“Sadda Haq” and the role of the government and media

Guest Blogged by: JSD

saddahaqToday, 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.”


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27 Responses to ““Sadda Haq” and the role of the government and media”

  1. Makhan Singh says:

    Get real guys, the film has been banned by our own sikh led governement in Punjab ……..not elsewhere in India……….yeah that's right the boys in blue turban voted in by the majority of Punjabi jantaa have decided they know better ….. just like it was back in the 80's….remind me who the president was…..i seem to recall it was Giani Zail Singh…….the CM …it was Beant Singh not Beant Lal ….the Police chief was KPS Gill and the general was Gen H S Brar …… !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Singh says:

    A very well written article, this needs to be promoted!

  3. Sher says:

    Article starts with a huge mistake (Indian govt banned Sadda Haq) and exposes the author's bias. The bias (or the hypocrisy) of such divisive elements responsible for brainwashing of the tat Khalsa (or their progeny) Sikh youth.

    Why hypocrisy, because SGPC and other radical TK Sikh organisation have been at the forefront to stifle human rights in Punjab and elsewhere inc banning films, writers, books, etc. modern day Akal Takht Qazis ban the whole communities!!!! Nirankaris, Dera Sacha Sauda are some of the names which come to the mind readily.

    Where were those hypocrites, who are pontificating about the ban on a film in a Sikh state, when Jo Bole So Nihal was 'banned' and bombed by Sikh organisations. What was exactly wrong with that film?

    This blog answers many such questions:
    http://www.lehigh.edu/~amsp/2005/05/after-jo-bole

    As far as Shiv Sena (many versions in Punjab) is concerned, hang them high if they commit any crime or unlawful activity.
    Shiv Sena threats…Hahaha! Have they managed to kill even a stray dog (not that one should kill those living beings)?

  4. Gurpreet Singh says:

    Jo Bole So Nihal film was disrespectful to Gurbani, our Guru. It used Shabads in an out of context manner.

    Nirankaris, Namdharis, Dera Sauda can be compared to the likes of the Minas, Masands, Raam Raiyas of the past, so the Panth is against them.

  5. Reet says:

    At its best, it is a subjective observation to say that most Sikhs are not over 1984. I would say that there are more pressing problems plaguing the so called "Sikh nation"/Punjab that arguably trump the 1984-related injustices today. Instead of committing to events that affected Punjab twenty years ago, NRI Sikhs should divert their resources and energy to ameliorating conditions that are deteriorating present-day Punjab. Such efforts would bring about the largest gains in overall well-being of Sikhs in Punjab. Once the urgent needs of Punjab are met, only then “justice for 1984” becomes a realistic goal. Rampant substance abuse among Punjabi youth is economically and socially enervating Punjab. Contextualizing the growing number of farmer suicides in Punjab is easy – 85% of the farmers are operating under debt in Punjab. Additionally, the environmental injustices in Punjab are making the population literally sick. Cancer rates in Punjab are beyond the international average reported by the World Health Organization. In the last 5 years alone, 33,000 people have died from cancer in Punjab. Noting the excessive use of pesticides, the Times of India recently labeled Punjab as the “poison shaft” when formerly it celebrated Punjab as the “bread basket” of India. In a 2009 water survey conducted by the Bathinda health department, 136 of the 447 water samples were found to be toxic. Furthermore, a recent study conducted by a British scientist across 50 villages concluded that 20% of wells in Mukstar, Bhatinda, and Ludhiana districts had dangerously high nitrate levels. These environmental woes are directly affecting Punjabis of all ages who face numerous consequences of bad environmental policy, ranging from the most egregious birth defects in children to impotency in the middle-aged population. With regards to education systems that are competitive in the 21st century, Punjab is continually behind. An article in the Times of India in February 2012 reported that over 7,000 computer teachers had been without pay for the past 6 months. Growing demands for energy in Punjab continue be unaddressed. For a state whose female-to-male ratio, 893:1000, is already imbalanced, rates of female infanticide are markedly embarrassing. On a daily basis, 274 female fetuses are aborted in Punjab. The dire state of Punjab is perhaps best highlighted by the recent election of Prakash Badal to the Chief Minister of Punjab position. Under Badal’s leadership from 1997 and 2002, and then again from 2007 to 2012, Punjab enormously suffered. Despite being presented with a more promising choice for a leader in Manpreet Badal, Punjabis unanimously voted for Shiromani Akali Dal. When recently forced to confront the drug problem by Rahul Gandhi, Prakash Badal demonstrated poor leadership, dismissing the role that the Punjab government should play in curtailing drug trafficking along the Punjab-Pakistan border. The outcome of the 2012 election is a direct reflection of the widespread political ignorance and apathy that exists in Punjab. Precisely for these same reasons, democratic development in Punjab is at a stalemate.History is a testament to the reality that organically-developed grassroots movements are necessary for correcting injustices for they reflect the will of the people. Support of Sikhs in Punjab is crucial to achieving justice for 1984-related events. However, as long as foundational components essential to basic well-being are unfulfilled for Sikhs in Punjab, it is impractical to expect them to focus on 1984-related issues with the same vigor as NRI Sikhs who benefit from higher standards of living and more opportunities for personal and economic fulfillment in their adopted countries. I am afraid that if Punjab’s exigent circumstances become secondary to unresolved issues from two decades ago, then two decades from today, we will be grappling with feelings of having been also wronged in 2013.

  6. Blighty Singh says:

    The very first paragraph of the article above shows us just how far we have fallen….or indeed, how low they have pushed us. The dictionary describes the word 'militant' as an aggressive person or group engaged in fighting. At one time, all the Sikhs in Punjab fighting for their human rights were just ordinary human beings. But the Indians needed to describe them as 'militants' because the word implies that they were not ordinary civilian human beings but rather sub-human terrorists that needed to be killed. They (the Indians) have been calling any Sikh that dares mention Sikh human rights a 'militant' for so long now that even we ourselves have begun describing our brothers and sisters as militants. That, shows us how low we have gone and just how high we still have to climb.
    So, my message to the author is this: India uses the term 'militant' to describe us so that it can justify the killing of non-civilians. Its a trap they set for the gullible Indian masses. Don't fall into the trap yourself.

  7. rocco says:

    well done Mehmaan

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