Dimensions of the strategy to wipe out Sikh culture from India
0 comments | by Gurtej Singh, IAS & IPS (Formerly) Professor of Si
Paper read by professor Gurtej Singh'at the 24th Session of the United Nations:Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland,
It is appropriate that this body rightly regarded as the conscience keeper of humankind, becomes aware of the diabolical conspiracy to jeopardise the existence of other nations and minorities (onam) as viable, autonomous cultural entities in modern India. Their only fault is that they are incompatible with the caste based culture that the permanent cultural majority (pcm) wants to preserve. The country boasts of a ‘written constitution[i], freely elected legislature, well trained, disciplined bureaucracy[ii], independent judiciary, rule of law[iii], vibrant public opinion, active human rights organisations, freedom of expression, fearless media[iv]’ and every other imaginable cosmetic embellishment of modern democracy.
It is seldom realised that behind the saffron curtain, all these institutions are harnessed for implementing the will of the pcm under all circumstances. The slightest deviation can be disastrous for the deviant. The written law in India is universally ignored; court orders command some respectability but it is the unwritten law that requires every institution and individual to preserve and promote the welfare of the pcm that is meticulously followed. Upholding of the caste based society and every Hindu’s right to primacy are integral to the perception of the pcm. Obedience to this unwritten law is expected of all social, political, cultural organisations. Everyone, from the humble peon to the president of India voluntarily and meticulously abides by it.[v] Temporary deviations are permitted only when they are likely to yield richer dividends in favour of the original thesis in the immediate future.
In consequence the onam are made to feel that they are leading a slavish existence under the constant surveillance of all those around them. All non-Hindus, excepting the Parsis (who are too few to bother about), including the Sikhs, Dalits, Muslims, Christians and others lead lives of slaves under an express demand and a diktat to subordinate their will to that of Hindu India or to face the consequences.[vi]
Many incidents of such behaviour and approach can be documented. The result of it all is that the onam are dwindling by the day in numbers and the rich and benign culture that they represent and cherish is vanishing for ever. The purpose of this intervention is to relate how this situation has been brought about in India since the British decolonisation of 1947. This painful story will be related with special reference to the plight of the Sikhs. It equally applies to the situation of other non-Hindus.
Those familiar with the age-old socio-cultural, religious, ethnic, caste dynamics and linguistic realities of India know it to be a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-national country.[vii] India is a conglomeration of states that had existed for centuries as independent nations before being colonised by the British. India was welded into one country by a colonial power. It was an imposed unity primarily for colonial purposes and continues to be an imposed unity for the purpose of colonial exploitation.
The process of decolonisation began at the beginning of the 20th century. The British originally planned to leave India as a single unit. They were convinced that it was possible if a common constitution accommodating a multiplicity of cooperating power centres exercising autonomous political power was framed. They hoped to achieve this through giving proportional representation in the form of a separate electorate so that every important cultural group or nation could become self-governing. This approach was later somewhat modified and found its culmination in the Cabinet Mission Plan of May 17, 1946. It provided for a central government with control of foreign affairs, communication, finance and defence. It would afford a cementing breath of ample freedom to all federating units by vesting them with the residual powers. The Hindu Congress, representing the pcm was able to sabotage this plan effectively by causing the creation of Pakistan, and then creating a highly centralised state on the pretext of preventing further disintegration.[viii]
Though recognised as third party to the freedom of India, the Sikhs, deemed it prudent to remain a part of India in which all communities were to co-exist. With the emergence of the idea of Pakistan, that notion became a pipe dream. The Sikhs then sought to preserve their autonomy within the larger unit of divided India. Their position was spelt out precisely by their most influential leader. In a foreword to a book written by Landen Sarsfield, Tara Singh wrote: “the course left for the Sikhs is to prove their very acute and genuine anxiety and further that there can be no internal peace, not at least in the Punjab, unless some effective power is given to the Sikhs to defend their cultural, religious, economic and other interests.” [ix] The Sikhs had in the early 18th century carved out a “People’s Republic”. Though it lasted for only about a century (up to 1849 CE), it convinced them that an all inclusive democratic republic would best