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50 Years of blood-soaked, weeping, struggling Punjab

Kanwar-Pal-Singh-Bittu

Kanwar Pal Singh

 

The Sikhs missed the bus in 1947. Recognized and respected as the third nation alongside Hindus and Muslims to be given back their sovereignty, lack of visionary leadership and wrongful trust of the Hindus spelt doom for the Sikh nation. The independent Sikh nation, first annexed by the British through chicanery and treachery was once again subsumed in the vortex of the large belly of an artificial India hastily carved out by the British..

 

Facing one of the largest transfer of population in world history, getting hundreds upon thousands -men, women and children killed and dishonoured, Sikhs and Punjabis came to what they thought would be their new home across the Radcliffe Line -the Indian Punjab -the Punjab under domination of India..

 

Spending nearly a decade and more to rebuild lives, Sikhs soon realized that they have been cheated again. The whole country was reorganised on a linguistic basis but Punjab alone had to fight and wage a struggle for it. In the valiant 1955 struggle, 12000 Sikhs and Punjabis went to prison and in the struggle of 1960 as many as 52239 voluntary went to jail, 43 Sikhs were martyred of including a child named Inderjit Singh. Punjabi Hindus disowned their mother tongue at the calling of Jan Sangh and the vested media joined the state to attack the Sikhs and their aspirations.

 

The Sikh people and leadership had to launch the Punjabi Suba agitation with the hope that this would be their home where they would experience Nehru's promised 'glow of freedom' or at least a place or an atmosphere which they could call their homeland where they could 'fulfill their religio-political aspirations.'

 

Alas! Punjab was reorganized but not before clever gerrymandering by the Indian state through the Punjab State Reorganisation Act, 1966 -snatching land, water resources, headworks, the capital city and much more from Punjab.

 

The only main natural resources are its rich cultivable lands and its water resources, which the government of India has systematically looted and destroyed through its biased attitude and actions. The waters of Punjab is being distributed to non-riparian states through a network of canals without any royalty being paid whatsoever by the beneficiary states or the Union government and no Punjab government has asked for such a royalty thereby losing thousands of crores of revenue. All this is having a severe adverse effect on agriculture produce and the lives of farmers of Punjab.

 

In the last two decades, though its puppet governments in the Punjab, the Union government of India has made it easy to have unlimited access to drugs proliferating a drug abuse crisis in Punjab jeopardising the lives of the youth of Punjab. the On the other hand there is a deliberate move to undermine the wafer-thin Sikh majority in Punjab by foisting a gigantic population of non-Punjabis into Punjab to upset the demographic pattern of Punjab reducing the Sikhs to a minority in their own homeland.

 

The Indian state in a well thought out conspiratorial game plan made pernicious overt and covert attempts to wean away Sikhs from the unique Sikh concept of Shabad Guru - a formless Guru which was a total antithesis of what Hinduism stood for. Neo-Nirankari cult was formed, Santdom, Gurudom and schismatic forums sponsored and now Guru Granth Sahib is being desecrated without a let-up.

 

Since then, 50 long and tiring years have gone by. Years of strife, dishonour, brutal killing of Sikhs, attack on desecration of our holiest places -Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht Sahib, mayhem and mass murder on the streets of Delhi, foisting of a sub culture in the name of Panjabiat, a long 50 tale litany.

 

This 50 point list documents the misrule of the Union and state governments, gross and systematic abuse of human rights, direct and indirect interference in the religious affairs and infringement of minority rights. Year after year.. the list has not shortened, it has kept on increasing, these 50 points are the most noteworthy ones, there are many more.

 

So much so, that the Sikhs and Punjabis living in the Diaspora within India and elsewhere were also unable to escape the wrath and devious machinations of the Indian state. We have mentioned their sorry tale also. Through its diplomatic channels, India did not spare any effort to denigrate and defame the Sikhs before the world community through ostracizing of individuals through blacklists and ban on organisations. Under pressure from India, the British government proscribed the International Sikh Youth Federation.

 

Will the tale of sorrow, grief and injustice end? We are sure it will not. India is not known nor does it show any inclination to mend it's ways. We cannot afford to let another 50 years to go by.

