How 1984 Has Since Affected Sikhs

This week I came across a couple of interesting stories out of the UK about how 1984 has since affected Sikhs. BBC Asian Network is currently previewing a radio documentary, hosted by Pops from Tigerstyle, discussing the impact Operation Bluestar has had on British Sikhs. The documentary discusses what impact, if any, 1984 has had on the Sikh conscience and the political activism that emerged. During that year, weekly covers of Des Pardes portrayed pictures of dead Sikhs – images that have stayed with many of us over the years. There existed a sense of hopelessness many Sikhs felt after only reading about and hearing of what was happening in Punjab. As one young Sikh woman states, “a record number of people took Amrit in that year”.

Before 1984 there were fears within the British Sikh community that young Sikhs, in particular, were assimilating into British way of life. A the time what Bluestar did was galvanize the community. .. and generally Sikhs were put on the spot by Operation Bluestar globally and in 1984, in the immediate aftermath, there was a great reassertion of Sikh identity – the visual representation of Sikh identity.

In a Guardian article yesterday, Sunny Hundal discusses how Operation Bluestar and the subsequent events have impacted Sikhs since.

Almost every year groups gather in London to commemorate these events and raise awareness of people still missing or locked up. Sometimes, the Indian flag is torched. In one report produced for the anniversary, the whole episode it is described as the “Sikhs’ Kristallnacht”. But while these facts are well documented and constantly discussed, there is less acknowledgement of how the episode has affected Sikhs since. [link]

He goes on to highlight three ways 1984 is still impacting Sikhs,

1. Sikh Homeland.

The siege was an attempt to flush out separatist militants holed up in the Golden Temple. It partly resulted from pressure on Indira Gandhi to take a stronger stance against the growing separatist movement in India…Spearheaded by the charismatic and hardline Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the Sikh separatist movement was accused of anti-Hindu rhetoric and importing heavy weaponry into the state. His death not only elevated the call for a Sikh homeland, but also made him an untouchable martyr figure despite his hardline stances. Gurdwaras across the diaspora, especially in Britain and Canada, were encouraged to support separatist groups. Although much of that separatist fervour has since dissolved, it still remains strong in parts of Birmingham and Vancouver. What isn’t said enough about these institutions is that they focus much more on Indian politics than they do in supporting and looking after local communities.

2. Justice.

The second problem is that the struggle for justice for innocent Sikhs is still far too often linked to agitation for an independent Sikh homeland. It shouldn’t be. The two are separate issues and one of the big struggles in contemporary Sikh politics in Britain and Canada is that the Khalistanis (who want political power) use the human rights bandwagon to advance their own agendas. This makes it easier for the Indian government to ignore the issue.

3. Victimhood.

Sikhs have always felt under siege as a community since their inception – from the Mughals, the Hindu kingdoms, the Afghans, the British Raj, the carve-up of Punjab at independence, the Congress party and more recently the Hindu nationalists in India. This sense of victimhood makes it easier for hardliners to silence dissent within the community because unity is emphasised above all. Even openly acknowledging social ills such as depression, racism (against lower caste Sikhs), domestic violence and rape is difficult.

Sunny goes on to note that it’s important for the Sikh community to create a vision towards the future and revive an “intellectual tradition” that has been “stagnated for the past 25 years.” However, as an individual in the BBC documentary so aptly notes – there hasn’t been a proper period of remembering and forgetting 1984, a healing process, and that’s why the wound is so deep. So how do we find that balance?


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58 Responses to “How 1984 Has Since Affected Sikhs”

  1. Gabru says:

    Fellow Sikhs, move on! 84 was a long time ago! By continuing to focus on this issue, we have developed a 25 year backlog of issues that the kaum faces. Let us fix and address these! Help the victims of 84 get justice in whatever way you can, and then let’s focus on other issues.

    Why is our state so drug and alcohol infested? Why is unemployment so high? Why is a Sikh in full saroop becoming rare even in Punjab – why are Sikhs rejecting their identity? Why is female infanticide so high in Punjab? Why is Punjab so corrupt? Why is it run like the empire of Badal? Should the SGPC be influenced by the Akalis or remain independent? Who are the new leaders of the kaum? Why are crores of rupees of donation money going into demolishing old historical gurudwaras (Dukh Niwaran Sahib in Patiala for one) to put in place gaudy new structures when the money would have been much better spent on schools, colleges and hospitals? Why is all the investment in India going to the South – what is it that Punjab lacks to remain economically competitive? What are overseas Sikhs doing about the thousands of Canadian/British and other Sikhs coming to Punjab every year to marry Punjabi women only to leave them never to return (this has now led to overseas Sikhs having to register months in advance so that a police check can be carried out)?

    There are PLENTY of other problems that we can raise awareness about. If even a fraction of time was spent on these causes compared to what we spend on discussing, analysing, and remembering 84, we would be a lot better off for it.

  2. Gabru says:

    Fellow Sikhs, move on! 84 was a long time ago! By continuing to focus on this issue, we have developed a 25 year backlog of issues that the kaum faces. Let us fix and address these! Help the victims of 84 get justice in whatever way you can, and then let’s focus on other issues.