serve the people of India in modern times. To begin with, two crucial parties to the freedom of India, namely the outgoing British and the incoming Hindu Congress seemed to share a common vision of free India. The British outlined their vision in the various efforts they made for the future settlement of the constitution for India. Several legislative measures, (Government of India Acts), debates in the House of Commons, pronouncements of various commissions appointed to resolve the constitutional tangle and finally the debates on the India Independence Bill seemed to paint a near perfect picture. An all inclusive set up for a democratic republic was alluring. The pcm led by the Hindu Congress, too appeared to endorse it enthusiastically. It independently proposed to provide an enlightened, egalitarian and democratic constitution based on the rule of law, to a new India of shared dreams. Other nations and minorities (onam) were to enjoy, political autonomy, equal rights, equal opportunities, full freedom for cultural fulfilment and therefore to unhindered spiritual and economic progress. The promise was to be galvanised by the grant of separate electorates and autonomous political status for federating units reorganised on the basis of the common language.[x] Proportional representation in public services to onam was also provided for. The prospect of the “glow of freedom” was kept alive and renewed by the Objective Resolution, of the Constituent Assembly solemnly adopted on December 13, 1946 (Appendix 1). In addition, liberal promises for preserving their autonomous status were publicly made especially to the Sikhs. They concluded that the future constitution would be in harmony with the basic spiritual training and ideas of polity imparted to them by their Gurus. They had translated such ideas into reality in about a century of their rule. In return the Sikhs co-operated in the exercise of constitution making and even agreed to the partition of the Punjab, which tragically divided the Sikhs into two equal halves.
The British traded the unity vision with hassle free exit with the pcm and happily wound up the empire. It was not immediately realised that the proceedings of the constituent assembly were also presided over by a clique of equally smooth talking representatives of the pcm who had every intention to cheat and mislead. Proceedings of the constituent assembly were directed from outside by M. K. Gandhi who had wholeheartedly embraced the age old policy of Hindu India to eliminate all internal threats to the caste based society.[xi]
The constitution that finally came out of the constituent assembly served to establish the hegemony of the pcm. It established a neo-colonial empire. The leaders of new India succumbed to the long held desire of the pcm to enslave the onam perceived as ‘the other.’
M. K. Gandhi was the most violent man of the period, the mother of neo-colonialism. He harboured considerable ill-will towards the Sikhs. Immediately after partition, Gandhi started whipping up Hindu hysteria against the Sikhs in his so-called prayer meetings.[xii] His invectives against the Sikh culture were frequent and loud. The existence of an egalitarian Sikh society had for long perceived as one of the threats. An echo of the salvos fired by Gandhi was embedded into the constitutional act. He went to the extent of maligning the universally revered Sikh Gurus, particularly Guru Gobind Singh presumably because of his giving a final shape to the Sikh (Khalsa) identity and the Sikh nation. The constitutional equivalent of the sentiment propagated by Gandhi is the insertion of Article 25 in the constitution which declares the Sikhs to be Hindus, although all objective studies in Sikh spirituality, history, theology and religion by respected academicians all over the world uphold the sovereign nature of the Sikh revelation. In scriptural pronouncements the Sikh Gurus (teachers) uphold the sovereign nature of their dispensation almost at every page, almost in every hymn, almost with every breath. They assert that they derive authority from none other than the Ultimate Reality, Akalpurakh.
When the Sikh representatives in the constituent assembly tried to remind it of the promise of autonomy and a separate electorate, they were silenced by the leaders of the pcm who accused the Sikhs of paving the way for another partition of the country on communal premises. The horrors of the partition of Punjab, that had ruined the Sikhs, continued to be effectively used to suppress the Sikhs until the present day.[xiii]
By March 1947, the consent of the Sikhs to remain within India after rejecting the equally alluring promises of the future leaders of Pakistan, and to the partition of the Punjab had been secured. It is then that the cloaks and daggers came out and the real character of the constitution as a hall of smoke and mirrors was unveiled. Contrary to the first draft, the constitution was forged into an instrument to facilitate and institutionalise the tyranny of the permanent cultural majority. For some other identities also, the new empire was even harsher than the old. By the India Independence Act, the princely states had been given the option to join either country or to remain independent. The very first act of new India was to repudiate the agreement with the princely states.
