Guest Blogged by: JSD
Today, the government of India has once again proved why it’s claim to being the world’s largest democracy is laughable. Not to mention the media in India, which claims to be fair and democratic in nature, however, this is simply not the case. India’s media is clearly state run and its news outlets make stories that create divides within communities. Why am I saying all this?
Sadda Haq is a fictional movie based on real events surrounding the militancy era in Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s. Showing accounts of “false encounters” and police brutality, the movie aims to show why average citizens were forced to take up arms against the oppressive regime. The movie was set to release worldwide today on April 5, 2013. Although the Indian Government can’t ban the movie worldwide, the Punjab government did manage to ban the movie in Punjab and other parts of India in just a few hours prior to its opening after the movie was privately screened to Punjab Police members and state government officials.
These officials who watched the private screening included the likes of DGP Sumedh Saini. Interestingly enough, the ban comes from the Punjab government run by Parkash Badal of the Akali Party, a party that is supposed to represent Sikh interests, but at the same time has promoted Saini to the ranks of DGP(Deputy General of Police) even after countless human rights claims exist against him for his participation in the post 1984 Punjab genocide of Sikh youth.
Over the past few days the Indian news outlets have been talking about Sadda Haq being a controversial film promoting Khalistan. It is no doubt that Sadda Haq discusses the militancy era, but its aim is to show the truth that has been pushed under the rug by the government and media.
The media has been stating that sentiments have been hurt with Jazzy B’s promotional song for the movie, “Baghi,” in which Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s name is slated alongside Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Balwant Singh Rajoana. How is the media making this claim?
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale is a household name in Sikh homes. His picture adorns the walls of many homes and ballads of his actions are sung in Gurdwaras across the world. Balwant Singh Rajoana’s execution was put on hold due to the Sikh nation coming together only a year ago. I am not expressing an opinion on either individual, but rather stating that the media’s “outrage” of Guru Gobind Singh Ji being named in the same line as Bhindranwale and Rajoana is factless and baseless. The Sikh nation is not offended by the song, as it has reached over 200,000 views on YouTube and 1,800+ likes compared to only 160 dislikes.
The media then expresses outrage the Bhagat Singh’s name is used alongside Rajoana. Has the media forgotten India’s history? Bhagat Singh was wanted for the murder and for throwing bombs in the assembly hall. For the British, he was a rebel or “baghi.” In the same light, Balwant Singh Rajoana is in jail for his connection with then CM Beant Singh’s assassination. Rajoana’s actions are not seen any different from Bhagat Singh’s action- however, the Indian media fails to recognize this.
My strife is with the biased and one-sided new reports coming from Punjab. Whereas the movie is being called “Khalistani” and Sikh groups advocating for its release are being called “radical,” extremist groups such as Shiv Sena are giving open threats to kill people if the movie is released. Shiv Sena has also threatened to kill singers like Jazzy B for singing such songs. However, not once is this news being spread on the mainstream news channels. Furthermore, Shiv Sena is never mentioned as a “radical” Hindu group.
The views of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, and Balwant Singh Rajoana are views of the Sikh nation. From the Sikh perspective collectively advocated via the Akal Takth, Bhindranwale is a martyr, and Rajoana is a living martyr. The news outlets should not report false news to divide the community. No Sikhs have taken offense to these individuals being mentioned together in the same line as Guru Gobind Singh Ji, so there is no reason that the state run media should play pretend and present a distorted picture.
Sadda Haq has been banned in Punjab due to the harsh realities it has portrayed. The movie will most likely be watched by thousands across the world where bans are impossible to enforce. Unfortunately, the Indian media resort to old tactics claiming that support for a revolution is only present in nations outside India, and those living in Punjab do not support such actions. Gauging such support in Punjab will be impossible if the movie is banned. However, the move to ban Sadda Haq in Punjab, the support shown for Jazzy B’s song, the Sikh nation rising for Rajoana a year ago, and the household name of Bhindranwale, only show that the Sikh nation yearns for a change.
As long as the Sikh nation is plagued by state run media, corrupt politicians, and sold out religious leaders the Sikh nation will continue its uphill battle to show the world what really occurred and continues to occur in its homeland of Punjab. After first expressing support for the movie, the SGPC has now become mum on the subject. If the SGPC was to truly represent the views of the Sikh nation, then it should speak for the people- that’s how democracy works.
Indians have already been presented a biased view for almost 30 years in regards to the atrocities committed during the 80’s and 90’s. The biased news reports, and showing “some” Sikhs being anti-national has given the impression to Indians that only some “radical” Sikhs care about 1984, and most Sikhs are over it.
The truth is that you can not move past an event or even forget an event when the event was never even remembered. So long as the truth is withheld and the events are portrayed falsely, Sikhs will continue to feel alienated. If India truly wants to include the Sikh nation, it needs to bring the culprits to justice, it needs to allow freedom of speech, and its citizens need to stand with their Sikh/Punjabi brothers and sisters and ensure that such injustices are never committed again and that those responsible for past acts are convicted. Otherwise, the old saying goes that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”