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Financial distress in Punjab provides space to corruption, fanaticism: Expert

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Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], July 16 (ANI): The existing financial distress in Punjab is providing space for corruption and extremism, said an expert while hinting at a rising national security threat due to the state having an international border with Pakistan.

In an interview with ANI, Ajai Sahni, the executive director of the Institute of Conflict Management and South Asia Terrorism Portal said, “Punjab is in very significant financial distress in every sector. There is very little industrial growth and the agricultural sector is in crisis. Plus, there is extremely active mischief both by Pakistan and by certain elements in the diaspora. These have not resulted in very significant terrorist action”.

Sahni, who closely monitors the security situation in Punjab, said the recent incidents of sacrilege killings in the state posed serious challenges for the current government.

“If you look at the continuous flow of information, you see arrests, arms recovery, and conspiracies. You can also see on the one hand evidence of increasing religiosity which may be a good thing but when it pushes to fanaticism it becomes problematic. So you see more and more religiosity and more and more manifestation of fanaticism including this enormous hysteria over ‘Beadbi’ cases or so called sacrilege,” said Sahni.

Punjab being a bordering state with Pakistan has been facing threats like cross-border terrorism, supply of arms, drugs and illegal counterfeit currency.

Sahni said, “Despite the fact that I do not think Sikhism has any concept in its holy books of sacrilege. So, there is a certain and continuous risk which needs to be taken seriously to ensure that it does not spill over into terrorist movements again.”

There have been numerous incidents in Punjab where pro-Khalistan slogans were raised and Sikh separatists living in Canada and the United States are proactively pushing their agenda to disrupt peace in the state.

Sahni believes that New Delhi needs to keep its distance from such nefarious activities of pro-Khalistani activists.

“I would also like to say there is also an enormous need for restraint on the part of the state. We do not need to get excited over every little statement that is made or act extremely strongly against groups that have little or no base, such as the Sikhs for Justice. There was no real need to make such a big issue out of the Sikhs for Justice,” said Sahni.

He added, “If you watch their video, you see two or four people gathering. So why are we constantly talking about Sikhs for Justice? You are drumming up their identity. So there has to be a certain degree of restraint. We have to distinguish between trivial activities. Someone is being offered money but no money actually comes. Someone is offered money to paint some slogan on the wall or put up a Khalistan flag and we slap terrorism charges against them. This is over-reaction.”

Sahni said Punjab is facing more internal challenges than its external forces.

“Before the terrorism started in Punjab in 1979-80, Punjab had the second highest per capita income in the country after Maharashtra. When terrorism ended in 1994-1995, it still was the second highest. So the 15 years of terrorism did not destroy the economy of Punjab, after that, it continued in the same position right till 1998,” stated Sahni.

He said the Punjab economy started declining rapidly since then and now it is in the 19th position in terms of per capita income.

“So when Pakistan was fully supporting a mass terrorist movement in Punjab they could not destroy our economy. How are they destroying the economy now?” he noted.

As the new government led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Maan has taken over, Punjab has to deal with various challenges emanating from inside, neighbouring Pakistan and those separatists sitting in the West, said Sahni. (ANI)

This report is auto-generated from ANI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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