The “secular socialist democratic republic” (as the constitution deceptively defines India) was ever intended to be an empire of the pcm. The powerful votaries of the proposition had taken charge of constitution making and the country’s political destiny between 1947 and 1950. Several constitutional measures to establish a neo-colonial empire while retaining the outer democratic shell were put in place. India was re-named Bharat (after the ancestor of the main characters of a Hindu scripture) to emphasise its Hindu character and Hindu ‘ownership’. Hindustan was a widely used non-sectarian term used also by Guru Nanak, but was not preferred. The Eighth Schedule along with Article 343 of the constitution that binds the state to promote Sanskrit (scriptural language of the pcm), seeks simply to perpetuate the deep rooted Brahmanical Hindu bias. Sanskrit is a dead language. It is the language of only a few hundred persons. Its derivative Hindi in the Devnagri script was adopted as the national language of India in preference to the more widely spoken Hindostani (an amalgamation of Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu). The intention was to emphasise the imposition of cultural imperialism upon the onam. The agenda for Hindu revivalism was sealed with the imposition of Hindu spirituality by Article 48 that forbids cow slaughter. Cow is an animal especially held sacred by the pcm. The rebuilding of the Somnath temple after its destruction some 1400 years earlier also found prominent mention in the constituent assembly. Very early in the constitutional journey, The Hindu personal code[xiv] was adopted. It was a sign that India had been firmly saddled with the tyranny of the pcm. The demand for the Sikh Marriage Act is pending since 1952 in India although the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, having just about 15,000 Sikhs, has accepted it since 2007.
Policy of assimilation formulated
The Indian polity religiously followed up Gandhi’s diktats by legal, administrative and political arrangements to pull the Sikhs into the fold of Hinduism. It has caused palpable damage to the Sikhs, the Punjab (having more than 75% population of Sikhs) and to the Indian nation. The policy of assimilation has four major prongs: one, to prevent the Sikhs from ever becoming self-governing, the second, to dissolve the hirsute Khalsa identity (pogonophobia?); the third is calculated to deny authentic Sikh cultural and educational moorings[xv] to the Sikh people, and the fourth, is to render the Punjab (the Sikh Homeland) economically destitute by ruining its ecology and by exploiting its resources.[xvi] This is the hidden holocaust, the invisible armada, the secret pestilence that has been constantly advanced against the Sikhs since 1950 after the re-colonisation.
The Sikhs failed to get any constitutional guarantee of cultural and political autonomy. But led by the Akali Dal, they continued efforts to evade the noose slowly tightening around their necks.[xvii] They decided to exploit the still available constitutional provisions to gain some cultural autonomy. One avenue was to seek the reorganisation of the state of Punjab on the basis of bringing all the Punjabi speaking areas into one administrative unit christened Punjabi Suba. This was based on the earliest declared policy of the Hindu Congress to reorganise all states of the union on the basis of languages spoken by the people. The bitter struggle effectively started in 1953 and continued till November 1, 1966. During this period the Punjabi speaking areas were twice demarcated under Acts adopted by the parliament.[xviii] Eventually the Punjabi speaking state was reorganised in 1966. One factor favouring the reorganisation had been the role of the Sikh generals and soldiers in the 1965 war with Pakistan.[xix] Within fifteen days of the cessation of hostilities, the announcement to reorganise the Punjabi speaking state was made by Lal Bahadur Shastri the then prime minister of India. Unfortunately Shastri died (under suspicious circumstances at Tashkent) and Indira Gandhi (who was later derecognised as a Soviet Russian Agent[xx] replaced him. The state that eventually emerged from the reorganisation process was a severely ‘moth-eaten’ (to use M. A. Jinnah’s phrase) territory in respect of Punjabi speaking areas. Some of the areas earlier demarcated by the parliament as Punjabi speaking were made a part of the Hindi speaking states. Besides, it was deprived of natural resources, hydroelectric power, river water and its capital Chandigarh built for it in lieu of Lahore left in Pakistan. It is after the reorganisation of 1966 that the representatives of the Sikhs were able to form their own government in the Punjab. That did not go down well with the more aggressive sections of the pcm for which the mere existence of a cultural unit outside of caste society was a threat to their existence. Further efforts to wipe out the advantages accruing from reorganisation were put in place by the pcm. All governments constituted by the Sikh representatives within the territory of the reorganised Punjab were not allowed to freely function. From 1967 to 1980, no Akali Dal led government was allowed to complete even a fraction of its mandated term of office that is five years.[xxi]
To rectify the situation, the Akali Dal was obliged to continue agitating peacefully for the restoration of the Punjabi speaking areas, the return of the capital Chandigarh, control of hydro-electric works and irrigation dams to the Punjab. Another grievance put up for removal was the unjustified dismissal of the Akali Dal lead governments in the Punjab. This inspired advocacy of more political autonomy to state governments. This stir was launched simultaneously with the reorganisation of the state in 1966, but it went unheeded. A peaceful agitation to get the Punjab completed as a viable administrative unit in fulfilment of legitimate democratic aspirations of the Sikhs kept gathering momentum. In reaction to the summary dismissal of Akali governments and to a swell of opinion in favour of converting India into a Hindu Rashtra, the theory of a need for a Sikh Homeland was evolved. It was vigorously propagated. This formulation, though in keeping with every prevalent concept of modern day polity, and though it did the least violence to the constitution of India, nevertheless received hostile reception.
