OPERATION RED ROSE
The Khalistan Movement
The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement seeking to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a sovereign state, called Khālistān (‘Land of the Khalsa’), in the Punjab region. The proposed state would consist of land that currently forms Punjab, India, and Punjab, Pakistan.
Ever since the separatist movement gathered force in the 1980s, the territorial ambitions of Khalistan have at times included Chandigarh, sections of the Indian Punjab, including the whole of North India, and some parts of the western states of India. Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, according to Jagjit Singh Chohan, had proposed all-out help to create Khalistan during his talks with Chohan, following the conclusion of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
The call for a separate Sikh state began in the wake of the fall of the British Empire. In 1940, the first explicit call for Khalistan was made in a pamphlet titled “Khalistan”. With financial and political support of the Sikh diaspora, the movement flourished in the Indian state of Punjab – which has a Sikh-majority population – continuing through the 1970s and 1980s, and reaching its zenith in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, the insurgency petered out, and the movement failed to reach its objective for multiple reasons including a heavy police crackdown on separatists, factional infighting, and disillusionment from the Sikh population.
There is some support within India and the Sikh diaspora, with yearly demonstrations in protest of those killed during Operation Blue Star. In early 2018, some militant groups were arrested by police in Punjab, India. Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh claimed that the recent extremism is backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and “Khalistani sympathizers” in Canada, Italy, and the UK.
Sikh relationship with Punjab
Map of the present-day Indian state of Punjab. Following the partition, East Punjab became PEPSU, which was further divided in 1966 with the formation of the new states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh as well as the current state of Punjab. Punjab is the only state in India with a majority Sikh population.
Sikh historian Harjot Singh Oberoi argues that, despite the historical linkages between Sikhs and Punjab, the territory has never been a major element of Sikh self-definition. He makes the case that the attachment of Punjab with Sikhism is a recent phenomenon, stemming from the 1940s. Historically, Sikhism has been pan-Indian, with the Guru Granth Sahib drawing from works of saints in both North and South India, while several major seats in Sikhism are located outside of Punjab.
Oberoi makes the case that Sikh leaders in the late 1930s and 1940s realized that the dominance of Muslims in Pakistan and of Hindus in India was imminent. To justify a separate Sikh state within Punjab, Sikh leaders started to mobilize meta-commentaries and signs to argue that Punjab belonged to Sikhs and Sikhs belonged to Punjab. This began the territorialization of the Sikh community.
This territorialization of the Sikh community would be formalized in March 1946, when the Sikh political party of Akali Dal passed a resolution proclaiming the natural association of Punjab and the Sikh religious community. Oberoi argues that despite having its beginnings in the early 20th century, Khalistan as a separatist movement was never a major issue until the late 1970s and 1980s when it began to militarize.
Increasing militant activity
Widespread murders by followers of Bhindranwale occurred in the 1980s Punjab. Armed Khalistani militants of this period described themselves as Kharkiv, most likely meaning ‘noise maker,’ from the Punjabi karaka in reference to their strident activity. In the period between 4 August 1982 and 3 June 1984, more than 1200 violent incidents took place, resulting in the death of 410 people and the injury of 1180.
On its own, the year 1984 saw 775 violent incidents, resulting in 298 people killed and 525 injured. One such murder was that of DIG Avtar Singh Atwal, killed on 25 April 1983 at the gate of the Darbar Sahib, whose corpse would remain at the place of death for 2 hours as even police officers were afraid to touch the body without Bhindranwale’s permission. This showed the power and influence that Bhindranwale had over the region.
Though it was common knowledge that those responsible for such bombings and murders were taking shelter in gurdwaras, the INC Government of India declared that it could not enter these places of worship, for the fear of hurting Sikh sentiments. Even as detailed reports on the open shipping of arms-laden trucks were sent to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Government would choose not to take action. Finally, following the murder of six Hindu bus passengers in October 1983, an emergency rule was imposed in Punjab, which would continue for more than a decade.
The assassination of Indira Gandhi and anti-Sikh riots
On the morning of 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by her two personal security guards Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, both Sikhs, in retaliation for Operation Blue Star. The assassination would trigger the 1984 anti-Sikh riots across North India. While the ruling party, Indian National Congress, maintained that the violence was due to spontaneous riots, its critics have alleged that INC members themselves had planned a pogrom against the Sikhs.
The Nanavati Commission, a special commission created to investigate the riots, concluded that INC leaders had directly or indirectly taken a role in the rioting incidents. Union Minister Kamal Nath was accused of leading riots near Rakab Ganj but was cleared due to a lack of evidence. Other political parties strongly condemned the riots. Two major civil-liberties organizations issued a joint report on the anti-Sikh riots, naming 16 significant politicians, 13 police officers, and 198 others, accused by survivors and eyewitnesses.
About Operation Red Rose
The Punjab Excise Department busted an illegal bottling plant at Rajpura (Patiala district) using GPS technology. The Punjab state has made it mandatory for the transporters of Extra Neutral Alcohol to install GPS systems in their vehicles.
The state’s excise revenue has increased by 29 percent as compared to last year due to the action taken by the Punjab government against the illegal business of liquor under Operation Red Rose. With the increased sale of liquor, the Excise Department has also increased the 15 percent quota of liquor for the first time. As a result, an increase of Rs 785 crore has been registered in Maliye so far.
Punjab’s Finance Commissioner (Tax) A Venu Prasad and Excise Commissioner Punjab Rajat Agarwal took stock of the illegal factory that was caught in Rajpura preparing country liquor on behalf of the Department and Excise Police here on Wednesday. After this, these officials said that to prevent theft while bringing Extra Neutral Ethanol (ENA) to factories, seals and GPS systems have already been implemented on the vehicles engaged in its transportation. Now a new strategy has been prepared under more vigilance so that any disturbance can be prevented.
The Punjab Excise Department used GPS technology to blow up an illegal liquor bottling plant in Rajpura, Patiala district. In Punjab, a neutral alcohol carrier is required to install a GPS system in a vehicle. On 12th December in the year 2020, a control room set up for the operation captured a 20,000 liters extra neutral alcohol loaded truck. In Rajpura, police officers found an illegal bottling factory in. This paved the way for the operation to be successful. Since then, the conviction rate for the operation has risen. The main purpose of this operation is to ensure that there is no illegal traffic of alcohol in Punjab.
Methods used by the department
The department uses a variety of technologies (bottle factory flow meters, Passes that are QR code-based, GPS-enabled transport vehicles, e-transit passes) to stop the stealing of excise taxes, including direct delivery of spirits from the manufacturing department without the payment of taxes. Suppresses various modules of smuggling liquor from the other states etc.
Presently, the entire state liquor manufacturing process is online and monitored in real-time. Illegal alcohol in the state reduced the state government’s income. In the year 2019, Rs 5118 crores were the liquor revenue to the state government. Due to the operation, the revenue of Rs 7000 crore is the expected revenue increase.