Glorification of Gun Spirit & Culture
Hardly after ten days of deadly killings of eighteen children and two teachers in Texas, U.S.A. and murder in cold blood of a singer cum politician in Punjab, first a bank manager and then a daily wage labourer in J & K were butchered. And in less than twenty four hours of that, four persons were killed by an AR- style semi automatic rifle and a handgun in a medical building in Oklahoma ,USA.
Within a day again, a man shot two women to death in Iowa state and thereafter killed himself outside a Church.Also a tribal police officer was fatally shot at a traffic stop in Arizona.
(2) The Oklahoma attacker claimed suffering from a pain supposedly not attended to properly by one of the surgeons who lost his life subsequently. He is supposed to have bought his weapons legally as gun ownership is constitutionally protected by the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. constitution.
According to Gun Violence Archive, including Iowa incident, there have been 235 mass shootings in USA during the current calendar year so far.
Need For Tougher Gun Laws
(3) Frequent gun attacks have prompted President Joe Biden to make a fervent appeal to law makers to pass tougher gun control laws. Generally an impression has been spread that both in USA and Yemen firearm ownership is allowed without any licence or permit.
While in Yemen, such a situation is prevailing for a long time, many states of USA, such as, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont ,Washington and now New York require buyers to be at least 21 to purchase long gun/ semi automatic rifle. States of California, Pennsylvania and Michigan have also decided to go for tougher control on firearms and to push for gun safety legislations. Perhaps there is no other alternative.
Changing Punjab Scene
(4) In Punjab, in a sudden development, security cover withdrawn from 424 protectees is being restored. It has been felt that proper threat assessment should have been done prior to taking both the decisions.
Miri and Piri Go Together In Punjab
(5) Indulgence in violence in pursuing political goals in the northern state is not something new. Element of militarism was inculcated into followers of Sikh religion by Guru Hargovind, one of the prominent Gurus. Training of warriors commenced in all earnest.
Later two major movements – Ghadr and Babbar Akalis too have been reported to have used violence as a means of solving religious and political issues.
(6) Violence, unfortunately, can not be separated either from religion (miri) or politics or executive power (piri) even in present times. As a result, several individuals have successfully held positions in SGPC or Gurudwara committees and Legislative Council or Parliament, simultaneously.
Another strange thing is in respect of SGPC. Only the central government notifies and conducts regular elections to this body though we live in a secular set up.
One reason is historical as also legal in pursuance of the S.G.Act of 1925 and another is due to location of its Gurudwaras in three states of Punjab, Haryana, H.P. and U.T. of Chandigarh for whose superintendence and control, a single state committee would not qualify. On the contrary, Gurudwara committees of Delhi, Nanded, Patna Sahib etc. conduct elections as per their own rules and regulations.
(7) Reverting to the murder of Sidhu Moosewala, it appears to be handiwork of inter state gangs for which main automatic weapon may have been smuggled from abroad.
It is not that the popularity of slain gentleman had invited the wrath of criminals. In the past also, a few of celebrity singers have been reportedly targeted and some music companies are Gangster run. Unconfirmed reports are hinting at more disturbances of this kind in Punjab in future.
Deteriorating Jammu & Kashmir Scenario
(8) Referring to Jammu and Kashmir, fearing a repeat of mass exodus of minorities in the 90’s, many of the 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits employed under the P.M.Rehabilitation Package have begun returning to Jammu.
With five targeted killings, Budgam District has emerged as the new epicentre of terror attacks. Latest trends indicate that fresh recruits are being indoctrinated and misled into acts of militancy especially in the sixteen killings which have happened in last five months alone.
(9) Several terror modules are active in the state to scare the minorities.The first timers using pistols at soft civilian targets may not take much time in becoming hard core professionals. Majority of the victims are non Muslims which once again poses a serious threat to their working, forget about their residential status.Even in District head quarters the minorities cannot have safe existence despite claims to the contrary.
(10) Not less than two hundred hard core terrorists continue to be in hiding in J & K even at present. Under these circumstances it may not be advisable to have Amarnath Yatra after a two year hiatus.
Home Minister and the State Governor after detailed review have, however, shown their determination.
(11) Successive governments in the state seem to have done merely a formality in the name of law and order. They should have been taken to task much ahead of abrogation of Article 370. Pumping of money and resources in the name of infrastructure and development has been to gigantic extent both during Congress-N.C. governments and the last one spearheaded by N.C. with the support of the ruling party at centre.
(12) In sum and substance, possession of legal or illegal arms coupled with latest innovations in this domain will be always detrimental to the safety and security of the common man. At times one gets a false or temporary feeling of normalcy which gets disturbed in no time by the deviant elements who simply do not believe in reason and rationality.
Populism may attract no doubt, but same can not provide remedies to all the maladies. The AAP Government in Punjab may realise it gradually and should try course correction. By the time good sense actually prevails, who knows, old veterans may make a comeback.
(The author is former Chief Secretary, Sikkim)