By Ranjit Singh Gill & Sukhminder Singh
The struggle for the liberation of Khalistan is a complex one: complex because of the history of the country and diverse origins of its people; complex because of the nature of the forces involved in the struggle and those we combat; complex because of the international, political, and geographical position of India.
The nature of the struggle can be read on many levels. It is the struggle of the Sikh minority against the Hindu majority for national liberation; it is the struggle of the oppressed and weak minority against a strongly entrenched majority supported by many world powers. It is a struggle with international dimensions.
The present situation in Punjab, the site of our continuous struggle, can today be best described as a permanent running sore, congenitally incapable of fully healing or being cured short of the most radical measures. Even in the United States analysts observe that there does not seem to be any solution in sight. The situation became more grim as the Gandhi regime, through circumstances of its own creation, confronted a new face of Sikh militants after their seizure of the Darbar Shaib complex in May 1988.
There is no doubt that these so-called Sikh militants, who were so brilliantly and cunningly exposed by the Indian government, were in fact the government’s own men, garbed as militants in order to discredit Sikh freedom fighters and confuse national and international opinion. These events have appealed the Sikh population, which has viewed the militants with great respect. The self-proclaimed leaders of the Sikh struggle are more interested in their small achievements and their intra and inter party squabbles than they are in the truly legitimate interests of the totality of the Sikh people. This only has the effect of adding to our misery.
After a few months of incarceration, leaders like Bhai Jasbir Singh and Prof Darshan Singh act like chameleons. Their betrayals will haunt the Sikh cause like dark shadows for a long time. This adds to our misery. Outside of India, some Sikh “leaders” are self-promoting, ineffective institutionalized “friends” of the liberation movement. These professional diplomats live off the suffering of our people back home have done so for years, and will do so until they die. These “leaders” are not really worried al out ever gon back; they are suave politicians who avoid the real freedom fighters like plague. This too multiplies the misery of our people.
At present there are signs of a waning of committed majority support of the militants; still there is little sign of support for the other moderate Sikh political parties. Even the highest seat of Sikh power is a matter of dispute. These things lead us to the impression that there is little sense of respect for the Sikh authority. The people are increasingly going through what seems to be a hopeless
“Today in Punjab Security Forces serving the Indian majority’s political and economic interests and policies are using indiscriminate violence. Resistance therefore should be clearly exercised as a right.
situation. Several recent developments have only increased this sense of despair.
Police terror and state sponsored death squads have bludgeoned the Sikh people. They have been threatened by this policy of state terrorism directed against the progressive movement and the general population. The Punjab police chief. Who happens to be a Sikh himself, has made public the number of people killed in January 1989. The report shows that out of 120 people killed, 43 Sikh youths have been slain by the police. Worst of all was the way in which Bhai Kehar Singh and Bhai Satwant Singh were hanged. Their cremation and last rites were performed by the Indian authorities in a manner totally unacceptable to the Sikh religion. This was done by the government without taking into consideration the practically unanimous appeals of the general public and “of the Sikh people, thereby showing the true intentions of the regime. Its intent is one other than criminal intimidation. Through it, the government pursues the total paralysis of our just struggle. We have seen case after case of blatant murders of young Sikhs which are clearly traceable to the police or their death squads. Yet no one has ever been arrested and convicted
The most recent example to the death of Prof Rajinder Pal Singh Gill. who was a search scientist in the Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana Punjab. He has become a new martyr, another victim of police torture and murder. Many of the authors of the anti-Sikh riots during November of 1984 are known. Nevertheless they too go unpunished. During the last four years, thousands of young Sikhs have been killed by the security forces on the merest suspicion of being a sympathizer of the struggle. Many are killed simply because of their religious beliefs.
Due to everyday pressure, hardships, continuous betrayal by certain corrupt Sikh leaders, and the lack of proper guidance, errors have been committed and attributed indiscriminately to the militants. Incipient elements of terrorism traceable to autocratic tendencies thus take form. Those tendencies must be forcefully criticized, but, at the same time, it must be understood that sometimes fear, frustration and rage force some Sikh militants to institute punitive attacks on elements that falsely claim representation of particular sectors of the Sikh population even when they know that such attacks will incite additional repercussions. The past year has shown an upsurge in the slayings of innocents basically for this reason. However, the murder of civilians is never acceptable no matter how flagrant the injustices committed by the government. In any event, such tactics legitimize the government’s repressive measures,
Even though Europeans and Americans have historically used all forms of violence which have been described as activities of resistance and even heroic in defense of freedom today they are referred to by them as extremist actions. They show total lack of understanding and support for these actions whose methods and motivations do not differ from those they once themselves used and then defended as legitimate. So too history has shown that in the creation of Israel, terror accelerated the British departure from the Palestine land. Under certain political situations of extreme oppression, actions have been taken by many people and have achieved the goals of freedom for their practitioners. Today in Punjab the security forces serving the Indian majority’s political and economic interests and policies are using indiscriminate violence. Resistance therefore should be clearly exercised as a right and as a purely defensive mechanism for the survival of the Sikh people.
Some of the Sikh militants have a strong belief that radical and violent actions play an important role in achieving their goal. We believe it is the suffering of the thousands of young Sikhs, who are, every day, withstanding atrocities of physical and mental torture at the hands of the oppressors that plays an important part in the struggle. Just as the sufferings and steadfastness of the West Bank Palestinians, the Irish nationalists, the Black.
South Africans, and the Armenians area great challenge to the respective governments which oppresses them, so are the sufferings and victimization of the Sikh people a great challenge to the Indian government the true cause ‘of the Sikh people’s resort to revolutionary violence and armed struggle.
We want peace. But peace can only come from the absolute respect of human rights, particularly the right to exist as a nation and as a free people. No cause can justify the destruction of life. After all, we are all ‘blood brothers and sisters.
Ranjit Singh Gill and Sukhminder Singh are two freedom fighters that the Indian government is seeking to extradite. They are currently at the .C. in New York.