The police and paramilitary swoop on the Golden Temple and the so called “mock hijacking exercise” involving Indian Airlines Boeing 747 conclusively prove that Hindu fundamentalism in its ugliest and meanest form has come to hold an unmitigated sway over the rulers in Delhi. Both actions portend premature demise of democracy and secularism in India.

The repeated raids on the holiest Sikh shrine are deliberate and designed to undermine its sanctity and its spiritual importance both for the Sikhs and the non-Sikhs. Punjab Police Chief, Mr. Ribeiro’s explanation of the indefensible act is ridiculously naive and devoid of elementary logic. According to him the raid was conducted following a tip that two “proclaimed offenders” were being tortured by a rival group in the Complex premises. The tip turned out to be without substance as the raiders found no evidence of torture of anybody. Raiding Golden Temple on the basis of tips is grossly reprehensible and sacrilegious. It reflects majority community’s arrogant intolerance for the religious sentiments of the minorities.

How strongly Sikhs react to the desecration of the Golden Temple is not unknown to Delhi. It was the June, 1984, army attack that radically changed the character of Sikh struggle. It made a peaceful Morcha for the restoration of Punjab’s Constitutional rights explodes into a violent movement for a sovereign nation. Again, it was the police entry into the Golden Temple that brought about a vertical split in the ruling Akali Dal.

Giyen this background, no sensible government will normally risk Sikh ire by again raiding their sacred shrine, especially in view of the frivolous reasons like apprehending the torturers of the “proclaimed offenders”. Such a demented recourse can only be resorted to either in a state of extreme nervousness or as a desperate bid to push matters over the cliff.

The drama of “mock hijack” is yet another attempt in the series that aim to discredit Sikhs world over as “terrorists”. Official reports about the Sikh gunmen aboard the plane shouting Khalistan slogans and about the throwing of a slain passenger’s body on the tarmac, were purposely highlighted to create universal repulsion against the Sikhs. It will not be a surprise if tomorrow the Air India crash off the Irish Coast also turns out to be a similar mock exercise gone out of control.

How deeply Indian government is afflicted with the Sikh fixation is evident from the way its officials defended the use of Sikh separatist slogans. “We cannot have pro Palestine slogans”, he said. It is true pro Palistine slogans have no meaning in the Indian context, but pro Gur khaland slogans, pro Azad Kashmir slogans, pro Konkani slogans and anti-Hindi slogans have sufficient relevance in any reckoning of the trouble spots in India. What could possibly have prevented planners of the exercise from using the name of Gurkhas or Kashmiris. Or Tripura separatists instead of Sikhs? The answer is simple. The Sikhs have been marked as number one target because in the subjugation of Sikhs lies the subjugation of all minorities. Besides, it is an inalienable feature of Sikh teachings not to reconcile with domination, discrimination and exploitation and never to submit to injustice and oppression. Delhi must either respect this fundamental Sikh ethos or suffer the fast materializing Sikh sovereignty, however painful the process is.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 23, 1987