By this time the Sikhs had acquitted themselves well in two wars for India – the war against hunger[xxii] and another one against Pakistan in 1971.[xxiii] Besides these they had won the battle for civil rights against the imposition of the state of Emergency. They felt themselves entitled to some relief.
In 1973, the Akali Dal compromised by substituting the Homeland demand with yet another formulation, namely, the Anandpur Sahib Resolution.[xxiv] A policy programme based on it was finalised in 1978. It was a much watered down cousin of the Sikh Homeland concept. It mainly sought to establish a true federal India as originally intended by all the players in the political arena prior to 1946. A political movement to popularise the Anandpur Sahib Resolution was launched. For the first time the Sikhs brought the most destructive provision of the constitution to the centre stage of discussion. Under Article 25 of the constitution the well known independent religious traditions namely Sikh, Buddhist and Jain had been clubbed together as a part of the Hindu religion. This constitutes the grossest and the most violent suppression of human, cultural and spiritual rights of a people in modern history. By the same article the government constituted under the Constitutional Act has acquired the right to interfere in the religious affairs of the Hindus (including those of the deemed Hindus). Judges of the Supreme Court of India thereby become the de facto interpreters of the Hindu faith became the authority to define the essential Hindu concerns. The abrogation of Article 25[xxv] as effective means of redressing the Sikh grievances was advocated.
After protracted negotiations and propaganda, the issues could not be resolved. The Akali Dal launched a civil disobedience movement in August 1980 to secure its legitimate political, economic and cultural rights.
As the movement gained strength, other Indian states became interested in the idea of autonomy to federating units. Soon the notion became popular in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, even Andhra Pradesh became interested. Seeing this, canards against the Sikh agitation began to be invented. Indira Gandhi’s government promoted the perception that the agitation was a challenge to Hindu hegemony. Her propaganda was that the ‘unity and integrity’ of India was in danger of being destroyed. The perception of the Sikh agitation being supported by foreign powers inimical to India, namely, Pakistan, United Kingdom and USA, was an idea donated by a minister of the Soviet Union.[xxvi] It was readily lapped up by Indian politicians and the media. The militant content attributed to the Sikhs was a direct and indirect contribution of the Indian government. It was desperate to put the peaceful agitation down by ruthless state violence for best electoral gains and had created a Third Agency outside the normal administrative set up to carry out the will of the dynastic rulers.
The Indian secret agencies inspired by loyalty to Indira Gandhi, the underground policemen, those policemen promised immunity from prosecution and those licensed to kill and the supporting Hindu press became a part of the machinery of suppression that has not been dismantled up to the present day.
In parallel happenings, Indira Gandhi’s initial reaction to the rising tide of Hindu communalism had been to defy it. She gave a try to ruling without the constitution. It resulted in the imposition of the state of ‘Emergency,’ (the total abrogation of constitutional and human rights, including the right to life) on June 25-26, 1975. It was implemented with a heavy hand. However it not only failed to curb Hindu fundamentalism, the Emergency became unsustainable in a mere 19 months. It added further to the woes of I. Gandhi. She also came to consider the Sikhs as enemies because on every day of the Emergency (June, 1975-March 21, 1977) they and they alone, registered organised political protest by courting mass arrests.
