Six Sikh Students were killed in Bidar on September 15 and 16. Many others were wounded in the mob mayhem and Sikh owned properties were systematically looted and torched.
Five of those killed were students of the Guru Nanak Engineering College and one was a pharmacy student. Upkar Singh succumbed to his injuries while another student J.S. Anand died in a hospital in Hyderabad. The bodies of Amarpreet Singh, Harinder Singh, Balwinder Singh Babra and Gurinder Singh were found in an abandoned well in the outskirts of the town.
Bidar is a sleepy town in Karnataka state in India. It is famous for its bidri work, etching in silver on black metal. It now has this dubious distinction.
The press in India kept quiet for two weeks about this ghostly tragedy so reminiscent of the anti-Sikh mayhem of 1984 and numerous such incidents concerning other religious minorities in India. It ‘kept mum till some of the students who ran for their lives from Bidar came to Delhi and Punjab and the vernacular Punjabi press in Jalandhar especially the Ajit reported the communal frenzy of the Hindu majority.
What caused the bloodbath? Who was involved in planning and instigating the violence? What ‘was the role of the police and the local administrators? What were the causes of the national press in India to ignore rather kill the news? These are the questions which have to be answered by investigations in India. In the meanwhile we will seek to examine them on the basis of the information that has per-collated out of India, in spite of the Governments attempts to the contrary.
The immediate cause of the bloodbath is given to be a clash between Sikh students and local Hindu musclemen who were demanding monetary contributions from them for the Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival to honor the Hindu god, one that has a human body with an elephant’s head.
As believers in one formless God, the Sikh students would have adequate ideological grounds to disassociate themselves from the Ganesh festival. Even otherwise it is the prerogative of a person to give or not to give any donation! Even then, the students have been said to have showed receipts of contributions they had made earlier.
As regards to other causes, the major problem of India today is in the marginalization of minorities, especially the religious minorities. The Indian constitution is perhaps the most ignored such document in the world today. Constitutional rights, including personal and religious freedom, are constantly sought to be curtailed and are often violated, the brute majority of the Congress I party in the Parliament allows it to make repressive laws and ignore the opposition. The Rajiv regime came to power in a communally oriented election which portrayed the Sikhs as evil and a threat to the nation.
Most prominent amongst his associates are those individuals who. Were held responsible, by human, rights organizations, for the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi and other places in November 1984. They include H.K.L. Bhagat, and Jagdish Tytler. This brings out the other factor, that of punishing the guilty, Thousands of people belonging to the religious minorities specifically the Muslims and the Sikhs, as well as the oppressed so-called low-castes or untouchable Hindus, are killed in India every year. Yet no one is punished for these outrages. This of course demonstrates official connivance with those who repress the minorities but that is the way it is.
Shiv Sena Role
Most reports from Bidar categorically blamed the Shiv Sena for fomenting the trouble. Shiv Sena is led by Bal Thackeray from Bombay. It is a chauvinistic Hindu body which has been responsible for many a riot against the Muslims. Thackeray has an alliance with the Congress I and issued ‘warnings’ to Sikhs in Bombay some time ago. No action was taken against him for his hate mongering statements which were widely reported.
A report by the Punjab Human Rights Committee, led by Justice Ajit S. Bains, which went to Bidar said the riots were not due to Hindu Sikh animosity but a well-planned conspiracy by the Shiv Sena and other groups which are known as Nary and Swagat.
Other news reports mentioned that the Sena unit had installed Ganesh idols in various places in the town. It quoted Sikh students as saying that they knew the killers and could name them. But will that be of any help?
World Sikh News in its editorial comment on Bidar said, “In today’s India, it is irrelevant what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral, what is democratic and what undemocratic is. What matters is whether or not is Hindu and for the Hindus. All else is antinational, seditious, illegal, disruptive and terroristic.”
The role of the police would be shocking to anyone in America as it follows a lamentable pattern.
Even though the District Super intendant of Police, Dr. B.E. Empathy knew of rising tensions in the city, he failed to take any action.
As an article in daily Indian Express pointed out, “The final showdown came on the evening of September 14, after an altercation over funds. A well-organized mob materialized within an hour or so carrying staffs and rods of uniform size and colour (shades of Delhi in the first four days of November 1984) and began scouring the town for Sikh students who in absence of adequate hostel facilities had rented rooms all over the city. Another mob attacked the Gurdwara at Jamwada near Bidar. Yet another group attacked the Guru Nanak Engineering College.
“Police contingent not only allowed the mob which attacked the college to pull down a wall, it also fired tear gas shells at the students, not the mob. To make it quite clear «which side they were on, police = arrested Sikh students.
“The S.P First denied that he had arrested any students, but had very little to say when these students body roughed up by the police, were rescued form the police lock up by the Deputy Inspector General of police who had by then’ arrived on the scene.”
Article extracted from this publication >> October 28, 1988