 

 

50 Years of Subjugation, Exploitation, Disharmony and Struggle

 

 

  1. On 18 September 1966, The Punjab Reorganisation Act was passed, which dealt a death-blow to the territorial and water rights of the people of Punjab. Sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act placed the irrigation and hydel-power projects of the Punjab geographically in Himachal Pradesh. These provisions also gave exclusive overall control of these projects to the Central government. It was in total contravention of Article 262/52 of the Indian constitution and universally accepted riparian principles. Likewise, the Bhakhra Beas Management Board was constituted and the headworks of the hydel power projects, the capital city of Chandigarh, the Hight Court and other Punjabi-speaking areas were taken away from Punjab.

 

2.                  In 1967, the Central government conspired to topple the first Akali-led government by engineering defection and thereafter withdrawing its support, and imposed President's rule in the state.

 

3.                  On 27 October 1969, for the demand of sovereignty of Punjab and for a Punjab complete with all Punjabi-speaking areas and Chandigarh, elderly Sikh leader Sardar Darshan Singh Pheruman attained martyrdom.

4.                  In 1971, in a move to scuttle the importance of martial races in the Indian armed forces, the defence ministry under Jagjivan Ram, took a policy decision, to recruit army personnel on the basis of population rather than merit. The percentage of Sikh participation in the Indian Armed Forces was gradually reduced to a meagre 2 percent.

 

5.                  In 1972, the Punjab police in Gurdwara Sadabart, near Ropar, killed 12 Sikhs.

 

6.                  In 1973, the Shiromani Akali Dal adopted the Anandpur Sahib Resolution seeking more rights and reconstitution of the country with a truly federal structure but the Indian state and media launched a vicious campaign all across the country against it and dubbed it anti-national.

7.                  Upon the imposition of emergency and throttling of democratic rights in 1975, thousands of Akali volunteers of the Shiromani Akali Dal opposing the emergency imposed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi were incarcerated.

 

8.                  On April 13, 1978, thirteen Sikhs were killed in cold-blood by the pseudo-Nirankaris in the heart of the Amritsar who had been given permission to voice anti-Sikh sermons in the holy city of Amritsar by the Punjab government. This was done in the presence of the police.  In the same year Sikh protesters were fired at in Kanpur and Delhi leading to death of some activists.In the same year, 4 Nihang Sikhs were killed at Pundri, Haryana, by police of the Haryana Government under the chief ministership of Chaudhary Devi Lal.

 

9.                  As the Punjab and Sind Bank was set up and perceived as the bank of the Sikhs and Punjab, when the bank reached the zenith of its glory in 1980, it was nationalized and brought under the direct control of the government of India.

10.              On 14 January 1980, copies of Guru Granth Sahib were burnt at Chando Kalan in Haryana by the Haryana police during one police raids.

11.              On 4th January, 1980 Baba Gurbachan Singh (neo-Nirankari) and 64 associates accused in the case of the murder of 13 Sikhs on April 13, 1978 were acquitted by the Sessions Judge of Karnal, Mr. Gupta. It is an open secret that all attempts were made by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and others to influence the judiciary for their acquittal.

12.              On 20 September 1981, when Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was arrested at Chowk Mehta, police fired indiscriminately at innocents and martyred 13 Sikhs and injured many others.

13.              On 8 April 1982, Indira Gandhi laid the foundation stone of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal at Kapuri village in Haryana. This was yet another systematic and brazen loot of the natural water resources of Punjab by the Union government. Nearly 90 percent of the digging of land for the construction of the canal was done during the tenure of Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala.

14.              On 1 May 1982, the Indian Government banned the Dal Khalsa and the Council of Khalistan, who were struggling for Sikh rights.

15.              During the Asian games in 1982, Sikhs who were going to Delhi to democratically protest were banned from entering Delhi. With full tacit approval of the state authorities, Sikhs were badly humiliated at various places in Haryana.

16.              On 24 April, 1983, at Kupp, near Malerkotla, during the "Rasta Roke" agitation of the Akali Dal, 24 Sikhs were fired at and killed by the police.

17.              In 1983, the State Reserve Police and the Central Reserve Police were directed by the government to attack Gurdwaras on the slightest pretext. During the year, Gurdwara Sahib Sisganj, Delhi, Gurdwara Imli Sahib, Indore, Gurdwara Sahib, Churu, Rajasthan, Gurdwara Sahib Chando Kalan, Haryana and Gurdwara Sahib, Chowk Mehta, Amritsar were attacked.

