Apropos editorial in the “Denver Post” regarding the outbreak of violence in Punjab, I want to the dispel certain misgivings that might have arisen, may be unintentionally, by its seemingly biased comments. I do not understand what the writer tries to prove by saying that Sikhs are the offshoot of the Hindus. The whole mankind, in a way, is the offshoot of Adam and Eve. Christians are the offshoot of Jews. More than 80% of Muslims in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh the offshoot of Hindus. For that matter, every contemporary religion, barring perhaps Hindus, is the offshoot of some other religion. Hinduism, of course, is antique and prehistoric, and is hardly a religion. It is more a medley of rituals and superstitions than a spiritual philosophy. Budhism, Jainism, Brahmosamaj, Arya Samaj like Sikhs have long since branched off their relationship with Hindus, one by one, as it had, with the passage of time, eroded with age-old irksome, superfluous, incoherent and superstitious rituals. It is not known why Western media, like Hindus, blindly insists on classifying Sikhs as part of Hindus when they resentfully claim to have disowned their kinship over three centuries ago. Sikhs have an entirely different philosophy, temples, festivals, script and scriptures, rituals, appearance, and outfit and everything. They are strictly monotheists while Hindus are who shippers of multiple gods and goddesses.

Sikhs are brave, truthful and straightforward folks. From the very beginning, it has been their trait to help the weak and helpless, even at the risk of their lives. It may be a coincidence that when Sikhs were growing, Hindus were being persecuted by Muslim rulers and were being converted to Islam at the point of sword; and the Sikhs invariably came to their rescue and many sacrificed their lives without regret. By enjoying Sikh shelter for such a long time, it seems, Hindus have taken their protection for granted, as their birth right even though they have now become oppressive majority rulers, Apparently, they count on Sikhs as their indispensable subordinates to be at their beck and call for their defense, in every field, without honoring the solemn promises and pledges made by the founding fathers of the nation. But Sikhs, on the other hand, are proud of their religion, bravery and industriousness, despite being small in number; and are, in no way, in a mood to endure humiliation. They are very hospitable and self-respecting people and no sacrifice is too great for their honor. They, of course, do have their share of weaknesses too. They never let go unpunished any disrespect to their religion, howsoever mighty the perpetrator of the sacrilege may be.

However, editorial concern for the unrest in Punjab is appreciable and is justified. But, ironically, nobody but the Indian government itself is solely responsible for the turmoil. No tangible effort has ever been made to redress the legitimate grievances. They have been putting off the matter by continuously adopting dilatory policy, while Sikhs, on their part, had been, from time to time, reminding them of their unkempt promises, through democratic means, but to no avail. A purely political issue has eventually been purposely made into a religious problem. “Khalistan”, consequently, is being thrust upon the Sikhs by the intolerant Hindu majority who has deceitfully become deaf, dump and blind to the realities. Not a fraction of the Gandhi/Longowal pact (though it was basically feeble in nature and not quite satisfactory to the Sikhs) has yet been implemented. The Sikhs are not jingoists and trigger-happy people. They are as peace loving as any rational person can be. But what are the means left with them to expedite the settlement, if absolutely justified grievances are not remedied, almost ever since the Independence of the country, despite all peaceful means having been explored and exhausted. I do not mean here to condone “terrorism”, no matter who the “terrorist” is. Everybody has the right to live in peace in a civilized society; and one who disturbs peace must be brought to book according the law of the land. But who is the real terrorist? Who is the bigger terrorist? The Government or the Sikhs is the central point. The Government that launched a well-planned, unprecedented full-fledged military attack on the holiest of the Sikhs shrines, killing thousands of unarmed innocent pilgrims without notice, or the Sikhs who, only retaliated to give vent to their anguish, Is the government a terrorist that launched a preached genocide oppression killing over 20 thousand Sikhs, looting and burning their property and committing rapes, in the capital with the active connivance of the government officials, or the Sikhs who just killed one Indira Gandhi, in for her unforgiveable misadventure of attacking the Golden Temple in Amritsar, simply for demanding their legitimate rights? Who is the bigger terrorist the Government who is killing Sikh youths, day after day, in the guise of fake border encounters and keeping over 4,000 behind bars, without trial for over two years or the Sikhs who allegedly kill one here and one there to draw the attention of the authorities to settle the outstanding issues with a sense of importance and urgency? The so-called “terrorism” is but the last resort with the aggrieved public whose voice is otherwise not heard and who has been unduly wronged for a long period of time, at the hands of fascist minded rulers.

I cannot agree that the Big powers can do little to help solve the problem. Is this the civilization that we seem to be so very proud of that thousands upon thousands are being butchered in broad daylight for demanding justice and the world is watching like idle spectators. I think the big powers and the UNO will be gravely failing in their responsibilities if they shy to intervene on the pretext that it is their “internal” affair, when twenty million lives, not to mention of their sentiments, are in peril. Why can’t the world marshal its guts and make the Indian government, claiming to be the biggest democracy in the world, see reason to restore peace and justice? Why UNO can’t be made strong enough to force impartial inquiry to find out the facts of the case; and the wrong doers be taken to task? Why can’t world opinion be built to eradicate the monarchical attitude of the government, especially over those who love and respect democratic way of peace and harmony? If the media can do nothing, it should at least appeal for justice and fair play; and not be lead away by the one-sided news filtered through the governmental apparatus of “censorship”. More than half the world trouble could be done away with if they can only learn to respect justice and fair play.

The problem can only be solved by negotiation, in an atmosphere of accommodation and justice to all and not by force and snobbish selfishness. If, however, the Sikhs are really that bad and their demands are so rigid, outrageous and unrealistic that they cannot be accommodated, the rebellious part of the body, in that case, may have to be amputated, and Khalistan created as a last resort. But, before that is decided upon, at least a fair and honest attempt to resolve the problem is warranted. I very much pray and hope the Indian government will not repeat the mistake that they once committed in 1947, and wiser counsel will eventually prevail, in the larger interests of the nation.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 16, 1987