Why 1984 Still Matters the furore around Sonia Deols BBC documentary

Guest blogged by Harbakhsh Grewal

At the start of this year BBC 1, Britains premiere tv channel, highlighted the importance of 1984 to the Sikh psyche with a film documenting the personal journey of a British Sikh woman, journalist Sonia Deol. The reaction from many Sikhs has been hostile and vocal. Did the programme insult the faith, demonise its leaders and miss a massive opportunity to set the record straight as some have claimed? And even if it did, does the presenter deserve the vitriolic response resulting in her deleting her facebook page to avoid any more abuse?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the programme, the response to it shows the level of concern still in the community to the tragic and horrific events of 1984. However some of the criticism has been purely personal and deeply unpleasant and does nothing to redress the balance or aid the causes that those who are angry care about.

To discuss the programme in any detail requires much deliberation. And that in a sense is why the programme should be applauded: the issues covered were of such enormity and complexity the programme makers should be congratulated for daring to cover them at all in the first place and to try and do so within an hour slot is a task of great difficulty.

And the fact that many younger Sikhs, as well as the wider non-Sikh public more generally, have discovered a whole chapter of their own communitys history in some depth and breadth I think shows that the BBC has provided a much needed service.

Those who criticise on specific issues such as the portrayal of Bhindranwale have their own points to make. But they seem at times illogical.

For example being upset at his portrayal wearing a turban and bearing arms when…that is how he appeared in numerous occasions…no-one dressed him up or doctored pictures of him….and there are innumerable Gurdwara in the west where he is portrayed exactly in this manner in photographs, posters and paintings…so wheres the offence? You cant praise him as a soldier saint on the one hand and then cry foul when that is the image of him ones sees on tv.

I would also say that those who are convinced of their own arguments, absolutely, and without doubt, are not going to appreciate any attempt to see the issues from all sides and hear all voices.

Having said that, no serious attempt was made by the film to look into Sikh grievances before or since 1984 apart from asking a teenage market stall boy about them! And only a non-speaking walk-on part for the one-man champion over 25 years of the survivors of the Delhi genocide Supreme Court lawyer, HS Phoolka. Incredibly poor, biased even some might say…

And by looking essentially at a snapshot of 1984, albeit with some background on Bhindranwale, the programme didnt really contextualise adequately. Yes, they very clearly brought out how Bhindranwale was sought out and promoted by a vindictive Indira Gandhi who was looking to pay back the Akali Dal Party for singularly daring to stand up to her despotic state of emergency and direct rule something which ultimately led to her own downfall and terrible consequences for thousands of innocents.

To bring that fact out, and how and why it would seem that Bhindranwale later turned away from her, is in itself an important issue to shed light on assuming you believe it and Im inclined to. Gandhi unleashed a whirlwind of destruction that engulfed all of Punjab and India, the magnitude and criminality of which hasnt really been understood and which sadly resonates clearly still to this day.

But they didnt acknowledge fully how that vindictiveness had led to a growing division in Punjab not just as she had maliciously hoped for politically between some Sikhs, but also between Sikh and non-Sikh. The run up to 1984 and the decade after were terrible times in Punjab with massacres and abductions of innocent people Sikh and Hindu by militants and police alike.

Who these militants were in actuality is still a matter of conjecture. What is desperately sad is the fact that it is almost impossible to suggest in some circles that maybe, just maybe, some of the militants were just that: militants, not government agents dressed up, but active, violent separatists who sought civilians as targets to maximise terror amongst those who they wished to be separated from. I dont know for sure, but it isnt beyond the bounds of feasibility.

Equally it is hard to find voices willing to openly suggest that the militants or Bhindranwale and his supporters and I recognise you cannot necessarily equate the two were in fact not representative of the mass of the Sikh populace then or now, in India or abroad, and that they had no overwhelming popular support.

I recall reading at the time of my own ancestral village, Kila Raipur, suffering a massacre of over 70 people at the train station where non-turbaned men and others were machine gunned for no other reason that they did not appear to be the right kind of Indian.

