Indian Barbarism against Sikh Community
By Sara Nazir
India might have proclaimed itself a Hindu state after the separation in 1947 as around 80% of its population is Hindu, however, due to the persuasion of Gandhi, Nehru, and others, it was decided "to seek a greater vision: a contemporary secular State in which all religious communities would have equal rights." In rebuttal to this Nehruvian secular ambition, the Hindu extremist parties, including the Jan Singh, Shiv Sena, and Bajarang Dal, took Savakar's notion of Hindutva to purge the Hindu land of minorities—and began creating fake history through the production of movies and dramas, destruction of mosques and churches, and persecution of missionaries. These differences have become more noticeable under the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration, which is working to turn India into a genuinely "Hindu" state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured the backing of extremist groups during his election campaign by endorsing their ideologies and promising to turn India into a Hindu empire in which all non-Hindus would either have to be converted to Hinduism or expelled from the country or murdered.
The Congress party, which otherwise claims to have a more secular attitude, was in charge of the 1984 Hindu-Sikh massacres that resulted in the murder of hundreds of Sikhs. The infamous Babri mosque was destroyed by the BJP's militant Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1992, sectarian clashes that caused the deaths of hundreds of Indian Muslims. Another dark chapter in India's long tradition of religious and communal violence that has kept the country in a constant situation of political and social unrest is the 2002 killing of Muslims in Gujrat, which was sanctioned by the country's then-chief minister, Narendra Modi.
Sikhs community which make up about 2% of the country's total population and are mostly concentrated in Punjab, western part of India, have always been victimized by Indian government. Sikhs began "Khalistan Movement" in 1940s since Punjab had majority of the country’s population (58%) but it gained popularity in the 1980s when Indira Gandhi's government executed "Operation Blue Star" at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. There, 251 Sikhs were slaughtered, and when Sikhs across the nation learned of this occurrence, they all headed towards Punjab. Indian troops prevented them from getting there, resulting in a bloodbath that killed 50,000 Sikhs. This chaos sparked an uprising that resulted in Indira Gandhi's assassination in October 1984. Khalistan Movement also started quickly as a result of violence against Sikh community.
A non-governmental group called Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) works for Sikh community across the world. Under the harsh "Unlawful Activities Prevention Act" (UAPA), Indian authorities outlawed SFJ in 2019 and designated the organization's General Council as a "terrorist".
A few years back, Indian former cricketer and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu were accused of a case that occurred more than 35 years ago, he was sentenced to jail for one year. In another incident, a famous ‘Punjabi singer’ Sindhu Moose Wala was killed. His murder is again proof of Indian hatred against minorities. Friends and family members have referred to it as BJP and Hindu extreme cruelty, but security forces have described it as inter-gang fighting.
Preet Kaur, a Sikh lady who is a Member of Parliament in Britain, has been threatened by an email asking her to “watch your back”. After December 2021, Preet came under criticism and hatred campaigns by the Indian government when she wrote “Hindu Terrorist” in a tweet due to barbarism committed against Sikh community and violence at Golden Temple, which later she deleted. Most recently, a video went viral during the Holi festival in which a Sikh man was targeted by a group of Hindu men in Uttar Pradesh.
Indian government’s discrimination against Sikh community can be observed after opening of the ‘Kartarpur Corridor’ by the Pakistan government. After the opening ceremony, Navjot Singh Sidhu was banned to appear on TV and removed from a famous comedy show due to his remarks on Kashmir issue during the said event. Moreover, Indian government warned Sikh pilgrims of the consequences of accepting Pakistani hospitality. Further, they told the pilgrims that their lives are in danger in Pakistan. Most recently, last week, Indian security forces launched a 'massive cordon and search operation' and suspended internet and mobile services across Punjab to arrest the pro-Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh. Indian security forces have arrested around 100 people who were demanding the creation of 'Khalistan' along with their leader Amritpal Singh. The way the Indian government is using force to capture of Amritpal at all costs, chances of Indian security forces killing Amritpal in a fake encounter soon do not appear to be low. If it happens, the situation will worsen for Indian government as well.
In conclusion, India which portrays itself as a secular country, in reality, is a fascist state. Minorities in India are not safe. The identity crisis India is facing today can lead to its downfall as predicted by Khushwant Singh in 2003. After taking into account the crimes committed by various Indian governments against it’s Sikh minority, Sikh community should be granted a separate independent land as their lives remain in extreme danger in India under the fascist Modi government. As BJP continues severe crackdowns on the minority group, ongoing operations against Sikh community could lead towards massive violence.
The author has done MS in Strategic Studies from Air University Islamabad and currently teaching as visiting faculty in International Islamic University Islamabad. She writes on South Asian security and strategic issues.
*Opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Asia Times