Indias Foreign Interference: Telling Lies, Spreading Hate

Guest blogged by ResistSingh

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As the month of June has passed, Canadian Sikhs, along with human rights activists and their allies, are recovering from yet another campaign of misinformation by the Indian High Commission and a recent wave of visceral and unfounded attacks.

Twenty-eight years after the Indian Army Invasion of the Darbar Sahib Complex during Massacre Bluestar, the Government of India has continued its assault by attempting to deny Canadian citizens an opportunity to engage in the healing and reconciliation process as they deal with the wounds inflicted upon them during the invasion.

With the recent attempts by the Government of India to undermine unity and reconciliation in the Diaspora amongst all South Asians in Canada, it has given rise to some serious questions one must consider: how and why is India interfering in the lives of Canadian citizens and their democracy?; is there any substance to the claims they are making?

While conducting an analysis of Indias response to the Leader of the NDP, Tom Mulcairs statement of solidarity with the Sikh community, a basic review of the Indian High Commissions claims has shown many nuances and problematic statements have been made, lacking independent validation. Additionally, beyond the factually incorrect statements that have been identified, the language of the Indian High Commissioner has unfortunately been mirrored by members of Canadas unelected, patronage-appointed Senate.

Of particular concern, a published article by Conservative Senator Asha Seth titled Building walls, spreading hate contains many sentences that resemble those in a letter written by the Indian High Commissioner, along with claims that are simply, factually incorrect.

Further, on the website of the newly appointed senator, Asha Seths bio reads:

“Dr. Seth vitalized several candidates of the Conservative Party of Canada in the GTA during Federal and Provincial Elections over countless hours. In 2011, she hosted and spearheaded the Fundraising for Mr. Parm Gill, the Conservative Party candidate for the riding of Brampton Springdale with The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism attending as Chief Guest. Later in the year, she exclusively hosted every Member of the Conservative Party of Canada and Senate to recognize The Honourable Jason Kenney, MP for Calgary Southeast to celebrate election success in the GTA.”

This bring forth a very valid concern as to whether Indias propaganda machine has found its way into the Canadian political system, attempting to distort historical accounts by contradicting eyewitness testimony, independent journalists and human rights organizations and their findings with regards to Massacre Bluestar.

Why and How is India Interfering?

WHY The Indian state, has for many years suppressed information within its borders banning literature and third party investigation into Massacre Bluestar. Consequently, Diaspora organizations, independent investigative bodies and others have utilized free and democratic societies elsewhere to publish their findings and experiences. This work has made large strides in the efforts to reconcile the wounds of 1984 amongst Hindu and Sikh victims.

One of the leading political parties in facilitating the healing of South Asians has been the NDP. Jack Layton, the former leader of the NDP, was an avid defender of human rights and the need for reconciliation through truth-seeking. Unfortunately, since his passing it appears as though the Indian High Commissioner in Canada may be attempting to test the waters with Laytons successor, Tom Mulcair.

The letter delivered via the Indian High Commissioner to Tom Mulcair, chastizing him for his support of human rights, appears to be an attempt to mislead Mulcair or scare him away from the NDPs principled approach of standing with human rights and social justice as a fundamental part of its platform.

HOW Following Tom Mulcairs letter of solidarity with the Sikh community on June 4th, the Indian High Commissioner sent a letter to Tom Mulcair on June 7th, which appears to have been purposely leaked to the media weeks later. The Indian High Commissioner, Consul General and Conservative Senator Asha Seth, have since written articles and/or provided commentary that mirror talking points highlighted below.

Reality Check: Revealing the Lies of Indian Foreign Interference

Below are a series of attempts by the Indian High Commissioner, Consular General and Conservative Senator, to spread lies and instigate hate and re-traumatize a healing community. Each statement below has been refuted using reputable independant sources, including human rights agencies as well as reports presented by by the Canadian Refugee Board.

Reality Check #1:

What is referred to as an invasion of the Golden Temple was actually an operation by Indian security forces to neutralize terrorists who had taken control of the Temple complex and who were responsible for the cold blooded killings of hundreds of innocents including Sikhs, Indian High Commissioner

In addition to attempting to redefine the events thatoccuredduring the invasion,the Indian High Commissioner attempts to distort and redefine the dictionary defintion of the word invasion. According to the dictionary,the appropriate use of the term is to define an infringement by intrusion or the the act of invading with armed forces, which perfectly describes the acts by the Indian Army during Massacre Bluestar. (Dictionary.com)

Reality Check #2:

[the] operation by security forces [was] to neutralize terrorists who had taken control of the Golden Temple and who were responsible for the cold blooded killings of innocent peace loving people, both Hindus and Sikhs. Indian Consul General, Preeti Saran