    Why is our state so drug and alcohol infested? Why is unemployment so high? Why is a Sikh in full saroop becoming rare even in Punjab – why are Sikhs rejecting their identity? Why is female infanticide so high in Punjab? Why is Punjab so corrupt? Why is it run like the empire of Badal? Should the SGPC be influenced by the Akalis or remain independent? Who are the new leaders of the kaum? Why are crores of rupees of donation money going into demolishing old historical gurudwaras (Dukh Niwaran Sahib in Patiala for one) to put in place gaudy new structures when the money would have been much better spent on schools, colleges and hospitals? Why is all the investment in India going to the South – what is it that Punjab lacks to remain economically competitive? What are overseas Sikhs doing about the thousands of Canadian/British and other Sikhs coming to Punjab every year to marry Punjabi women only to leave them never to return (this has now led to overseas Sikhs having to register months in advance so that a police check can be carried out)?

    There are PLENTY of other problems that we can raise awareness about. If even a fraction of time was spent on these causes compared to what we spend on discussing, analysing, and remembering 84, we would be a lot better off for it.

  3. singh says:

    MMM gabru
    see while I mite see the point that you are arguing
    I think you miss the basic idea that the majority of those issues do arise from the events of 1984 and what susbsequently took over punjab.
    It is important to analyse the happenings of that period and trace their connections with todays problems so we can derive solutions to the issues which prevent them from arising again.
    Secondly, since when has the Sikh community ever been involved in forgetting periods of its history. We admire the courage of Bhai Taru Singh, of our Guru’s, of the 4 Sahibzahdas and numerous other members of our religion. yet one massive difference between those sacrifices and those of 1984 is the presence of the media which has given arise to numerous interpretations. Essentially all would agree that those Sikh sacrifices of the 17th and 18th centuries were of immense magnitude, but opinion is split on the shaheeds of 1984. Our children are being denied knoewledge of these events because the content is too heavy. Yet when I speak to Jewish individuals they tell how they were exposed to the Holocaust in full graphic at a very young age which had united their community and strengthened their resolve into the future. The battle of Amritsar and the Battle of Chamkaur should hold a similar place in terms of inspiration for the sikh psyche.
    Thus 1984 should be remembered to analyse the causes of todays problems, and to continue to strengthen todays sikh community and remeber those that have gone before us. Let us all rejoice to rember those that perished and those shaheeds who embody our values

  4. singh says:

    MMM gabru
    see while I mite see the point that you are arguing
    I think you miss the basic idea that the majority of those issues do arise from the events of 1984 and what susbsequently took over punjab.
    It is important to analyse the happenings of that period and trace their connections with todays problems so we can derive solutions to the issues which prevent them from arising again.
    Secondly, since when has the Sikh community ever been involved in forgetting periods of its history. We admire the courage of Bhai Taru Singh, of our Guru’s, of the 4 Sahibzahdas and numerous other members of our religion. yet one massive difference between those sacrifices and those of 1984 is the presence of the media which has given arise to numerous interpretations. Essentially all would agree that those Sikh sacrifices of the 17th and 18th centuries were of immense magnitude, but opinion is split on the shaheeds of 1984. Our children are being denied knoewledge of these events because the content is too heavy. Yet when I speak to Jewish individuals they tell how they were exposed to the Holocaust in full graphic at a very young age which had united their community and strengthened their resolve into the future. The battle of Amritsar and the Battle of Chamkaur should hold a similar place in terms of inspiration for the sikh psyche.
    Thus 1984 should be remembered to analyse the causes of todays problems, and to continue to strengthen todays sikh community and remeber those that have gone before us. Let us all rejoice to rember those that perished and those shaheeds who embody our values

  5. Jodha says:

    Gabru,

    I agree we need activism of all kinds. Do what calls to you and provide channels and institutions for others to follow.

    Others will continue to do what calls to them.

  6. Harinder says:

    1984 has left a condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in me and may be in the community to.
    It has shaken my belief in words called
    “JUSTICE”
    “PATRIOTISM”
    “SECULARISM”
    and to some extent faith in GOD.
    It was a terrible thing to happen and who ever did it will have a lot to answering to do in heavens
    that is if he makes it till there.

  7. Harinder says:

    1984 has left a condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in me and may be in the community to.
    It has shaken my belief in words called
    “JUSTICE”
    “PATRIOTISM”
    “SECULARISM”
    and to some extent faith in GOD.
    It was a terrible thing to happen and who ever did it will have a lot to answering to do in heavens
    that is if he makes it till there.

  8. daniel says:

    I am not a Sikh, (though part of my mom's family in Assam is). I was in India, in New Delhi, was a early teenager , when I witnessed the ghallughara against innocent Sikhs. Shook my faith in what India was, what being Indian meant. Hence, I left for good,and have no intentions of going back.

    Now, if I could only find a good Gurdwara with a good Langar in Michigan. :)

  9. Jodha says:

    Gabru,

    I agree we need activism of all kinds. Do what calls to you and provide channels and institutions for others to follow.

    Others will continue to do what calls to them.

  10. daniel says:

    I am not a Sikh, (though part of my mom’s family in Assam is). I was in India, in New Delhi, was a early teenager , when I witnessed the ghallughara against innocent Sikhs. Shook my faith in what India was, what being Indian meant. Hence, I left for good,and have no intentions of going back.
    Now, if I could only find a good Gurdwara with a good Langar in Michigan. :)

  11. Rab Rakha says:

    There are strong political organizations that obviously choose to focus on 1984 in much greater depth than current (and some would argue, more pertinent) issues that Gabru brought up. Sure one person may try to lead and start greater awareness of the economic/social issues Sikhs and Punjabis face, but who will change the attitude of these Diaspora organizations that command so much respect and attention from the community? How do we get them to spend as much time discussing 1984 (which I no doubt believe is important) while still discussing the issues of today (which is hard because these issues incriminate many Sikhs themselves and can't be blame on a Central government).

