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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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!

  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………

  9. Meena says:

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

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

    jsb

  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.

  19. rocco says:

    ALWAYS REMEMBER YOU ARE PANJABI NOT INDIAN!

  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.

  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,

  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;
    etc

  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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