Rise of Bhindrawale under Congress patronage

Congress was not only responsible for inventing Bhindrawle but also for his uprising and transformation from a ‘Saint’ to ‘Militant’.

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 Zail Singh was ousted as Chief Minister of Punjab by Akali government. In order to widen his power base and weaken the Akalis, he encouraged the activities of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his ultra-orthodox intolerant followers. In order to create a rift in the Akali Dal, a new faction called Dal Khalsa led by Bhindranwale was started with blessings of Zail Singh, Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi on April 13, 1978.

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Congress’s resistance in restoring peace

In early 80s Punjab was boiling and unrest had ripped the state apart. There was a long history of congenial environment in state and Hindu-Sikhs had always lived peacefully. But first time in the history of state, divide between two leading communities was created and it was growing rapidly.

There were many initiatives with regard to bringing normalcy in state and peace talks were negotiated. But congress would never let any headway in this direction as that would have weaken their political stand. Congress was only bothered about scoring political points and as long as it helped them gain political mileage, they let it go and panicked later when situation went out of their hands.

On three separate occasions when agreement with the Akalis was in sight, Mrs. Gandhi withdrew at the last moment.

 Many well-known persons like V M Tarkunde former Judge of Bombay High Court, have remarked:

If Bhindranwale is arrested Akali leaders ccould influence the moderate opinion and negotiations could be peacefully concluded.

But that would have strengthened the Akali Dal and that was precisely what Indira Gandhi would have never allowed. No matter what the consequences for India was?

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