After being routed badly in the March 1977 elections, Indira Gandhi returned to power in January 1980. She came determined to shed the thin secular veil. It was a smooth operation. She was able to relate her dynastic pursuit to the long held Hindu imperial design inspired by the leaders of the pre-1947 ‘nationalist movement’ that included her ancestors. Establishment of Hindu hegemony had been a very prominent concern of the makers of the Indian constitution too. Now she wanted to demonstrate to the forces of Hindutava (those sponsoring Hindu extremism) that she was best at the game. She started emphasising her Hindu identity and decided to build the political Hindu identity around the hatred of Sikhs. For the best effect she wanted to make it spectacular. For this purpose she found it expedient to vilify and come down heavily on the Sikhs. By inflicting extreme cruelty on the Sikhs she hoped to convince the Hindus that she alone was their saviour and alone deserving of their votes. It would also crush the Sikhs forever (she dreamed) and would help her to emerge as ‘defender of the faith’.[xxvii]
The Akali-Janata ministry functioning in the Punjab was sacked in a midnight coup on February 17, 1980. Thereafter the police in the Punjab was directly controlled by the central ministry of home through the governor nominated by the prime minister till her party came into power in the state by a thin majority.
In a bid to suppress the Sikhs violently with a view to finally assimilating them, her governments adopted the cruellest methods known to history. The justification was built around the ever convenient concept of danger to the ‘unity and integrity of the country.’ Everyone knows that the danger is unreal but it was promoted to be the only political value worth pursuing, it is still the totem pole, it has been the continuously used sacrificial block since 1947. In 1984 she attacked the central shrine of the Sikh faith, erected in the 15th century to serve as a centre for the spread of an all inclusive new world culture. She caused the death of at least ten thousand innocent Sikhs of all ages in a bid to curb the peaceful defiance of her intentions.
Indira Gandhi lived by the sword. Had there been a system in place she would have been hauled up at the International Court of Justice for treason and genocide, like many others in recent times. Since that could not be, she perished by the sword. Her Sikh bodyguards shot her dead. Her son and successor as prime minister ensured that even in death her bottomless bowl (coffin) was amply drenched in Sikh blood.[xxviii] At least another 10,000 Sikhs were killed by the lawless element led by her party hoodlums in all the states of India ruled by the Indian National Congress. Her son, after her reaped the harvest of hatred at the elections in 1985. He obtained a two-thirds majority in the Indian parliament that had eluded his mother and even his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru.
Indira perished, her legacy of hatred for the Sikhs lived on. Over time, it just incarnated anew into more sophisticated political stealth drones. An unannounced ban on the conversion of persons to the Sikh faith operates strictly in India. Ever since her last battle, carrying out ‘reforms’ aimed at dissolving the Sikh Khalsa identity[xxix] is regarded as an essential precondition for keeping India united. Particularly the Sikhs formally committed to the faith are being targeted for elimination. The authorities thereby are sending a loud and clear message. (Appendix II) Violence done to the Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and even the Buddhists (important Buddhist shrines are controlled by management boards constituted of Hindus). The ultimate sanction for which is the use of the coercive power of the armed forces of the 4th largest military power in the world. Unfortunately it is looked upon as an ‘internal matter of India’ by the world at large. That is a flawed appreciation. Oppression and assimilation of onam has no justification. The Sikhs or even the entire onam put together cannot ever hope to get enough members elected to the parliament to have the situation reversed, because of their numbers (Sikhs are barely 2% of India’s total population).
The judiciary had been used in the past to deprive the Sikhs and the Punjab of their constitutional riparian rights and other fundamental rights. When a just resolution of the conflict over the river water issue depended solely upon a judicial decision, the judiciary at the highest level executed unbecoming manoeuvres to deprive the Punjab.(Appendix III) When in mid November 1982, the right of the Sikhs to freely move about on the country’s highways was abrogated and their right to assemble for exercising the right to protest against marginalisation and denial of dignity to them was curtailed, the judiciary failed to come to the rescue of the Sikh citizens of India. It led to a bloodbath on the national highway but lawlessness was not contained on the pretext of there being no written order sanctioning violence. (Appendix IV) The 1984 massacre of the Sikhs in Delhi took place under the very nose of the Supreme Court of India famed for judicial activism, for taking suo moto action,[xxx] but it remained unmoved for a full four days and subsequently the judiciary failed to do justice to the victims (Appendix V). All such inactions of the judiciary were taken as aberrations by the ever trusting Sikhs. The matters have worsened since, due, particularly to the efforts of Indira Gandhi.
