Three years back Indian army committed the foulest outrage against its own people by invading the Golden Temple, the sanctum sanctorum of the Sikhs. Thousands of innocent pilgrims were brutally butchered besides destroying the sacred Akal Takht and the irreplaceable Sikh library and Museum. It was an open declaration of war against the Sikhs and ever since June, 1984, the army has been inaction to wipe out what they call “stray pockets” of resistance. But after three years of continuous suppression, instead of stray pockets, the army has come to combat the entire Sikh nation. In vain it is trying to force Sikhs into accepting the Central Yoke.

Sikhs were not waging separatist war. Their struggle was primarily directed against the wicked plunder of Punjab resources. None of their demands was outside the scope of the Constitution. They were not agitating to establish a sovereign country called Khalistan. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale categorically stated that “our demand is not Khalistan, but if the army or the police attacked the Golden Temple, then, Khalistan would be our only demand”. By invading the Golden Temple, Delhi rulers have, in fact, made the choice for the Sikhs.

The attack and the indiscriminate massacre of Sikhs after Indira Gandhi’s assassination had left an indelible scar on the Sikh psyche. They were in a state of bewilderment, unable to comprehend the diabolic animosity displayed by those in whom they had put implicit trust. They still hear voices talking of the illusive “healing touch”, but in utter dismay watch it applied through mass arrests, fake encounters and combing operations. They see Punjab being treated as an enemy territory and know that the talk of reconciliation has already become irrelevant. There is no looking back now. Delhi has thrown the gauntlet and Sikhs have been left with no option but to pick it up.

Wisdom, however, lies in avoiding bloodshed. Historically India never was a nation although Chandergupta Maurya and Ashoka are credited rather mistakenly with establishing a Hindu and a Buddhist empire respectively. Aurangzeb and the British did succeed in creating a semblance of unity, but all through the pull towards balkanization was keenly felt and, in 1881, Wilfred Blunt wrote that “India is far too vast a continent and inhabited by races far too heterogeneous to make amalgamation in a single Assembly possible for representatives elected on any conceivable system. Any attempt of the sort would find for themselves Tower of Babel. With the provinces and for all provincial affairs, self-government is a growing necessity. I would like to see each province of India entirely self-managed”.

Sikhs in 1947 had aligned with India on a contractual basis that assured them a special status in the proposed federal structure. Since Delhi rulers have violated the contract and have embarked upon a determined course to destroy Sikh identity, the territories of Punjab must automatically revert to the Sikhs. India must vacate its army occupation and peacefully hand over to Sikhs what legally and historically belongs to them. This would pave way for developing good neighborly relations. Delhi must realize that the game of using artificial props like Barnala will not last long. Sikh masses have made an irrevocable pact with liberty which no traitor or stratagem will be able to cancel.

Article extracted from this publication >>  June 5, 1987