Common sense, curiously, is very uncommon. It is directly proportionate to the degree an individual applies his mind to the world outside him. Most individuals never pause to ponder over the rationale and the motivation behind oversimplification of complex problems. Unsuspecting, they swallow whatever garbage is fed to them by the scheming politicians. Indira Gandhi contrived the myth of Sikhs “‘waging a separatist war from within the holy precincts of the Golden Temple” to manipulate and justify destruction of the Akal Takht. The country is still haunted by her nightmarish folly and continues to bleed. Yet there are people who stubbornly refuse to admit even a passing ray of reason and like drugged ritualizes, insist on repeating her hypothesis, even though subsequent revelations have demolished it to the last shred.
Currently, Rajiv Gandhi is busy selling yet another myth to the gullible and the ignorant. He is blaming overseas Sikhs for all the troubles in Punjab. Rajiv’s campaign is understandable. He wants to silence the overseas Sikhs by generating in them a sense of guilt and he wants to make Sikhs in India feel that they are being exploited by outsiders for some mysterious ends of their own. He aims at dividing the two so as to render Sikhs in India totally helpless.
But the pity is that certain ostensibly educated overseas Sikhs fail to distinguish between reality and fiction. They never for a moment consider the problem in its historical perspective. They never try to trace the genesis of the post independence Sikh grievances. The gradual disenchantment and frustration of Sikhs with the political bosses in Delhi and their repugnance at the sinister undermining of their religious identity and integrity do not interest them. They do not like to remember that despite so much organized and state supported violence against them, Sikhs have not indulged in mob violence nor have they desecrated Hindu temples and scriptures. No Hindu woman has been molested or insulted. On the contrary, Sikh women are being subjected to gang rapes not only by frenzied Hindu mobs but also by the so called disciplined personnel of C.R.P.F. Five girls were gang raped by C.R.P.F. men in Bramhpura village on December 27, 1986.
Sikh problem has its roots in Indian soil. It was neither exported nor is being fanned and fuelled from outside. It flows as a logical consequence of the fraudulent hide and seek game that the majority community has been playing with Sikhs ever since independence. Bhajan Lal was in no way instigated, provoked or bribed by overseas Sikhs to insult and humiliate every Sikh travelling through Haryana during Asiad 1982. They also did not tell Indira Gandhi to destroy the Akal Takht, nor did they connive with Bhagat, Tytler and Shastri to engineer anti-Sikh riots. Surely, they have no hand in the ongoing fake police encounters. They also did not advise Barnala to send paramilitary troops into the Golden Temple which brought about a vertical split in the ruling Akali Dal. Yet they find themselves in the dock.
What can overseas Sikhs possibly gain by fostering trouble in Punjab? Why would they expose their own kith and kin to avoidable danger or death? What can be their motive? It cannot be just motiveless malignity. It cannot be political ambition. Being foreign citizens they are ineligible for any elected office. They cannot have any vested interest in destabilizing India.
Creators of the myth conveniently forget that overseas Sikhs reacted only after the Operation Blue Star and the Nov. 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Till then their involvement was casual and peripheral. These two grim events outraged their religious sensibilities and incensed their sense of justice and fair play.
Christians all over the world would, perhaps, have reacted in a much more violent manner, had the Italian government similarly destroyed the Vatican. The concern of overseas Sikhs for the safety and freedom of their brethren back home is no different from the freedom loving people’s concern for the Blacks of South Africa and Mujahideens of Afghanistan. It is the same concern that Indian government feels for the Tamils of Sri Lanka.
Delhi rulers will do well to address themselves to the basic issues and attempt to resolve them judiciously rather than searching for scapegoats elsewhere and misguided Sikhs would do well to use their own faculties to recognize the realities rather than dwelling in the dark recesses of their closed minds.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 16, 1987