This is a piece authored by Kirshna Tyagi titled “Those who crave for Khalistan need to answer.“
On Sunday 12 August 2018, a US-based group called ‘Sikhs for Justice’ organised a rally in London (UK) to demand what it called ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’ in the Indian state of Punjab to find whether Sikhs there want a separate State for themselves.
Before discussing what such groups exactly want, first a couple of simple questions for this group –
Does the group ‘Sikhs for Justice’ imply that they are the only Sikhs who stand for justice, and those Sikhs who are not their members don’t stand for justice? What is the meaning of the group giving the title ‘Sikhs for Justice’ exclusively to themselves?
Secondly, do the ‘Sikhs for Justice’ demand ‘Justice for All’ or ‘Justice for Sikhs only’. If it is the latter, then you should be calling your organisation ‘Sikhs for Justice for Only Sikhs’, rather than presenting yourselves as ‘saviours of everybody’. Let the group’s potential followers and observers know that the group members are not concerned about non-Sikhs – no matter how much indignities are inflicted and atrocities are committed upon them.
On the other hand, if ‘Sikhs for Justice’ stand for ‘Justice for All’, then the group needs to answer what have they done from their own side to provide justice to the families of innocent people killed by the followers of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, presumably their own spiritual leader? Before he was flushed out of the Golden Temple, Mr Bhindranwale led a gang of (Sikh) terrorists who killed hundreds of innocent Hindus, Nirankaris (including their chief) and Sikhs. According to the independently compiled reports, in the two year period between 4 August 1982, when the so-called Dharma Yudh Morcha (Sikh Jihad) was launched, and 3 June 1984 there were more than 1200 violent incidents in which 410 persons were killed and 1180 injured. In the year 1984 itself between 1 January and 3 June, 775 violent incidents happened killing 298 and injuring 525. All this happened before the Operation Blue Star and before the anti-Sikh riots following Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Do those innocent victims not deserve any justice? Before you ask for justice for yourself, shouldn’t you be asking for and doing something towards justice to the victims of your own violent campaign that provoked anti-Sikh sentiment in India in the first place?
Coming to the main issue, the State Sikh separatist elements crave for is called Khalistan, the land of the pure! The thinking is to have a state on the lines of Pakistan, the land of the pious! Pakistan and Khalistan are synonyms.
Now, a verse from the Granth Sahib, Sikhs’ holy book, written by the 15th century Indian mystic poet and saint Kabir, says –
Awwal Allah Noor Upaya, Qudrat Ke Sab Bande! Aik Noor Te Sab Jag Upajiya, Kaun Bhale Kau Mande!!
(God created the light from which all human-beings were born! The whole universe was born from one source; So, whom would you call good and whom bad!!)
The verse is widely quoted in Sikh teachings. So, the question the proponents of Khalistan need to answer is – Who do they call ‘pure’ and whom they would call ‘impure’, and on what basis?
The Sikh Gurus have also said, “Manas ki jaat sabai eikai pahachaanbau”, meaning ‘All human-beings are one caste; we must treat them all equally.’ So, on what basis are the proponents of Khalistan discriminating between Sikhs and non-Sikhs, and demanding a State exclusively for Sikhs? Are they not violating the teachings of the Gurus, while claiming to be their disciples?
By demanding an exclusive State for Sikhs, the proponents of Khalistan are in fact saying Sikhs can’t live with non-Sikhs, definitely not with Hindus, who are basically their cousins. If you can’t live with your cousins who are the same race as you, who speak the same language as you, who have the same ancestors as you, and who respect your religion as much as their own, which is your ancestors’, how would then Sikhs live with people of other races and other religions (in whose eyes they are still pagans) in Britain, Canada and the US? When are they going to demand separate Sikh States in those countries? In your “struggle” for Khalistan against India, you expect to get support from Western countries! Do you expect the people in Western countries to be totally dumb and not see the danger you pose to them in the future? People of Canada have not forgotten 23 June 1985 when you blew up midair Air India flight 182 operating on the Montréal-London-Delhi-Bombay route off the coast of Ireland killing 329 people. Among them were 22 Indian nationals and 280 Canadian nationals. Do you think the Canadian people thanked you for that?
You are demanding a State on the pattern of Pakistan that was created exclusively for Muslims.
That State was based on ethnic cleansing. It was established by chasing out Hindus and Sikhs from their own lands where they had lived for thousands of years. Now, you are craving for a State exclusively for Sikhs! You’re dreaming to chase out Hindus and other non-Sikhs from Punjab! Do you know what repercussions it could have for the Sikhs living in other parts of India? More than 5 million Sikhs live outside Punjab, in other states of India. Before demanding Khalistan, have you consulted those Sikhs? Are you going to invite all those people to join Khalistan? Do you have a settlement plan for them? Are they prepared for this? Why the so called referendum should be confined to the state of Punjab?