Similarly the police and state apparatus saw the whole Sikh, predominantly the rural Sikh, population as the enemy. Extortion and criminality from all directions were rife. Police saw almost any turbaned youth as targets to be eliminated often in encounters aka state executions and disappearances.

The human rights abuses of that time havent ever been fully documented or reported on. International human rights groups and media were banned from the region whilst much, although not all, of the Indian media played its part in siding with the state in obscuring and misreporting.

None of this was highlighted in the programme giving it a lack of depth or full context. And the accusation of bias combined to the fact that the films location manager is himself a loyal Congress member makes these omissions even more disturbing.

Additional to that lack of contextual depth was the lack of pointedly mentioning that the date chosen for the military attack on the Darbar Sahib complex would inevitably lead to the maximum civilian casualties and insult to the faith, being as it was executed on one of the four most holy days in the Sikh calendar.

The date had even more deadly resonance as it was the day of the martyrdom of the temples founder the fifth Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the first Sikh to be martyred for spurious reasons but in reality for his success at bringing converts willingly from all faiths and castes.

And that it coincided allegedly with military attacks on over 30 or more other Gurdwara across the state and most certainly the wilful destruction of Sikh manuscripts and other irreplaceable heritage complete with a media blackout and the subsequent mutinying of several Sikh army units.

An incredible state of affairs which deserves full exposure and understanding in order to fully comprehend what was being undertaken by a democratic state on its own citizens nothing less than a premeditated and wide-ranging military attack, not on a few militants but on a whole community, replete with human rights atrocities. And of course there is the story of the second government attack on the Harminder Sahib complex in 1986 which was left unmentioned.

As the story moved on to covering otherwise admirably the personal tragedy of the Delhi genocide the programme incredibly failed pointedly to bring out the core issue, of which there is unequivocal agreement on, and evidence of, namely that the massacres were a pre-planned, politically motivated and organised, state-supported genocide.

Police looked on as if unable to stop or actually took part in the killings, the army was deliberately held back and refugee camps were erected late and then dismantled with damnable haste leaving survivors without shelter, food, water or medical aid.

It was state sponsored genocide. Not a spontaneous riot. Why the filmmakers didnt even allude to this most critical of facts? Was the BBC too fearful and cowed to speak that truth?

It was not Hindu versus Sikh, but a ruling party directing and arming mobs to hunt down and kill its citizens, in a democratic state and in the capital of that state. Beyond belief…and it would seem after only some 25 convictions in as many years, beyond recrimination or justice. Impunity rules OK?

Again, merely a walk-on part for HS Phoolka is unforgivable in this story. Here is the man who would have and does unequivocally and fearlessly raise this issue. Why was his voice not heard?

Some have criticised the interviewing of Mark Tully and General Brar as being one-sided. However I think both interviewees gave us critical insights. Tully on the role of Indira in seeking out Bhindranwale and therefore in setting in motion causing her own downfall and the wider bloodshed, and Brar for the final impassioned question Sonia asked him, after having pursued him admirably over the lack of warning to pilgrims to evacuate (they could have sealed the precincts in any case or taken action months before had they had any desire to save innocent lives).

Brar is asked finally was the attack on the most holy of holies and the attendant loss of life worth it? The now retired commander, himself a Sikh, visibly faltered and in a trembling voice, said I dont know, I really dont know. How time has shaken this previously adamant General of the righteousness of his actions. If some seek his death as revenge I can only say that looking at the lost man on the screen, his punishment has already come to him.

More generally Id say that the personal journey into her faith concept was a somewhat trite vehicle for telling the tale of 1984 but in todays touchy-feely media age its not entirely surprising the human element, or an attempt to portray one, is paramount.

However, did it add to the accounts of pilgrims who lost loved ones or the plight of the Delhi widows? Im not sure. I cant help but think it actually did the opposite but perhaps others feel differently and perhaps many viewers will have been touched by Sonias own distress when hearing these stories first hand.

