It is a matter of deep anguish and concern when responsible News agencies like the Associated Press begin to blindly relate every kind of violence in the World to Sikhs. The report connecting Sikhs to the alleged threat to Taj Mahal the famous Mughal monument to love is, to say the least, most irrational and professionally unethical if not motivated to create rift between Muslims and Sikhs. The Associated Press Reporter has traced the source of the news to an Indian Newspaper. The reporter admits that the newspaper “did not elaborate on any threats against the Taj Mahal, including how they were received and who was said to have made them,” yet goes on to insinuate Sikh involvement, perhaps through some kind of extra sensory perception, by making such insidious references as “thousands of people have died in the past five years in sectarian violence arising from Sikh demands.” He conveniently refrains from stating the truth that thousands who perished in the state engineered violence in India were Sikhs.
The reporter was expected to be more discreet and balanced especially in view of the fact that the government official responsible for the maintenance of historical sites, the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, Mr. Nagaraja Rao had refused to make any comment on the threat. Instead of hastily relating the threat to Sikhs, the reporter would have done better to tell that Hindu fundamentalist organizations were claiming Taj Mahal to be an old Hindu Temple, and had threatened to blow it up if it was not handed over to them. These organizations assert that Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan had forcibly converted the temple into a tomb for his wife. They have been demanding the restoration of the ‘monument of love’ back to what it originally was ‘a monument to a Hindu deity.’ No Sikh has ever threatened to blow it up nor has any Sikh organization threatened to disrupt the forthcoming elections in Punjab as stated by the ‘all knowing reporter.”
Sikhs in Punjab are campaigning to retrieve their legal and political rights which the Federal government has been systematically undermining ever since Sikhs opted to align with India in 1947. To confuse the issues and to mislead the world as well as to cover up State Terrorism against Sikhs, the Federal government has been projecting the peaceful Sikh struggle as a violent movement.
Sikh religion does not subscribe to the cult of violence nor does it sanction or condone violence against the innocent. A true Sikh fights only the oppressor whosoever he or she may be to contain him from his evil course and not to punish him. He leaves the punishment to God. He is equally a good friend to a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist or a Hindu. Sikhism does not recognize caste or creed animosity. Sikhism stands for love, compassion, justice, equality, religious freedom and universal brotherhood. The reading of what world famous historians like Macaliff and Arnold Toynbee have said about Sikhism can greatly help the reporters in extricating themselves from the “government fed rubbish.”
To save journalism from degenerating to the morality of the “red-light areas,” where tinkle of the silver coins dictates the tune, it is imperative that reporters should first fully study the nature and background of an issue before spinning out a sensational yarn which more often than not exposes them to the charge of “supporting an itching palm” or of being susceptible to “compromising gratifications.” The erring reporters need to be reminded of their professional ethics so that unnecessary hurt and pain to already persecuted religious minorities like Sikhs can be avoided.
Article extracted from this publication >> September 20, 1985