  12. Rab Rakha says:

    There are strong political organizations that obviously choose to focus on 1984 in much greater depth than current (and some would argue, more pertinent) issues that Gabru brought up. Sure one person may try to lead and start greater awareness of the economic/social issues Sikhs and Punjabis face, but who will change the attitude of these Diaspora organizations that command so much respect and attention from the community? How do we get them to spend as much time discussing 1984 (which I no doubt believe is important) while still discussing the issues of today (which is hard because these issues incriminate many Sikhs themselves and can’t be blame on a Central government).

  13. Lets Look Forward says:

    I was a 8 year old kid in Delhi in 1984 and what I know and heard during November of 84 were some of the most heinous and barbaric stories of atrocities ,there can be no justification whatsoever for what happened.

    25 years on I still feel enraged when I remember those times and helpless when I see perpetrators roaming around freely , but now with added knowledge of what was happening in Punjab during those troubled times I just wish and request my Sikh brethren to look forward , coz looking back will only bring back the painful memories of the past and not help in curing the contemporary ills that plague Punjab.

    Delhi 84 and aftermath in Punjab had its genesis in political ambitions of individuals and had nothing to do with hatred between communities ,Sant Bhindranwale was propped up by Mrs Indira Gandhi to counter Akalis and control SGPC(he campaigned for congress party in some constituencies during the 1980 general elections) that it backfired is a known fact as far as separatist movement is concerned it was never an organised movement coz the ideology was never clear there were too many prima donnas and the path chosen by so called separatist turned the people of punjab against them.

    Read "The Knights of Falsehood" – By KPS Gill
    http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/publication/nightso

    Sikhs were never a separate nation they have been at forefront of freedom struggle and fighting against the atrocities of mughals they have more than equal right and claim to what India is today.Its their country asking for separate land is like saying that sikh martyrs wasted their lives for something that was not their own.

    The community should look forward to tackle the issues that plague the society as Gabru rightly pointed out.

  14. Lets Look Forward says:

    I was a 8 year old kid in Delhi in 1984 and what I know and heard during November of 84 were some of the most heinous and barbaric stories of atrocities ,there can be no justification whatsoever for what happened.
    25 years on I still feel enraged when I remember those times and helpless when I see perpetrators roaming around freely , but now with added knowledge of what was happening in Punjab during those troubled times I just wish and request my Sikh brethren to look forward , coz looking back will only bring back the painful memories of the past and not help in curing the contemporary ills that plague Punjab.
    Delhi 84 and aftermath in Punjab had its genesis in political ambitions of individuals and had nothing to do with hatred between communities ,Sant Bhindranwale was propped up by Mrs Indira Gandhi to counter Akalis and control SGPC(he campaigned for congress party in some constituencies during the 1980 general elections) that it backfired is a known fact as far as separatist movement is concerned it was never an organised movement coz the ideology was never clear there were too many prima donnas and the path chosen by so called separatist turned the people of punjab against them.
    Read “The Knights of Falsehood” – By KPS Gill
    http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/publication/nightsoffalsehood/index.html

    Sikhs were never a separate nation they have been at forefront of freedom struggle and fighting against the atrocities of mughals they have more than equal right and claim to what India is today.Its their country asking for separate land is like saying that sikh martyrs wasted their lives for something that was not their own.
    The community should look forward to tackle the issues that plague the society as Gabru rightly pointed out.

  15. Karimul Fateh says:

    Well let me put these scenario, and then say "Move on"

    1. Mumbai 26/11 Terrorist attack :- they killed 200+ people and Kasab was captured. Now let's say free him(Kasab) and if possible elect him to indian parliament just like Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar got elected , don't give justice to mumbai terrorist victims and we will say to Mumbaikars "Move on". It has happened a year back so nobody bothers about the dead.

    2. Indian government is putting pressure on Australian Government to stop the attacks on Indian Students in Australia, let's say to Indian government "Move on" don't give a damn to those who has been injured or killed.

    3. In Cyclone Alia, thousands were rendered homeless in West Bengal government is asking 1000 Crores , let us raise say to those who have been rendered homeless "Move on" you want get any compensation or food or any help from anybody.

    4. Let's brush all the burning issues like functioning of SGPC, girl child infanticide in Punjab, Farmer's suicide ,lack of employment, under the carpet and say "Move on".

    5. Let us say to Indian government to "Move on" who is seeking to close those terrorist camps across the border.

    6. Let's say to Indian Judiciary to "Move on" which has got a huge backlog of cases where justice has not been delivered, so that they can start fresh and those who are looking for justice from honorable courts should be denied justice as the court has decided to "Move on".

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    . and so on……..

  16. SR says:

    Yeah, I agree with you Gabru.

    There are a lot more problems people should be focusing on. However, to compensate the victims and to ensure the events of 1984 never occur again, this is still an issue we must focus on. Thus, moving on isn't quite as easy to do.

    However, I find that we have forgotten the corruption, economical disaster and closed minds of many Sikhs and Punjabis alike, that are posing a greater issue in these times. Instead, we are focusing more on the past…rather than the future.