But in doing a personal journey style treatment the makers left the horrors of 1984 far behind as in the end the journey ended with, naturally, the subject of the film, Sonia, debating how much further she could or would go into becoming a more devout Sikh. To me this jarred somewhat with the personal stories which were heard of survivors of the carnage and left them almost as not being central to the issue, which I rather think they are.

But to be fair in doing so the programme touched upon another huge topic, namely that of the religious and cultural identity of diaspora Sikhs (and other south Asians too) and the ongoing debate, which is yes, often very personal, about how you navigate between ones different cultural, religious and regional identities in a host culture which is often far from understanding or sympathetic to your predicament and in which it can be easier to go with the flow.

All in all, when alls said and done, when all the ranting and cursing by some has died down, we should be grateful to some extent to Sonia and co for doing what they did but with criticisms as Ive mentioned. Overall a service has been rendered, the story has in part been retold, horrors rightly depicted and memories stirred. It would be an impossible job to please everyone with such a programme but despite its shortcomings and failings it has brought the issue to the fore in what has been the most significant (only?) programme on the issue in 20 years or more.

Sikhs must now wrestle with the question of where the community goes now. Many raise the slogan never forget, others less comfortable with the memories, including the producer speaking on the Sikh Channel prior to the programmes airing, say move on.

But I would say that there is a third way here. It is one which says not just never forget but also never again, and calls for India to clean up its human rights record and become a proper functioning democracy. That is something that can only be done once justice is served on the accused in the 1984 genocide in Delhi and appropriate compensation given to the survivors.

If the powers that be were really smart they would ensure that now, after 25 long painful years and eleven commissions and committees of enquiry that this now happens. Then the claim by some that Sikhs cannot ever be safe or receive justice within India has less basis and the potential for further conflict dissipates.

Currently in Delhi a senior politician, Sajjan Kumar, and others widely considered to have been complicit in the killings are now undergoing charges, thanks again mainly to the efforts of HS Phoolka. We can only hope that closure and justice for the survivors and the community as a whole is at long, long last, not far away.

::

Harbakhsh Grewal is a political and communications consultant. He also blogs on Punjab Heritage News.


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70 Responses to “Why 1984 Still Matters the furore around Sonia Deols BBC documentary”

  1. DSB says:

    Analysis of the supposed links between Sant Jee and the Congress by Tarlochan Singh MP.

    http://www.sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/49086-

  2. Clinical Eyer says:

    Why Indian executive is resisiting so much? Because once it let is indicts its politicians , India will be automatically indicted for comitting genocide. So, personally I dont think it will ever it Sikhs see justicve on any day.

    It will need more than fighting against Indian judiciary slowness, to get justice.

    They will call it propaganda, i call it educatuion.

    A continuous exposure of this events in world media will help. we Sikhs might be sad to know thaty we have not yet made any world class movie movie on 1984 that can reach into everyhousehold..of world? or any other continuous effort of campaign in media..

  3. DSB says:

    Analysis of the supposed links between Sant Jee and the Congress by Tarlochan Singh MP.

    http://www.sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/49086-

  4. Clinical Eyer says:

    Why Indian executive is resisiting so much? Because once it let is indicts its politicians , India will be automatically indicted for comitting genocide. So, personally I dont think it will ever it Sikhs see justicve on any day.

    It will need more than fighting against Indian judiciary slowness, to get justice.

    They will call it propaganda, i call it educatuion.

    A continuous exposure of this events in world media will help. we Sikhs might be sad to know thaty we have not yet made any world class movie movie on 1984 that can reach into everyhousehold..of world? or any other continuous effort of campaign in media..

  5. Sewa says:

    don’t think it was that big a deal. Actually it was a boring documentary, which was one sided against Bhinderwale. It is clear looking back he was a tool of Gandhi’s and did commit many bad acts, and was only educated like the muslim Kids in the Maddrassa, just in Sikhi.

