he led a mob to attack the Ajnala police station on a petty issue,” Jagtar added.
Backed with 45 years of journalistic experience having worked for Indian Express, Jagtar condemned the hate speeches delivered by Amritpal and all those in the country aiming to polarise people for narrow political interests.
In his view, Operation Amritpal was “mishandled.” It was easy to arrest him immediately after Ajnala police station’s siege by ‘Waris Punjab De’ men. “The unnecessary hype built by the state resulting in spreading panic in the entire state is questionable,” Jagtar adds.
Generally considered soft towards radicals, Jagtar, who has written two books, Rivers on Fire and The Khalistan Struggle chronicling Punjab’s turbulent period, made a startling revelation much against the public perception that “Bhindranwale never started Khalistan movement but only fought for achieving what was demanded by all the Sikh leaders in the Anandpur Sahib resolution of 1973.”
He said that the Manochahal Panthic Committee- comprising outlawed members – led by Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, Dhanna Singh and Aroor Singh raised the Khalistan demand in 1986 and later fled the scene when they met with opposition from various quarters. Manochahal died in a police encounter in 1993.
Today marks 30yrs of the Shaheedi (martyrdom) of Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal in 1993, founder of the original Panthic committee and Jathedar of the Bhindranwale Tiger Force. Baba Ji lived, fought and died for the establishment of Khalistan till his last breath. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/7GmtglvGFG
— Raj Nothay (@raj1966) February 28, 2023
The author refused to answer whether Shiromani Akali
Dal president Parkash Singh Badal or Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’s then-president Gurcharan Singh Tohra were to some extent responsible for the decade-long turmoil in Punjab.
He also refused to suggest a way out of the present situation created by Amritpal and his men by saying, “I am not an adviser of the state.”
Also Read: Watch: How Amritpal Singh raised armed anti-India force, conducted firearms training at range