    Remember 1984, but don't forget what is plaguing us right now.

  17. Karimul Fateh says:

    Well let me put these scenario, and then say “Move on”
    1. Mumbai 26/11 Terrorist attack :- they killed 200+ people and Kasab was captured. Now let’s say free him(Kasab) and if possible elect him to indian parliament just like Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar got elected , don’t give justice to mumbai terrorist victims and we will say to Mumbaikars “Move on”. It has happened a year back so nobody bothers about the dead.
    2. Indian government is putting pressure on Australian Government to stop the attacks on Indian Students in Australia, let’s say to Indian government “Move on” don’t give a damn to those who has been injured or killed.
    3. In Cyclone Alia, thousands were rendered homeless in West Bengal government is asking 1000 Crores , let us raise say to those who have been rendered homeless “Move on” you want get any compensation or food or any help from anybody.
    4. Let’s brush all the burning issues like functioning of SGPC, girl child infanticide in Punjab, Farmer’s suicide ,lack of employment, under the carpet and say “Move on”.
    5. Let us say to Indian government to “Move on” who is seeking to close those terrorist camps across the border.
    6. Let’s say to Indian Judiciary to “Move on” which has got a huge backlog of cases where justice has not been delivered, so that they can start fresh and those who are looking for justice from honorable courts should be denied justice as the court has decided to “Move on”.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    . and so on……..

  18. SR says:

    Yeah, I agree with you Gabru.
    There are a lot more problems people should be focusing on. However, to compensate the victims and to ensure the events of 1984 never occur again, this is still an issue we must focus on. Thus, moving on isn’t quite as easy to do.

    However, I find that we have forgotten the corruption, economical disaster and closed minds of many Sikhs and Punjabis alike, that are posing a greater issue in these times. Instead, we are focusing more on the past…rather than the future.
    Remember 1984, but don’t forget what is plaguing us right now.

  19. JP Singh says:

    If you won't learn from the history and the way you were treated and do something to change it… you are bound to be treated in the same way again, maybe not a mob but on individual level.

    on the other hand, if you create enough awaress about the wrongs that were done to the sikhs and make sure that guily parties are punished, then with every present moment and in future, the tyrants will think twice to repeat the same injustice to Sikhs.

    To everyone that is saying "Forget about it" & "Move on" (Gabru et al) I would like you to think of it from the prespective of the folks that lost Sons, Husbands, Daugthers raped and little kids killed in front of them and then say…"Forget about it" or "Move on".

  20. Jodha says:

    I have heard well-reasoned discussions and that in and of itself is the purpose of this forum.

    I did want to throw out a few points for further thought.

    1) This week marks the remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, yet hardly do the Chinese in China make any note of it. Should we then believe that the Chinese in China have “moved on”, the world should “forget”, and the Chinese in China only care about “economic prosperity”? Are the Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and throughout the global diaspora therefore ’stuck’ in the past? Should they remain silent so as not to make things difficult for the Chinese in China?

    2) Why are Sikhs stuck in binaries? Can one ONLY decide to fight for human rights justice OR social issues justice? Are these mutually exclusive? Can one not do both at the same time? There will be those that are interested in opening economic opportunities for Sikhs. Great! There will be those that will bring light to social ills, including sex-selective abortions and rampant drug abuse. Great! There will be those that continue to expose abuses perpetrated by the Indian state. Great! There will be those that continue to expose abuses perpetrated by the United States like Amrit Singh and many others. Great!

    [As a sidenote it was the issue of sex-selective abortion and rampant drug abuse that Bhindranwale highlighted (yes, even I was suprised about his mention of sex-selective abortion, but I recently heard it on a tape of his speeches that were widely circulated in Punjab) and brought him huge popularity, especially amongst Sikh women in the Punjab as he lauded them and their men to leave drugs, and become Singhs and Kaurs. He also highlighted abuses by the Indian government as well.]

    Activists need not do the same thing. Do whatever calls out to you. Stop criticizing those that do. You do!

    3) Everyone makes the facile remark that Sikhs are not to take weapons into “holy sites,” however such a binary understanding of “religious” versus “political” creates confusion when applied to the Sikhs. I am the first to admit that many politicians (Akalis, Congress, etc.) have abused religion in the name of politics, but it does not mean that the only solution is the abandonment of the dual-interlocked swords of miri-piri. Most Gurdwaras are the SITES of battles. Throughout history, Gurdwaras have been used as staging grounds for wars, battles, and defenses. The whole purpose of the Burj near Darbar Sahib was not for some architectural beauty, but for the real purpose of defense.

    Maybe certain practices of Sikhi don’t sit well with some of us, according to our own beliefs or notions. Maybe our understanding of Sikhi is less than the genius of our great Gurus. Still, I do not believe the solution is to create binaries where our Gurus did not intend them.

  21. JP Singh says:

    If you won’t learn from the history and the way you were treated and do something to change it… you are bound to be treated in the same way again, maybe not a mob but on individual level.

    on the other hand, if you create enough awaress about the wrongs that were done to the sikhs and make sure that guily parties are punished, then with every present moment and in future, the tyrants will think twice to repeat the same injustice to Sikhs.

    To everyone that is saying “Forget about it” & “Move on” (Gabru et al) I would like you to think of it from the prespective of the folks that lost Sons, Husbands, Daugthers raped and little kids killed in front of them and then say…”Forget about it” or “Move on”.

