Balwant Singh Rajoana’s Gift to the Nation

rajoana2.jpgThe following is a guest-post,In Defence of Assassination:Balwant Singh Rajoana’s Gift to the Nation, by our guest-bloggerInklabi Singh.

Balwant Singh Rajoana has been in jail since 1995 and was sentenced to death 5 years ago, but it was only recently, as the date of his execution started to loom closer, that a wave of indignation and concern swept over the Khalsa Panth, both in Punjab and the Diaspora. As others have written, this is a spontaneous response to the power of a Sikh fully in love with his Guru and Panth, completely at ease with the will of God and unequivocally unafraid of death. This popular movement leaves many of us in a predicament though. The dilemma we face is that we are socialized to view acts of violence as inherently immoral. How then are we able to express love for an individual who planned and helped carry out the suicide bombing of an unarmed old man? Balwant Singh’s case puts us in an uncomfortable position. Can we defend assassination? Can the killing of unarmed officials be justified? Are such acts true to Guru Nanak’s vision of compassion and respect for diversity?

Many have been asking why the Indian government attacked Sikhs in 1984 in the first place. How did we reach a point that Balwant Singh felt he had no choice but to assist in the killing of Chief Minister Beant Singh in August of 1995? We can go through the history of South Asia and clearly delineate the path from the Independence struggle, through Punjabi Suba and Emergency to the Amritsar Massacre of 1978, but the short answer is a simple one. It is the same reason the British tied Sikhs to cannons in 1885, the Mughals executed 200 Sikhs a day for weeks in the courtyard of the Red Fort in Delhi in 1716 and why Guru Arjan was burned alive for five days in Lahore four hundred years ago. It is because we did what Guru Nanak compelled us to do, to speak truth to power and not be silent in the face of tyranny just as he did when he condemned Babur the Mughal’s invasion of India. That act, enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib jee, of standing with the oppressed against the oppressor, has led to generations of Sikhs putting the principles of freedom and human rights above their own safety and wellbeing.

This is never a fair fight. The oppressor controls vast resources and commands huge armies that dwarf our meagre numbers. This was true when Guru Gobind Singh’s forty Sikhs held off the entire Northern army of the Mughal Empire at Chamkaur for a long cold and wet night in December of 1705 and it was true when Baba Jarnail Singh and his band of a few hundred young men and women stood like a mountain against the technological might of the Indian army for a long, sweltering week in June of 1984. We will always be the minority for we take the uncomfortable, unpopular and dangerous position; we forsake the riches of collusion and collaboration for the principle of equality and justice, even if it means a tortured death.

And once the inevitable massacres occur, once the oppressor tires of our demands for dignity and human rights and we suffer another massacre, another Ghalughara, then what? What are we left with as a people? Because we speak up for the rights of all, we must suffer the greatest indignities. And make no mistake about it, these vicious campaigns that we have suffered throughout our history serve only one purpose. Not our genocidal elimination, not in the sense that the Jewish people suffered in the Holocaust, but instead the end of our political strength, the breaking of our spirit. If it was about just killing us then there would be no need for these brutal tortures, things so depraved we are shocked that people could even fathom such cruelty. The government seeks to end us a force for positive social, political, economic and spiritual change. They seek to humiliate us so thoroughly and to take away our own dignity that we dare not ever speak up again; that we grow so timid that while we may still exist in the nominal sense and while you may still see Sikhs walking around, they would dare not stand against the oppressor, they would dare not speak truth to power.

For a Khalsa that fulfills its purpose and is true to its creation, that strives for freedom and equality, is capable of great acts. That Khalsa can transform the face of Punjab through massive land reform, as the armies of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur achieved. That Khalsa can destroy the vast armies of the Mughal and Afghani armies, as the Misaldars demonstrated. That Khalsa can terrify the world’s largest colonial empire, forcing them out of their prized possession, as the independence struggle against the British did. Of course tyrants fear us. We have spent generations destroying them.

When my daughter hits my son, even if he isn’t hurt, he cries and expects consequences. As a parent I explain to her what she has done is wrong, ask her to apologize and if necessary give her a punishment. My son is not crying because he is in physical pain. He is crying because his rights, in a very minor way, have been assaulted and he wants justice. We all understand this basic impulse and this is one of the main reasons that governments exist: to create a justice system and ensure that citizens’ rights are respected and if they are not, that there are consequences for unjust actions. Justice may be blind, but she also carries scales, for the act of delivering justice is a means of bringing balance to a society, giving dignity to those who have suffered, punishing those who have committed crimes. That’s all anyone wants when they’re hurt. Some respect, dignity and justice.

But where do you turn if it is the government itself that has harmed you? If it is the state that has raped you? If it is the police that has grabbed you in the middle of the night and dragged you to a police station to be tortured for weeks on end? If it is your members of parliament who have come to your house, thrown tires around your neck and burnt you alive with gasoline while desecrating your beloved scriptures? What options do you have? How do you right that wrong, how do you take back your dignity and ensure that justice is served?

You have but one option. To take justice into your own hands. If the state is unjust than a true citizen must punish the state. And who represents the state? Innocent civilians or the population at large? No. The political and military leadership of the state are ultimately responsible for its actions.

That is why Bhai Mehtab Singh and Bhai Sukha Singh killed the Mughal administrator of Amritsar who hunted down Sikhs for bounty and desecrated our religious institutions, Bhai Mewa Singh killed the Canadian immigration officer Hopkinson who played an active role in the Komagatamaru incident, Bhai Udham Singh killed Michael O’Dwyer, the former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab during the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and Beant Singh and Satwant Singh cared not for their own lives and shot down the Prime Minister of India at the end of October 1984. This impetus begins from the time of the Gurus; in fact there is evidence that on three separate occasions Sikhs in Delhi tried to assassinate Aurangzeb for the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur. These were restorative acts of justice, not petty acts of vengeance. Revenge is bloodthirsty. It stems from hate and anger. Justice flows from compassion and tries to ensure that those who have committed crimes are brought to account. It is compassion for the Panth, to give it back its dignity and compassion for society at large, to bring a balance back to the world.

That is why Balwant Singh Rajoana is so at peace. That is why his words, spoken so eloquently through his graceful sister Kamaldeep Kaur, have spurred us to action across the globe. He is not conflicted about his actions. He does not doubt his choices, or worry that he has done wrong. We see the same poise and calm in Sukha and Jinda’s letters from jail, in Udham Singh’s statements in court, or Mewa Singh’s last words before he was hung in Vancouver. Balwant Singh’s actions were a result of his love for us, his sisters and brothers in the Khalsa Panth. He did what he had to, to serve justice, to give us back our dignity and allow us to return to our essential purpose, to better ourselves and by extension, struggle for a more just and equal world, whatever the cost. How then can he fear death? Why would he beg for mercy? He has committed a transformative act of love. He has made himself an instrument of the Guru’s grace in the world.

