Punjab repeats historical role by espousing the cause of Kashmir and Kashmiris
Punjab is repeating history in the context of Kashmir after more than 300 years
As the dominant political discourse in India’s political matrix has supported the revocation of Article 370 that provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Punjabis by and large have taken a position contrary to it.
The Narendra Modi government in fulfilment of its poll promise not only revoked Article 370 but administered yet another shock by reducing this only state dominant by Muslims to two union territories.
Kashmir in particular has been shut since August 5 when the Kashmiris were interned and the action was touted as ‘for the welfare of Kashmiris who have been denied fruits of development’ as if the rest of India is far ahead of this state in the North sharing boundaries with Pakistan and China.
However, the struggling sections in Punjab have extended vocal support to the Kashmiris in distress. The valley has been under lock down ever since. Now it is more due to what has been described as ‘civil curfew’.
Punjab and Punjabis represent interesting paradox.
The leadership of the Akali Dal and Capt Amarinder Singh have taken a stand on this sensitive issue contrary to the sensibilities of the Punjabis.
The Akali Dal contested the 1967 election on the issue of special status to Punjab as accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Section 370 that no more exists. Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal disowned his own party’s history by supporting the bill in the Lok Sabha to abrogate this special status. Anandpur Sahib Resolution is just another version of special status on which the Akali Dal launched struggle in 1982 that ended in Operation Bluestar, the army attack on the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) complex in June 1984.
The Congress at the national level has opposed the revocation of Article 370. However, the state government headed by Congress Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh yesterday denied permission to a number of farmers, workers, student and human rights organisation to stage a march from Mohali to Chandigarh on September 15.
Bharti Kisan Union general secretary Sukhdev Singh KJokrikalan claimed these organisations staged protests wherever they were stopped by the police. It was to be a democratic protest for the rights of the Kashmiris.
It may be mentioned that these organisations have been staging demonstrations at the district headquarters ever since Kashmir was shut. Punjab perhaps is the only state where people at large have come out espousing the human rights of the Kashmiris.
It is not only the far Left stream that has been vocal on this issue.
Dal Khalsa, Akali Dal (Amritsar), United Akali Dal and some human rights organisations today announced the decision to take the issue to the streets. Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann, United Akali Dal president Gurdip Dingh and Dal Khalsa leader Kanwarpal Singh today announced the decision to stage demonstration in Delhi on September 26 against what they described as the attack on human rights of the Kashmiris.
They said the Punjabi Diaspora would join Kashmiris in the protest outside the office of the United Nations in New York on September 27 when prime Minister Narendra Modi is to address the General Assembly.
At one level, while the Kashmiris in their own state continue to be caged for more than a month, it is the Punjabis who have taken up their cause upto the global level.
One has to go back to history to understand this relationship of Punjab with Kashmir.
Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Sikh Master, sacrificed his life for the human rights of Kashmiris. The issue is not whether they were Pandits or Muslims.
The State behaves in the same manner. He offered himself to be martyred in Delhi. He was staying at Anandpur Sahib where he was approached by Kashmiris to protect their human rights.
Jammu and Kashmir later became part of the Sikh Empire till the state was sold to the Raja of Jammu for Rs 75 lakh after the First Anglo-Sikh War that the Sikhs lost. Jammu and Kashmir was sold to pay for the war damages to the British.
Punjab was annexed by the British in 1849 after the Second Anglo-Sikh War. The map that included what now is Pakistan and Bangladesh emerged on the globe for the first time after annexation of the Sikh Empire that extended to Khyber Pass.
Another commonality is that Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir till recent past were the only two states dominated by minorities. Now it is only Punjab that has this unique distinction. Punjabis have always been aggressive, both in Punjab and also abroad.
It is Punjabis who sided with the Kashmiris in protests in London earlier. Now Punjabis are protesting in Punjab and it is to be extended to Delhi.
The well-timed leak about deletion of the names of 312 Sikhs from the Diaspora from the so called Black List has failed to make any impact on this increasing bonding of Punjabis with Kashmiris.
Punjabis now are the new spokespersons of Kashmiris.
Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the writer/author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Babushahi.com or Tirchhi Nazar Media. Babushahi.com or Tirchhi Nazar Media does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.