18.              From February 15-20, 1984, the Hindus of Haryana under the tutelage of the Chief Minister Bhajan Lal and senior police officials, attacked innocent Sikhs in the cities of Panipat, Rohtak, Kaithal Karnal, Ambala, Jind and other parts of Haryana province and killed 20 Sikhs, burnt six Sikh shrines and looted more than 200 Sikh houses and shops. In the daylight presence of the Indian Central Reserve Police, many Sikhs had their hair unshorn at the hands of rabidly communal Hindus of Haryana.

19.              On 19 March 1984, the All India Sikh Students Federation -working to inculcate awareness of Sikh rights amongst Sikh youth since a long time, was proscribed by the government of India.

20.              In June 1984, on the orders of the Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Darbar Sahib and 37 other Gurdwaras were attacked by all sections of the Indian Armed forces and other security agencies, killing thousands of Sikhs, desecrating the holy premises, vandalizing and looting heritage records and artifacts. They not only killed Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other fighting Sikhs but also innocent Sikh men, women and children.

21.              During the June 1984 attack on Darbar Sahib, the Indian Armed Forces vandalized the Sikh Reference Library and the looted material including religious texts and historical artifacts have not been returned till this day.

 

22.              In July 1984, a vast military exercise was launched in the Punjab, called Operation Woodrose with a view to launch yet another armed attack on the Punjab.  During this, an internal circular of the Indian Army entitled, Baat Cheetexhorted members of the Indian Armed Forces to earmark baptized Sikhs, all of who were labeled as dangerous people who were deemed to be having direct links with 'terrorists'.

23.              From 1-4 November, 1984, Sikhs were attacked in 87 towns and cities in 'secular' India. According to estimates by human rights organizations at least 10,000 Sikhs were virtually butchered or burnt alive. Officially, 3,700 Sikhs were killed in a matter of 48 hours. More than 200,000 Sikhs rendered homeless and without work. More than 358 Gurdwaras were desecrated and destroyed. Justifying this official pogrom against the Sikhs against the Sikhs, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi shamelessly proclaimed, "When a big tree falls, the earth shakes."

24.              On 25 July 1985, the Rajiv-Longowal accord was reached which contained unattainable and unachievable proposals. The Accord was attained under deceit and pressure on Sant Longowal. Still, for the record, no part of the accord has been implemented.

25.              On 26 January 1986, Chandigarh was to be officially declared as the capital city of Punjab. The Union government shamelessly backtracked and constituted the Justice Venkataramiah Commission.

 

26.              On 30 April 1986, the Surjit Singh Barnala led Punjab government sent in police forces into Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. Police fired bullets inside the complex, killing some pilgrims and injuring many others.

 

27.              Since 1986, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been debarred from officially entering Punjab for documenting human rights violations. This ban still continues.

 

28.              In 1987, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 was passed. This act violated all norms of criminal jurisprudence. Every safeguard guaranteed by the Constitution, all international standards of human rights laid-down by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights were violated by this Act, even though India is a signatory to both these declarations. The Sikhs suffered the consequences of TADA. Thousands of Sikh youth were detained, tortured, and extra-judicially killed both in Punjab and in other Indian states.

 

29.              On 12 May 1987, the Union government misusing Article 356 of the Indian constitution dismissed the Akali government in Punjab and imposed President’s rule.

 

30.              On 9 May 1988, under the orders of the Union and Punjab government, national commandos and the Punjab police was sent into Darbar Sahib in an action called, “Operation Black Thunder”. Around 40 people were killed and hundreds were injured.

 

31.              On 14-15 September, 1988, Sikh students of the Engineering College at Bidar in Karnataka were subjected to a brutal racial attack in which 6 Sikh students were killed and 30 Sikh students were injured.

 

32.              In 1988, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi introduced the 59th amendment to Article 356 of the constitution of India, which extended President’s rule in Punjab for another two years. It also granted vast discriminatory powers to security forces to perpetuate more oppression on Sikhs.

 

33.              On 6 January, 1989, without substantial direct or corroborative evidence, Kehar Singh was hanged at the Tihar Jail in Delhi. The legal brains including some retired judges termed this act as judicial murder.

 

34.              A written circular was sent by the Director General of Police, Mr. K. P. S. Gill to all Senior Superintendents of Police in Punjab dated 30 August, 1989, giving details of rewards to them for the apprehension and liquidation of wanted "terrorists/extremists".

 

35.              On 16 April 1990, the Indian Parliament passed the 64th amendment to Article 356 of the Constitution of India to prolong Presidential Rule in Punjab by three and a half years.  Again on 12 March 1991, another such amendment was repeated to further extend Presidential rule by another five years in the state of Punjab.

