In a series of bomb explosions in Delhi and the surrounding states, innocent persons have been killed and wounded. Loss of innocent lives is very unfortunate and no responsible quarter would ever approve or condone it. But more unfortunate is Indian government’s despicable habit of instantly holding Sikhs responsible for each and every act of violence in the country (it is surprising that the government has not so far blamed Sikhs for the prevailing violence in Gujarat). All the bomb explosions occurred outside Punjab and at 39 different places. No Sikh was arrested or found at the sight of explosions. No Sikh organization or individual has claimed responsibility. No investigative agency had even initiated the probe. Yet the government started shouting itself hoarse in blaming the Sikhs and the frenzied communal media started fuming and fretting, demanding still more rigorous punishment for the already oppressed Sikhs.
The leading newspapers like Times of India and Hindustan Times called for severe reprisals. Surya, which is otherwise critical of the government, went a step further and charged Rajiv of softness and described his shrewdly timed acts like release of Akali leaders, lifting of ban from AISSF and institution of enquiry into anti-Sikh riots as virtual surrender before what it termed ‘Sikh intransigence.’’ The media on the whole is stretching backwards in interpreting these acts as ‘major concessions” whereas in reality these “concessions” amount to nothing more than undoing of the unjust and arbitrary measures against Sikhs and do not touch even the fringes of Sikh demands. It is an old technique that the government has always been employing to eclipse the real issues. The much publicized “‘concessions” are wholly extraneous to the current Sikh problem. These “concessions”? Can at best be summed up as indicative of changed thinking.
The newspapers that were in unison croaking for army attack on the Golden Temple are now recommending severe reprisals. What else do they want the government to do to the Sikhs? Are they not satisfied with the desecration of Sikh’s holiest shrine and destruction of Akal Takht, hunting and killing of Sikh youth, shattering of the economy of Sikh’s home state? Sikhs, today, are worse than slaves in their own country and are being subjected to draconian laws harsher than known to any totalitarian regime. In services they are suspects and rot in obscure assignments; in army they have been practically disarmed and their regiments divided and scattered over trying border terrains with freezing temperatures.
These are the very newspapers that had approvingly gloated over the horrid massacre of innocent Sikhs and had summarily dismissed the diabolic death-dance after Indira Gandhi’s death as just a spontaneous expression of anger. These are the newspapers that had raised hell in describing stray killings in Punjab before the operation Blue-star as mass extermination of Hindus even though out of 200 odd victims, fewer than forty were Hindus and the rest Sikhs. These are the newspapers that vociferously condemned the genuine concern of the Human Rights Organizations for the Human Rights violations in Punjab as “uncalled for interference in the internal affairs of India.” These are the newspapers that shape and reflect government thinking.
Killing the minorities is an internal affair of India and none has the right to question this prerogative of the majority community. If any country were to commit the “folly” of raising such unpleasant questions, it would do so at the risk of losing its trade and severing of diplomatic relations with India. Sikhs will have to continue suffering their tragic fate as long as the champions of liberty and human rights continue to be governed by trade factors, or till they develop muscle enough to cancel their captivity.
Article extracted from this publication >> May 24, 1985