The People’s Republic of Punjab has been grappling with simmering tensions since the attempted insurrection by a group called Waris Punjab De led by Amritpal Singh. WPD had gained traction among disenchanted youth with its promise to live with dignity and had stirred many an emotion. As this ‘tragi-comic drama’ unfolds with Amritpal at the center only close to being apprehended, Punjab Police have some soul-searching to do. As the net of central agencies close around Amritpal, with surveillance even extended to Pakistan and Nepal, the struggle of Punjab police and agencies to apprehend him is rightly garnering some criticism.
Sure enough there is a force of nature behind Amritpal Singh’s unique brand of insurgency. All these developments harbour the possibility of being part of an audacious conspiracy to manipulate the situation leading to something far more serious. Explosive rumours, especially where none of the parties involved is opening up, adds weight to this suspicion. The fact that only an acting DGP is at helm of the Punjab police during a crucial juncture in the state’s history doesn’t speak volumes about the intentions of the authorities. The Prakash Singh Report need to be implemented at the earliest to bring order to this chaos.
As times get tough, people desperately look for something to latch on to. Amritpal has earned a Robin Hood sort of following, harking back to the days of Bhai ji, AK47 and Baba Amarpal. Problem with this is that within the narrative, substance can get flimsy and sensibility can take a backseat to bravado. Punjab, especially our youth, have a curious and grey neckline to their judgement, and some of them have become ‘Chitutes’. While our diaspora has taken on to guns and slogans that apparently point this heritage towards a wrong direction, it speaks of an age-old problem of the state- unemployment and lack of the right opportunities.
What this tussle reveals is that Punjab needs strong, selfless and ethical leadership. We need heroes to step against the tide of indifference and manipulation, and build a future for our youth. We need a leader who understands the sentiment of ‘Nanak Naam Lewa’ and forges a Punjabiyat based on values of respect and understanding. We need a leader who can bring about meaningful progressive change and earn the trust of the people of Punjab. And in times like these, we need to place such importance on the ideas that make us, above all else.