In modern times, it was Indira Gandhi who organised a permanent suppression machinery to finish the Sikhs root and branch. For the first time she was able to openly get the judiciary to support her against a section of citizens. She was also able to arrange absolute and perpetual impunity for the perpetrators of crimes against the Sikhs. The results are for everyone to see. The judiciary has laid down the principle that the reduction in the number of minorities presumably by absorption is the goal of the state policy concerning onam. Expectation of the state from its various statutory bodies has been spelt out in a significant judgment. (Appendix VI) Countless right-minded innocent persons attempting to resist tyranny of the pcm have been killed by the regular police, to which cash bounties and equally generous promotions in rank[xxxi] have been dispensed as reward. Political parties organising such pogroms suddenly found the business to be lucrative in electoral terms. In 1993 Shiv Sena obtained supremacy in Mumbai after carrying out a massacre of Muslims. In 2002, 1984 was repeated in Gujarat and the main perpetrator Narendra Modi, the current chief minister of Gujarat was again returned to power. The mass killing of Christians in Odisha has likewise enhanced the political profile of the Bharatiya Janata Party, widely considered to be fascist in nature. Its founding fathers admired Adolf Hitler and endorsed his ethnic policies rooted in hatred. The theme of onam bashing is now a major political strategy in Indian politics. The proposition has many takers in all political parties composed of the Hindus for they are inspired by a common goal which is the innate intense hatred of ‘the other’ and are possibly propelled by identical overpowering fears.[xxxii] The BJP is now poised to designate Narendra Modi, the killer of 2002 as the next prime minister of India should it succeed at elections due early in 2014. (Appendix VII)
Standing by the other nations and minorities in India has just obtained added urgency. The operation of certain other judicial doctrines, evolved in recent times, their fresh adaptation to reality, has become fatal to the existence of genuine leadership amongst the onam. Sikh leaders of public standing have been prevented from leading the people by various underhand means. In this measure the judiciary has had a prominent role. Sant Baba Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhinderanwale was eliminated in 1984 by the Indian army. Almost everyone of consequence in Indian politics has since regretted the attack, holding it to be unnecessary.[xxxiii] The suppression of the Sikhs and the elimination of their genuine leadership, continues unabated.[xxxiv] By general worldwide consensus he was elected the Sikh of the Century in 1999. Since then no leader sincere to the Sikh cause has been allowed to function among the Sikhs. At best they are imprisoned for long periods, harassed by repeated imposition of false criminal cases against them or are simply eliminated by the police with the judiciary providing the cover. Perfect examples of the judiciary actively condoning even duly investigated murders by the state police are available. (Appendix VIII)
The judicial murder of the absolutely innocent Kehar Singh[xxxv] has a near parallel in the yet to be committed judicial murder of the innocent Professor Devinder Singh Bhullar.[xxxvi] The most sinister part of this is the evolution and modification of certain judicial doctrines that aid the pcm in keeping the onam leaderless and therefore an easy prey.
Borrowing words from Browning the time has come to tell the Indian judiciary, “Enough now of chicane of prudent pauses/ sage provisos, sub-intents and saving clauses.” It must be goaded to do justice which is the function of the Sovereign who presides over the affairs of the universe and has delegated it to judicial bodies in their respective jurisdictions.VI
Of the Sikhs, it can be said that, in the short span of their existence of less than 6 centuries, they have had the privilege of confronting the Mughal, Persian, Afghan and the British colonial empires in an attempt to preserve their cultural autonomy that includes the right to hold opinion, to rule themselves and the right to assemble freely. Inevitably, each time, the Sikh struggle tremendously benefited the enslaved pcm yearning for restoration of dignity. In their leaderless, terrified, disarmed, impoverished, demoralised state Sikh intervention was a boon. The Sikhs thus have fought regular wars against colonialism. In the last two great wars their contribution against fascism was considerable. They have made heavy sacrifices for the sake of freedom in many countries including those of Malaysia, Kenya and Europe. In the last 66 years of re-colonised India that is Bharat, they have been struggling to secure their civil, spiritual and economic rights. In shocking statistics - more Sikhs have been killed by the state and state supported forces in the last 66 years than have been killed in four centuries by all the four other colonial empires that preceded the present one.