36.              Elections scheduled for June 1991 were aborted only 24 hours prior to polling time by the then President Mr. R. Venketaraman on advice from Prime Minister-designate Mr. P. V. Narasimha Rao. Chief Election Commissioner, Mr. T.N. Seshan, implemented this illegal order. The main political parties in Punjab were contesting these elections though it was boycotted by the militant section.

 

37.              In 1991, while speaking at a village meeting in Lopoke, Amritsar, Brigadier Sinha of the Indian Army threatened the Punjabis that he would change their progeny.  

 

38.              On 3 April, 1992, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organization, Justice Ajit Singh Bains was arrested under the anti-people legislation, TADA. Despite massive protests by human rights activists, lawyers and political activists, the Punjab and Haryana High Court did not intervene.

 

39.              On 9 October, 1992, Bhai Harjinder Singh Jinda and Bhai Sukhdev Singh were sent to the gallows under the provisions of the TADA act, which was later on held null and void by the Supreme Court of India. It is significant to mention that as many as 400 petitions challenging the validity of T.A.D.A. were pending judgment for more than 8 years in the apex court. The decision though was taken after hanging Jinda and Sukha.

 

40.              On 1 January, 1993, the former Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib, Bhai Gurdev Singh Kaonke, who had been kidnapped by the police a few days ago, was tortured and extra judicially killed by the Ludhiana police. Under pressure from human rights groups, the Punjab government ordered ADGP Tiwari to inquire into the incident. This one-man commission submitted its report in 1999 to the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, but it has yet to be made public. No one has been charged or arrested in the case.

 

41.              In 1993, 11 Punjabi Sikhs on way by bus to Hazur Saheb, Nanded from Pilibhit were removed from the bus and shot dead in cold blood in front of all other passengers by the police, alleging that they were all "terrorists".

 

42.              On 8-9 November, 1994, six Punjabi Sikhs under trial detenus under TADA, in the Pilibhit prison in the state of Uttar Pradesh were brutally beaten to death by the 42 members of the prison staff with support from the infamous Provincial Armed Constabulary of Uttar Pradesh. 22 other Sikh detenus were seriously injured.

 

43.              On 6 September, 1995, human rights activist, Jaswant Singh Khalra, who had unearthed gross human rights abuses in the district of Amritsar about individuals who had disappeared involuntarily was tortured and killed extra judicially.

 

44.              The Swaminathan Commision submitted its report in 2006 linking the prices of food grains to the 1967 price-index. This was rejected by the central government leading to economic disaster for the agricultural community culminating in suicides by farmers and their families.

 

45.              On 14 May 2007, on the lines of the Neo-Nirankaris, the Indian state sponsored and supported the Sirsa dera pseudo-chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim who indulged in a gross blasphemous act against Sikh tenets by wearing attire like that of the Tenth Master -Guru Gobind Singh. Instead of detaining him, arresting him and interrogating him for this unpardonable act, he was provided Z-plus security and surprisingly those protesting against him were declared anti-national and false cases foisted on them. In different incidents Bhai Kamaljit Singh Sunam, Balkar Singh Jamarai and Harmandar Singh Dabwali were killed by the heavily armed private security personnel of the pseudo-Baba.

 

46.              On 5 December 2009, when the anti-Sikh Noormahal Dera chief Ashutosh planned to come to Ludhiana, Sikh youth and others staged a massive protest in Ludhiana. The police fired indiscriminately during which Darshan Singh Lohara was killed. So far, no police personnel has been booked for this offence.

 

47.              On 29 March 2012, when Shiv Sena denigrated the Sikh turban, Sikhs protested. The police fired randomly at the protesters during which a Sikh youth Jaspal Singh Chaurr Sidhwan was martyred. No arrests have been made so far.

 

48.              On 31 August 2012, in clear violation of the principle of double jeopardy, the five Sikh hijackers, who had completed full term in Pakistan’s jail, were again implicated under serious charges which is untenable under the universally accepted legal concept and principle of Double Jeopardy.

 

49.              On 12 October 2015, Guru Granth Sahib was desecrated at Barghari. The pages of Guru Granth Sahib were torn and thrown on the streets. The government of the day has been unable to pinpoint the guilty.

 

50.              On 14 October 2015, the Punjab police fired indiscriminately at the protesters at Behbal Kalan, who had assembled the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib and the Gurus. Two Sikhs -Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjit Singh were martyred. No legal action has been taken against the guilty police officers.


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