“Sufferance is the badge of our tribe, laments sky lock in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Shylock even though suffering on account of his own misdeeds, nevertheless articulates a vital truth about the collective sufferings of his coreligionists. History of Sikhs is one long series of persecutions, profusely punctuated by martyrdoms and massacres. From all counts Sikhs were born with that badge.

The worse than wartime court martial trials in Rajasthan, to which 379 innocent Sikh young men, rounded up mostly from their homes or hostels, are being wantonly subjected, bring into focus the totalitarian rape of the Indian judicial system and the extent to which the democratic and secular norms can be subverted by those possessed by fanatical intolerance and coldblooded urge to annihilate all those who worship differently. Ironically, Sikhs were demanding separate personal law instead they have received a separate penal law unwritten and undefined in perpetrating most heinous suppression. The outcome of the trials is a foregone conclusion. Trials are not there to determine whether they are innocent or guilty but to pronounce the innocent as guilty so as to exploit their miserable plight for forcing a politically profitable bargain on the Sikhs.

Pakistan has also finally surrendered to the Indian pressure and announced that Sikh young men detained there for alleged hijacking of Indian Airlines planes would be put to trial. Pakistan authorities released unconditionally two Hindus who had hijacked the Indian Airlines plane to Lahore to protest against the arrest of Mrs. Indira Gandhi by the Janata government considering that the passengers and the plane were not harmed. Sikh hijackers also did not harm either the planes or the passengers and clearly stated that the hijacking was resorted to not as a criminal act but to focus the attention of the World upon the most reprehensible State gangsters against the Sikhs displayed in the burning of their sacred scriptures and destruction of one of their holiest shrines Akal Takht. Hindu hijackers were protesting against the arrest of an individual whereas Sikhs were protesting against the gravest sacrilege of their Holy Scriptures and shrines. Consequently they need to be treated at least as leniently as the Gandhi protestors, especially in view of Pakistan laws that prescribe extreme penalty of death for hijacking.

Sikhs all over the world expect President ZiaUl Haq to resist the Indian Government pressure as it flows from the communal distrust of the Sikhs and is motivated by revengeful wrath rather than by any moral sense of justice.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 8, 1985