Punjab's former DGP KPS Gill on Wednesday said the Punjab government should have zero tolerance towards those who supported terrorists and their cause. In a free-wheeling interview to assistant editor Chitleen K Sethi, the former top cop said the Akalis had done the right thing in defusing the situation developing in the state due to the continuing "fast" by Sikh activist Surat Singh Khalsa.
How do you react to the issue of Sikh prisoners and the fast by Surat Singh Khalsa?
Here is a man who is on a perpetual fast. Is it possible for someone to continue with a fast this long? Also, how can someone suddenly get a following? Huge sums are being sent by unidentified people to keep such issues alive in Punjab. Do any of these supporters have the correct list as to how many Sikh prisoners are languishing in jails? They don't even know what they are fighting for.
Will the Akalis, in a bid to come to power again, rake up the so-called Panthic agenda?
The Akalis never had a Panthic agenda. It was the Congress which had a Panthic agenda. Bhindranwale was the brainchild of the Congress. He was an intelligence operation gone awry. The Akalis are only scared of giving up the agenda which the Congress had given birth to. The one good thing the SAD has done is to take a hard stance against terrorism. The SAD paid a heavy price for terrorism and learnt its lessons. In the past seven years, hardliners have been kept in their place.
What do you think should be the role played by the SGPC in these issues?
The SGPC has become a political organisation. I have not seen the SGPC doing much for the upkeep of gurdwaras or spreading the Sikh religion. During the days of terrorism, I found the role they played was highly immoral and don't think they have improved since. They cannot handle such situations. I agree with Parkash Singh Badal when he says that it is a problem which needs to be handled socially, not politically.
But does not a situation like this become a harbinger of revival of terrorism in Punjab?
That may not happen, but it is not good to have a state which is in constant turmoil. Punjab is a state in constant tumult breeding discontent -- teachers turning agitators, youngsters turning gangsters, youth taking to drugs and the mischievous trying to fan communalism. These are not good signs. There is a lot of unrest, most of which is engineered. Political parties in Punjab should focus on development. Unfortunately, no politician other than Partap Singh Kairon focused on taking the state forward.
What is the solution to this?
Punjab has no money. The education system has collapsed. The answer lies in gainfully engaging the youth, not only in terms of skill development and employment but in sports in a big way. By sports, I don't mean kabaddi, but training our youth for internationally recognised games so that they excel in them. It should be one of the biggest areas of focus of the government.
Is there too much of political interference in religion in Punjab?
Yes. Akalis opened a Guru Granth Sahib research university and reduced the Guru Granth Sahib to a subject. Religion should not be taught as a subject in universities and colleges. It should be something to be practised at home. When you treat something as a subject it is deemed outside one's self.