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Who is Simranjit Singh Mann, why his victory is considered a dangerous sign?

Who is Simranjit Singh Mann, why his victory is considered a dangerous sign?

The victory of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Chairman Simranjit Singh Mann, 77, from Punjab’s Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, is seen as a threat to the rise of Akali politics once again in Punjab.

In 2019, Bhagwant Singh Mann of the Aam Aadmi Party won this Lok Sabha constituency, but after becoming the Chief Minister of Punjab, a by-election had to be held here.

Extremist politics

According to The Hindu report, Simranjit Singh Mann is identified as a staunch Sikh leader, often speaking of Khalistan. This is Simranjit Singh’s first electoral victory in the last 23 years. With his victory, he fears extremist Sikh politics will be back on the air.

Observers who follow Punjab politics said that Simranjit Singh’s victory may take the form of a challenge to Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party government. Observers say that only three months of AAP rule in Punjab have passed and to stop extremist politics in the state, one has to focus on development policy and good governance.

In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, a series of tragic terrorist attacks began in Khalistan, but popular support for the movement waned after that. However, in recent times there have been sporadic incidents in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal regarding Khalistan and there is a debate about its revival.

Simranjit Singh has become an MP for the third time. He formed his party in 1994. In June 1984 he resigned from IPS in protest against Operation Blue Star. During these years, he was arrested in many cases. These cases also included the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Simranjit Singh had also served a five-year prison sentence.

In the Sangrur Lok Sabha by-elections, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) raised emotional issues fiercely. In these, priority was given to the demand for the release of Sikh prisoners. Just in May, Simranjit Singh had demanded the release of Sikh prisoners along with Khalistan at a meeting of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPS). Simranjit Singh had demanded to pass a resolution in favour of Khalistan in the SGPC. They claim that it was approved unanimously in 1946.

Dangerous sign

Dr. Pramod Kumar, director of the Institute for Development and Communication in Chandigarh, told The Hindu: “Simranjit Singh Mann’s victory shows that the Akali policy of the extremist factions is gaining ground again. In Akali politics, there is a strong emphasis on Panthik (Sikh), farmers, and those with a provincial outlook. It is clear from the election results that SAD (Amritsar) has won all three Sangrur assembly constituencies.

Pramod Kumar says: “So far, the AAP has failed on the development and good governance front. If it wants to confront the politics of extremism, then its government will have to keep development and good governance high on the agenda. Apart from this, the Punjabi identity discourse has to be strengthened. The liberal politics of Shiromani Akali Dal has weakened and the militant politics of Akali is spreading again and this is a dangerous sign.

Former state DGP Shashi Kant said Mann’s victory has sent a message among extremists that the Khalistan narrative can gain momentum. They say that drones, money and explosives have flown from Pakistan to Punjab in the recent past.

Who is Simranjit Singh Mann?

Born in Shimla in 1945, Simranjit Singh Mann studied at Bishop Cotton School and graduated from a public university in Chandigarh. He joined the Indian Police Service in 1967 and held various posts including Superintendent of Police (Police), SP (Headquarters), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ferozepur; SSP Faridkot and group commander of the Central Industrial Security Force.

  • He joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1967 and held various posts including Superintendent of Police (Surveillance), SP (Headquarters), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ferozepur; SSP Faridkot and group commander of the Central Industrial Security Force.
  • Mann has been a supporter of Khalistan and has been raising Sikh and minority issues in different forums.
  • Every year on June 6, he and his supporters gather inside the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar and raise pro-Khalistan slogans to mark the anniversary of Operation Bluestar. (Operation Bluestar was carried out by the Indian Army in June 1984 to flush out militants hiding in the Golden Temple complex.)
  • Mann resigned from IPS in 1984 following Operation Bluestar, which was carried out to flush out militants hiding in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. Every year on June 6, he and his supporters gather inside the Golden Temple complex and raise pro-Khalistan slogans to mark the anniversary of Operation Bluestar.
  • He was elected to the Lok Sabha of Tarn Taran in 1989 and Sangrur in 1999.
  • SAD (Amritsar) has been trying its luck in the Punjab Assembly polls but to no avail. Mann had contested the 2022 Assembly election from the Amargarh seat and was defeated by the AAP’s Jaswant Singh Gajjanmajra by a margin of 6,043 votes.

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