NEW YORK, NY. The World Sikh News correspondent in New York interviewed various Sikhs in the United States in order to get their reactions on the repeated attacks on the Golden Temple.
All the interviews were conducted through telephone and only three questions were asked from each one of them:
- What was your reaction when you first heard of the attack on the Golden Temple?
- What do you feel about the latest assault by the security forces on the Golden Temple?
- The Government of India has recently banned weapons in all the Gurdwaras and religious shrines. How do you feel about it?
The views expressed by the ‘Sikhs representing various institutions and organizations have been edited for brevity and clarity due to space limitations.
Jagjit Singh Mangat, President of Sikh Cultural Society. New York:
- I was shocked. It is a grave desecration of the shrine and I know that nothing short of our ‘own state of Khalistan would be the answer to this situation. I was also daily touched by the martyrdom of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and others who died while defending the sanctity of our holiest shrine.
- The latest attack is a continuing act of repression let loose against the Sikhs by the Indian government. The freedom fighters have been defending the sanctity of the Golden Temple. The Indian Government’s repression makes our resolve of Khalistan stronger and our fight will continue.
- The Sikhs have a right to maintain weapons and any interference with this right is a gross violation of our religious freedom.
Dr. Manohar Singh Grewal, President WSO (USA):
- All over the world people have been outraged by this unpardonable and inexcusable act of the Indian government. In fact, we have already seen what happened to Mrs. Indira Gandhi after she ordered attack on the Golden Temple. Anyone who tries to destroy the sanctity of the Golden Temple ‘will meet the same fate. All the Sikhs were outraged by the assault.
- The Indian government is just trying to make the Sikhs more furious by attacking their place of worship again and again. It wants to show to the Sikhs that they will remain slaves in India. The Sikhs will have to win freedom in body and spirit.
- It is the duty of a Sikh to carry weapons because without one, according to Guru Gobind Singh, a Sikh will be a sheep that can be slaughtered. The banning of the weapons would violate the religious freedom of the Sikhs.
Baldev Singh, Secretary Sikh Cultural Society. NY:
1, It was a sacrilege. It was a very emotional time for the Sikhs because government of India had violated the sanctity of the Golden Temple, the holiest of the holy shrines. They have touched a raw nerve of the Sikhs.
- It was the violation of the Golden Temple again. The government dramatized the event, they say that over 200 people surrendered to them, yet according to New York Times only 11 weapons were found. This indicates that the government attacked the Golden Temple in order to get political benefit in the fourth coming elections.
They will, however, not be able to control the movement of the Sikhs for creating an independent country of their own in this area. Every attack strengthens the freedom movement in Punjab.
- Government is interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. The combination of Miri and Piri, the temporal and spiritual, was started by Guru Hargobind Singh Ji. We combine Shastras and Shasters, the knowledge is welded with righteousness and courage to bear arms. Any contrary legislation is a direct attack on the religious affairs of the Sikhs. They are rubbing salt in the wounds of the Sikhs.
Dr. Gurinder Singh Grewal, California:
- We were shocked. We could never imagine that this would happen to Sikhs in India. I didn’t my first thought was to ensure that it would not happen ever again.
- Golden Temple Complex has been continuously occupied and under attack since 1984, From time to time they let the Sikh youths come in to give them the impression that they are free to go there and then trap them.
This attack was a part of the continuous attack and now the Government of India has destroyed the museum and Ghanta Ghar. It wants to destroy Sikh heritage and ultimately eliminate the Sikhs.
3, The ban is against the Sikh religion and Sikh heritage. We cannot accept it. The Sikhs should go out in force and defy this ban. This is a struggle for survival. If we accept this ban, the next thing they are going to say is that you cannot keep a beard, you cannot tie a turban, you can’t preach, etc. The religious places should be free and it should be left to the Sikhs to manage their temples.
Hardam Singh Azad, Tx., Chairman Sikh Association of America:
- Unbelievable shock! We didn’t think that a government which claims to be a democracy would attack the sacred shrine. History changed everything. Thereafter, it was different. All those patriotic feelings about India had to be revaluated.
- This simply confirms the early feelings. It opened old wounds, instead of healing them. It gave another indication that the differences are irresponsible that the Sikhs and Indian Constitution are totally incompatible. The foundation of Khalistan which was laid in the first attack now becomes even stronger.
- The ban on the weapons 1s discriminatory and violates Sikh traditions. Weapons were allowed even during the Mughal and British empires. This is a wrong step and it takes away our tradition.
Dr. Satnam Singh Dhami:
- Every Sikh felt great anger and indignation and revulsion at the attack. According to Sikh traditions anyone who attack the Golden Temple is punished, this was done.
- Whenever someone attacks the Golden Temple, he suffers the same fate, right from Abdali to Rajiv Gandhi; I see no difference between Abdali, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
- It is no business of the government to tell the Sikhs how to manage their temples. The gurdwaras are of the Sikhs and should be run by the Sikhs. Our Gurdwaras have been occupied during the British Raj, now the Hindu Raj is ‘occupying them. Sikhs will liberate the Gurdwaras as they have done so before.
Dr. L.J. Singh, N.Y:
- When I first heard of the 1984 attack my reaction was that here is Indira Gandhi, otherwise able and well respected as she ought to be, but totally ignorant of Indian history, particularly that of the Sikhs. Ignorance from the daughter of Nehru, who was himself an amateur historian, would be unforgivable. Her son demonstrates that he has learnt nothing. That is what he demonstrated in the last3 years and with what he has done now.
The problem there is a political one, It is not going to be solved by banning weapons, banning slogans, particular flags or any such measures. It is a political and economic problem that has been festering for the last 40 years and the solution does not lie in such patchwork.
There have been weapons in temples for hundreds of years and never was there a problem. Rajiv Gandhi displayed the same ignorance of Indian, particularly Sikh history, as Indira Gandhi did. The only saving grace is that perhaps not as many people died this time.
Article extracted from this publication >> June 3, 1988