Ranbir Singh Sandhu, Columbus, Ohio
People in the United States and elsewhere, having witnessed the gruesome brutalities committed against Sikhs by rampaging mobs in Delhi and other cities in India after Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination are curious to know more about the problems the Sikhs are having in India. These questions cover a broad spectrum ranging from “who are the Sikhs?’, “What is their religion?’’, “What were their demands?’’, “‘Why do the Sikhs insist on bearing arms?’’, ‘“‘Why were there weapons in the Golden Temple?”, ‘Why did Sant Bhindranwale live in the Golden Temple?”, ‘What were the causes of the violence in the Punjab? Who were the perpetrators and who the victims?”’, ‘‘Were the Sikhs in the Golden Temple killing the Hindus?”’, “Is the Indian government really suppressing the Sikh religion?’’, ‘“‘What can the Sikhs do?’ The writer hopes to provide answers to some of these questions in a series of articles. The present note, the first in this series, describes the genocide being perpetrated by the Indian government and attempts to provide some information about the Sikhs and their religion.
II. INDIAN GOVERNMENT’S ACTION AGAINST THE SIKHS.
The Indian government is engaged in subjugating the Sikhs and is destroying their religion in the name of secularism and unity of the country.
This suppression has been going on for the last thirty-seven years. However, over the last three years, the government has adopted violent methods. From September 1981 till June 1984 hundreds of Sikhs were killed in “encounters’’ with the police. Amnesty International has declared these encounters to be ‘‘faked and in fact murders.” The government not only killed, maimed and crippled hundreds of young men but in addition falsely declared them to be terrorists in order to poison the public mind against all Sikhs. Terrorism, by the government and certain irresponsible elements among the Hindus, against the Sikhs has been increasing systematically. Last June over forty Sikh places of worship were simultaneously invaded by the Indian army with tanks, artillery, helicopter gunships, etc. The Golden Temple complex was seriously damaged and the Akal Takhat destroyed. Since then over a hundred other Sikh places of worship have been destroyed by rampaging mobs of Hindus with direct encouragement from the government.
The Golden Temple is the symbol of three centuries of sacrifices, martyrdoms, blood, sweat, tears, hopes, and a labor of love for God of an entire people. It is to the Sikhs what The Vatican is to the Catholics, what Mecca is to the Muslims, and what The Wailing Wall is to the Jews. The Sikhs are devastated by the Indian government’s sacrilegious actions. The army destroyed most of the structures, set fire to the reference library, destroyed the weapons of the Sikh gurus and killed thousands of innocent persons including a large number of women and children under the pretext of flushing out nonexistent terrorists. There were reports of army brutality. Sikhs were tied up and shot, the wounded were not attended to, and no attempt was made to identify the victims.
Vicious and barbaric abuse of the Sikh people including indiscriminate arrests, beating and torture, and denial of due process of law continues. Mary Anne Weaver writing in the Christian Science Monitor of 15 October 1984 about the massive cordon and search operations in the Punjab reports, ‘‘the pattern in each village appears to be the same. The Army moves in during the early evening, cordons a village, and announces over loudspeakers that everyone must come out. All males between the ages of 15 and 35 are trussed and blindfolded, then taken away. Thousands have disappeared in the Punjab since the Army operation began. The government has provided no lists of names; families don’t know if sons and husbands are arrested, underground, or dead.’ The Indian government has shown little regard for basic human dignity. People have been taken from their homes, tied up and shot. Others have been brutally beaten. Thousands, including children as young as two years of age have been held without trial and subjected to inhuman torture. According to India Today, “‘the lofty laws protecting and respecting the child have all been violated.”” The law has been changed to hold anyone accused by the government of any crime or intention to commit any crime guilty until he proves his innocence. The operations have been designed to systematically eliminate all “Amritdhari’’ (confirmed) Sikhs labeling them as terrorists. Sikh leaders and the Sikh Faith itself have been maligned. The “Khalsa”? Created by Guru Gobind Singh as the “saint-soldier’’ protector of the weak and fighter for freedom of religion has now been designated by the Indian government as a “terrorist by faith’ and is the victim of a witch hunt. (To be continued)
Article extracted from this publication >> DECEMBER-28-1984