According to a ruling by the Supreme Court of India, the Indian Army had arrested and detained non-combatants. This included 22 children aged between2 and 16 years, who had been rounded up from the Golden Temple and were being held in the Ludhiana jail. Two judges of the Supreme Court, Chinnappa Reddy and V. Khalid, ruled that there was no justification for detaining them as they were pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple during Operation Blue Star. At this order, the 22 children lodged at the Ludhiana jail were released. However, according to human rights organizations, most of these innocents were rearrested and tortured. (South Asian Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR)+Amnesty Report)

Reality Check #3:

Operation Bluestar was not an invasion, but an operation by Indian security forces to neutralize separatist terrorist who had taken control of the Golden Temple complex, a holy shrine which is visited by Sikhs and Hindus alike.. Conservative Senator, Asha Seth

Beyond the fact that this statement neglects to reference the hundreds if not thousandsm of innocentsmurdered by the Indian Army during this invasion. The Edmonton Journal along with Human Rights Watch both report that the army did not simply go into neutralize seperatist terrorists, but rather, the army apparently did not offer those inside the opportunity to surrender. A number of men captured by the army were summarily executed, and post-mortem examinations revealed that some had their hands tied behind their backs before they were shot. (Edmonton Journal+Human Rights Watch and Ensaaf)

Further, Joyce Pettigrew an academic that has researched the events of 1984 states in her 1995 book, The Sikhs of the Punjab: Unheard Voices of State and Guerrilla Violence, that the:The army went into the Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.

Reality Check #4:

[November 1984 was] a horrific manifestation of mob violencepart of a chain of tragic events including extremism in Punjab and the brutal assassination of the democratically elected prime minister of India, planned and executed by Sikh extremists. Indian High Commissioner

According to the Nanavati Commission Report, an Independent Inquiry commissioned by India, the November Genocide was preplanned and conducted with the complicity and support of the Indian state.The report by Justice Nanavati states that: All this could not have happened if it was merely a spontaneous reaction of the angry public. The systematic manner in which the Sikhs were thus killed indicate that the attacks on them were organized(Nanavati Commission Report Page 181 + The Central Bureau of Investigation in India)

Reality Check #5:

The Indian governments decision was not an easy one, but followed the assassination of Indias prime minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, by her bodyguards who were associated with extremist militant groups like the Khalistan Liberation Force. Conservative Senator, Asha Seth

This statement by Conservative Senator Asha Seth, is indicative of thecompletely false and inaccurate statements being propagated by partisan Canadian politicians. First,theinvasion of Massacre Bluestar took place inJune of 1984, theassassination of Indira Gandhi took place4 months later in October of1984. Thus,Ms Seths timeline and attempt to justify the actionsare completely flawed and lack chronological order. Additionally, the assassination ofIndira Gandhi was carried out by her personal bodyguards who did not belongto the Khalistan Liberation Force; they did not exist at this time.

With an analysis of the talking points put forth by the Indian High Commisssioner, Consular General and Conservative Senator easily debunked by indepedant reports, it becomes clear thata malicious attempt to distort history is in full-swing. Sikhs and other minorities have for years had a difficulty sharing their narrative both inside and outside in India, and are nowjoined by human rights organizations and their allies who face a similar campaignof a misinformation.

The Indian States intereference in Canadian Affairs is an extremely worriesome trend that undermines Canadas autonomy. Political leaders, security apparatus and citizens should as a result remain committed, focused and forge ahead in their efforts to promote human rights and the democratic freedoms Canada ensures to all its citizens. Further, the integrity of human rights organizations, academics and independant bodies should be defended as the pillars of objective observation of massacres and violations in campaigns of state terror, and foreign interference this is the test and foundation to functioning democracies.

[[Cross posted on www.sikhactivist.net]]


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10 Responses to “Indias Foreign Interference: Telling Lies, Spreading Hate”

