Rising communal temperature in north-west India as a result of the Dera Sacha Sauda issue is worrying the security establishment in the country. A senior intelligence analyst told the Hindustan Times that it could give radicals an excuse to exploit the situation.
"Terrorism may be dead in Punjab, but its lethal remnants are still around, some in Pakistan and others abroad in Europe and other countries," he said. He added that while security forces kept a tight lid on the situation in Punjab, there were always possibilities of a hidden or "sleeper" group being activated to exploit a situation.
Former Intelligence Bureau chief D.C. Pathak had a different take. He said "I won't jump to those conclusions immediately. You may be seeing ghosts (of Punjab terrorism) from a distance, but the current violence seems to be part of the cycle of violence over sectarian issues that grips the country occasionally."
The analyst concurred with Pathak's view, but said "while the terrorists are gone in Punjab, radical Sikh political groups remain very active." They can count on support of a network of militants and radicals across the globe who are still able to raise funds, though not in the scale they used to in the past.
For example, the list of 20 most wanted terrorists that India gave to Pakistan in 2002, in the wake of the attack on Parliament, contained five Sikh militants. They are Wadhawa Singh of the Babbar Khalsa International, Ranjit Singh Neeta of the Khalistan Zindabad Force, Paramjit Singh Panjwar of the Khalistan Commando Force, Lakhbir Singh Rode of the International Sikh Youth Federation and Gajinder Singh of Dal Khalsa. Pakistan, of course, denied their presence in its soil.
Of the five Sikh militants, the first two remain active and dangerous, the analyst said. Their last major action was the twin blasts in two Delhi cinema halls showing the film Jo Bole So Nihal in May 2005. There have been some small blasts in Chandigarh and some in Ludhiana resulting in two buses being burnt in the past two years. While this may confirm the fact that terrorism is indeed dead in the state, security agencies remain worried that prolonged sectarian and communal violence can create problems.