UNITED NATIONS: India clashed sharply with Israel at the United Nations when an Israeli delegate repeatedly referred to the situation in Punjab and claimed that hundreds of innocent Sikhs had been butchered there and said that the toll of atrocities committed in the Punjab “was far heavier than Israeli atrocities in the West Bank and other occupied lands”.

Indian delegate, Mr. Chinmaya “Gharekhan, in an angry retort, questioned the logic of the Israeli delegate in comparing the situation in “my sovereign, democratic country to what it is doing in territories it occupies”. The political observers felt that the Indian delegate in his anger forgot that historically Punjab was a separate and sovereign land and was forcibly annexed by the British. In 1947, it did not become part of India but only aligned with India on a contractual basis. Since the Indian rulers have backed out of the conditions of the contract, Punjab’s alignment with India has automatically become null and void. Today, Punjab is an occupied territory and Sikhs are engaged in the war of liberation. This is the correct picture of the situation and no amount of anger or oratory by the Indian delegate can alter it, they argued.

The Indian delegate questioned Israel’s locus stand in the West Bank or Gaza and asserted it had illegally occupied those areas.

The Israeli delegate, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu said that he could cite dozens of bloody riots in India and mass killings of innocents like the Golden Temple massacre, yet the “Council was not convened even once to discuss these cases. It is concerned only to discuss a case involving Israel which pales in comparison”.

Mr. Gharakhan’s right to reply ‘was questioned by the British Ambassador, Mr. Crispin Tickell on the procedural ground. He pointed out that since India was not a member of the Council, it must first obtain the permission of the Council to speak in right of reply.

However, the Soviet Ambassador who presided over the 15 nation Council ruled in favor of India and allowed Mr. Ghare Khan to take the floor.

It was for the first time that Punjab issue was raised in the Council.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 1, 1988