Date :14-Mar-2023

THAT the Government of Punjab has cancelled as many as 813 licenses for guns in the State, indicates that it is determined to do away with what it described as ‘gun culture’. Even as we appreciate this step, we wish to point out that this is not just an administrative step. On the contrary, it appears to be a step insisted upon by the Central Government that is suitably alarmed about rise of pro-Khalistan elements in Punjab in the past some months. There are reasons to believe that the Centre has started dealing with the pro-Khalistan challenge in all seriousness. Hence the mass cancellation of gun licences. Hence also transfers of some police officials. We welcome these steps.
It is true that in the past some months, some elements are trying to build a pro-Khalistan mood in Punjab, appealing to the common people to start working for the vision of Khalistan. Unsuspecting and naive persons have been reported to be falling prey -- though only to a small extent -- to the appeals. Some so-called fire-brand individuals promoting the idea of Khalistan, too, are known to kick up a lot of political dust blurring the vision of the masses in Punjab. Alarmed by these developments, the Centre has obviously started pressuring the Punjab Government to take some definitive steps to curb the movement that is raising its head once again -- say after a gap of more than thirty years. We realise the importance of the steps the Centre is taking in this connection.
Our mind darts back in time to those days when pro-Khalistani movement had become terribly menacing in Punjab in the late 1970s and early 1980s, disturbing the peace and tranquility in Punjab almost fully. In those days, too, small arms could be found in countless numbers of homes. Those were also the days of intense anti-India and terrorist activity that claimed not just the lives of thousands of innocent people but also that of Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi right in her own official residence. The Government’s response to the Khalistani movement was initially dilly-dally but later became stern and no-nonsense. The action in the holy Golden Temple in Amritsar was also part of that action that took lives of several Jawans of the Indian Army. Subsequently, the terrorists also assassinated former Chief of Army Staff General Arun Vaidya in his home town Pune as an act of vengeance.
With the memories of those terrible days swirling up in the mind, we welcome the strict action in Punjab against ‘gun culture’. We expect the Governments at the Centre and in the State to understand the importance of swift and tough action to curb any attempts to arouse pro-Khalistan sentiment in Punjab and elsewhere -- before it becomes too late in the day and too difficult to curb.
It is obvious that the masterminds of the pro-Khalistan movement are sitting pretty in Pakistan and also Canada. When ‘Operation Blue Star’ was undertaken at the holy Golden Temple, the Indian military authorities suspected an attack by Pakistan from across the International Border. Now also, such possibilities cannot be ruled out altogether. Hence the need for greater care and caution while taking any steps in Punjab. There is no need to be afraid of a possible Pakistani overture to support the pro-Khalistan movement in India. But there is a very serious need to be extremely cautious about any possible Pakistani misadventure -- so as to crush it in real time. The pro-Khalistan movement is part of an international conspiracy to keep India disturbed all the time. And that makes it imperative for the Government to defeat such anti-India elements comprehensively.