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Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa’s preventive custody saves Punjab from piquant situation

The preventive custody of Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa by Haryana Police, which shifted him to hospital on Saturday, has saved the Punjab government from a piquant situation. The current situation suits all stakeholders – the Punjab, Haryana and central governments and Khalsa. The situation had reached a dead end as the Supreme Court had restrained the Centre and state governments from premature release of life convicts.

Khalsa had also reached a point where he could not end his hunger strike without getting any concrete assurance.

Last year, after his hunger strike, there was some solace for Khalsa as the Punjab government had approved parole for three Sikhs convicted of the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh; besides, the Akal Takht jathedar had assured him the release of other Sikhs.

However, this time, neither the Akal Takht jathedar nor the Punjab and Haryana governments had anything to offer him.

Thus, he was left either to die during hunger strike or to call it off, which the government tactfully managed by shifting him from the gurdwara to the hospital.

This time, though Gurbaksh got support for the cause, he did not get any concrete promises. During the entire period, the Punjab government was in a fix as the Shiromani Akali Dal not only invited the ire of the radicals, but also faced embarrassment when BJP president Amit Shah openly said that the party opposed the release of Sikh militants, for which the Punjab chief minister had written to his counterparts in other states.

The Punjab government was worried as Gurbaksh planned to visit the Golden Temple.

Fearing that his visit could bring a large number of radicals on one platform, and in case Gurbaksh decided to camp at the Golden Temple, it would be difficult for the SGPC and the state government to persuade him to leave, the entire Punjab was put on a high alert and a heavy police force was deployed at the Shambu barrier to check Khalsa’s entry to Punjab.

The Centre also kept an eye on the situation and alerted the Haryana government to keep Khalsa in Ambala and not allow him to leave the gurdwara.

Overall, in the 58-day-long fast (he consumed only water), though Khalsa failed to get any positive outcome, he has managed to bring the Panthic agenda in focus and the political parties will now try to exploit it.

News Source: H Times

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