Dear Mr. Editor, and so memorandum of settlement has been signed between the Akali Dal (L) and the Indian Government. In signing this memorandum, Rajiv Gandhi represented the Indian Govt. but what authority, constitutional or otherwise, Sant Longowal enjoyed to sign this document, is open to question. He does not represent all the communities living in Punjab nor does he represent all the SIKHS for that matter. With the signing of this memorandum and calling off the Dharam Yudh Morcha, some people may now think that peace and normalcy will return to the strife torn state and the two communities will start living in harmony hereinafter as they have been living for centuries. I am afraid it won’t happen and a few of the reasons are as follows:
- A mistake was deliberately committed by members of the majority community in Punjab in the early years of Free India when they denied Punjabi as their mother tongue at the time of 1961 census. In a recent book “Agony of Punjab” its writer V.D. Chopra candidly admits when he says (p.10) “we firmly maintain that Hindu Communalism has played no mean part in complicating the issues in Punjab.’ The whole Sikh Nation is aware of this fact and will neither trust nor pardon the majority community for this betrayal.
- This mentality was steadfastly promoted by Arya Samaj gang and Hindu communalists at the highest level of Central Govt. This even colored the vision of a Cambridge educated Jawaharlal who in 1946, when the Indian freedom movement was at its peak, saw nothing wrong in providing to the brave Sikhs a homeland in the north, where they could also ‘feel the glow of freedom.’ The communal influence of majority community was so strong and irresistible that when asked to fulfill this repartition promise Mr. Jawahar Llal responded “The circumstances have now changed”’ and added that the Sikhs should, “Wake up to political realities and recognize who are the masters and who are the slaves.”
- The afore mentioned memorandum provides, inter alia for the transfer of certain Hindi speaking areas from Punjab to Haryana. It is hard to believe that at the time of creating Haryana, the Central Govt. gave these territories to Punjab out of their generosity and love for the brave Sikhs. Frankly this decision to transfer certain areas smells mischief. It is in fact an attempt to weaken the economy of Punjab to punish the Sikhs for the alleged assassination of Mrs. Gandhi. Additionally it is a misnomer to call these areas as Hindi speaking. I lived in these areas in the 50’s and in Chandigarh had classmates from these territories. Our daily oral communication was always in Punjabi. Some of these students even received their mail from home written in Punjabi but most received it in English. Now where does Hindi come from? One fundamental fact ought not to be lost sight of. Families of most of these students came from Punjab after India’s partition.
There was no Hindi language from NWFP to Delhi. The crux of the whole matter is that Rajiv’s govt. is mischievously promoting the view that just because these people are Hindus the places where they live are Hindi speaking. What is being conveniently forgotten that language goes by the land and not by religion. People, regardless of religion, speak Bengali in Bengal, Gujarati in Gujarat, Punjabi in Punjab, Tamil in Tamil Nadu and the like. There are no Punjabi speaking areas anywhere in India except in the north, just because Sikhs live in Bombay does not make it Punjabi speaking. Let us remember, if the problem is political it needs a political solution, if it is an economic one, it needs an economic solution. Any attempt to solve one with the other will only create chaos. This is what happened in Hast Pakistan in 1971. It was an economic problem and Islamabad prescribed a military solution and the outcome is known to most if not all of us.
- This agreement was negotiated with a discredited leader. Recognizing the fact that after surrendering to the military in the Golden Temple complex on June 4, 1984 despite loud expressions that military will enter Golden Temple upon his dead body, he ceased to be leader of Akali Dal, let alone the Sikh Nation and upon his release from Gandhi’s prison he submitted his resignation as Akali Dal Chief to Baba Joginder Singh to foster unity among the Sikhs. This led to the formation of United Akali Dal. Babaji appointed a 9 member committee which included Longowal and also named Sardar Simranjit Singh Mann as the Convener who had earlier resigned as DIG Police after the June 1984 massacre. This act of Babaji caused a lot of worry and headache to Delhi. Sant Longowal withdrew his resignation at the bidding of his Delhi masters and without the consent of leading Sikhs, signed the agreement apparently under duress.
- This agreement is not acceptable to the Sikh Nation. A message loud and clear has been sent to Rajiv in the form of rejection by all major Sikh organizations and institutions. In view of these reasons and the manifold flaws contained in this agreement, seeds for future unrest and bloodshed have been sown. Unless corrective measures are taken now India will have to pay heavy price later on and the responsibility will rest on the weak shoulders of the inept and inexperienced Rajiv and his communal advisors.
Amarjit Singh Buttar
Article extracted from this publication >> August 30, 1985