  22. Jodha says:

    I have heard well-reasoned discussions and that in and of itself is the purpose of this forum.

    I did want to throw out a few points for further thought.

    1) This week marks the remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, yet hardly do the Chinese in China make any note of it. Should we then believe that the Chinese in China have moved on, the world should forget, and the Chinese in China only care about economic prosperity? Are the Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and throughout the global diaspora therefore stuck in the past? Should they remain silent so as not to make things difficult for the Chinese in China?

    2) Why are Sikhs stuck in binaries? Can one ONLY decide to fight for human rights justice OR social issues justice? Are these mutually exclusive? Can one not do both at the same time? There will be those that are interested in opening economic opportunities for Sikhs. Great! There will be those that will bring light to social ills, including sex-selective abortions and rampant drug abuse. Great! There will be those that continue to expose abuses perpetrated by the Indian state. Great! There will be those that continue to expose abuses perpetrated by the United States like Amrit Singh and many others. Great!

    [As a sidenote it was the issue of sex-selective abortion and rampant drug abuse that Bhindranwale highlighted (yes, even I was suprised about his mention of sex-selective abortion, but I recently heard it on a tape of his speeches that were widely circulated in Punjab) and brought him huge popularity, especially amongst Sikh women in the Punjab as he lauded them and their men to leave drugs, and become Singhs and Kaurs. He also highlighted abuses by the Indian government as well.]

    Activists need not do the same thing. Do whatever calls out to you. Stop criticizing those that do. You do!

    3) Everyone makes the facile remark that Sikhs are not to take weapons into holy sites, however such a binary understanding of religious versus political creates confusion when applied to the Sikhs. I am the first to admit that many politicians (Akalis, Congress, etc.) have abused religion in the name of politics, but it does not mean that the only solution is the abandonment of the dual-interlocked swords of miri-piri. Most Gurdwaras are the SITES of battles. Throughout history, Gurdwaras have been used as staging grounds for wars, battles, and defenses. The whole purpose of the Burj near Darbar Sahib was not for some architectural beauty, but for the real purpose of defense.

    Maybe certain practices of Sikhi dont sit well with some of us, according to our own beliefs or notions. Maybe our understanding of Sikhi is less than the genius of our great Gurus. Still, I do not believe the solution is to create binaries where our Gurus did not intend them.

  23. aman says:

    'Until Lions tell their own history, history will always glorify the hunters.'

    – African Proverb –

  24. aman says:

    ‘Until Lions tell their own history, history will always glorify the hunters.’
    – African Proverb –

  25. Sunny says:

    Most Gurdwaras are the SITES of battles. Throughout history, Gurdwaras have been used as staging grounds for wars, battles, and defenses. The whole purpose of the Burj near Darbar Sahib was not for some architectural beauty, but for the real purpose of defense.

    Jodha, yeah possibly. Though I'm not sure if I'd equate that importing lots of weapons into a Gurdwara, and then hiding there while the army is asking you to come out. At the very least he put the lives of the people attending Harminder Sahib in danger…. let alone asking what was the point of importing so many weapons there.

  26. Sunny says:

    Most Gurdwaras are the SITES of battles. Throughout history, Gurdwaras have been used as staging grounds for wars, battles, and defenses. The whole purpose of the Burj near Darbar Sahib was not for some architectural beauty, but for the real purpose of defense.

    Jodha, yeah possibly. Though I’m not sure if I’d equate that importing lots of weapons into a Gurdwara, and then hiding there while the army is asking you to come out. At the very least he put the lives of the people attending Harminder Sahib in danger…. let alone asking what was the point of importing so many weapons there.

  27. Harinder says:

    It has been simmering for very long.

    Since the time Guru Nanak dev ji rebeled against Hindu Rituals these wars of words initially and Guns now have got magnified over time.

    It will keeps on happening as it is in nature of religion's to have conflicts .

    I personally feel most GODS of religions can be redesigned as Commanders in chief and most holy text books as war manuals

  28. Harinder says:

    It has been simmering for very long.
    Since the time Guru Nanak dev ji rebeled against Hindu Rituals these wars of words initially and Guns now have got magnified over time.
    It will keeps on happening as it is in nature of religion’s to have conflicts .
    I personally feel most GODS of religions can be redesigned as Commanders in chief and most holy text books as war manuals

  29. Harinder says:

    Until Lions tell their own history, history will always glorify the hunters.’

    – African Proverb –

    Aman let me tell u that LION as a species is going extinct and history will be written by someone else.

    The PROPERTIES OF LION that is the capacity to kill and be the King is a negative quality for survival over a long period of time.

    I personally think that "SEVA" , "KIRAT" and therby being a useful member of society are more time enduring than the qualities of LION.

  30. Harinder says:

    Until Lions tell their own history, history will always glorify the hunters.
    – African Proverb –

    Aman let me tell u that LION as a species is going extinct and history will be written by someone else.
    The PROPERTIES OF LION that is the capacity to kill and be the King is a negative quality for survival over a long period of time.
    I personally think that “SEVA” , “KIRAT” and therby being a useful member of society are more time enduring than the qualities of LION.

  31. the langar hall gets THE MOST ridiculous responses after some of the most AMAZING articles.

  32. the langar hall gets THE MOST ridiculous responses after some of the most AMAZING articles.

  33. Jodha says:

    Sunny,

    Thanks for the response.