We fight so bravely for the rights of others, and many times must suffer terribly for it. But when the Panth is at its lowest, when we are near broken, unable to stand tall, it is the selfless acts of a few are able to bring about a sea change in the community and allow us to raise our heads, not in pride but with dignity. We should not be ashamed of their deeds, or hide from them as inconvenient facts. Their actions were determined by love for their people and their nation. They were gifts to the Khalsa Panth, that gave us back our dignity, our self-respect and our purpose.

We can never thank them enough.

Long Live Baba Banda Singh Bahadur!
Long Live Bhai Mehtab Singh and Sukha Singh!
Long Live Bhai Nirbhau Singh!
Long Live Bhai Mewa Singh Canadian!
Long Live Baba Kishan Singh Gargajj and the Babbar Akalis!
Long Live Bhai Udham Singh!
Long Live Jathedar Ranjit Singh!
Long Live Bhai Surinder Singh Sodhi!
Long Live Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar & Bhai Jugraj Singh Toofan!
Long Live Sukha and Jinda!
Long Live Bhai Dilawar Singh!
Long Live Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana!
Long Live Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana!
Long Live Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana!

May we strive to be worthy of your sacrifice!

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59 Responses to “Balwant Singh Rajoana’s Gift to the Nation”

  1. tejwant singh says:

    awesome write-up.

    • vikram says:

      this article would have been well written except the writter looses all credibility when he compares a tyrant like bhindranwale in the same breath as those freedom fighters such as udham singh. so all those hindus and sikhs bhindranwale ordered killed were in self-defense?
      What utter bullshit. Do not soil the name of these sikh martyrs who gave life for country and freedom, by lumping them with a mass-murderer like Bhindranwale.

      • Meena says:

        @Vikram: it would appear that the only BS is what you have written here. You obviously haven no idea what the Sant said or did otherwise you would not be putting out such nonsense. He never killed any Hindus and in fact many Hindus approached him for protection and justice. You need to read up on your facts and cut the c@#p propaganda.

        • Sher says:

          Wow! what an outpouring of emotions with total negation of everything that is noble about Sikhi.

          I am writing after almost 6 months of the original post but would urge Inklabi Singh and the other supremacists to read what they have written in the light of heinous attack by Michael Wade Page in Wisconsin.

          Why I am mentioning the white supremacist here is because of the similarities Wisconsin massacre bears with what Rajoana did in Chandigarh. In fact any sane person would find the Rajoana act much more disgusting as more innocents were killed in that incident and the perpetrator has not shown any remorse till date.

          I expect a number of 'thumbs downs' as I am taking on the persona of a ruthless who is being revered in Gurdwaras from Seattle to Sydney. In my opinion, his reverence is nothing buy a symptom of moral deterioration which set in Nanak's panth.

          • Singh says:

            I'm having trouble interpreting you. I have two specific questions, and I hope I get two specific answers.

            1) I don't see the correlation between Rajoana and a neo-nazi who went into a place of worship and put bullets into people's bodies.

            "..the similarities Wisconsin massacre bears with what Rajoana did in Chandigarh."
            2) What did Rajoana "do" in Chandigarh.

          • Sher says:

            First, my apology for the usage of some wrong words/spl in my post.

            Secondly, i can see just one question which i would endeavour to answer to the best of my ability and with humility.

            What Rajoana did in Chandigarh was to participate in a criminal conspiracy (as per his voluntary confession) which led to the killing of 16 innocent (Sikhs & Hindus) bystanders along with the CM Beant Singh.

            Rajoana did not show ANY remorse for the deaths of the civilians in the bombing which cannot be called anything but an act of terrorism which not only killed a democratically elected leader but also 16 innocents.

            The connection between the Rajoana and Michael Wade acts is in the killing of innocents for the sake of their violent ideologies. There is no justification of using violence as a tool to achieve political (or any) goals in any civil society.

            He was the suicide bomber who chickened out at the last moment and decided NOT to push the button.

            Rajoana trial was based on his confession and no one (esp learned Sikh lawyers) has EVER questioned the verdict or the trial. Rajoana has insisted that he participated in the massacre and has NO remorse.

            The way violence is being justified by even the "progressive" Sikhs living in the western world and the way it is being made an acceptable part of the dominant discourse in Punjab, is dangerous to say the least.

            It would have been ironical if Wisconsin gurdwara also displays (like almost every gurdwara in western countries) portraits of Rajoana, Bhindranwala and other such people who were not only involved in heinous acts of terrorism but also unbridled racism.

            If someone justifies what Rajoana did and condemns Wisconsin, in my humble opinion, it would be hypocrisy. while condemning the Wisconsin outrage once again, i am somewhat gladdened to note the 'apology' offered by the despicable killer's mother. Compare it with the Rajoana act, his kins never fail to 'capitalise' and to participate in the events to glorify terrorism.

            I hope I have answered your question comprehensively.

  2. NK05 says:

    Very impressive article supported with just the right facts in order to demarcate a line between just and wrong. People have been asking the question for why Bhai Rajoana did not appeal for mercy. An appeal is made by the guilty, not the one is an epitome of courage and righteousness. Bhai Rajoana has made a sacrifice to awaken the Sikhs and make them aware of their rights. Besides Sikh Panth is a religion of martyrs and heroes, not of cowards who can be suppressed and terrified. Our Gurus have taught us to stand up against injustice and this is exactly what Bhai Rajoana has done. As is said in Gurbani, if self esteem is lost. everything is lost and life is of no use. It was important for someone to stand up for the dignity of the Sikhs and that brave man was Bhai Rajoana. Bibi Azaad Kaur has very well mentioned in her article that if the justice system itself is corrupt, then it becomes the duty of a responsible citizen to stand against the system to achieve justice for oneself.
    Guru Gobind Singh ji himself said:
    O Lord of Thee these boons I ask
    Let me never shun a righteous task.
    Let me be fearless when I go to battle.
    Give me faith that victory will be mine.
    Give me power to sing Thy praise,
    And when comes the time to end my life,
    Let me fall in mighty strife…

  3. American Sikh says:

    A lot of damage could have been avoided if the Sikh community had done a better job of keeping religion and politics separate, and the Indian and Punjab gov's had been wiser in dealing with Punjab/Sikh issues. A few thoughts on how it all came to Rajoana and Beant Singh's assasination.

    1) The Punjabi Suba agitation was led by the Akalis, and eventually bore fruit in the creation of a Sikh-majority state (what we know today as modern Punjab)

    2) At this point, the Akalis were in a dilemma. They had the "homeland" they wanted, but couldn't rule it. This was due to the fact that Non-Sikh and Non-Jatt votes in Punjab still went to other political parties

    3) So the Akalis raised a number of demands which they thought would become a rallying point for all Sikhs. Many of these demands were poorly researched and had poor intellectual foundation. These included river water distribution issues (distribution of river waters for agriculture became more complicated when Punjab was split into a Sikh-majority state and two Hindu-majority states), official recognition of Amritsar as a holy city (no city in India is officially recognized as a holy city), and recognition of Sikhs as a separate religion in the Indian constitution (This misinterpretation arises from a clause in the Indian constitution which states that certain laws that apply to Hinduism for the purposes of combating caste discrimination, also apply to Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. Though the constitution goes on to state that "only members of the Sikh RELIGION be allowed to wear kirpans". Thus recognizing Sikhs as a separate religion).

