Earlier this month three low intensity blasts rocked the holy city of Harmandir sahib - Sikhs most revered holy Gurudwara in Amritsar, India. The first blast occurred on May 6th on the Heritage Street, the second blast two days later near the same spot and third one on May 11th near Guru Ram Das Niwas Serai. Police soon after sprung into action and arrested five persons in the case. While the investigation is ongoing, the police claimed to have unearthed the conspiracy behind the blasts. Facts of the Matter Among the five suspects, the police identified Azad Veer Singh and Amrik Singh as the people who assembled the explosives, while the other three— Dharminder Singh, Harjeet Singh and Sahib Singh were held for procuring explosives. It was uncovered that Sahib Singh held a license for explosives used for manufacturing of firecrackers. Once arrested, police found further 1.1 kg of explosive materials from their possession and they were charged under various sections of the Explosives Act, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Indian Penal Code.
During the investigation, it was found that they used polyethene bags and energy drink containers with polythene bags to carry out the blasts. The motives behind acts of violence are multifaceted. While we cannot attest to what the final probe report will find, but here is the analysis-
• Disturbing Punjab’s Harmony: Punjab is a strategically vital border state for India. Throw into the mix that it is a Sikh-majority state has suffered from insurgency in the past, that makes the state a target for anti-social elements that wants to turn back the wheels of time and bring Punjab back to an era of instability.
• Incitement of Religious Tensions: The blast occurred in the vicinity of Harmandir Sahib, a place of extraordinary importance for Sikhs. Religious sentiments hold immense power, and the manipulation of these sentiments can have far-reaching consequences. By orchestrating the blasts in close proximity to the Golden Temple, the perpetrators might be aiming to incite communal tensions within the state.
• ‘Individually Radicalised’ Youth: While the police is not ruling out the hand of foreign based agencies or pro-Khalistani elements, police have also found remains of a letter thrown with the third blast that was pieced together by the investigators. The letter shed some light on the mentality of the perpetrators. They seemed to be upset over authority’s action over Amritpal Singh and his associates, viewing it as unwarranted. They expressed outrage over the easy availability of tobacco in Amritsar. They were also upset that the Sikh youth nowadays is trimming their beard and cutting the hair, and viewed it as a gross disrespect towards Sikhism.
• Foreign Influences and Proxy Warfare: As mentioned before, police has not ruled out the possibility that foreign elements could be involved in the act, directly or indirectly. It is crucial to recognize that such handlers often exploit existing grievances and socio-political fault lines to further their nefarious agendas. By providing 'funds' through various channels, they perpetuate the cycle of violence and exploit the vulnerability of individuals who are susceptible to radicalization. While the investigation into this incident continues, it is crucial for society to remain resilient and united in the face of such challenges.
Addressing the root causes of extremism, bridging social divides, and promoting dialogue among different communities are essential steps toward countering the forces that perpetuate violence.