Here's why crackdown on Amritpal and his radical band of boys was necessary

Rajesh Ahuja
New Update
Amritpal Singh Sarbat Khalsa

Amritpal Singh (left) and Sarbat Khalsa (right) (File photos)

New Delhi: In flowing whites and saffron turban, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale spoke at the last and pleaded with the crowd gathered at Mehta village in Amritsar district not to indulge in violence while he surrendered before police in the murder case of Editor Lala Jagat Narain. 

But what followed was exactly the opposite. Bhindranwale was supposed to be taken to a nearby police camp in an ambassador car and the first clash happened between Nihangs with unsheathed swords and spears and lathi-wielding policemen. Police managed to stop them initially but the next wave of attacks came much stronger and finally, firing took place resulting in the death of 12 people.

This was 1981 and Bhindranwale had managed to gain an aura of invincibility which shattered only after then Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi sent the army inside Golden Temple to flush him and his supporters out from the holy seat of Sikhism.

32 years later, yet another separatist Amritpal Singh is trying to repeat history by planning to do something similar, suspect the security officials.

Amritpal urged the Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib to convene a Sarbat Khalsa (Sikh Congregation) at Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo on Baisakhi to discuss the issues of the Sikh community.

Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the organisation that manages Akal Takht Sahib and other gurdwaras, has already indirectly rebuffed the demand. But Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has maintained a silence over the issue. But it is believed that Amritpal’s demand is unlikely to be accepted.

“But there is an annual Baisakhi congregation at Damdama Sahib which is among the five holy seats of Sikhism. Amritpal can always claim the gathering was due to his call irrespective of the fact his appeal was not endorsed by the Jathedar. And if he appears there even with a false pretence of surrender, it could lead to a huge law and order problem. We suspect that he might try to appear there,” said a police officer dealing with the issue.

The security establishment believes that gaining entry into Akal Takht Sahib like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was always on the agenda of Amritpal before the crackdown was launched. Amritpal was slowly inching towards that goal. The next stop would have been attaining sainthood like Bhindranwale if he had managed to establish himself inside Akal Takht Sahib.

Amritpal’s eyed at capturing the SGPC. But the SGPC elections have not taken place since 2011. As of now, the SGPC is full of Akali Dal Badal supporters and Amirtpal could have managed to get his supporters in the next SGPC whenever the elections took place.

“It was necessary to stop him due to all these dangers associated with his rise. Bhindranwale too had managed to get few of his supporters elected in the SGPC elections held in 1979 even though his close confidante Bhai Amrik Singh lost to senior Akali leader Jeevan Singh Umranangal,” said the police official quoted above.