    4) These issues do serve as a rallying point for many Sikhs, and the Indian government becomes alarmed. Giani Zail Singh (President of India) colludes with Indira Gandhi's son Sanjay Gandhi, and raises Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala as a counterweight to the Akalis.

    5) Bhindranwala is later implicated in the murder of newspaper editor Lala Jagat Narayan. Punjab police go looking for him at his Dera in Haryana, but Bhindranwala escapes to a town north of Amritsar called Chowk Mehta. In anger frustration, Punjab police burn down Bhindranwala's dera, destroying personal records of his many speeches. This infuriates Bhindranwala, and he turns against the Punjab and Indian governments.

    6) After a short stay in prison Bhindranwala and his men move into Guru Nanak Niwas Hostel adjacent to the Golden Temple (This was the same hostel where Akali leaders had their offices and living quarters). The battle between Bhindranwala and the Akalis for the hearts and minds of the Sikh nation intensifies. Akali leader Harchand Singh Longowal (who also resides inside Guru Nanak Niwas) begins to feel so threatened that he hires Babbar Khalsa for protection. Meanwhile, Bhindranwala continues to be suspected for murders and other criminal activity, and chief minister of Punjab Darbara Singh pressures Akali and SGPC leaders to declare Guru Nanak Niwas as "non-holy" so that police can enter and arrest Bhindranwala. However, Akali and SGPC leaders refrain from doing so for fear of losing political backing from the Sikh masses.

    7) Tensions inside Guru Nanak Niwas boil to such a point that there is almost a gun battle between Bhindranwala's men and Babbar Khalsa guys. Bhindranwala then moves into and fortifies the Akal Takht.

    8) Due to continued murders and criminal activity around Punjab (suspectedly by Bhindranwala's men), and the Indian gov's poor handling of the situation, the situation continues to grow out of hand

    9) India's government continues to see Bhindranwala as a threat, and sends in the Army. The Army, not being properly trained for urban warfare, ends up causing a lot of collateral damage and civilian casualties.

    10) The pogroms post-Indira Gandhi's assasination follow, as does the Sikh militant movement inside Punjab. The Indian and Punjab governments come down on the militancy with a heavy hand, and many innocent Sikhs are killed in the process. Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh is eventually assasinated by Rajoana and company.

    • Sher says:

      Wonderful, courageous response American Sikh to a blog piece which, by implication, endorses the likes of Michael Wade Page and Tomothy Mveigh in the following lines:

      "You have but one option. To take justice into your own hands. If the state is unjust than a true citizen must punish the state. And who represents the state? Innocent civilians or the population at large? No. The political and military leadership of the state are ultimately responsible for its actions."

      The writer forgot to mention that Rajoana (like Wade Page and McVeigh) also targeted innocent civilians, an act for which he has NO remorse.

      IMHO, such thinking should not only be discouraged but also criticised by the 'progressive Sikhs'.

      PS I would like to make few minor corrections in American Singh's post; Bhindranwala was not imprisoned for Jagat Narain murder, he was detained in a Government Guest House. secondly, Giani Zail Singh was not the President (1982-87) when he colluded with Sanjay Gandhi (died June 1980), he was the union Home Minister.

  4. jodha says:

    @AmericanSikh – you leave far too much context out. Even in a political history, to not talk about numerous motions of President's Rule, your faulty timeline on the river waters issue, not mentioning the Center's step-motherly treatment of Punjab – politically and economically, promises on Chandigarh (broken numerous times), non-mention of Sikh representatives rejection of Indian Constitution, etc. points to an agenda, rather than a seasoned analysis.

    Even in an pan-India analysis, you don't mention the turn in the late 1970s towards Hindutva politics by Congress Party and the specific treatment meted out towards Punjab and Kashmir. Taking a larger look at the experiences of non-Vedic communities in Indian State could radically alter your rather cherry-picked narrative.

    • American Sikh says:

      @Jodha: You're right. I should have gone into more detail regarding some context. I was trying to put more focus on context that may not be common knowledge to most readers. And as you can imagine, I found it difficult to sum up such a complicated issue.

      However, my accusations regarding the Indian government's irresponsibility and unwise decisions in handling Sikh issues take into account things such as President's Rule and wavering on Chandigarh due to the Hindu vote bank in Haryana.

      Issues related to river waters and Chandigarh mainly came up because of the Punjabi Suba movement. Splitting post-1947 Punjab into 3 different states complicated water distribution, in addition to the need for capital cities for the new states. I feel that the Punjabi Suba movement was unjustified to begin with. It mainly came out of the fear that Sikhs had of being swallowed up by Hinduism. However, Sikh religious integrity would have been better maintained through the religious education of Sikh youth (actually similar to what Bhindranwala was doing early on as a preacher), rather than politicization of the issue.

      As far as economic treatment of Punjab, I was under the impression that it was the Indian gov's investment in Punjab's agriculture and agro-industries which made Punjab one of India's richest states. Also, according to Mark Tully' "Amritsar: Mrs. Gandhi's Last Battle", pre-1984 Punjab was the 5th most urbanized state in India (urbanization is generally a sign of industrialization), and had a industrial growth rate of 8-9%. The PROBLEM was that many of the industrial jobs were taken by out-of-state laborers, as they provided cheap labor.

      Now regarding the constitution, I believe it is more an issue of interpretation. A clause of the constitution says that "All Hindu religious institutions of a public nature be open to people of all castes, creeds, etc." Then an explanation of that same clause states "The reference to Hindus should also be taken as a reference to Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains." Now some may interpret that to simply mean that the particular law applying to Hindus also applies to Sikhs Buddhists and Jains. Others have taken it to mean that this implies Sikhs to be a part of Hinduism. Either way, I assume that the Indian constitution regards Sikhs as a separate religion when it goes on to say that "Wearing of kirpans is only allowed by members of the Sikh RELIGION". It mentions the Sikhs as a RELIGION, rather than a sub-sect of Hinduism.

      Regarding Kashmir, I think the Indian stance is better explained by strategic and military implications rather than Hindutva.

  5. samar says:

    Look, the assassination of Beant Singh might have been justified, but he wasn't the only casualty in the attack – there were 16 innocent people who died as collateral damage. I oppose the death penalty as a matter of principle, so I don't think Balwant Singh should be hanged. But, he deserves to spend his life in prison for the deaths of those by-standers. And as much as Beant Singh's death was deserved, it feels really uncomfortable to see people celebrate the attack as a whole without regard for, or even mention of, the innocent by-standers who were killed.

    • JSH says:

      Since you cry for the dealth of 16 people, you are a human. And if you are, you cannot ignore the slaughter of several hundred thousand Sikhs by politicial and congress butchers.