  1. Blighty Singh says:

    But, in terms of the diaspora,Canada has the most Sikhs in positions of political power. Exactlly what use are they ? I ask because the Italian sangat regularly get their politicians to make public statements critcising India's human rights record in the Parlamento Italiano in Rome and the European Parliament in Brussels. The German sangat regularly get their MP's to make public statements criticising human rights in India in the Bundestag in Berlin and Brussels. 2 days ago, an early day motion was debated in the British Parliament in London regarding India's human rights abuses of Sikhs. http://www.sikh24.com/2012/07/india-must-respect-
    The problem, as I see it, is apathy among the Sikh youth in Canada. Whenever India starts a misinformation campaign in Canada, the Canadian Sikh youths need to put their English language skills to some use and counter the misinformation by being active on mainstream media discussion forums. The message needs to be gotten across that it is the Sikhs that are the natural friends of Canada whereas the pro-Indians have more of an allegience to the flag of India than they do with that of Canada. You find that alot in England, where the right wing, and the far-right media is firmly in support of the Sikhs and it is the liberal left wing that are somewhat indifferent. Just to give an example of what I'm talking about the young educated sangat across the border in America could counter similar India misinformation by reminding ordinary Americans about the similarity between the Sikh struggle for freedom and the American struggle…..i.e the Boston Massacre (or riot) of 1770. The British called it a 'riot'……The colonists (Americans) called it what it was…i.e a 'massacre'. That event, proved to be the catalyst for the American independence movement because the colonials (americans) felt that Britain was placing a low value on their lives by calling a massacre a riot. By reminding Americans of what the Sikhs are going through today regarding the Delhi genocide it is easy to get the mainstream media there on our side. It ain't rocket science. India gets away with misinformation in Canada because the sikh youth is more interested in fitting in and being liked than fighting the Sikh corner.

  2. Har says:

    I believe that the best way to tackle such LIES is to ignore them. Because when you discuss these LIES you give them the much needed Media they are dying to get on the internet.

  3. Rob says:

    Khalsa
    There is no doubt that some Sikhs in Canada are spreading hatred against their own mother land India. You can see the pictures of terrorists in Gurudwaras.
    Those who spread hatred by posting pictures of terrorists in sacred places like Gurudwaras and siding with Pakistanis cannot be called as Sikhs. There is no place in Canada for such people who don't follow the teachings of Baba Nanak. Nanak never taught hatred. He taught love of humanity, an enlightment and respect of all religions. Gurubani has writings of all kinds of saints and Gurus were Hindus before Guru Govind Singh ji who was the last Guru. There was no Sikh during the times of Baba Nanak. Baba Nanak was a Hindu and was respected by all faiths including Muslims.
    We the Hindus have great regard for Sikhs as they have protected Hindu religion for the past three centuries. In fact Khalsa was born to defend the Hindus from Muslim invaders who were converting Hindus by force of sword.

  4. Rob says:

    Sikhs should not forget the teachings of their Gurus who sacrificed their lives for Hindu religion. Still in our culture the eldest son is donated to Panth to protect the Hindu religion. Those who spread hatred among Sikhs and Hindus are stupid and insane as these two religions are in fact one religion. Right from their birth to death their traditions are same. The Khalsa can be referred to a sect of Hindu religion or a branch of the broader Hindu religion but not as a separate religion

  5. Sher says:

    Laudable words Rob but few accuracies. Gurus did not sacrifice their lives for Hindu religion. they did so for DHARMA – the rightous way of life. The traditions of the eldest son (esp khatri) of a Hindu family becoming a khalsa has stopped thanks to the decades of venom-spewing from (primarily) Sikh and some Hindu bigots and 'distortionists'.

    As far as 'protection' of Hindus is concerned, it has been a two way process. I know Jodha would not agree with this assertion but there was virtually no difference between a Hindu and Sikh till British sponsored Singh Sabhaites/Tat Khalsa elements (Vir Singh, Kahn Singh, Bhasuaria, Aroor Singh & Co) took it upon themselves to tear this syncretic faith apart for their ulterior agendas in late 19th century. Of course, arya samajis made their despicable contribution to widen the chasm and rigid codification of Sikhi.

    If someone cares to know my thinking, Sikhi is an absolutely separate RELIGION today and Sikhs should be recoginized as a separate religion in a way they like but whether Sikh is a separate dharma or not, it is highly debatable. whether Gurus wanted a Sep 'Sikh dharma'? Absolutely NO!

    Coming back to ResistSingh's current effort, it would have been more Sikh like if he had also cared to include a mention of the Air India flight 182 victims and also what he thinks about the perpetrators. He should have also mentioned victims of terrorism (majority of them were Sikhs btw) in the days leading to ill-advised, botched Op Blue Star. He should also tell us what the Human Right advocates think about the venom-spewing Bhindranwala and his ilk.

    I am pretty sure any HR advocate would shiver after he listen to ANY of the public speeches by Bhindranwala who turned Harimandir into a command centre of his parallel government which ordered (and carried out) killings of the civilians right from Akal Takht building.

    Show me ONE report of a credible HR organisation which says those Pak-backed fanatics carrying automatic guns (and much more as revealed later) were 'innocents'. Wannabe Khalistani 'ideologues' writing here suffer from myopia as they focus just on selected few atrocities and completely ignore 'kehar da zulm' carried out by their icons (Bhindran, Talwinder parmar, Rajoana, to name a few.

  6. Sher says:

    i am sorry, it should read few 'inaccuracies'

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