SINCE 1984, countless Sikhs have been killed in India. The roots of the Sikh dilemmain India are very complex with the main factors being inadequate recognition of Sikhism as a separate religion and the Punjabi language coupled with mistreatment from the successive Indian governments since its formation in 1947.The year 1984 stands the most fateful year in the history of Sikhs around the world. Indian army invaded into the “Golden Temple” in June 1984, which shocked the Sikh community around the world as the site is considered the holiest of Sikh religion. Countless Sikhs were ruthlessly killed and a normally proud community stood humiliated. It was a systematic genocide of the Sikhs.
Darshan S. Tatla in his paper titled “The morning after: Trauma, memory and the Sikh predicament since 1984”, published on August 19, 2006, writes that “Rajiv Gandhi, the next Prime Minister of India, lost no time in making capital out of his mother’s assassination. During the 1985 parliamentary elections, Sikhs were presented as the “enemy within”.Across many towns and cities, huge billboards showed two uniformed Sikhs shooting down a bloodstained Mrs. Gandhi against the back-drop of a map of India. Other posters displayed in prominent places in major Indian cities screamed headlines such as ‘will the country’s border finally be moved to your doorstep?’ By whipping up such hate and hysteria, Rajiv Gandhi won 401 of 508 parliamentary seats, the biggest landslide since 1947. H. K. L. Bhagat, a Congress candidate from a Delhi constituency where the largest number of Sikhs was killed during anti-Sikh riots, secured the second largest majority.”
The Sikhs around the world have been brave, hardworking, smart, hospitable, intelligent, and have great sense of humor. The Indian Sikhs have been instrumental in “green revolution” in the country and the Indian Punjab, home of Sikhs, is considered the food basket of the country. The Sikhs around the world and in India have excelled in business and industry. But if one closely monitors Indian Bollywood industry, the Sikhs have continuously been humiliated in one way or the other as the ones having no brain at all. I feel sorry to use this word but the context would have been incomplete in presenting the broader picture of the Sikhs’ plight in a country, which claims to be the largest democracy in the world having so-called secularism being its backbone.
A fact-finding team,jointly organised by the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in 2003, claimed on the basis of its investigations that the attacks on the Sikh community were the outcome of “a well-organised plan” and some Sikhs called the police and the Indian army as “mute spectators” during the 1984 Sikh carnage. Virtually, no government existed during the first two to three days of the violence against Sikhs in 1984. As per BBC, they were turned refugees in their own cities. Prosperous and wealthy one week before the violence, Sikhs were campingand dropped to roads with empty hands one week next. After decades of living what they thought a tolerant and secular country, four days of madness and ruthless killings exposed the lie of India being secular democratic state.
If one looks at the pages of history since 1984, almost nothing seems to have changed so far as continuous subjugation and human rights abuses and violations of the Sikh religionin India keep simmering. The history of the Sikh issue in India goes back to 1947 when Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, had promised a separate state to the Sikhs. The Sikh religion’s holly book titled “Guru Granth Sahib” was torn-up in 2015 in India. Sikhism, which promotes equality, compassion, and tolerance, is the world’s fifth-largest religion. The Indian extremist organization, i.e. “RSS” has been working since long to assimilate Sikhs into Hindu religion. The Indian text books have systematically equated Sikhism with Hinduism. The children in India are already taught this, i.e. “Sikhs are an inseparable part of Hindu society. If Hinduism is a tree, Sikhism is a fruit on that tree.Gurbani is like the Ganga, it emerges from the Gangotri of the Vedas. The Khalsa was created to protect Hinduism and Hindustan. Japji Sahib is a summary of the Gita. Equate ‘IkOankaar’ with ‘OM’. The Sikh Gurus worshipped the cow.”
The Sikhs in India have still been children of lesser God as they continue to face issues of identity and recognition. They are often seen less patriotic than the Hindus in the country. The Sikhs are stereotyped at best as untrustworthy, at worst as traitors. Political marginalization of the Sikhs in India is gradual but certain, especially when the country is occupied by a typical mindset of making India a Hindu country under the leadership of Modi with the support of the RSS. In the wake of Modi mantra of “reverse conversion” (GharWapsi), not only the Muslims and the scheduled castes but Sikhs could also be either brought back into Hinduism or considered a sect of Hinduism one day, if things kept on moving with the current wave in India.
Sikhs cry for justice