      • samar says:

        Can't we condemn both the massacres of Sikhs and the deaths of those by-standers in the attack? It just makes no sense to call the event a "gift" and celebrate it when innocent people died in the process.

        • Dusean says:

          Innocent people did also die in Punjab, Kashmir, Gujrat and Tibet … I think all these states belongs to India and ofcourse all these states have been targeted by their own GOVERMENT … so, can you please tell me when will they get JUSTICE ?

          if 16 people died, Balwant singh have been inside the JAIL for 17 years, 3 more years and he has spent 20 years (Life imprisonment in india) ….. but How many politicans have YOU sent to JAIL for 20 years in order to do JUSTICE for thousands of those SIKHS, MUSLIMS, CHRISTAINS who were killed brutally, were raped and were tortured…..

          We and even Balwant Singh is SORRY for those innocent people who died in the blast. But people like YOU don´t EVEN have any right to CRY for those innocent people who died in the blast because YOU never CRIED when thousands of Sikhs, Muslims, Christains and Tibetains in INDIA were BUTCHERED

          • samar says:

            You know nothing about me. I don't believe Kashmir should be a part of India. The Kashmiri people have suffered under military rule for too long, and they deserve the referendum on independence that was promised to them. I believe that Kashmir, and any other state where a majority would vote this way, should be free to secede from the Indian union.

            You know absolutely nothing about me or my beliefs. The only thing I've said here is that sixteen innocent people died as part of this attack and that we shouldn't celebrate the attack mindlessly without even mentioning their deaths.

            And yet, out of your rage and ignorance, you've decided to attack me for views I don't hold and even disagree with.

  6. Jagatjit says:

    With different ideologies, i may say that whatever is happening is good and will happen good with His grace.

  7. Meena says:

    And Long Live Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale!

    • execfunctiond says:

      Meena, why do you refer to Mr. Jarnail Singh as Baba? WHat "baba-esque" qualities did he demonstrate? Long live? He died decades ago.

  8. ThinkerSingh says:

    @American Sikh: Why are Punjab's river waters being diverted to Rajasthan? It has never been part of the original landscape of Punjab? Also with regards to investment in Punjab's agriculture where were the use of dangerous pesticides encouraged in Punjab but not elsewhere in India? Why was Punjab turned into a rice producing state since this crop is not native to its soil. Rice is heavily dependent of water and has been instrumental in drying out the land in the Punjab? Why were other Indian states allowed to have linguistic rights but Punjab did not get these until 1965 and then at the loss of Haryana and Chandigarh. Was not Mark Tully a close friend of Indira Gandhi and went about branding Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale a 'terrorist"? Any evidence that the Sant was ever in cohorts with Zail Singh or Sanjay? Why were no charges ever made against the Sant if he was a criminal and why was he allowed to come and go with Darbar Sahib upto 3 days before the attack on the Golden Temple?

    Just some unanswered questions you failed to address in your pro-India perspective on the Punjab issue. I have many others but I am getting a bit tired of typing them and tired of the likes of you who will not fail to use any opportunity to misinform the public including the Sikhs on what really happened………

    • American Sikh says:

      @ThinkerSingh: No need to get personal brother, I'm not out to misinform. I'm just exploring different view points to make a more informed opinion. Because the more you share, the more you learn.

      Some of Punjab's waters are diverted to Rajasthan because it is a desert state, and needs the water from neighboring states for the sake of economic progress. Rajasthan's neighbors such as Madhya Pradesh do the same. The issue here becomes that of states' rights. Are India's states sole owners of natural resources as crucial as water? Or can the central government dictate how these resources are shared among different states? It's a contentious issue across India. If Punjab were a Hindu-majority state rather than a Sikh-majority state, the same thing would be happening.

      Modern farming items such as commercial fertilizer and pesticides were first introduced to Punjab because it was the first state to have agriculture at such an enormous scale. The use of pesticides in and of itself didn't cause harm, but rather the lack of regulation, disregard for safe application, and overall misuse of pesticides caused harm. So I thin it's more an issue of gross mismanagement and incompetence. Sadly, pesticide poisoning is becoming a problem all over India. Check out this link:

      Regarding Punjab's rice production, rice has been grown in Punjab for centuries. Is Punjab growing more rice than it should? Possibly. Maybe the state government elected by Punjab's Sikhs should regulate rice production to save water. I don't know much about this, so that's about all I can comment.

      Regarding your linguistic rights question, applying linguistic rights to Punjab meant splitting the state into 3, because areas such as Haryana and Himachal Pradesh (parts of old east punjab that became separate states after the Punjabi suba movement), are not traditionally Punjabi speaking. Also, splitting up old east punjab along linguistic lines also meant splitting it up along Religious lines, as most Punjabi speaking areas are Sikh areas. Indian governments under Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri hesitated, because such a move would (and eventually did) allow for religion-based politics among the Central and state governments. This proved to be true regarding the Indira Gandhi-Akali Dal saga.

      Mark Tully conducted many interviews with both Indira Gandhi and Bhindranwala, and probably spent more time with the latter. Before you judge the man, I suggest you read his book "Amritsar: Mrs. Gandhi's Last Battle". It's a good read and gives a very neutral viewpoint of all sides involved in the Punjab conflict.

      Yes, there is evidence to suggest Bhindranwala was in chorts with Zail Singh and the Congress Party. He campaigned for the Congress during the 1980 General elections and the 1981 Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee elections (Google it).

      There were charges laid against Bhindranwala, but there is a difference between laying charges and actually arresting the man. There were three main reasons he was never arrested: #1- Most of the the Punjab Police was too afraid of him. #2- He had political backing from Giani Zail Singh in the Central Government. #3- He carried out his operations from Guru Nanak Niwas Hostel and later the Akal Takht. Chief Minister of Punjab Darbara Singh was hesitant to go after him in Guru Nanak Niwas because he was afraid it would be considered by Sikh masses as sacrilage of holy ground. He tried to get the Akalis to declare Guru Nanak Niwas as "non-holy ground", but the Akalis themselve were afraid of how that would be perceived by the Sikh masses. And of course, when Bhindranwala moved into the Akal Takht, it was too late for Punjab Police to event touch him.

      • JSH says:

        The second language of Haryana was chosen to be Tamil. There is not even 0.1% Tamil population in Haryana. This was ALL political BS. It was Tamil and it has been changed back to Punjabi in last 2 years (maybe 2009). Punjabi was marginalized for political gains, just to show that Sikhs and Punjabi speaking people are much less, while it was not the case. People realized there are more people speaking Punjabi than anyone speaking (or even understanding) Tamil. People were misguided to choose hindi as mother tongue, instead of Punjabi, so the states could be divided and minimum area could be given to Punjab based on census. GOI is democracy? It is a demockery.

        • American Sikh says:

          What can I say man, petty politics on the part of Haryana gov. Though India's gov does act like a "demockery" as you said, this was more an antic of the Haryana state gov to grab as much land as possible.

  9. Meena says:

    @Samar: What about the innocent bystanders who were labelled terrorists and killed in fake encounters? Any thoughts on those?