This explains why the Sikhs are migrating to foreign lands in large numbers.
In an even more sinister development, the country’s polity and judiciary appears to have concluded that to pave the way for the formal declaration of India as a Hindu empire, it is legitimate to even sustain the dynasty in power. It alternatively supports the extremist Hindu outfit lead by the RSS. The judiciary has by now internalised the dynamics of Indian polity and has developed instruments that are effectively and permanently calculated to oppress the onam. This is the common requirement of both contending ideologies to the ‘throne’ of India. The Sikhs, as people are targeted because they are against any form of tyranny, political or religious. Concepts have been discovered, methods have been designed to let off criminals belonging to the pcm for crimes committed in the name of furthering the pcm’s aim of oppressing the onam. (Appendix IX) Impunity is now almost legally sanctioned to the pcm. The harnessing of the judiciary to the Hindutva cause in a communally surcharged polity controlled by the pcm is the most dangerous cocktail in Indian conditions. It bodes ill, as there is a progressive increase in fascist tendencies and periodic decimations of all those in India who refuse to voluntarily accept abject slavery, as for instance the pcm accepted in the eight centuries of the last millennium.
Two handy judicial doctrines have incarnated themselves on the scene of Indian jurisprudence. One is the concept of ‘rarest of rare cases’ for inflicting death penalty. The concept is amorphous and appears innocuous. It is essentially left undefined. (Appendix X) It is nevertheless profusely used and somehow operates to bail out Hindu criminals committing crimes against the onam while it pins down others even when they are completely innocent. Its other twin is the doctrine that demands (Appendix XI) satisfaction of the “collective conscience of the people.” The concept is well known, but in a truly democratic polity it is a function of the legislature and not that of the judiciary. Cumulative effect of both the doctrines is that many innocent leaders of the onam have perished on the gallows, or have been eliminated by courtesy the impunity it affords. Countless others who committed comparable crimes in behalf of the pcm and against the onam have escaped the noose with ease.
The judiciary is the main bulwark against oppression in every democratic system. Not so any more in India. The dyke of judicial neutrality appears to have been breached –rather wide.
Further examination of the proposition is required. That the judiciary is implementing an agenda without regard to requirements of justice is hard to believe but is nevertheless true. The matter may be considered with reference to two cases. One relates to the disappeared Manjit Singh, Balwant Singh Multani and Balwant Singh Bhullar who were in illegal custody of the police. The High Court for Punjab & Haryana ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the matter. CBI came to the conclusion that at least two of these persons had been tortured in police custody and had been killed by the police. It could not establish the fate of the third person Manjit Singh, the relative of Balwant Singh Bhullar. The CBI filed a First Information Report (FIR) according to the law. This was challenged in the Supreme Court of India (SCI) essentially on grounds of the procedure adopted. The CBI adequately answered every objection that was raised and demonstrated that legally sound procedure had been adopted. (Appendix XII) This did not deter the SCI from quashing the order of the High Court in ordering the enquiry and applied it to annul all proceedings in consequence of the enquiry that it held to be illegal. This application is sound in civil proceedings but does not apply to the criminal. According to the prevalent law the prima facie offence had been established by painstaking enquiry. The FIR lodged by the CBI occasioned only further investigation of the crime and the police could have come to its own conclusion – one way or the other. The SCI deemed it fit to stifle the enquiry about a crime that was detected by the competent authority merely on grounds of procedure. It thus illegally buried the matter for ever and afforded effective impunity to criminals in uniform some of whom are known for the illegal killing of dozens of innocent Sikhs and also of others.
The second case (Appendix XIII) is even “curiouser.” On 03/03/1997 the SCI asked the District and Sessions Judge to investigate the fate of Sarwan Singh in police custody. The judge filed in his inquiry report on 28/02/1998 in a sealed cover as was directed. The Chief Justice of India, presiding over the bench hearing the case and two judges looked up the report. They found that it did not point to a commission of crime. They then ordered the report to be resealed without showing it to the lawyers representing the parties. For a decade and a half the relatives of the deceased ran from pillar to post to see the report. All their efforts to file criminal proceedings relating to the disappearance of Sarwan Singh floundered in the face of the enigma of the seal by the SCI. The Gordian knot was eventually cut. They saw the report in a civil proceeding and found that the Sessions Court had indeed given clear findings pointing to death in police custody. On 11/03/2013, the wife of the deceased filed a petition based on the revelation in the High Court. Now the Sikh people can at least hold their breath and wait for nothing to happen.
