WASHNGTON, D.C: Speaking in the House of Representatives, the Congressman from Indiana said that repression against the entire Sikh population will only increase the number of Sikh militants. Tracing the recent events he said that:

“On January 18, 1987, paramilitary police forces in the Punjab entered the Sikh religion’s holiest shrine and arrested several people Suspected of “terrorist” activities. It was the second time in 9 months that the police had entered the complex around the shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, whose sanctity has become a main contention in the struggle between Sikhs and the Indian government. According to the New York Times, “Sikh religious leaders held an emergency meeting and denounced the move, vowing to prevent any further intrusion into the complex. They charged that 200 innocent pilgrims and temple employees had been seized and that furniture and records had been ransacked. The last time police entered the temple was in May, when security forces routed 200 freedom fighters who had been sitting in for months”. The worst of these plunders occurred in 1984 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent the army into the Golden Temple, resulting in the depth of allegedly 20,000 people.

“The Washington Post on December 29, 1986, reported “Much of the Punjab already is governed under measures that resemble martial law: troops and police can search and shoot at will, the Army can be called in at any time. “This is a democracy but how long can it stay a democracy if it constantly resorts to nondemocratic practices?” One observer remarked after a recent trip to the Punjab.

“On January 16, 1987, it was reported in the Washington Post that the “Indian security forces conducted a highly realistic mock hijacking of an airliner today that fooled many people into thinking it was a genuine terrorist action by Sikh militants, The exercise ended peacefully at an airport in west central India, but not before spreading alarm throughout the country.” The article continued “There, according to various reports, the purported hijackers issued a number of demands in the name of a Sikh extremist group.” The Toronto Globe and Mail on November 21, 1985, suspected the hand of Indian intelligence, or people directly under their control, responsible for the bombing of an Air India 747 in which 329 innocent lives were lost. The Sikhs were again blamed, although no one has been arrested. Both incidents were followed by series of reprisals from the Indian government against the Sikhs. Those accusations serve only to heighten tensions and increase distrust between the Hindu Sikh populations.

“The vast majority of Sikhs are hardworking and peace loving people. They do not advocate violence in resolving disputes with the government. A close study of Sikh history indicates that Sikhs have not submitted to oppression in the past, they are not submitting to it now, and they will not submit in the future. I believe the Indian government should press for peaceful solutions to the problems in the Punjab. To repress the entire Sikh population in retaliation for the violent acts of a few will only increase the number of freedom fighting Sikhs.

Article extracted from this publication >>  April 10, 1987