    • samar says:

      Can't we condemn both their deaths and the deaths of those by-standers in this particular attack? How exactly does the death of one innocent person justify the death of another? I just can't understand this eye for an eye rhetoric.

  10. Meena says:

    @American Sikh: Why are Punjab's river waters being diverted to Rajasthan? It has never been part of the original landscape of Punjab? Also with regards to investment in Punjab's agriculture where were the use of dangerous pesticides encouraged in Punjab but not elsewhere in India? Why was Punjab turned into a rice producing state since this crop is not native to its soil. Rice is heavily dependent of water and has been instrumental in drying out the land in the Punjab? Why were other Indian states allowed to have linguistic rights but Punjab did not get these until 1965 and then at the loss of Haryana and Chandigarh. Was not Mark Tully a close friend of Indira Gandhi and went about branding Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale a 'terrorist"? Any evidence that the Sant was ever in cohorts with Zail Singh or Sanjay? Why were no charges ever made against the Sant if he was a criminal and why was he allowed to come and go with Darbar Sahib upto 3 days before the attack on the Golden Temple?

  11. Meena says:

    Sorry just copying Thinker's comments and then posted them here instead of elsewhere to share with my friends. My apologies for the mistake.

  12. Indy says:

    @American Sikh: On 9 September 1981, Lala Jagat Narain, a press baron of Jalandhar, highly critical of Sant Bhindranwale, was assassinated. The Sant too had been a strong critic of Jagat Narain. The government suspected the Sant's hand in the murder and issued warrants for his arrest. He was then on a preaching tour in Haryana and was camping at Chando Kalan village in Hissar district when a combined force of Punjab and Haryana police raided the village to nab him. He himself escaped to the security of his own headquarters at Mehta Chowk, but the police fired upon his jatha or band of disciples; their baggage was looted, and some of the sacred texts burned. Two days after the assassination, police issued warrants for the arrest of Sant Bhidranwale. Under the command of the then DIG MANGAT the police reached Chando Kalan, a Haryana village, failed to produce any arrest,and because of this the police burned two buses in which the Guru Granth Sahib lay.The Sant ji offered himself to arrest on 20 September 1981. After the arrest the public was outraged,there were clashes between the young sikhs and the police, the police, trying to bring the crowd under control opened fire into the crowd, as a result, 18 people were dead and score left injured.Over the next 25 days while Bhindranwale was held in custody, sporadic fights erupted in areas where Bhindranwale's accomplices had gathered.

    Bhindranwale was released on bail on October 15 as India's Home Minister, Giani Zail Singh announced in the Parliament that there was no evidence against Bhindrawale. In a public statement issued soon after, Bhindranwale expressed his approval for Lala Jagat Narain's murder.In this statement he accused Narain of writing distastefully about the lives of the sikh Gurus.

    In his paper Narain wrote in his editorial that the tenth Guru of the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh used to live like prince and he had other vices. The Sikhs of Punjab wrote to Lala Jagat Narain about the article expressing their anger but instead of apologising for the article Narain spewed more venom at the Sikhs by accusing them of being traitors to India. The staff of Narain's newspaper, the Punjab Kesri, and its distributors were targeted for some months and 62 people linked to the paper were murdered.

    • American Sikh says:

      Heavy handedness of the Punjab Police (Police all over India in general) deffinetly has a hand in making things worse. As you said, that proved to be true regarding Bhindranwala. It was after Bhindranwala turned against the government and police that his men began killing Police Officers. Punjab police then began to fear him.

      • Meena says:

        @American Sikh: talk about turning the tables. That is not what Indy said. The GOI feared the Sant because he had the power to arouse the love of Sikhi in people. At one point 40,000 took Amrit in a few days. They feared his power but most of all they feared Sikhi because it can make lions out of lambs. They were afraid that if the Sikhs rose as a nation they would be unstoppable and no longer would Gandhi by able to lead the people of India by the nose. The light of Sikhi would take aware the darkness of India.

        • American Sikh says:

          Meena, obviously we have differences of opinion, and we won't be able to agree 100%. But I think rather than inspiring a love for Sikhi, JSB preyed on one of Punjabi Sikhs' greatest vulnerabilities: our tendency to get overly emotional on issues and put emotion before logic. He repeatedly asserted that Sikhs were treated as slaves and second class citizens in Hindu-majority India. Such words riled up Sikhs the world over and rallied them to around him. But tell me how a community can become one of India's most prosperous, with members in top government, military, economic and business posts, and probably the highest per capita income in the country, by being treated as second class citizens and slaves?

          Now I'm not saying JSB didn't inspire a love for Sikhi. But he realized that hate speech against the Hindu community and a perception of oppression and repression were far more effective tools in rallying people to him.

  13. Roop says:

    At end of day one simple fact, the Mughals and British ceded Punjab to other Indian Countries. India is artificial and Punjab has little in common with what is south of it…

  14. Mohinder Singh says:

    Last year I wrote how a last meeting btwn,indian officials and JSB's key henchmen was conducted on the night of 4th june at RLBhatia's residence.Jodha & other administrators of this blog blew me off calling me a troll and whatnot.Now Gen.Brar in his new memoirs has confirmed a meeting btwn JSB & his minions in drbar sahib before this 4th june meeting.I again reitrate that sikhs living in diaspora & specially the ones born after1984 actually donot know who tried to stop bluestar & who pushed for it.If the sikhs in diaspora or in india ever came to know of reality there will be lot of eggs on lot of faces.

    • jodha says:

      @MohinderSingh mixed up key facts, dates, people, and places in earlier discussions. Brar's memoirs are an apologist attempt to remove the shame that will forever be on his head. Hated by his family and once-friends, he inflates numbers and attempts to absolve himself. Pathetic indeed.

    • American Sikh says:

      Though I don't know too much detail about what you have mentioned, I have read that negotiations were ongoing until the last minute. Though the Indian Army had rehearsed an attack on a replica of the Golden Temple (albeit based on poor intelligence), the idea still was to "negotiate a solution while being prepared for any eventuality, even an armed one".

      I don't think Indira Gandhi or the Indian Army wanted to conduct Operation Bluestar, but did so as a last resort due to the Government's own screw-ups in dealing with the Punjab issue. Much of the collateral damage and civilian casualties that resulted were not because Indira Gandhi or the Army wanted to strategically target innocent pilgrims, but rather because the Indian Army up until 1984 had never trained or psychologically conditioned its soldiers and commanders for a pitched urban battle where enemy combatants were embedded along with the civilian populace.

  15. Dusean says:

    @Mohinder Singh: you made me curious about your article ! Can I get the link.

  16. jodha says:

    @AmericanSikh and @Indy – it is fascinating, because though there is a different interpretation between the two of you, both of you are drawing your analysis from Tully. However, reading Tully alone, one cannot do a very critical reading.

    Glib comments from Tully's book leads one to conclude that Bhindranwale supported the Congress Party, when a more nuanced understanding of SGPC electioneering would lead one to understand that the Congress does not "run" candidates for the SGPC, but rather rural factionalism is more complex than this easy binary.

