Sikh Religious Extremism - Politics of The Early 1980s - Dharam Yudh Morcha

Dharam Yudh Morcha

The Akali Dal was initially opposed to Bhindranwale, and even accused him of being a Congress agent. However, as Bhindranwale became increasingly influential, the party decided to join hands with him. In August 1982, under the leadership of Harcharan Singh Longowal, the Akali Dal launched the Dharam Yudh Morcha ("Group for the Battle for Righteousness") in collaboration with Bhindranwale. The goal of the organization was implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. Thousands of people joined the movement, as they felt that it represented a real solution to their demands such as a larger share of water for irrigation and return of Chandigarh to Punjab.

Indira Gandhi presented the Anandpur Resolution as a secessionist document. She used it to depict the Akali Dal as a separatist party, and to present herself as the India's savior. The Akali Dal officially stated that the Sikhs were Indians, and Anandpur Sahib resolution did not envisage an autonomous Sikh State of Khalistan.

The Congress government decided to repress the mass agitation with a heavy hand; over a hundred people were killed in the police firings. The security forces arrested over thirty thousand Sikhs in two-and-a-half months. In November 1982, Akali Dal announced the organisation of protests in Delhi during the Asian Games. The Congress leaders like Bhajan Lal ordered selective frisking of Sikh visitors to Delhi, which was seen as humiliation by the Sikhs. Later, the Akali Dal organised a convention at the Darbar Sahib attended by over 5,000 Sikh ex-servicemen, 170 of whom were above the rank of colonel. These Sikhs claimed that there was discrimination against them in government service.

At the same time, the Khalistani extremists started resorting to violence and militancy. It was common knowledge that the militants responsible behind bombings and murders were taking shelter into some gurdwaras. However the Congress-led government declared that it could not enter the gurdwaras for the fear of hurting Sikh sentiments. Detailed reports on the open shipping of arms-laden trucks was sent to the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, however the Government did not take any action to stop these. Finally, after the murder of six Hindu bus passengers in October 1983, emergency rule was imposed in Punjab.

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