Amritsar, May 24, 2007
Once considered dormant and disbanded, Punjab’s various militant organisations have come together to demand the arrest of Dera Sachha Sauda chief, Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh, and have announced that they will start their mass agitation with a peoples’ march from Fatehgarh to Chandigarh on May 31.
Manjit Singh Bhoma, the president of once banned All India Sikh Students’ Federation (AISSF), said it was already late for an apology. “Sarkon me behad josh hai magar leedran vich hosh hai (passions are spilling over the streets but the leaders are in their senses),” Bhoma told Hindustan Times explaining that the agitation is going to be fierce but peaceful.
“We want him (the Dera Chief) to be behind bars even if he manages to get bail the very next day,” said senior Dal Khalsa leader Kunwarpal Singh Bittoo, once an underground member of the Babbar Khalsa. Both Mohkam Singh and Bittoo said they had ensured that their followers did not flaunt weapons during Tuesday’s Punjab bandh on the instructions of the Akal Takht, because they did not want the TV channels to show the Sikhs in a bad light.
Punjab watchers do not rule out the possibility of the hardliners using this opportunity to regroup. Trade union leader Satpal Dang who has authored many books on militancy in Punjab told Hindustan Times that slogans like “Khalistan Zindabad” and “Bjindranwale Zindabad” are back after many years. Dang maintained that the ordinary Sikhs were still not with the militants but felt that the Punjab problem is far from over.