It was a sea of saffron — the Sikh color of sacrifice and defiance at the Lafayette Park to the west lawn of the Capitol, where over 3,000 Sikhs from Canada, California, N. California, Texas, New York and Midwest had assembled to protest against the visiting Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, whose government was charged with the slaughter of more than 50,000 Sikhs.

Men, women and children carried hand written placards proclaiming ‘“Gandhi killed 1 million Sikhs,” “Rajiv Gandhi, a modern Hitler,” “Rajiv Gandhi: Soviet puppet,” “We will get Khalistan,” “Stop Genocide of Sikhs in India.”

Gandhi arrived at the south entrance of the White House, on the other side of the protest rally. The chants of slogan shouting Sikhs amplified by bullhorns were reverberating during Gandhi’s arrival ceremony.

The Sikhs had started assembling in the park right from morning and came from all directions in specially chartered buses, cars and taxis. Largest contingent of over 400 persons came from New York in 10 specially chartered buses and private vehicles. Their enthusiasm added to the verve and commitment of the protesters. They marched up the Pennsylvania Avenue in perfect discipline with a visible and palpable sense of hurt and anger but registered their protest in a peaceful manner.

Over a dozen police officers stood facing the park. The security was tight but the police did not expect any violence. “We are expecting a very peaceful demonstration. We are even wearing soft hats. If we expected violence, we would not be wearing these hats,” said a police officer.

A demonstrator from Hartford, Amarjit Singh Buttar explained, ‘We want to tell Gandhi that we do not approve persecution of Sikhs by his government. He also accused government of India of siphoning dollars borrowed from American taxpayers to Soviet Union.

The rally ended with prayers in which Sikh nation’s determination to ensure an honorable life of freedom was reiterated.

Article extracted from this publication >>  June 21, 1985