Life for the Sikhs in India is becoming increasingly untenable. Sikh identity is constantly under attack everywhere. Today, humiliating and denigrating Sikhs is the most popular sport of the majority community, particularly in Hindi speaking states ruled by the Congress (1) Party. At every step, it is rubbed into the Sikh psyche that they are second class citizens and they must accept this reality if they wish to live in peace in India.

Law enforcing agencies are revengefully hostile and refuse to extend protection. Rather they quite often join the fanatic hooligans in harassing and persecuting the Sikhs. Most of the Sikhs that go from abroad to visit their relatives or to transact some business deal, invariably return with harrowing tales of the Hindu arrogance and intolerance. No Sikh in India feels secure. Travel for them has become a nightmare. Fear of mobs dragging them out of the trains and even houses haunts them. Asking a travelling Sikh to vacate his seat is the most common experience. Protests against this rampant goondaism result in the beating up of the Sikh himself. Police officials pretend to be looking the other way. Reporting a case means exposing oneself to extortion and vulgar police abuses. Law is there to punish the Sikhs but not to protect them.

An incident at Shimla sums up the Sikh predicament. A well-dressed Sikh parked his car near the bus stand. As he came out of the car, four young Hindus surrounded him and started abusing and pushing him. When he politely asked the reason for their anger, they told him to move away his car from there. He pointed out that parking was permitted there and his car was not the only one parked at that place. They curtly retorted that Sikhs were not allowed to park there. The surprised Sikh walked to a policeman who was watching the scene with visible amusement and complained to him. The policeman very rudely told him to do what the young men had asked him to do if he desired to return home in one piece. The poor fellow hurriedly got into his car and drove away. He was lucky to escape unbruised.

In services, both civil and military, Sikhs are getting an equally raw deal. They are routinely superseded and given unimportant assignments. During a recent Hindu Muslim riots, the Sikh police superintendent in charge of that area was officially told to stay at home as the mobs could attack him. By keeping him away from the scene, ‘the senior officials wanted the rampaging mobs to have a field day in burning and looting the properties belonging to the Muslim minority.

Yet, there are Sikhs inside and outside Punjab who keep harping that all was well for the Sikhs. They instead blame the Sikh freedom fighters in Punjab for unnecessarily complicating the situation. Obviously, they are more concerned with their own narrow vested interests than with the honor and dignity of their religion. Perhaps they come from the same stock as those who did not feel any compunction in compromising the honor of their daughters and wives merely to obtain small favors from Rajas and Maharajas. They are Sikhs in appearance only and serve as convenient tools in the hands of the government to mislead the world. Sikh religion would be better off if such imposters were to embrace Hinduism. They talk about the “silent majority”, little realizing that silent majority detests them and is solidly behind the Sikh freedom fighters. It is the silent majority that is supplying the necessary wherewithal, both in men and materials, to the valiant fighters who are determined to redeem Sikh honor and freedom, Stories of the foreign hand are nothing but a calculated’ concoction to undermine their courage and conviction. Sikh cause is bound to flourish and the days of Sikh slavery are numbered. But to accomplish this goal a concerted and coordinated effort by contending Sikh organizations is absolutely imperative. Every freedom loving Sikh must shed his personal ego and strive for the common objective, otherwise the shades of slavery will grow longer and longer.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 1, 1988