Govt’s tactful handling, mediators defused situation
WHAT IT MEANS FOR KEY POLITICAL PLAYERS?
BARGARI (FARIDKOT): The 190-daylong Bargari Insaaf Morcha (protest sit-in) that snowballed into one of the Capt Amarinder Singhled Congress government’s biggest challenges seems set to end rather tamely here on Sunday.
When parallel Akal Takht jathedar Dhian Singh Mand gave indications to this effect, few people expected it. Parleys between the state government and the morcha leaders had been going on behind the scene with the former’s tactful handling, coupled with firmness and patience, helping defuse the situation.
Despite reports from intelligence agencies and allegations of the Akalis that morcha organisers were hobnobbing with Sikh radicals, the government, drawing a lesson from mistakes committed by the previous Parkash Singh Badal-led Akali Dal regime, had ruled out use of force. The government’s strategy, along with its repeated assurances on their demands relating to action against the guilty of sacrilege and police firing in 2015, clicked. The morcha organisers, who are facing the fatigue factor, also helped matters by keeping their sit-in peaceful and not letting politicians turn protest into an anticongress platform.
BAJWA, BABA SEWA SINGH PLAYED KEY ROLE
The breakthrough, according to a source privy to talks, has been made possible by cabinet ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Baba Sewa Singh of Rampur Kehrewale. Since June 1, the day the protest started, Bajwa was in touch with the morcha organisers to discuss their demands, banking on parallel Damdama Sahib jathedar Baljit Singh Daduwal to help find a resolution. However, things did not work out and the government realised that Mand would take the final call.
The organisers held two mega shows in September and October, leaving the government anxious. As the special investigation team (SIT) started looking into sacrilege and police firing cases, the government negotiators, including Bajwa, touched base with Baba Sewa Singh who helped take things forward and brought Mand on board. “On his (Sewa Singh) request, five Panthic outfits had announced their merger at Bargari on November 25.
Bajwa and Randhawa were able to convince him about efforts being made by the government to meet the demands,” said the source.
On December 3, Mand gave first hints about softening of his stance towards the government by saying that it had agreed to their demands and that he would take the final call soon. What also helped the government bring around Mand was SIT summons to former CM Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief Sukhbir Badal and actor Akshay Kumar and their subsequent questioning.
Baba Sewa Singh said the morcha’s demands were genuine and he had meetings with the ministers and organisers in the past few days to break the deadlock. Mand’s announcement to call off the protest is a dampener for them, coming just 48 hours before their nine-day “Insaaf March” from Talwandi Sabo to Patiala
While Bajwa praised the morcha organisers keeping their protest peaceful, Randhawa said he was part of talks as one demand related to his department (jails).
PANTHIC GROUPS LACKING CONSENSUS
The decision to call off the protest is not unanimous as a section of Panthic leaders are not sure how the move will be received by the community if there is no substantial announcement from the government. Daduwal said he had no information about talks and was not taken into confidence. “Mand can talk about how it happened,” he said. There are others who seem unsure about the future of the Panthic platform once the morcha is lifted.
Parallel jathedar Dhian Singh Mand addressing the gathering at Bargari in the last week of November.