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Punjab: The Knights of Falsehood
K P S Gill

About the Book

The terror that swept Punjab through the Eighties and into the early Nineties was not created in a vacuum. The events of the early eighties were the spark that ignited the fire; but it was fuelled by the deliberate distortion of the message of Sikhism by those who had donned the mantle of Sikh leadership in this century. This leadership has seized control of the shrines, and set itself up as the final arbiter, of the Faith; contrary to the message of the Gurus, they have circumscribed the Faith in a meaningless litany of rituals and an obsession with communal identity.

This, however, was not sufficient to satisfy the powerlust of these petty men. They have used the Gurudwaras as a stepping stone to a even more lucrative destination: the State legislature. For decades a vocabulary of hate cloaked political demands in religious garb, and at every turn in the political circus the Panth was 'imperilled'. It was this venomous rhetoric that was extended into action by the terrorists who eventually captured the communal plank.

When the time came to reap the whirlwind, the 'leaders of the faith' simply abdicated responsibility. Not only did they hand over the holiest of Sikh shrines to rapists and murderers, they even justified their most heinous actions in the name of an invented mythology of the 'oppression' of the Sikhs.

The murderers and rapists are now gone. But the leaders and the institutional structure that produced the malignancy of terror now occupy centre-stage in the politics of Punjab.

Are we condemned to repeat the ruinous cycle of the past?

The print edition of The Knights of Falsehood was first published in India in 1997.

Profile: K.P.S. Gill

K.P.S. Gill led the war against terrorism in Punjab during his tenure as Director General of Police in the state, and it was under his direction that the movement for Khalistan was finally and comprehensively defeated. Gill is credited with radical strategic innovations in counter-terrorist operations, and an extraordinary understanding of the psyche of the people of Punjab, which contributed directly to what was, after he took over, a remarkably swift operation and a decisive victory. An officer of the Indian Police Service [Batch of 1957] from the Assam cadre, he had already tackled terrorism and political turbulence during his career in India's troubled north-east which spanned the period of the AGP-ULFA movement during the early eighties.

Gill had also served as Director General, Central Reserve Police Force; Inspector General, Border Security Force, Jammu; and Inspector General of Police, Meghalaya.

Having retired from the police, he is now the President of the Institute for Conflict Management, Editor of Faultlines, a former member of the National Security Advisory Board (period December 1998 - December 1999), and President of the Indian Hockey Federation. He writes frequently for a number of newspapers and magazines.


I Doctrines of Faith  
II The Mask of Faith  
III The Ministry of Hate  
IV Psalms of Terror  
V Beyond Pilgrimages, Beyond Creeds  
VI Looking for a New Star  


For ten long years, Punjab was tormented by a virulent campaign of terror; but by 1993, the terrorists had been comprehensively defeated, and peace returned to the state. This was certainly an exceptional victory, won at great costs and with great sacrifices. It was a victory I had the honour of sharing with the thousands of brave men in the Punjab police who spearheaded the battle against terrorism; with the jawans and officers of the other arms of the security forces who participated in that battle; and with hundreds of brave men and women in the Punjab countryside who eventually confronted the terrorists and helped bring their depredations to an end. The experience of the protracted and complex low intensity war that brought about this victory has in it many lessons of great strategic and political significance.

It was in the course of recollecting and recording these experiences that my attention came to be progressively focused on a single recurrent theme that eventually became the subject of this book. The virulent campaign for ‘Khalistan’ was fought in the name of religion - specifically, my religion, Sikhism. The Sikhs have been involved in warfare almost throughout their history, but no campaign has ever brought odium and disgrace upon them and upon their Faith as this despicable movement did. And yet the Faith, and a majority of the community, in whose name the most unforgivable atrocities were committed - against every explicit tenet of that very Faith - had nothing whatsoever to do with this lunatic and savage adventure. Indeed, it was this very community that most vigorously resisted, and eventually helped defeat, the scourge of terror in Punjab.

The gross abuse of the teachings of the Gurus, and the petty, malicious conspiracy for power that inspired this heretical campaign, demand exposure. This book, to my mind, was far more urgent than any analysis of tactics and strategies to counter terrorism; for it addresses a far more grave and insidious danger than any such examination would.

The various themes in this book were discussed with friends, family, and a number of eminent people; while I would like to express my gratitude to each of them here, I will not give an extended list of all who have contributed to the elaboration of my arguments. Special thanks are, however, due to my daughter Chitvan, whose help made this book possible.






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