Rajat Sharma

Punjab blast: Pointing fingers in blame game will not do, take action

akb fullA powerful blast took place inside the toilet of the Ludhiana district court complex in Punjab on Thursday afternoon killing one person and injuring six others. National Security Guards team was rushed to the spot, and by late evening, it was found that practically no clue was found about the person who was trying to assemble the bomb inside the public toilet. Only a tattoo was found on his body, while the rest was blown up to pieces. Police said, the possibility of the person being the perpetrator of the blast cannot be ruled out.

The explosion was so powerful that the walls and roof of the toilet collapsed under its impact and several windowpanes in the building were shattered. Court staff working inside a records room nearby escaped the brunt of the blast. The court building was evacuated and sealed, and NIA and NSG teams reached the site for investigation. The explosion took place a few hours before a scheduled public rally which was to be addressed by Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, 22 kms away from the city. Among the six injured were three women and three men, all residents of Ludhiana.

This explosion comes close on the heels of two incidents of sacrilege inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the gurudwara in Kapurthala. The objective is obvious: to spread fear, suspicion, hatred and disturb peace in Punjab before the assembly elections due early next year. The blast appears to be an attempt to cause mayhem inside the court by detonating the bomb which the man was trying to assemble inside the toilet.

None of the major political leaders in Punjab are willing to answer this question honestly: Who is trying to create mayhem in Punjab before the elections?

Almost all the political parties, Congress, Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party and BJP are looking at this with political prism and trying to corner their political adversaries by levelling allegations. Two cases of sacrilege followed by a blast inside a district court cannot be dismissed as coincidence – there could be a method behind this madness.

Ludhiana is the commercial nerve centre of Punjab, with its thriving industries, while Amritsar is the cultural capital of Punjab where the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion is located. The incidents of sacrilege and terror seem to be part of a broader game plan.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said, “as assembly elections are drawing near, some anti-national and anti-Punjab forces are trying to spread anarchy in the state”. Deputy Chief Minister Ranjit Singh Randhawa, who holds the Home portfolio, hinted at what he called “an international conspiracy by forcing trying to destabilize this border state”.

Former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had been saying since last year that Pakistan is trying to destabilize Punjab by sending drugs and dropping arms with the help of drones. He had been advising utmost caution during the political turmoil that resulted in the ouster of his government. On Thursday, Capt. Amarinder Singh said, he was not surprised but sad over the developments. He said, “The state government should come out of denial mode. It is not only unfortunate but highly irresponsible for the Chief Minister to jump to conclusions by trying to construct a link between the blasts, the sacrilege incidents and an FIR against an Akali leader without any investigations. These serious incidents cannot be brushed aside the way the government is trying to.”

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose AAP has a big stake in the Punjab polls, said, “Cruelty first, blast now. Some people want to disturb peace in Punjab. Three crore people of Punjab will not allow their plans to succeed.”

The question now arises: Whose conspiracy? The CM and his Deputy CM are pointing fingers towards a Pakistani hand and are hinting at a suicide attack attempt, but their own state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu tried to change the ‘line and length’ of accusations.

Navjot Sidhu said, “Government machinery is being used to frighten a particular community ahead of polls. Democracy is being mangled and made into a dictatorship by Central agencies, but it won’t work. Punjab will display unity in diversity despite these acts of sacrilege and bomb blast. Why is this happening just before the elections? Why is a particular community being targeted? People who sold Punjab, I want to tell you – you cannot polarize Punjab like this just before the elections.” Sidhu also tweeted: “The blast in Ludhiana court leaves no shadow of doubt that a series of peace-disturbing activities have been planned by vested interests to create law and order problem in Punjab.”

The interesting part is that, soon after Sidhu’s reaction, Chief Minister Channi changed his tune about Pakistani hand in the conspiracy and alleged that incidents of sacrilege and terror have taken place only after his government took stern steps against the drug mafia. He was indirectly pointing at Shiromani Akali Dal, because the state police has filed an FIR against Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia for financing illicit trafficking of drugs and for abetment and criminal conspiracy in drug smuggling.

While Channi was indirectly blaming the Akali Dal, Sidhu was forthright and blamed BJP by comparing incidents of violence before the West Bengal elections.

Top Akali Dal leaders, Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, while addressing a joint press conference, blamed both the Congress government in Punjab and BJP government at the Centre for the law and order situation in Punjab. Sukhbir Badal claimed the wind was now blowing in favour of Akali Dal in Punjab and the Congress was trying to encourage such acts of sacrilege and terror to stem the popular tide.

While political parties are indulging in blame game, the moot point is: Whatever incidents that are taking place in Punjab does not bode well for the future. Till now, mysteriously, not a single clue has been found about the perpetrators of acts of sacrilege and blast. Political leaders have their own sets of speculations that suits their political interests. After the act of sacrilege and lynching in Golden Temple and the lynching in Kapurthala gurudwara, the Punjab police set up an SIT and asked it to submit its report within 48 hours. More than 148 hours have passed, and the report is yet to come.

Till now, there is no fact or clue to establish who tried to hurt the religious feelings of our Sikh brothers and sisters. After the Ludhiana blast, too, the state government has said, the perpetrators will be tracked down and nobody will be spared.

Capt Amarinder Singh says, I had already warned that Sidhu’s Pakistani friends can cause disturbances in Punjab and Chief Minister Channi will not be able to handle such a situation. Sidhu says, this has been done by our own agencies, thereby indirectly hinting that BJP carries out blasts for garnering votes. Channi is blaming the Punjab drug mafia, thereby indirectly pointing fingers at Akali Dal. Sukhbir Badal is blaming Channi’s government for its incompetence. Every major political leader is wearing a different set of spectacles to describe the present situation.

Punjab will go to the polls early next year and there had been apprehensions about violence and conspiracies before the polls. But the problem is, the leaders who are responsible for foiling conspiracies hatched by enemies and punishing the perpetrators, are themselves asking questions. It is strange that the persons from whom people of Punjab expect answers, are themselves raising questions. Pointing fingers at each other in a blame game will not do, take action.

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