THE PRIME PURPOSE of anyone even thinking of committing sacrilege of holy scriptures of any religion is to incite the devout. Such is the power of the blasphemy/sacrilege narrative that the devout get incited in accordance with the script.
None of this happens in a vacuum. Sacrilege does not happen randomly, a trait this form of criminality shares with riots. There is always a context, a situation, a window in which such feelings could be targeted towards a clearly identified entity.
Once that happens, logic takes leave. Sentiments, and the machine feeding those sentiments, rule. That sacrilege happened under the regime of Badals feeds the anger. That similar incidents happened during the Amarinder regime becomes an incidental factoid.
That Badals did not catch the culprits makes Badals the target. That Amarinder Singh's police could not catch the culprits also makes Badals the target. Do not question the logic.
Bargari can be much, much bigger than what a DS Mand or a BS Daduwal can envisage.
None of the demands being made at Bargari are unjustified. People who hurt sentiments of an entire community, indeed of all right thinking people, must be brought to book. Police officers who took the law unto their own hands and killed innocent protestors must be made accountable. Regimes that were found in cahoots with the lawless elements must bear the brunt of public anger.
But something else is also happening at Bargari. The ongoing agitation is becoming the site of protest politics, and is subsuming the precious public mind space that rightfully belonged to other struggles of various demographics of citizens.
The agitations for jobs or other avenues to earn a livelihood assumed a sharp edge in the form of struggle of teachers now forced to work at meagre salary levels, but since teachers' agitation is loud, colourful, dramatic and capable of feeding reality television style news formats – a stall to dispense blood-filled bottles for ministers, an onslaught on Moti Mahal, Patiala – the travails of all other demographics of young men and women are pushed out.
The entire debate around farm suicides has been relegated to the margins of mass media since it is not as dramatic as the Bargari morcha.
Somehow, the crowd-proclaimed Akal Takht jathedar DS Mand and his associate cleric BS Daduwal have cornered the political agenda which is announced several times from the Bargari stage during the course of a single day, punctuated by chants of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale Amar Rahe and Jagtar Singh Hawara Zindabad. Leaders lending their support to the Bargari morcha haven't said if they have any issue with these slogans.
The ongoing agitation is becoming the site of protest politics, and is subsuming the precious public mind space that rightfully belonged to other struggles of various demographics of citizens.
This silence of convenience helps the current rulers.
It takes decades of struggle to give people a constitutional identity. Massive struggle lasting donkey years ensured that from Anil Ambani to Punjab's farmers to your daily garbage collecting hand are called citizens. Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats, Lohia'ites, Ambedkarites, Communists all become citizens.
At Bargari, all the people are identified as sadh-sangat
. There is no concept of citizenship. There is direct sanction to do what the collective proclaims is right. This sanction is derived straight from the Akal Purakh
. There is no way to check the validity of this direct command. If you had any doubt, they have installed the holy scriptures in the grain market, the site where farmers were to unload their paddy.
Once they make a commitment to the Guru, perform an Ardas, and command the crowd to follow the edict passed by the collective, who would have the power to offer any nuanced disagreement?
Gadaar is an epithet liberally bandied about. And if there is one photograph of yours with any member of the former rulers' family, that can be used as a clinching piece of evidence against you.
When Bargari becomes the pivot of politics, it is the success of the man who in the first place chose to commit the heinous act of sacrilege. Are we delivering to the Satan more than even he bargained for?
The erstwhile rulers have messed up their case and are watching which way Bargari will turn. The incumbent rulers know that their silence is the key to using the Bargari morcha to their advantage. The questions of farm suicides, denigration of public school system, the rot in the higher education, the state of Punjab's colleges and universities, the daily scenes of parents watching their young children suffering in hospitals because they simply cannot afford their treatment, our elderly citizens being left at the mercy of measly old age pensions and our young ones constantly dreaming of and working towards leaving Punjab forever and becoming residents of some foreign country — all of these and much more is subsumed by a Bargari morcha.
Once an enemy is identified, it can be blamed for every single ill. When Bargari becomes the pivot of politics, it is the success of the man who in the first place chose to commit the heinous act of sacrilege.
Are we delivering to the Satan more than even he bargained for?
Now, CM Amarinder Singh has said he has no understanding with radicals, and asked why would he ever support them? You can take him at his face value, or you can look into the mirror and slap yourself hard. What were you thinking all this while? Amarinder Singh has said that Congress was not doing the politics of religion, and he has also said he will back a moderate Sikh for management of gurdwaras. Where's the mirror?
The Akali Dal, of course, is at the receiving end, and its leadership is largely responsible for having brought itself to this turn. The reason is that the Akali Dal learnt nothing from its defeat. The party never behaved like a force defeated at the hustings. Its leadership thought clever political posturing will help get by.
It now harks back to its history, reminding everyone that it is an almost 100 year old party. But it needs to understand that when it came to power, it had dumped the history, forgotten its legacy and trashed its own struggle. It chose to become the party of airports, of Progressive Punjab summits, of cheque distribution dramas at Sangat Darshans
. If managed politics through halqa-incharges
and when out of power, it thought it merely needs to wait it out.
Deep inside, there is nothing to the party. It is all hollow.
THE FACT IS that Punjab's politics is a shrinking universe of morals where talk of ideas and ideologies is neither a serious issue nor does anyone lose any sleep over it. Hyperbolic statements can be crafted by media advisors on either side, while parties are reduced to mere electoral machines. Success legitimises ambition, greed and intrigue. All this has become the matrix in which we Punjabis have been anchoring our lives.
Raising questions, pointing fingers, stating facts, calling out bluffs, and refusing to strike false equivalence when the choice is between stark truth and utter lies. Not doing this is be-adbi of the Guru.
It is this that we need to question – in our drawing rooms, in our Assembly meetings, at Bargari.
The agenda at Bargari must be that Bargari must not become the sole agenda. The question about the adab
of the Guru raises bigger issues, and demands bigger answers from us. It demands engagement, not just sloganeering.
It demands that we question ourselves. It involves a major thrashing out of ideas to understand why things are the way they are, and what must be done to move forward. It starts by asking questions. It is an onerous task. Raising questions, pointing fingers, stating facts, calling out bluffs, and refusing to strike false equivalence when the choice is between stark truth and utter lies. Not doing this is be-adbi of the Guru.
We learnt this from the Guru. We need to do this because we are citizens. Even questioning Bargari is a civic duty, one sanctioned by the Guru.
Because Bargari can be much, much bigger than what a DS Mand or a BS Daduwal can envisage.
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