    I would suggest both of you to look at Joyce Pettigrew's The Sikhs of Punjab, which remains unsurpassed as the most analytical and critical study of the post-1984 rebellion and repression.

    • American Sikh says:

      I actually got a chance to take a look at Joyce Pettigrew's book years ago, during my high school days. But found it somewhat dry at the time, and haven't had a chance to read it again (though now that you mention it, I will deffinetly give it a second shot).

      But two things to point out:

      1. As far as I am aware, the Congress mainly used Bhindranwala to influence Delhi Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee elections, not SGPC elections (Though I could easily be wrong, and they might have tried it with SGPC as well).

      2. I know that the Congress didn't "run" Candidates directly, and neither did Bhindranwala run directly. But Congress tried to use a figure like Bhindranwala to influence election outcomes in its own favor

  17. Mohinder Singh says:

    @Jodha,Dusean,Americansikh,in a word no I didnot mix up dates,figures,or names of people in my postings last year.I am senoir but not senile.Here how it went on the night of 4th june.At 1030pm,personal vehicle of RLBhatia came to drbrshb and picked up Amrik Singh & Harmandir Sandhu & took them to his residence.The negotiations to avoid the military action went on till 0200am on the 5th,JSB thru his emmissary had already indicated that he was willing to give up & GOI had given its solemn word to treat him with due respect & courtesy,since in reality there was no criminal case or arrest warant pending against him.Amrik Singh &Sandhu were dropped off in front of drbrshb at0315am,they had written commitments from reps of goi,why Sandhu &Amrik didnot disclose the contents fully to JSB is a discussion for another post.However it is as true as the rising sun,I ought to know I was involved in the talks from side of goi.


    • Meena says:

      Is this dude for real! What a joke? Why wouldn't Bhai Amrik Singh share this with the Sant? He was his most trusted? What BS…..

    • dusean says:

      One thing that doesn´t make sense is that If the negotiaters knew that Sant Bindrawale was in Golden tempel complex and Amrik Singh was picked up and left back to Golden tempel, then WHY 39 other gurudwaras were attacked by the army? Did negotiaters forget to tell to army??

      If GOI gave written commitments to Sr. Amrik singh and Sandhu, Then tills today why GOI hasnot shown the COPY to SIKH community and told, " We didn´t wanted it, Your people were Frauds", Why it has not happened?

      GOI could easily get away from the anger of SIKH community by showing the written commitments, but why didn´t do it?

  18. rocco says:

    Sorry I was sick and arrived late the discussion. Just some quick points:

    First point is INDIA IS FINISHED. One man Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana single-handedly defeated India. It's philosophical but if one thinks about it, it makes sense. He wanted to be hanged but the govt could not even if they wanted to?! He was above the law. They could not touch him!!
    -I was at the NYC protest and was impressed with the support for Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana. Great turn out, and whether you agree with it or not there were many chants for Khalistan. My opinion on Khalistan is like this. Sikh never wanted to be separate from India but the attack on Darbar Sahib in 1984, Delhi Pograms and Operation Woodrose (1984-1993) have left Sikhs no choice. My only caveat is that instead of the word "Khalistan" we should use " Independent Panjab" bc Khalistan has a negative image whereas Panjab connects us to a the land, language and culture that all Panjabis can relate too. The key to getting independence is reaching out to low caste Panjabis that compromise 30% on Panjab's population and muslims in Maler Kotla. This will further isolate the Shiv Sena.
    – As Jodha said, to have an intelligent discussion on Punjab it is vital to read "Sikh of the Panjab" by Joyce Pettigrew. She knows us better than we know ourselves. homework for all; order it on Amazon.
    Further views:
    -United we were able to do so much in such little time.
    – We need to "market" Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana as our "Nelson Mandela" and should not stop agitating for him until he is released. He is a prisoner of conscious.
    -MY parents were in Panjab and said that it was on lockdown. The Sikhs in all major cities started out early in the AM and shut down businesses.
    -England kicked as. Canada and US could have done more. The protests in the US were organized by and participated by Sikhs who have come from Panjab. The turnout by 2nd gen Sikhs (born in the US) was dismal.
    -The bhangra industry stepped up. Of note Jazzy B and Daljit as well as Kaka Mohanwalia, Gupsy Aujla, Tigerstyle, DJ Stin, Tarli Digital. Mad respect.
    -2nd gen. did a great job with the web and facebook. Go Kesri
    -US Sikh organizations like Sikh Coalition, SCORE, Saldef, and were silent bc they didn;t want to offend their financial backers.

    • Blighty Singh says:

      Just to add to Rocco's list, the former, and soon to be again, Mayor of London Ken Livingstone publicly came out in support of the Sikhs and the British equivelent to Madeline Allbright, the former Foreign Secretary and elder statesperson of British politics, Margaret Beckett – who still weilds considerable respect and influence in both Washington and Brussels – issued a press statement backing the Sikh cause and criticising India. Politicians in both Italy and Germany did the same.
      One thing I did notice, however, is that whilst in England, Italy and Punjab it was younger (2nd, 3rd and 4th generation) youths that were at the forefront of all the protests…….their equivelent in Canada did not, for some reason, act with so much energy and vigour.

  19. rocco says:


  20. MB201 says:

    @Mohinder Singh

    I am not sure how any of this history is relevant.

    First of all "written commitments" from the Indian state have never meant much to the Sikhs. As a senior, you are probably well versed with Sikh history. Commitments were made by the Indian state (in that era represented by the Mughals and the Hindu hill rajas) to Guru Gobind Singh, and we know how much that meant. When the Indian state was represented by the British, the record was no better. When the current version of the Indian state took birth, commitments were made by the founders of this regime to the Sikhs with respect to autonomy and protection of minority rights. After India's independence, you probably know better than I do, what became of those commitments.

    So can you really expect, JSB who grew up steeped in Sikh history to have accepted commitments made by the Indian state?

    Those who have known JSB personally will tell you, or if you read/listen to his speeches, that he was faithful Sikh. Even his detractors give him that much.

    When the Akalis launched their morcha in the early 80s, they asked him to participate, a commitment sealed through a ceremonial ardas for the fulfillment of that 'morcha'. For the Akalis this may have been a negotiation tactic to pressure the government, but for JSB him there was no backing down until the morcha was won. You probably know of other Sikhs of this character, such as Darshan Singh Pheruman, who died after a hunger strike for similar issues after having made a commitment. To faithful Sikhs commitment matters. So even if your facts are true — I will give you that — JSB wasn't going to back down until the demands associated with the morcha was fulfilled. (Incidentally, there are plenty of people alive today who know General Brar. Officers who served with him in the Indian army don't paint a picture of a man of character or integrity.)

    I can appreciate your position. As a member of the GOI, you probably sought to avoid bloodshed and find a practical solution to avoid conflict. Laudable objective.

