In Punjab, ominous signs of extremism and police, political failure

Source– The post is based on the article “In Punjab, ominous signs of extremism and police, political failure” published in The Indian Express on 28th February 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Security

Relevance: Security issues related to Punjab

News- The followers of Amrit Pal Singh, leader stormed the police station at Ajnala near Amritsar on February 23, 2023, demanding the release of Lovepreet Singh Tufan.

What are the security related challenges faced by Punjab?

It is facing problems on multiple fronts. Criminal gangs have grown up in different districts and there are frequent reports of gang warfare. Seventy organised gangs with over 500 members are said to be active in the state.

Drugs are being smuggled into the state in a big way. 40% of Punjabi youth in the age group of 15-20 years have fallen prey to drugs and 48% of farmers and labourers are addicts.

Pakistan has been dropping weapons and drugs through drones on a large scale. According to the BSF, there is virtually a bombardment of drones.

There is a well-orchestrated plan to revive terrorism in the state. Pakistan has been is sheltering and funding the terrorist groups like Babbar Khalsa International, International Sikh Youth Federation

The ISI is also supporting Sikh diaspora, particularly those belonging to the World Sikh Organisation and Sikhs for Justice.

What is the sequence of events showing the deteriorating security situation in Punjab?

As far back as 2014, the Damdami Taksal built a memorial for Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other militants killed during Operation Blue Star

In 2016-17, there were targeted murders of RSS workers.

Khalistan posters and Bhindranwale’s images are openly displayed on the streets of Punjab on the anniversary of Operation Blue Star.

What are the reasons for the fragile security situation in Punjab?

Administration is showing a very low key response to these developments. It is politically convenient for them.

Security forces are capable of dealing with these challenges. But, they are not being provided with clear political directions. Political masters advice in critical scenarios is generally to handle the situation “tactfully” and not use force. It is convenient for their vote bank politics.

State government is interfering largely in police functioning. Higher functionaries of police have less functional autonomy. There have been four Director Generals of Police in the state since September 2021.

What is the way forward to improve the security scenario in Punjab?

The security of Punjab cannot be equated with the hinterland states.  The problem will have to be handled both internally as well as externally.

If the state government does not show the political will, it may be dismissed and President’s Rule can be imposed in the state. A strong governor will have to be sent with a team of competent advisors.

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