IN an exclusive interview with our staff reporter, Bhai Gurjit Singh, President A.I.S.S.F declared that Sikhs could no longer suffer slavery in India and for preserving Sikh identity and freedom, the establishment of an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan has become a necessity. Not ruling out negotiations directly with Rajiv Gandhi, he said the negotiations can only be held at the Akal Takht. However, he said the Federation will welcome support of any foreign country in its struggle for independence. He answered a wide range of questions in a cool and calm manner. Displaying at times a tone of righteous indignation, he dismissed all allegations of the killing of innocents. “Innocents are being killed by the security forces and not by the freedom fighters.” he asserted. Below is given the complete interview.
Reporter: Do you subscribe to the idea of getting Anandpur Resolution implemented or you want an independent country called Khalistan?
Gurjit Singh: Our aim has always been Khalistan but keeping in view the exigencies of the circumstances, the Federation outlined its program to achieve it through well demarcated stages. When the rulers of Delhi unleashed terrible oppression against the Sikhs leading to the killing of Sikh youths in fake encounters, dishonoring of Sikh women, desecration of Sikh religious places, then, the Federation was forced to declare at the International level its objective to achieve Khalistan.
Reporter: Is it correct to describe your struggle as a civil war as some people are doing it?
Gurjit Singh: No. It is totally wrong. No Sikh with even a grain of self-respect will ever accept a political system under which Sikhs are being subjected to a systematic genocide, In view of what has been done to Sikhs and what is being done, it has become imperative for the Sikhs to have their own independent country and their own Constitution.
Reporter: Do you believe in settling the issues through negotiations also?
Gurjit Singh: We are not averse to negotiations. In fact, we are always ready for a dialogue. But the right place for the dialogue is Akal Takht and it can only be with the Prime Minister and not with any intermediary.
Reporter: Is Federation membership open only for Amritdhari Sikhs? Gurjit Singh: Every Sikh student can become its member but to be on the Executive Committee or an office bearer, one needs to be an Amritdhari. Those who become members are inspired to become Amritdharis.
Reporter: Can Sehajdhari Sikhs also play some role in the struggle for Khalistan?
Gurjit Singh: Situation demands that every Sikh, whether Amritdhari or Sehajdhari, must contribute to this struggle according to his capacity and means.
Reporter: Would it be necessary for every Sikh to be Amritdhari to live in Khalistan?
Gurjit Singh: It is the command of the Guru that his Sikhs should be Amritdharis. In a Khalistan achieved through tremendous sacrifices, telling anyone to be Amritdhari would not be necessary. And no one would be forced to become Amritdhari. People would be inspired to take Amrit by preaching Guru’s word.
Reporter: What is the present strength of the Federation?
Gurjit Singh: The total membership by the end of 1987 was around 2 1/2 lakhs. Membership drive is continuing and thousands are joining the Federation. Reporter: How many of the Federation members have embraced martyrdom during the period 1984-1987?
Gurjit Singh: Thousands of members have sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the Sikh nation.
Reporter: Indian government claims that only Sikhs living abroad are demanding Khalistan. Sikhs in Punjab are silent over this demand. Is it correct?
Gurjit Singh: lt is a totally false propaganda. Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale had categorically declared that the foundation of Khalistan would be laid the day government attacked the Golden Temple. And Sikhs in Punjab are waging an armed struggle for Khalistan from the moment Indian army entered the Golden Temple.
Reporter: During his foreign tours, Rajiv Gandhi keeps saying that only a handful of Sikhs are demanding Khalistan. What have you to say about it?
Gurjit Singh: On December 27, 1987, Sikhs assembled in lakhs at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib in Patiala district to observe the Martyrdom Day of Sahibzadas, passed the resolution for Khalistan by raising slogans in its favor. Earlier also Sikhs in lakhs have passed this resolution on number of occasion. It clearly shows that a massive majority among the Sikhs wants Khalistan.
Reporter: Do you think Akali Dal can in the for seeable future extend support to Khalistan?
Gurjit Singh: Akalis betrayed the Sikh nation in 1947 and again in 1985 and they are again conspiring to mortgage the Sikh destiny to Delhi rulers. To expect any positive role from them would be a folly. But whosoever tries to strike a bargain with Delhi will go down the Longowal way.
Reporter: Is there any truth in the cases registered against Ranjit Singh Gill and Sukhminder Singh Sandhu?
Gurjit Singh: They have been falsely implicated. Government blames them for the murder of Gen. A’S. Vaidya. Gen. Vaidya was murdered in August, 1986, whereas according to government’s own admission these two had reached America in June, 1986. It clearly proves that all the cases registered against them are false.
Reporter: Would you like to convey anything to the American people and the American government regarding their cases?