    But to idealists, like JSB commitment trumps everything. Fidelity to an oath is not something that politicians can afford because politics demands compromise. JSB was not a politician. He would have essentially compromised his entire being — a fate worse than death for a faithful Sikh — by breaking his oath to see the Dharam Yudh Morcha fulfilled. Its worth noting that this morcha was not his brainchild. It was yet another tactic of the Akalis in their political wrestling match with the Indian state.

    Incidentally a couple of centuries earlier, Gurbaksh Singh, did almost exactly the same thing when "practical" leaders of the Sikh community withdrew from Darbar Sahib. He chose, with a handful of Sikhs, to die fighting. I am sure there were Sikhs back then who thought it was silly for him to do so.
    Emulating Gurbaksh Singh was the natural thing that JSB would do. He grew up well-versed in Gurbaksh Singh's history,

    JSB is either vilified or glorified, not really understood by most people. Perhaps someone in the future, an honest scholar, will look at his life, and provide a more textured perspective of this Sikh hero. Sikh heros of the past — Baba Deep Singh, Bhai Mani Singh…and this list go on — were also either glorified or vilified.

    Balwant Singh also doesn't know how to play games. He is straightforward and direct. These is even evident from how he has dealt with the courts, the Akalis and even the Akal Takht. Those who have known him in jail — both Sikhs and non-Sikhs — will attest to a personality type akin to that of JSB.

    Is he an unblemished hero? Probably, not. His own associates will tell of quirks and unflattering personality traits. He is human after all. But its hard to argue that he is a Sikh hero in the same vein as Gurbaksh Singh, Baba Deep Singh, JSB, Sukha, Jinda and others.

  21. Tegs says:

    Operation Blue Star-Latest From Gen BRAR
    The so called Mohinder Singh and so called American Singh is talking BS. I will post details of the whole story soon.
    Having lost his young son and stricken with cancer and having spent his entire life under heavy security in Bombay cantonment, Brar is finally reflecting on Operation Blue Star and has revealed startling details.

    I will soon post the link and the details of HUGE Indian army losses and the bravery of Bhinderanwale and Gen Shabeg Singh.

  22. Mohinder Singh says:

    @MB201,sure JSB was an idealist and committed to the entrenched history of sikhs,no doubt about it & no questions,however in the greater good of panth or wider society,pragmatism always triumphs.This is what the 10th guru did in leaving anandpur & chamkaur.Good leaders & not politicians are always cognizent of the fact,on how much or how many can they save instead of how much can they get destructed.BSRajoana might be steadfast on his idealogy but has given fodder to many politicians some of them will make hay while the sun shines.

  23. Mohinder Singh says:

    BTW I was sick & in hospital,sorry for late replies.

    • MB201 says:

      I hope you are feeling better.

      I have to disagree with you. Guru Gobind Singh was no pragmatist. None of our Gurus were. I submit no enlightened human being can be. An idealist would not have sacrificed his four sons.

      Chamkaur and Anandpur are anything but monuments to idealism. Is it pragmatic for 40 odd men to take on the combined forced of the Mughals and Hindu Rajas? If your suggestion that leaving Chamkaur was a pragmatic choice for the Guru, then I would disagree with that too. The Guru submitted to the will of the Khalsa, yet another idealistic choice. Vaah Vaah Gobind Singh, Aapay Gur Chela would never be sung, had Guru Gobind Singh been a pragmatist.

      I direct you to an fascinating discussion between Captain Murray and Rattan Singh Bhangoo (a descendent of Mehtab Singh, another idealist), where a puzzled Captain Murray asks Rattan Singh, about the uncompromising idealism of Guru Gobind Singh.

      Bhangoo's response was effectively that pragmatism on the Guru's part would not have inspired the Sikhs.

      I submit to you sir, that pragmatists may make effective politicians and diplomats, but they don't make for men or women who inspire human being for years to come.

      Diplomats and politicians will be relegated to the pages of history, whereas JSB, Sukha, Jinda will long be remembered by the Panth in the same tradition of Gurbaksh Singh, Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh.

  24. Mohinder Singh says:

    Well said however if he was not a pragmatist,he would have not gone south to meet Aurangzeb,specially when the khalsa did not want him to.Similarly he would not have fought alongside bahadur shah in the battle of jajau.JSB,Sukha,Jinda are only remembered by their families or their near & dear ones,rest of the community have already forgotten them.As for the other three they are only remembered on gurupurabs or in historical debates.

  25. Sher says:

    'Many have been asking why the Indian government attacked Sikhs in 1984 in the first place'
    Good question and the answer lies in the 100s of books and 1000s of articles written about OBS and the events leading to it.

    The answer lies with a litany of violent events leading to the OBS.

    "The movement for the creation of Khalistan was one of the most virulent terrorist campaigns in the world. Launched in the early 1980s by a group of bigots who discovered their justification in a perversion of the Sikh religious identity, and supported by a gaggle of political opportunists both within the country and abroad, this movement had consumed 21,469 lives before it was comprehensively defeated in 1993"

    The radical Sikhs discourse always mentions the events of the Baisakhi day in 1978 when 13 Sikhs were killed by Nirankaris. who would ever mourne the death of 3 Nirnakis who perished in the class which ensued when extremist Sikh jatha led by KirtaniJatha bigot Fauza Singh attacked a Nirnkari samaga,

    • Singh says:

      The answer lies with a litany of violent events leading to the OBS.

      Put your money where your mouth is and cite 5 books that describe acts of violence that would justify such action by the government.

    • jodha says:

      @Sher – again, most of your comments never have any context. What were the events that led to Jarnail Singh’s popularity? No mention of the extra-judicial killings, the plight of the small Punjabi farmer in the wake of the so-called ‘Green Revolution’ and abuse of President’s Rule among other factors.

      Quoting KPS Gill as a source of history is despicable. A human rights violator of the worst kind, he created a reign of terror and police abuse that lasts even today.

      All your comments are driven by your ideology – just as that of the ‘radical Sikh discourse’ to which you object – but instead of an alternative, you provides its foil.

      I can mourn the lives of any innocents’ lives lost. Do you mourn the lives of the 13 Sikhs lost?

      • Sher says:

        Yes, I agree that sometimes I react like any other LH poster and write my comments without giving the complete picture or what I think the complete pic is.

        Before proceeding further, i must say thanks to you for publishing my comments without any prejudice.

        Now, as far as JSB's popularity is concerned, l would concur with learned writers who attribute it to his charisma and fiery oration. His critics may see him as a rabble-rouser, a a demagogue but cannot deny the spell he would cast over the audience.

        Having said that I cannot find ANY justification for his ire against the GOI and, esp, Hindus.

        What ever the anti-India Sikhs may say in JSB's defence they cannot ignore or deny some glaring facts:

        Sikhs were (and are) the most prosperous community in India.
        Sikhs over-represented in almost every sphere of political, social and economic life in India.
        I know no one on LH would like to read this but Sikhs enjoyed positive-discrimination because of Indira Gandhi till her death;
        Indira Gandhi regretted OBS when she realised it was a massive intel failure;
        Other Indian communities/states had suffered much more or the same as Sikhs/Punjabis when JSB came into prominence spewing venom (brain-washed by the likes of Gurtej Singh and his senile guru Kapoor Singh) against Hindus for none of their fault.
        the understanding of theological matters of JSB (who was a pujari of Dasam Granth) was v low; etc.