Different proponents of Khalistan have made different territorial claims for the formation of Khalistan. If you are after the territory Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled, then most of it is in Pakistan now. Are you sure that Pakistan would allow you to take over that region? Some of your leaders have made claims over Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan too. What is the basis of these claims over these areas, where Sikhs form a tiny minority of the population, that too through immigration from Punjab in the recent decades? Or do you think you would be able to chase out non-Sikhs from those areas too?
Historically Sikhism has been pan-Indian. The Granth Sahib draws from works of saints in North as well as South India (a large part of it is written in Khari Boli and Braj Bhasha, and not in Punjabi), and many of the important seats of Sikhism such as Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, Patna Sahib in Bihar and Hazur Sahib in Maharashtra are outside the Indian state of Punjab.
So, how are you going to follow the dictum Raj Bina Nahin Dharam Chale Hai (without self-rule a religion can’t keep going) with many important seats of Sikhism still outside the Raj (rule) of Khalistan/Sikhistan?
The proponents of Khalistan also need to inform their potential followers a bit about the character of the proposed State –
Firstly, would the proponents of Khalistan treat all Sikhs equally? Would you all drop your surnames showing your castes, a hangover of Hinduism, such as Sandhus and Siddhus? Why have you not done it so far?
More seriously, as you also believe Dharam Bina Sab Dalle Malle Hai (without religion everyone gets trampled upon), the foremost question is, what would be the position of clergy in the governmental system of Khalistan? You were happy for Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to occupy the Golden Temple and stockpile a large quantity of weapons and ammunition there. Would in your Khalistan both the government and the religion be run by the clergy sitting in the Golden Temple and they would be allowed to store weapons & ammunition in gurudwaras (Sikh temples) and keep an army? Or would there be an elected government? If the government would be formed through elections, what power the clergy would have over the government ‘to stop it from trampling over everyone’?
Or would you follow the Pakistan model where the army has the overriding power over the elected government, and religious clergy is kept subordinate to the government. If you adopt that model, how would the dictum of ‘Dharam Bina Sab Dalle Malle Hai’ be taken care of?
Assuming Punjabi in Gurumukhi to be the official language, and being “progressive” leaders you would like people to learn English too. But would people be allowed to learn other foreign languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Persian, etc and watch foreign films such as Hindi and English movies, and whether they would be allowed to have full access to the internet? Such freedoms could have corrupting influence on the “pure” people of Khalistan, you know! What dress code men and women would be made to follow? If a man wants to cut his hair, or shave his beard, what punishment would they be given? Basically, how would you deal with a bajjarprati(fallen Sikh)?
And the question of paramount importance is – Whether there would be any freedom of religion at all in Khalistan? One would assume that “the separateness of Sikhism from Hinduism” being the basis of your desire for a separate State for Sikhs, going back into the Hindu fold would not be tolerated in Khalistan. You would most probably have death penalty for such people! But what if a person wants to get converted into Islam or Christianity, how would they be dealt with? Would you kill them too, or would you let them change their religion? Remember, if you let people change their religion, theoretically everyone can change their religion, and the Khalistan could disappear. It is not entirely impossible – Sethis, Bajwas, Cheemas and Ranas in Pakistan got converted from Sikhism to Islam. On the other hand, if you bar people from changing into Islam, would you still expect to have friendly relations with Pakistan? Furthermore, if you bar people from converting into Christianity, how those of you who live in Western countries would justify your right to profess and propagate your religion in these countries? What if these primarily Christian countries bar you from practicing any non-Christian faith? You would be denying the citizens of Khalistan the rights that you enjoy yourself in the West. Would that be justifiable?
Today you demand a separate State in the name of Sikhism. Suppose tomorrow a minority community among Sikhs such as Namdharis, Nirankaris, Ramgarhias (who even today have separate gurudwaras) or Dalit Sikhs demand a separate State for themselves, would you accept the demand? Would you say to them, ‘Okay, hold a referendum in your community, and we will follow the result.’?
You say Pakistan is your friend. According to the 1941 census, in some of the districts that now form Pakistan the Sikh population was as high as 19.8%. After the creation of Pakistan it dropped to 0.1% in all of them. What do you think Pakistan did to its Sikh population?
The Pakistani army and ISI might still “love” you and support you in your “fight” against India. However, in the eyes of Islam, you are still ‘disbelievers’. People like Hafez Sayeed still consider you Kafir (infidel). So, what treatment do you expect from Pakistani establishment where Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhavi, Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafez Sayeed wield power, once Sikhs get separated from India? Do you seriously believe Pakistan to continue to coddle you, particularly when some of you talk of breaking up Pakistan too! Do you really not think that Pakistan would only support you till you get separated from India?
