Dr. Gurcharan Singh and Dr. J. Singh
We are living in a world where the so-called “anonymous telephone calls’ receive much greater credence than written letters, articles and sworn testimonies. A large section of the media provides instant publicity to hijacking and violence and treats the voice of reason with indifference blended with arrogance. Responsible journalism is not only becoming rare but almost an endangered entity. Much of the media is becoming a tool of clandestine mafia groups. As a matter of fact, the media and violence have prima facie, developed a kinship whereby they sustain one another.
The way the American media gave credence to a “hoax call” and jumped the gun on blaming the Sikhs for the tragic crash of Air India flight 182 is horrifying. For four days and nights the media held the entire Sikh people as hostage and terrorized them with media blitz. It was a “free market’ par excellence for all kinds of rumours and distortions. The coverage in the New York Post has exceeded the limits of malicious propaganda and gutter journalism at its worst.
It is reminiscent of Nazi Germany where the Jewish people were instant scapegoats for every incident often engineered by the state agencies. South Africa’s racist regime blames every act of violence on the black nationalists. India’s ruling regime has found a similar scapegoat in the Sikh minority.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Brian Mulroney deserves our gratitude for injecting some sense into this situation of utter nonsense created by the media. He has cautioned the media against jumping to conclusion in the absence of any hard evidence and said: “fairness and decency require that the Sikhs be given the benefit of the doubt.”
Unfortunately, a large section of the media did not show either “fairness” or “decency.” Just a bit of common sense should have counseled prudence about such “hoax calls.” Criminal groups seldom provide a proper lead by identifying themselves. More often than not these calls tend to misinform by naming adversary groups to mislead the media and law enforcement agencies. Thus, they gain time to escape any hot pursuit. Ellery Queens’ dramas are being played in real life situations.
In the background of the massacres of the Sikhs in June 1984 and November 1984, one would have expected the media to raise some questions, such as:
… was this hoax telephone call the work of India’s intelligence agencies, which have worldwide network like the KGB?
… was this another attempt to blackmail the Sikhs and use it as a pretext to encourage another genocide of the Sikhs in India?
The media showed a complete lack of due diligence in this matter. It has deepened the gulf between the Sikhs and Hindus and precipitated a dangerous situation for the Sikh minority which is already living on the edge of a sword.
The Sikhs share the sorrow and anguish of the bereaved families of the innocent victims of the Air India flight 182. A survey of the list of victims indicates that a very large number of them, including the copilot, happened to be Sikhs. Whatever their religion, race, color, sex or nationality, they were our fellow human beings. Their tragic death is a profound loss which touches every human heart.
While the Sikh nation prays for the peace to the souls of these innocent victims, it also prays and hopes that an independent investigation would bring out the truth and place the blame where it actually belongs.
In the meantime, the media might have to do some soul searching and house cleaning. This monster of violence and sensationalism, which is being unwittingly nurtured by the media, might one day consume the very cow which provides the nourishment. Chickens have a habit of coming home to roost.
Finally, the leaders of the western world who are shouting “never again” in reference to the Jewish holocaust might well remember that they are once again becoming partners in this duplicity and conspiracy of silence. As pointed out by K.M. O’Leary in a recent article in The Spokesman, Toronto (May 19, 1985):
“Like the Jews in Germany the Sikhs in India are a tiny but visible and prosperous minority. Just as in Germany, the masses in the country were aroused by an anti-Sikh hate campaign and the violence often had the sanction of the government. The riots that killed several thousand innocent Sikh men, women and children were masterminded and organized by right wing elements of the major political party. Police and paramilitary forces looked on and in some cases joined in the looting, burning, raping and killing…”
“The media and the press were used by the government to either misrepresent or suppress the extent of the violence towards the Sikhs.”
“Let us, in remembering the anniversary of the holocaust, resolve that we will never hesitate to speak out when we see something like this happening.”