By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, May 1: Having undergone the blood-soaked and emotionally-scarring era of partition and the turbulent 15 years of terrorism — during which over 25,000 lives were lost — as well as other upheavals, Punjab is now grappling with a major problem: Drugs. An author who lived through the turbulent times in the 1980s has now warned that the state could be headed for another downward spiral if corrective measures are not immediately taken.
“One cannot help compare Punjab then and now; the difference, if any, is not much. Yes, the major difference is that it is a new weapon — drugs — that attract the youth, not the AK rifles. The former is more deadly and ruinous than the latter,” senior journalist and a former State Information Commissioner (2007-2012), P.P.S. Gill, has pointed out in his book “Blood on the Green – Punjab’s Tryst with Terror” (Bookwell Publishers; 262 pages; Rs 895).
Gill, who was witness to the torment of Punjab’s terrorism days from the hotbed of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts from 1983 to 1990 as the Amritsar-based correspondent of a leading English daily, told IANS: “The problems and situations that led to the birth of terrorism in Punjab continue to exist, and the worst part is that no one seems to be addressing these issues.”
“In fact, the same or similar strains of persistent disaffection are still at work, gnawing at the Punjabi ethos; religio-political and socio-economic. Prevalent corruption, joblessness, criminalised countryside, societal divisions and disparities are yet to be effectively tackled,” Gill, who has been highly regarded in Punjab for his work as a reporter and an opinion-maker, has pointed out in the book.
“The same political dispensations, barring change of several characters and actors, are still at play,” writes the author, who is unforgiving in his assessment of the roles played by leaders of the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the separatists and radicals in the past seven decades.
“I too have been through the same tormenting, torturous and scary times, watching and wondering about why and how of eruption of insurgency, emergence of religio-political tsunami and why these issues, by and large, keep occurring time and again and have remained unresolved so far,” he writes in the book.
The book details Operation Bluestar (June 1984), Operation Black Thunder-I (April-May 1986) and Operation Black Thunder-II (May 1988), Operation Woodrose (in Punjab’s countryside in 1984), the gory and chilling scenes of Hindus and Sikhs being killed by terrorists, the police and security forces going berserk, the Golden Temple complex in the aftermath of the 1984 Army operation and, subsequently, the unholy acts of various people in the name of religion and security, the killing fields of Green Revolution state and Punjab emerging as a theatre of atrocities.
Having been posted in different parts of Punjab since 1975, Gill has been able to report and analyse the situation in the state from his first hand experience.