    Jodha, yeah possibly. Though I’m not sure if I’d equate that importing lots of weapons into a Gurdwara, and then hiding there while the army is asking you to come out. At the very least he put the lives of the people attending Harminder Sahib in danger…. let alone asking what was the point of importing so many weapons there.

    One small caveat to add. While in Punjab some years ago, I did get to interview a number of key individuals. And whether from Gurtej Singh IAS (this is the same Gurtej Singh that was interviewed by Naipaul in his A Million Mutinies Now) or even a former SP from Amritsar, both stated independently to me and claimed that they were eye-witnesses to the army largely importing weapons into Darbar Sahib. Their stories almost exactly corroborated with one another. These weapons were brought in during May 1984, into the truck line where people make deliveries and donations to the Langar. Most of these weapons did not work, but were imported for propaganda purposes to exaggerate claims of a weapons cache.

    I don't mean to add that to negate your point, obviously Bhindranwale and others had weapons. I just wanted to share that information that I learned.

    I guess it is how we define 'hiding.' His movements were well-known. He did katha almost every day from the roof of the Langar Hall that is on the outside of the main complex and is easily accessible.

    I partly think this is the Sikhs' fault, because they fetishize the year 1984 – maybe even due to the name of Orwell's book. But the events that led up and the whole context of the events doesn't allow me to focus on it as a single moment per se. I do believe that if the Indian State was really interested in his death that could have been easily achieved without harming the lives of others. Plus the fighting was hardly limited to Darbar Sahib. Family friends of mine and their relatives told me about the army invasion into Dukhniwaran Sahib in Patiala and the summary executions there as well. Until recently, you could still see the bullet-holes in the Gurdwara at Patiala. This was the case with some 40 other Gurdwaras on the same day.

    Although I don't believe in "monocausal" explanations, but I do believe that the upcoming elections in 1984 in India are essential to understanding various moves. Indira, whose popularity was sagging, wished to create an enemy to regain her image as "Durga" and regain the standing she enjoyed in the public as she had in 1971 after the liberation of Bangladesh. She found a group that she could project as an enemy. The large-scale army operation was not what was needed as an actual force (many army generals and officials have attested to this as well), but it was necessary as a "huge show of force" to "punish" the Sikhs. It ended up paying huge electoral dividends, although at the cost of her own life.

  34. Jodha says:

    Sunny,

    Thanks for the response.

    Jodha, yeah possibly. Though Im not sure if Id equate that importing lots of weapons into a Gurdwara, and then hiding there while the army is asking you to come out. At the very least he put the lives of the people attending Harminder Sahib in danger. let alone asking what was the point of importing so many weapons there.

    One small caveat to add. While in Punjab some years ago, I did get to interview a number of key individuals. And whether from Gurtej Singh IAS (this is the same Gurtej Singh that was interviewed by Naipaul in his A Million Mutinies Now) or even a former SP from Amritsar, both stated independently to me and claimed that they were eye-witnesses to the army largely importing weapons into Darbar Sahib. Their stories almost exactly corroborated with one another. These weapons were brought in during May 1984, into the truck line where people make deliveries and donations to the Langar. Most of these weapons did not work, but were imported for propaganda purposes to exaggerate claims of a weapons cache.

    I don’t mean to add that to negate your point, obviously Bhindranwale and others had weapons. I just wanted to share that information that I learned.

    I guess it is how we define ‘hiding.’ His movements were well-known. He did katha almost every day from the roof of the Langar Hall that is on the outside of the main complex and is easily accessible.

    I partly think this is the Sikhs’ fault, because they fetishize the year 1984 – maybe even due to the name of Orwell’s book. But the events that led up and the whole context of the events doesn’t allow me to focus on it as a single moment per se. I do believe that if the Indian State was really interested in his death that could have been easily achieved without harming the lives of others. Plus the fighting was hardly limited to Darbar Sahib. Family friends of mine and their relatives told me about the army invasion into Dukhniwaran Sahib in Patiala and the summary executions there as well. Until recently, you could still see the bullet-holes in the Gurdwara at Patiala. This was the case with some 40 other Gurdwaras on the same day.

    Although I don’t believe in “monocausal” explanations, but I do believe that the upcoming elections in 1984 in India are essential to understanding various moves. Indira, whose popularity was sagging, wished to create an enemy to regain her image as “Durga” and regain the standing she enjoyed in the public as she had in 1971 after the liberation of Bangladesh. She found a group that she could project as an enemy. The large-scale army operation was not what was needed as an actual force (many army generals and officials have attested to this as well), but it was necessary as a “huge show of force” to “punish” the Sikhs. It ended up paying huge electoral dividends, although at the cost of her own life.

  35. Bobby says:

    No matter how bad you believe Bhinderanwale was (and his vision of Sikhi is not something I would ever want to see, the OVERWHELMING responsibility for 1984 lies at the feet of Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party minions.

  36. Bobby says:

    No matter how bad you believe Bhinderanwale was (and his vision of Sikhi is not something I would ever want to see, the OVERWHELMING responsibility for 1984 lies at the feet of Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party minions.

  37. Hindu Punjabi says:

    It's all because of bloody politics. You think Hindus hate Sikhs? No! Hindus and Sikhs are brothers. We always have been. My family in Punjab (Hindu) lives in peace with their Sikh neighbours. Whenever my family goes out of town, they leave their house keys with their Sikh neighbours, and vice versa. There is mutual trust. Heck, some of my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law are Sikh. We are one big family. Hindus don't hate Sikhs, and Sikhs don't hate Hindus (for the most part, anyway; I guess that the 1984 tragedy may have put some strain on the relations between the two).