        The plight of the small farmer… Go to any indian state and see if the plight of small farmer is any better than Punjabi/Sikh counterpart, This was true in late 1970s too.

        Extra-judicial killings… should always be condemned. Same for the repression of the other faiths and under-privileged people by the dominant community.

        'Abuse of Prez rule… again, I don't know why you expected Punjab to be treated any different from other Indian states who could have faced much worse at the hands of autocratic Indira.

        Assam had to face 3 such dismissal of the state govt 12 Dec 1979 – 19 March 1982.

        KPS Gill ..despicable: Jodhaji, it's about the message and not the messenger. Pls tell me what is wrong about the facts he has given in the book. I don't think if any punjabi who has experienced the days of Khalistani terror would like the state to go back to those black days. There was nothing pious, believe me, about the reign of terror let loose by the terrorists.

        I mourn the death of any INNOCENT anywhere in the world like those Sikhs who were butchered by Congress goons in Nov 1984 or those innocent sikhs who were butchered by Khali terrorists. If you think that those Sikhs were innocents and not part of an angry mob which attacked a lawful congregation of Nirankaris, i would mourn for them too. I have reasons to believe that they were NOT innocent as they killed three Nirankaris too and THEY went to the venue of Nirankari event.

        • jodha says:

          @Sher – Ok, so there are some points of convergence, where we can have a conversation. So let me attempt to address and engage with some of your arguments.

          So let's start with JSB. Now charisma and oration alone do not create an audience and much less a movement. Obviously for a section fo Punjab's populace, Jarnail Singh's words resonated. The spoke a truth as they saw it and in a voice that was decipherable and relevant to them. Dismissive remarks such as 'rabble-rousing' are meant to ignore and diminish serious engagement. Now, I don't know your particular biography, political leanings, personal experiences, and other determinant factors – but I have a feeling that this may be a reason why Jarnail Singh's words do not resonate with you. Let us not somehow think we are not also political and historical beings.

          On to your facts:
          Sikhs are prosperous – absolutely, some are very prosperous, but of course there are different perceptions amongst different sections of the Sikh community. Jarnail SIngh's words did not resonate with the Badals, Amrinder Singhs, Kahlons and the larger feudal families of Punjab. They never did and they never will. However, this is something you may not be understanding about the Sikh psyche. They do not see their prosperity as coming from the Indian State. In fact many see that they have been prosperous despite the state. Small-farming sections of the Sikh community see the state and a MSP that hardly keeps up with the rate of inflation and a lack of an open market as the reason for most of their penury. So while some sections, others are not and his words did not resonate there. And again, even those that are prosperous – most do not see their prosperity arising from policies of the State, but rather despite them!

          Sikh over-representation – agreed here as well! However, again the start of this story is not 1947. For mercantile sections of the Sikh community, their prominence came about just prior to the Mughal period and has continued and increased since. For agricultural sections of the Sikh community, the post-Mughal period, especially that of Ranjit Singh's Raj and the British Raj is when we can see this. This is not quite a story like the Parsis, where their rise was connected to the EIC, but has its own tangles and turns. So again, few Sikhs (although not all) see their prominence as having anything to do with the post-1947 Indian State.

          On Indira Gandhi – I agree that a long 15 year autocratic rule had many twists and turns. However, even Akali historians (including those that you cite and I use this word on purpose), don't see Indira's reign in just demonic terms. I think most see the Emergency as the real change. Social scientists and political historians use the Emergency as a key period in not only India's evolution, but specifically that of Indira Gandhi. It saw the rise of Hindutva as a mainstream political force. Indira seems to have embraced streams of this ideology after the Emergency in her quest for a new political ideology to bring her to power. So while 'positive-discrimination' may or may not have been the case pre-Emergency, post this period Indira embraced a new political theology.

          On other Indian groups – are we arguing for a race to the bottom? I don't think that is much solace to the large-scale discrimination against Mexican-Americans in Arizona today that African-Americans have been discriminated and abused as well. Hopefully those suffering and oppressed communities can find a common discourse, cause, and form coalitions, alliances, and connections to fight their oppressors together.

          On Theological Matters – I don't think you or I are in a place to engage with this matter here. It seems your opinions are not that of a scholar but politicized. I think it is for Sikh seminaries, like DT and other theological engagements to judge this matter.

          On the Small Farmer – Agreed that it's horrible. So let small farmers fight against their oppressors together, rather than be offered some token – "well, they are worse."

          On Killings of Innocents – We are in agreement there.

          On President's Rule – Again, instead of saying why is Punjab complaining? Maybe we should be asking how did the Central Government for one-party's political gain, subjugate and dismiss the democratic yearnings of the people and whittle away it's own legitimacy by doing this. Absolutely the same occurred in Assam and in Kashmir. People in these areas then took up arms against the state as many people saw that they had dismissed their democratic desires and aspirations. It is the Central Government that should be on trial – you're blaming of Sikhs for this is misplaced.

          On Gill – first off, you know that he is responsible for the deaths of many many innocents. You can see the numerous reports of AI and HRW to corroborate. On his particular words, you did not quote facts – except maybe his number of 20K (that is disputed), but rather gave his political opinion. He used the word 'bigots' – that is not a fact. That is a position by a partisan figure in this whole period.

  26. Sher says:

    Let me clarify first, while Bhindranwale and his 'kharkoos' (to use an euphemism) needed to be stopped, the way OBS was carried out was criminally callous to say the least. Militants could have been flushed out from Harimandir Sahib with far less casualties and, much more importantly, without causing so much anguish to Sikhs living all over the world.

    Coming back to books, as i wrote, there are 100s which mention the anarchy in Punjab before the ill-advised OBS. To mention some of those:

    Tragedy of Punjab:Operation Bluestar & after' – Kuldip Nayar, Khushwant Singh;
    'Bhindranwale, myth and reality – Chand Joshi;
    Kaur, Amarjit, et al, The Punjab Story;
    Amritsar: Mrs. Gandhi s Last Battle – Mark Tully and Satish Jacob;
    The Sikhs of Punjab – J S Grewal;
    Terrorism in Punjab – Satyapal Dang, Ravi M. Bakaya;
    What's Happening to India? – Robin Jeffrey;
    Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence – Mark Juergensmeyer;
    Punjab: The Knights of Falsehood KPS Gill;
    Low Intensity Conflicts in India: An Analysis – Vivek Chadha;

  27. rocco says:

    Dear Jodha, Hope all is well. I have sent Langar Hall three requests over the past week wanting them to look over an article that I would like to post. Regarding whether it is a worthy topic is up to the blog but I have not received any response . How does one proceed in order to have their article to be evaluated and possibly posted on TLH when there is no response from the blog?

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