The evidence cited above, points to an attempt at wiping other nations and minorities out of existence. When the constitution for India was being prepared, the Sikhs made their views known on its vital aspects. One important ingredient of the memorandum was the provision of machinery that would resolve differences peacefully. They wanted a body that would respond to an ‘appeal against a government that proved to be incompetent or partisan’.[xxxvii] This may still be the solution to many woes of the onam and may postpone the much dreaded disintegration of the country in certain quarters.
The situation today is more dangerous than in the past. A periodic decimation of the onam is more a reality than ever before. This is happening in the country advertised as the ‘world’s largest democracy.’ Other world powers have been so far reluctant to raise their voice against repeated massacres and violation of human rights of the Indian population. Commercial interests are fine, but must they override vital human rights concerns that are paramount in this age? Exodus of the Sikhs from the Punjab is a reality pointing to the existence of the malady, to which everyone is turning a Nelson’s eye. The demography of the Punjab is undergoing a drastic contrived change. Stealthily the protagonists of the Hindu social system are replacing the Sikh population. In several areas, for instance the Ludhiana district in the heart of the Punjab, they are already in majority. The ample flux of alien population is being silently regulated and guided by the spate of Hindi newspapers that have started publication in the region in the last three decades or so.
The hardworking Sikhs, with carefully inculcated spiritual strength, with robust work ethics, are being constantly eased out of India. They now live in more than fifty countries. They live in perfect social harmony and are appreciated for their contribution to prosperity and for furthering universal human values. Everywhere else, where the rule of law prevails, Sikhs are protected by laws. But under the very nose of international bodies which look into violations of human rights, propagate international obligations, despite covenants and treaty obligations,[xxxviii] India is going about the business of converting India into an arrogant pcm owned Bharat. In the process it is fast developing propensities detrimental to peace and welfare of human kind. (Is this the Chamberlain phase?)
Silently, stealthily a diabolical project of genocide is underway. World bodies with onerous responsibilities such as this Council has, must erect machinery that will keep them well informed about the developments. Measures are required to raise international awareness before the world is presented with a fait accompli. The traditional conflict resolving machinery has failed to do its job. A new system needs to be put in place. It is easy to imagine that the Indian design is being executed in other countries also. The possibility of that must dictate urgent remedies. Humankind will need to study all kinds of functional cultures if it is to graduate to a strife free world characterised by ever increasing opportunities for progress and to a common brotherhood living in eternal peace as envisaged by our most enlightened benefactors such as Guru Nanak. Individuals and bodies must be patronised inside the conflict zone to keep the world informed about what is happening there. A strong case could be made in favour of the UN’s need to have its own media centres in at least the conflict prone countries.
Universal peace and prosperity in perpetuity, ever increasing like the phases of the waxing moon, is the civilizational goal of the Sikh faith. For this purpose it has sought to promote social, religious and political institutions sufficiently attuned to creating a new human being trained in spirituality to blend perfectly with the new universal culture. The spiritual training includes imparting an all inclusive democratic culture with a liberal ethos. It aims at creating and nurturing a human capable of sustaining an egalitarian social order. The faith of Nanak has no sectarian bias, seeks no converts, (except the self converted), has no racial or colour bias, is free of caste considerations, has no ordained priesthood, observes no rituals in worship, does not worship images and recognises no regional boundaries. Every Sikh strives to cleanse the self of negativity by constantly imbibing the attributes of the Ultimate Reality in preparation to train the self as a life long giver and benefactor. After adopting ethics conducive to such living, a Sikh makes a final bid for attaining the summum bonum. This is attained when dedication to serving Akalpurakh’s creation becomes the entire life of the individual. For the last five and a half centuries, living in nearness to this ideal has been universally regarded as the practice of faith by practising Sikhs.
Those who wish humanity well must pause and consider whether they can afford to bear such a culture being sacrificed to the “fierce” (uggar) Kali (the popular Hindu goddess ever thirsty for human blood), who is by popular belief considered to personify ‘India that is Bharat’ Mata!