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Celebrations of Violence


Time, Apr. 7, 1986

Photo: Surjit Singh Barnala

Last week was supposed to have marked the traditional festivities celebrating the rites of spring. Instead, Indians suffered a convulsion of Hindu-Sikh violence that claimed at least 41 lives. The most alarming incident occurred in the northwestern state of Punjab, where at least seven people were killed and 27 injured when Sikh militants tried to assassinate the moderate Punjabi Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala during a political rally.

Barnala, who has been criticized for being too lenient with the militants, had already indicated that he might be forced to toughen his policies toward them. 'The time has perhaps come when more stern steps will be needed to tackle the problem,' he said. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi urged all parties in the state to unite behind Barnala and dispatched two top aides to advise the beleaguered state leader.