Unreal in an Election Year
Minister Gandhi is having to commit Army units in Punjab State to contain the growing threat ol civil war between the local Sikh majority and the Hindus. Her action comes just two weeks alter she dispatched troops in Bombay to quell rioting Detween Muslims and Hindus. Sending troops into Punfab is an admission that her political strategy and paramilitary troops have tailed to solve the crisis. The Army may have trouble ending the violence quickly, because many formerly moderate Sikhs now support the extremists in their "holy war" against the mostly Hindu state government
Gandhi hopes by crackinguntao to undo carnage to her poliiical sianrling Ihat hasam the mounting religious violence throughout the country Sie has lorg -ehed or. votes item India's Muslim minority, but many Muslims now oiame Ihe Congress Party lor failing to protect Ihem o- Improve iheir status She recently has irred to offset lhe loss of suppori from net traditional Muslim ana southern constituencies oy appealing lo Hindus. Cut many Hindus believe she has been loo generou* toward /eigious minorities and :oo tolerant ot their activism. M|
Opposilion parlies are Blaming Gsndh.'s reliance an delaying taclics for allowing Sikh extremalsurn demands lor more stateikh-Hinduiraiegic Border slate ^KMm
Relying on the Army
The military is always reluctant lo be assigned domestic peacekeeping duties, especiallyotential staging area on the Border with Pakistan Gandhihe Armyesponse to renewed lerrorismcheduled Sikh blockade of vital grain shipments from lhe slate |
Because Of the large numoe' cfhe Army, its deployment in Sikh-dominated Punjabeasure of last resort The crackdown by Ihe Army nsks provoking Sikh retaliation againsthe
Gandhi nas placed Punjabar tooling io ensure that the :racXdown will work.l
rhe Army is in charge of ait olher forces innd will use -vhaie^e' force is necessary to restoreess repels indicate tnai troops ard larks launched an attack ihis morning on the sacred Sikn Goldenr. where extremists have been Dtockaded.
ir me Army restores orderunjab quickly. Ganah* orcbaciy wii *ift tne national elections,h extra voles from Hindus who approve her decisive aciion. She presumably has already written oir ine voles of ihe Sikhs, ir me conflict drags on. however, trie crisis could cause the oppositionte and greaterc:.jrat prospecis.
In tne meantime, the Prime Minister will Blarre much of ine sir ike cn foreign powers. This is bound tondia'shc US. Pakistan, and the Arab states. Rioting fast week by prc-Pa't-siani Muslims in Indian Kashmir in sympathy withombay wilt increase Gandhi's fear ihat foreign powers arc stirringslndia.