Since Pakistan is your ideal, for your information, Pakistan is a State that has lost more than 63,000 lives since the year 2000 due to religious terror which, no one can deny, gets its justification from Pakistan been created with the object of “Islamic Renaissance” and it being a theocratic State. On the economic front, after seventy years of its “national development”, at this point in time Pakistan is borrowing money to pay interest on its debts, despite sitting over the most fertile land of the Indian sub-continent, and is going full steam ahead to become an economic (and political) colony of China. The Pak government has guaranteed 17% rate of return on the Chinese investment in the power projects under the much flaunted CPEC. Do you understand what that means? Would you like to follow suit?
You proclaim Sikhs are a separate nation and your history starts only from the time of Sikh Gurus (about 500 years ago), and you have no connection with the Hindus! How has this come about? Are Sikhs a different species and were airdropped by ‘Rubb’ (God) into the land of Punjaab! Contrary to your belief, no such thing happened – Get your DNA checked and you would find that you have the same blood as Jats of Haryana, Rajputs of Rajasthan, Khatris of Punjab and the rest of Hindus. Your ancestors were the same as those of the Hindus. This is a physical fact.
But you have developed such hatred towards your ancestors that you hate the connection with them – actually you don’t even acknowledge the connection. Well, how would you feel if a section of your descendants hates you the same way? Imagine one of your grandsons or great grandsons turning their back on Sikhism and calling you ‘regressive’, as you consider Hindus! You think it cannot happen? Your ancestors also never thought that their descendants would hate them the way you do. There was a convention among the Hindus of Punjab. They used to make one of their sons join Sikh panth (path). They never imagined that their descendants would disown and hate them. Well, the law of nature is – What goes around, comes around – if you hate your ancestors, your descendants would do the same to you.
You are hankering after a homeland for Sikhs, and you say that India is the homeland of Hindus only. Would you then say that India is not the homeland of Jains and Buddhists, whose religious philosophies and traditions separate from the so-called Hindus are much older than yours – more than two thousand years old?
You may not, but the rest of the world can see – India is the homeland of not merely Hindus. India is the birthplace of Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism along with Sanatan Dharma. And the secular Republic of India is the homeland of every person who calls themselves Indian, whatever their race or faith – whether Caucasian, Mongoloid or Dravidian, and whether Christian, Jew, Zoroastrian or Muslim. India is certainly the homeland of Sikhs. How can it not be the homeland of Sikhs when a Sikh became the prime minister of India twice in the space of 15 parliaments after Independence! There is no top position in the country that Sikhs, with less than 2% population, have not occupied.
Khalistan is primarily a Diaspora construct.
The first known proponent of Khalistan, Davinder Singh Parmar migrated to London in 1954 and made the demand for an independent state of Khalistan. And the chief proponent of Khalistan was Jagjit Singh Chohan who moved to the United Kingdom, to start his campaign for creation of Khalistan, after losing the Punjab Assembly elections in 1969. It was Chohan who raised the Khalistani ﬂag in Birmingham in 1970, and placed an advertisement in The New York Times in 1971 proclaiming an independent Sikh state.
Most of the Groups such as Babbar Khalsa International, International Sikh Youth Federation, and Sikhs for Justice also are based in the US, Canada and the UK. So would you really go back to Khalistan if it ever gets formed? Or do you just want to push the Sikhs of India into a swamp?
Don’t you think, you have done enough damage to the Sikhs – from being seen as ‘Sardar ji’ (leader & protector), they were reduced to ‘suspected terrorists’ all over India at one time; their job prospects and business interests suffered; and economically from Number One position in India, Punjab, though still above the Indian average, has drastically come down in its ranking among the states – the thirteenth position in 2016-17.
Just to say, immature Justin Trudeau might be romancing with you, but the people of Canada aren’t. They were aghast at Mr Trudeau’s antics, as you might have noticed by the reaction in the Canadian media, when he was dancing with Khalistanis at the Taj Mahal during his last unwelcome visit to India. The UK authorities might allow you to hold a rally in London, but long gone are the days when anti-India elements used to get support from Western establishments. People in the UK, France, Belgium, Spain, and Germany have had their fair share of Islamic terror, and haven’t got any more appetite for supporting terrorist organisations against other countries. Your track record isn’t exactly very peaceful. You have attacked and killed followers of other cults and faiths and elected political leaders. And, you expect the West and the World to support you!
Well, at home among the Sikh community in India there is zilch support for you. So whether you hold a rally in London or New York, you would get nowhere.
It might be an idea that you now pack up and go home, and let the Land of the Gurus, who stood for all humanity and gave the message of peace & harmony among all human-beings, have peace and prosperity as it had before you developed a craving for the mirage called Khalistan.
Copyright © 2018 Krishan Tyagi.
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.