Chandigarh: Political failure led to the spread of terrorism in Punjab in the eighties and Pakistani involvement in it came only at a "later stage", former police chief KPS Gill, credited with stamping out terrorism from Punjab in the late 1980s and early 1990s, has said.
Gill, a former Punjab Police chief, said that initially terrorism in Punjab was homegrown and did not have Pakistani backing.
He made the comment while taking part in the `Asian Connections` programme of a Toronto-based Canadian radio channel Monday night.
"There was no role of Pakistan in starting terrorism in Punjab. In fact, Pakistan came in the picture at a later stage," he said.
Residents of Toronto posed questions to Gill, who replied from New Delhi.
Asked by a caller about the factors that led to flourishing of terrorism in Punjab, Gill said: "When (Jarnail Singh) Bhindranwale was active and he was trying to expand his activities, the response of the ruling party at that time was very weak. That is why terrorist activities increased in the state. There was no clear-cut policy of the government against the terrorists and that gave them a chance to thrive.
"It was a complete political failure. The government did not follow the right path due to which we faced difficulty to control it later on. If they had taken strict action at the initial stages then we could have easily avoided whatever happened in Punjab. Help (to the terrorists), in various forms, was coming from the Indian diaspora settled abroad in countries like the US, Canada and in Europe without any check."
Talking about apprehensions about the revival of terrorism in Punjab, Gill said: "I do not think that terrorism can ever revive in Punjab, under any circumstances. Just putting photos of Bhindranwale on one side and of Bhagat Singh on the other side of the car`s mirror does not mean anything. People of the present generation do not even know about Bhindranwale or any of his accomplices."
"Most people have forgotten the history that had happened that time. I once asked a youngster why he was sporting Bhindranwale`s photo on his car, the simple reply was `Because it looks cool`. So it is more related with a style statement rather than any ideology," he said in response to a caller from Toronto.
Sikh ideologue Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a former head of the radical Sikh religious organization Damdami Taksal, had led heavily armed Sikh volunteers demanding a separate Sikh state of Khalistan in early 1980s. He was killed after Indian Army troops stormed the Golden Temple in 1984.
However, even after his death he continues to live on in Punjab through stickers, posters, T-shirt photos and even key-chains. He is still referred to as `Sant (Saint) Bhindranwale`.
In the last few months, nearly a dozen terrorists have been nabbed and explosives recovered from different parts of Punjab.
Gill also said he favours a strong response from security agencies against the growing menace of Maoists.
"Naxalites (Maoists) are no heroes as they are portrayed by some sections of society. They are simply criminals and deserve no leniency from any government or community. They are very dangerous for our country and should be dealt with very strictly."
The radio programme was coordinated by chairman of the Department of History of Panjab University, M. Rajivlochan, from here.