(An Exclusive Interview With World Sikh News Editor)

NEW YORK; “There is no justice system and no rule of law in India. A democratic system presupposes freedom of press, freedom of religion and recognition of the basic human rights but in India all these have been systematically destroyed to perpetuate a dynastic rule. Everything is at the beck and call of the rulers”, said Sukhminder Singh Sandhu in an exclusive interview with the Editor of World Sikh News here on Saturday, last.

“The way Sikh young men are being murdered in fake police encounters and the way thousands of Sikhs are rotting in jails for over four years without any trial, clearly shows that the justice system in India has totally collapsed”, added Ranjit Singh Gill

Dressed in identical kurta pyjamas and Kesari turbans, both entered the interview room beaming with confidence and brimming with traditional Sikh warmth. While discussing political and legal issues, they exhibited clarity of vision and penetrative insight that brought to mind the charismatic pictures of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Kartar Singh Sarabha.

Elaborating his point, Ranjit Singh said, “Nowhere in the world, you can find a person detained without trial for five years. It is happening only in India. Besides, no useful purpose will be served even if the arrested persons are brought to trial because no judge or magistrate has the courage to overrule the police”. He, however, said that Sikh detainees should be treated as political prisoners and not as common under trials, because Sikhs are ’ waging a political fight.

“In fact, all the Sikhs detained in jails are prisoners of war”, interjected Sukhminder Singh. “They need to be treated in accordance with the international covenant governing prisoners of war”.

Asked to identify the organizations that are in the fore: front of the Sikh struggle, Sukh: minder, said, ‘In our opinion All India Sikh Students Federation is the nucleus. It is an organization that has a formal character and history. Its leader Bhai Amrik Singh laid down his life for the Sikh cause. There are other organizations that are playing a significant role but they have come on the scene very recently and only time will determine their place in the history of the Sikh struggle for independence”. Ranjit Singh


favoured strengthening AISSF and appealed to all the Sikhs to coordinate their efforts with it in order to achieve “our objective”. Reacting to the efforts of Singh Sahib Jasbir Singh KhaIsa, Jathedar Akal Takht, to forge unity in the two factions of AISSF, Sukhminder said, “I don’t understand this hullaballoo about unity. There can be


no unity with those who do not subscribe to the concept of Khalistan, who still want to live under the Indian Constitution. All that we require today is to coordinate the efforts of various bodies fighting for Khalistan so that there is no duplication of effort and no wastage of our limited resources. By and large, Sikhs are for Khalistan. Yet if Singh Sahibs were to speak Sikhs like U.A.D. leaders, they would surely be removed by the Sarbat Khalsa that initially appointed them.

 Sarbat Khalsa convention made its stand on Khalistan clear beyond any ambiguity and it is not for any individual or institution to review that stand. Singh Sahibs were appointed in primarily because they had declared Khalistan to be their objective. They would not have been appointed if they had taken a different stand”.

On the issue of unity in the Sikh ranks, both felt that there were no divisions among the Sikh masses. “Differences are there only among those leaders who do not subscribe to the concept of Khalistan. They oppose each other because they are after personal gains. How can freedom fighters have unity with Badal or Amarinder Singh or for that matter with Baba Joginder Singh who want Solution within the Indian Constitution?”, they asked. “It is really intriguing that Baba Ji should share the stage with persons whose hands are still red with the blood of the freedom fighters”, they said. They felt that Singh Sahibs should go to console the parents of the freedom fighters killed in fake encounters and Baba Ji should organize gherao of police Thanas where Sikh young men were being tortured and killed.

 Commenting on the disclosure of the threatening letters the Prosecution Attorney, Judy Russell, herself wrote, they said, it clearly demonstrated that the government of India had the resources to corrupt even American judicial system. The fact that Judy Russell put her promising career at stake showed that the Indian government was using every conceivable temptation to secure their extradition and it is definitely involved in this sordid drama at the highest level. Otherwise how can a right thinking person take such a step all by himself/herself? They had absolutely no doubt that they would be liquidated in some fake encounter in case they were extradited to India. “When unarmed Sikh young men are being shot down as happened in Chandigarh where Sukhminder Singh and his friends were gunned down at the local bus stop, how could they hope for a different treatment for themselves? Our extradition would also prove to the Sikhs here that American policy won’t change with our lobbying. Despite the best efforts of the Sikhs, the deportation of Jasbir Singh Bajwa, could not be stopped, ever though his case was a very simple one. We have got so much recorded in the Congressional Records but it was of no avail in the case of Bajwa,” they asserted.

They were, therefore, critical of the money being wasted in running expensive offices with well paid staff to mobilize American politicians. The struggle demands self-sacrificing people like the young men in the Punjab who are fighting in the trenches not for any Salar or glory but for the glory of the Panth. There is no place for highly paid lobbyists who was the national resources in closed door deliberation that lead us nowhere.

Sukhminder and Ranjit ex pressed their gratitude to all those who have extended a helping hand in fighting their case. But they particularly applauded the role of Sikh Cultural Society, New York, and specially mentioned the name of S. Jagjit Singh Mangat for fighting the legal battles first of Dr. Gurpartap Singh Birk and his friends and now their case. They appealed to the Sikhs to strengthen the hands of the Sikh Cultural Society and its present management, Sukhminder had his reservations about the usefulness of concentrating all energies solely on the mobilization of Congressmen. He did not expect America to play any worthwhile role in the establishment of Khalistan. It would be better if Sikhs abroad were to use their resources in helping the struggle back home. Without it, every other activity would be of no avail, he said. Talking about their arrest they squarely blamed some persons who claim to be representatives of a Youth Federation and proclaim themselves to be more committed than anyone else. The Intelligence Agency of its own would never have succeeded in apprehending them, they concluded.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 6, 1988