Gurjit Singh: We consider America as a friendly country and we appeal to the U.S. Government not to extradite the two freedom fighters because Sikhs are being systematically massacred in India, There is no such thing as human: rights for the Sikhs in India. The two face a real danger to their lives. If they are sent back to India, they will surely be eliminated in some fake encounter. America is considered to be the custodian of human rights. If America also failed to protect their human rights, then, Sikhs will lose faith in her.
Reporter: Would you like to convey anything regarding the two to the Sikhs living in America and Canada?
Gurjit Singh: We strongly appeal to them to extend all possible help in fighting their cases in view of the great sacrifice made by them for the Panth. We are grateful to the Sikh Cultural Society, New York, and other Sikh brothers who are helping to fight their cases.
Reporter: Would you like to say something to the newspapers published abroad?
Gurjit Singh: We appeal to the Chief Editors of the Sikh newspapers abroad to take due notice of the oppression let loose against the Sikhs and the way they are being maligned by dubbing them “terrorists” and “extremists”. They should expose the Indian government’s game and project the true image of the Sikhs. We also appeal to them to strengthen the movement for Khalistan through their writings.
Reporter: Do you have any message for the foreign governments? Gurjit Singh: We appeal to all friendly countries and those who care for the basic human rights to raise their voice against the persecution of the Sikhs in India and recognize Khalistan. We also appeal to them to accord refugee to Sikh young men who have fled out of India to escape torture and persecution.
Reporter. Is there any official map of Khalistan?
Gurjit Singh: Sikh Panth has nothing to do with the maps released so far. Those who are engaged in the armed struggle for Khalistan have not released any map. We have learnt that in some maps Lahore has been shown as the capital of Khalistan. It is all a conspiracy by the Indian government. We consider Pakistan and its people as our friends and brothers.
Reporter: Some Pakistani friends want to know as to what we precisely mean when we pray for full freedom to visit Nankana Sahib and other gurdwaras and full freedom to manage their offices. Can you explain it?
Gurjit Singh: Sikhs don’t have the freedom to visit their sacred religious places. Indian government has imposed a large number of restrictions. That is why Sikhs pray for the freedom to visit their holy gurdwaras. As far as managing the gurdwara affairs is concerned, it does not in any way mean that Sikhs want to capture Nankana Sahib or any other place. Muslim brothers need to be vigilant about Hindu designs. They can misinterpret Sikh Ardas or Banito mislead them.
Reporter: Ribeiro claims that no one is killed in a fake encounter. Do you believe him?
Gurit Singh: Ribeiro’s statement in itself is a confession of fake encounters. It is not for Ribeiro to say what is true and what is not true. The power to pass judgment over it lies with the courts. If Ribeiro is to be believed, then, courts should be disbanded. If courts are to stay, then, the Sikh young men should be produced in the courts and law should be allowed to take its own course. Whereas Mathura Singh was arrested from a village near Guru Ka Jandiala and after subjecting him to inhuman torture, he was killed in fake encounter. Similarly, Gurdev Singh Satiyawala was arrested on the night of June 14 from village Ajitwal in Faridkot district and after two days of inhuman torture he was taken to village Kapure in Faridkot and shot dead in a fake encounter on June 17. Bhai Anokh Singh was arrested while going on a cycle near Jullundur on August 29, 1987. He was subjected to the most horrendous torture and on August 30 killed in fake encounter near police station Verowal. The Panthic Committee Member, Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala was arrested on October 5 while travelling ina bus near police station Beas. He, too, was shot dead in a fake encounter on October 27 near Nakodar. Sarbjit Singh Johal also suffered the same fate and so did thousands of other innocent Sikhs. We can prove these cases with documents. Now Sikhs are taken out of the judicial lock up and killed in fake escapes as was done to Manbir Singh Cheheru, Bhai Roshan Singh Bairagi, Bhai Avtar Singh Pehalwan, Bhai Rana Partap Singh, Bhia Arur Singh and Bhai Birinder Singh.
Reporter: What kind of torture is inflicted upon the Sikhs after their arrest?
Gurjit Singh: Arrested Sikhs are subjected to the most inhuman tortures. The S.S.P. Amritsar, Mr. Azhar Alam’s favorite tortures are to pour salt and peppers over the wounds, to give electric shocks, to render Sikh youngmen impotent through electric chocks on the sexual organs and damage their brains with shocks on the head, He even amputates hands and feet of the Sikhs. There are other police officers like S.S.P. Gobind Ram of Faridkot; S.S.P. Saini of Ferozepur; S.S.P. Pandey of Ludhiana; S.P. Detective Rajinder of Amritsar; S.P. detective, Swarna of Jullundi .S.P. Virk of C.R.P.F. and S.P. Kahlon of Jullundur who do the same.
Reporter: What have you to say about the killing of women and children?
Gurjit Singh: A Sikh never attacks women and children. Such acts are done by the government agents to discredit the freedom fighters.