NEW DELHL India, July 8, Most Sikhs kept off the Streets of Delhi and Haryana today fearing attacks by Hindus after gunmen killed 70 Hindus in the bloodiest massacre since the campaign for an independent Sikh homeland began five years ago.
“There are bad days ahead for Sikhs in India,” said H.S. Malhotra, a Sikh doctor who treated survivors brought to hospital in the joint Punjab Haryana capital Chandigarh.
His fear, shared by many other Sikhs interviewed by Reuters, shows the tremendous strain the years of killing have put on the once inseparable ties between India’s 16 million Sikhs and 680 million Hindus.
Most Sikhs live in Punjab, a prosperous farming state northwest of Delhi, where Sikhs want to establish “Khalistan”, the Land of the Pure.
“Relations are under heavy strain …. Sikhs are uncertain and nervous,” Sikh writer and historjan Khuswant Singh said. “Many are not venturing out of their homes today, I am not”.
Sikhs, distinctive in turban and beard, have bitter memories of previous Hindu backlashes which have swept north India.
More than 3,000 Sikhs were hacked or burned to death in Delhi alone after the assassination of
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by Sikh bodyguards in October, 1984.
The fact that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s administration has never punished those responsible has left many Sikhs angry.
This coupled with the outrage Sikhs felt after the 1984 army assault on their holiest shrine, Amritsar’s Golden Temple, has led many Sikhs to talk of their community’s “Wounded Psyche”.
Most Sikh organizations have condemned the attacks. While not condoning the violence several politicians believe they understand the motives.
“The killings are the outcome of police repression on Sikh youth in Punjab,” said Unified Akali Dal General Secretary S.S. Dhindsa.
Several pro Khalistan youths in Amritsar said police frequently kill Sikhs in custody by staging fake gun battles or attempted escapes.
Prof. Darshan Singh, the Head Priest of all Sikhs, said by telephone from Amritsar that Gandhi was not interested in a political solution. Y
“His condemnations of the killings are just crocodile tears… He is doing nothing”, Singh said.
The bus attackers and gunmen who shot 14 people in Delhi suburb last month both left notes threatening more killings if police continued to stage “fake encounter”.
Article extracted from this publication >> July 17, 1987