    But you guys need to understand, that ultimately this is all because of politics. Congress wanted to beat Akali Dal, and then used Bhindranwale. And then when he went against them, they tried eliminating them. Bloody politics! Down with corruption!

    Those of you who think that India is anti-Sikh, well then I have one thing to say: India is also anti-Muslim, anti-Christian, anti-dalit, and ALSO ANTI-HINDU. You think Muslims got justice for Godhra? You think Hindus got justice for Kashmir, Assam, Bengal? You think Christians got justice for Orissa? No. They did not.

    India isn't anti-anything.

    But we're a country full of corruption. And THAT is our major set-back. Politicians only care for themselves. They don't care if Sikhs died in 1984. They don't care if Hindus died in 1990. They don't even care of Kashmiri Hindus are rotting away in camps as we speak. They only care about themselves!

    Until we have more people like Manmohan Singh in parliament, our country will not change. So I urge you all, rather than spreading hatred and creating divisions between communities, go join politics. Go try to rid our country of corruption. Once that's done, most of India's problems will be gone.

    Dividing our country into many different parts on the basis of religion and language etc, etc, will not lead to anything. We saw what happened with the creation of Pakistan, and how many more people unnecessarily died. It will only lead to more extremism on both sides (as we've seen, and have all been a victim of, post-1947). In our unity is our progress.

    Yes India isn't a truly secular country. Events like 1984, and 2002 prevent it from being so. But that doesn't mean we can't work together to make it secular. We all own India, lets all work together to fix it.

    Never forget 1984. Never stop until the victims get justice. Never take rest until all the criminals are punished. I am with you for this and will always support you.

    But don't badmouth an entire religion/community based on the actions of a handful of people, especially if they're politicians!

    This not only applies to Sikhs, but also to Hindus, and everybody else as well.

  38. Hindu Punjabi says:

    It’s all because of bloody politics. You think Hindus hate Sikhs? No! Hindus and Sikhs are brothers. We always have been. My family in Punjab (Hindu) lives in peace with their Sikh neighbours. Whenever my family goes out of town, they leave their house keys with their Sikh neighbours, and vice versa. There is mutual trust. Heck, some of my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law are Sikh. We are one big family. Hindus don’t hate Sikhs, and Sikhs don’t hate Hindus (for the most part, anyway; I guess that the 1984 tragedy may have put some strain on the relations between the two).

    But you guys need to understand, that ultimately this is all because of politics. Congress wanted to beat Akali Dal, and then used Bhindranwale. And then when he went against them, they tried eliminating them. Bloody politics! Down with corruption!

    Those of you who think that India is anti-Sikh, well then I have one thing to say: India is also anti-Muslim, anti-Christian, anti-dalit, and ALSO ANTI-HINDU. You think Muslims got justice for Godhra? You think Hindus got justice for Kashmir, Assam, Bengal? You think Christians got justice for Orissa? No. They did not.

    India isn’t anti-anything.

    But we’re a country full of corruption. And THAT is our major set-back. Politicians only care for themselves. They don’t care if Sikhs died in 1984. They don’t care if Hindus died in 1990. They don’t even care of Kashmiri Hindus are rotting away in camps as we speak. They only care about themselves!

    Until we have more people like Manmohan Singh in parliament, our country will not change. So I urge you all, rather than spreading hatred and creating divisions between communities, go join politics. Go try to rid our country of corruption. Once that’s done, most of India’s problems will be gone.

    Dividing our country into many different parts on the basis of religion and language etc, etc, will not lead to anything. We saw what happened with the creation of Pakistan, and how many more people unnecessarily died. It will only lead to more extremism on both sides (as we’ve seen, and have all been a victim of, post-1947). In our unity is our progress.

    Yes India isn’t a truly secular country. Events like 1984, and 2002 prevent it from being so. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work together to make it secular. We all own India, lets all work together to fix it.

    Never forget 1984. Never stop until the victims get justice. Never take rest until all the criminals are punished. I am with you for this and will always support you.

    But don’t badmouth an entire religion/community based on the actions of a handful of people, especially if they’re politicians!

    This not only applies to Sikhs, but also to Hindus, and everybody else as well.

  39. Harliv Singh says:

    Thought I'd bring this up as it is relevant to this topic:

    The 2009 Sikh Students Conference at UC Berkeley, which is being held from June 18-21, will host an array of scholars who will talk about the events of 1984 and how they have affected Sikhs.

    For more information visit:

    Sikh Students Conference 2009 | June 18-21 | Berkeley, CA

  40. Harliv Singh says:

    Thought I’d bring this up as it is relevant to this topic:

    The 2009 Sikh Students Conference at UC Berkeley, which is being held from June 18-21, will host an array of scholars who will talk about the events of 1984 and how they have affected Sikhs.

    For more information visit:

    Sikh Students Conference 2009 | June 18-21 | Berkeley, CA

  41. Gabru says:

    Hindu Punjabi – well put.

  42. Gabru says:

    Hindu Punjabi – well put.

  43. Aman says:

    Hi,

    While some people say 'Move on…', I would like to say, do you know that thousands of innocent Sikhs were imprisoned in 1984….and are still in prison. Needless to say they have been mistreated and tortured for no reason whatsoever.

    My big question is, who is ready to do something about this?

    What can we do?

    We all know that India is corrupt, so why are we not changing this????

  44. Hindu Punjabi says:

    My point exactly, Aman.

    India is full with corruption. Rather then doing nothing about it, and just fighting with each other, we need to work together to remove this corruption, and bring justice to our countrymen, whether they are Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Christian.

    Lets bring a change.

  45. Aman says:

    Hi,

    While some people say ‘Move on…’, I would like to say, do you know that thousands of innocent Sikhs were imprisoned in 1984….and are still in prison. Needless to say they have been mistreated and tortured for no reason whatsoever.

    My big question is, who is ready to do something about this?

    What can we do?

    We all know that India is corrupt, so why are we not changing this????

  46. Hindu Punjabi says:

    My point exactly, Aman.

    India is full with corruption. Rather then doing nothing about it, and just fighting with each other, we need to work together to remove this corruption, and bring justice to our countrymen, whether they are Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Christian.
    Lets bring a change.

  47. JP Singh says:

    Hindu Punjabi… 1947 and 1984… Two times… do you think it is wise for Sikhs to wait for the corruption or any of the other reasons to have these repeat another Ghalughara again? Accept it… Cogress, BJP, Akalis… everyone is for their own good. Our Guru's Punjab is going down the drain of Drugs, Alcohol and AIDS whereas a few good hearted folks like you might mean well, I am not sure if it is enough.

  48. Hindu Punjabi says:

    Punjab is in a real bad state at the moment. I am aware of this, JP Singh. I went back to Punjab in 2007 after a long 10 years, and was so depressed by the gang wars and all.

    I'm not asking you to live with corruption. I'm asking for all of us to work together and fight this menace, and make Punjab (and rest of India) what it used to be.

    Congress, Akali Dal, BJP, and the rest won't give a damn until we stand united against their hooliganism.

    The political system in India has destroyed the entire country, and the problem is, people are just taking it.

  49. JP Singh says:

    Hindu Punjabi… 1947 and 1984… Two times… do you think it is wise for Sikhs to wait for the corruption or any of the other reasons to have these repeat another Ghalughara again? Accept it… Cogress, BJP, Akalis… everyone is for their own good. Our Guru’s Punjab is going down the drain of Drugs, Alcohol and AIDS whereas a few good hearted folks like you might mean well, I am not sure if it is enough.

  50. Hindu Punjabi says:

    Punjab is in a real bad state at the moment. I am aware of this, JP Singh. I went back to Punjab in 2007 after a long 10 years, and was so depressed by the gang wars and all.

    I’m not asking you to live with corruption. I’m asking for all of us to work together and fight this menace, and make Punjab (and rest of India) what it used to be.

    Congress, Akali Dal, BJP, and the rest won’t give a damn until we stand united against their hooliganism.

    The political system in India has destroyed the entire country, and the problem is, people are just taking it.

  51. JP Singh says:

    Hindu Punjabi… you responded but didnt answer my question :-)

    Question is very simple, Should sikhs wait for a third instance like 1947 and 1984 to occur again?

    The policies of government (inability to control drug problem) are Jansanghis infilteration within Akalis is a coup against Sikhi to exist.

    You are only worried about gang wars and other corruption, what about the current generation leaving the the rehat maryada and guru's hukum to keep kesh and take Amrit? My dear hindu friend, your aganda is a bit "overall".

    From Sikhs prespective, it has to be a fit more focused as Jodha mentioned above, there are many fronts that we need to be focused on. Sikhs will have to fight to get their own house in order as that will be a big step in correcting the country as a true Sikh will not be corrupt and by nature will fight corruption.

  52. JP Singh says:

    Hindu Punjabi… you responded but didnt answer my question :-)

    Question is very simple, Should sikhs wait for a third instance like 1947 and 1984 to occur again?

    The policies of government (inability to control drug problem) are Jansanghis infilteration within Akalis is a coup against Sikhi to exist.

    You are only worried about gang wars and other corruption, what about the current generation leaving the the rehat maryada and guru’s hukum to keep kesh and take Amrit? My dear hindu friend, your aganda is a bit “overall”.

    From Sikhs prespective, it has to be a fit more focused as Jodha mentioned above, there are many fronts that we need to be focused on. Sikhs will have to fight to get their own house in order as that will be a big step in correcting the country as a true Sikh will not be corrupt and by nature will fight corruption.

  53. an Indian Sikh says:

    What percentage of Sikhs do you suggest are true sikhs? I'd like to calculate the percentage of true sikhs in Indian population. Sikhs are said to be 2%. How many would you say are true sikhs out of that 2%?

  54. an Indian Sikh says:

    What percentage of Sikhs do you suggest are true sikhs? I’d like to calculate the percentage of true sikhs in Indian population. Sikhs are said to be 2%. How many would you say are true sikhs out of that 2%?

  55. RotiEater says:

    Dear Indian Sikh – I am missing the point that you are trying to make.

    Can you please elaborate on why ask this question? Maybe it will help me give you a more precise answer.

  56. RotiEater says:

    Dear Indian Sikh – I am missing the point that you are trying to make.

    Can you please elaborate on why ask this question? Maybe it will help me give you a more precise answer.

  57. Through you for details. It helped me in my assignment

  58. Through you for details. It helped me in my assignment