    But that said, and agreeing atrocities were committed, it failed to deal with why the Indian Government did not and has not bought people to book, and the questions aimed at Brar were tame.

  6. singh says:

    Sant Jarnail Singh Jee was never a puppet of Congress. That was just a ploy at character assassination by individuals/parties with vested interests

  7. Sewa says:

    This program certainly propergated that view…he was clearly shown as the bad guy

  8. Rajinder Singh says:

    Clinical Eyer, agree with your analysis. Furthermore, Justice delayed for 25 yrs, is justice denied. The Genocide is justified by many Hindus (and implied by the Indian govt.) as a response to killing of Hindus in Punjab (although more sikhs died even in Punjab). On a practical level rarely has a govt. prosecuted itself. Requesting justice from criminals is not an easy task.

    Here is something I can never understand – Since the sikh victims of genocide are "collateral damage", from troubles in Punjab, why is the Punjab govt (a majority sikh state) not stepping up to support the victims ? Shortage of resources is not the reason, given all the rest that money is spent on.

  9. Sewa says:

    don’t think it was that big a deal. Actually it was a boring documentary, which was one sided against Bhinderwale. It is clear looking back he was a tool of Gandhi’s and did commit many bad acts, and was only educated like the muslim Kids in the Maddrassa, just in Sikhi.

    But that said, and agreeing atrocities were committed, it failed to deal with why the Indian Government did not and has not bought people to book, and the questions aimed at Brar were tame.

  10. singh says:

    Sant Jarnail Singh Jee was never a puppet of Congress. That was just a ploy at character assassination by individuals/parties with vested interests

  11. Sewa says:

    This program certainly propergated that view…he was clearly shown as the bad guy

  12. Rajinder Singh says:

    Clinical Eyer, agree with your analysis. Furthermore, Justice delayed for 25 yrs, is justice denied. The Genocide is justified by many Hindus (and implied by the Indian govt.) as a response to killing of Hindus in Punjab (although more sikhs died even in Punjab). On a practical level rarely has a govt. prosecuted itself. Requesting justice from criminals is not an easy task.

    Here is something I can never understand – Since the sikh victims of genocide are "collateral damage", from troubles in Punjab, why is the Punjab govt (a majority sikh state) not stepping up to support the victims ? Shortage of resources is not the reason, given all the rest that money is spent on.

  13. SSingh says:

    Personally, I think Sonia Deol did a fab job — especially telling the story of the women who lost their loved ones or those men who lost whole families in the Golden Temple. Agree or disagree if Bhinderwale was (partly) to blame, I think the documentary was a good addition to any analysis.

    To those critics (of the documentary), I would suggest you try to do one better (so that maybe we can be better educated on the matter) or stop criticizing another's attempt! Satnam.

  14. SSingh says:

    Personally, I think Sonia Deol did a fab job — especially telling the story of the women who lost their loved ones or those men who lost whole families in the Golden Temple. Agree or disagree if Bhinderwale was (partly) to blame, I think the documentary was a good addition to any analysis.

    To those critics (of the documentary), I would suggest you try to do one better (so that maybe we can be better educated on the matter) or stop criticizing another's attempt! Satnam.

  15. Pardeep says:

    ****it SHOULDN'T be titled "A Sikh Story"…is what i meant

  16. Pardeep says:

    ****it SHOULDN'T be titled "A Sikh Story"…is what i meant

  17. […] Why 1984 Still Matters the furore around Sonia Deols BBC documentary | The Langar Hall […]

  18. Pardeep says:

    SONIA DEOL should be criticized, she is a journalist, whether she is a Sikh or not doesn't even matter, because it is HER JOB as a journalist to look for some truth and since she had the power and authority to present her "findings" to millions, she should have done A LOT more research. Also, interviewing Brar always pisses me off because who goes to the master mind of an army assault to get the answers about "what happened."? (it is not a "Sikh" story if you ask a mass murderer of innocent Sikhs about what happened). Obviously, the Indian soldier is not going to tell about what really happened. She spent so much time talking to that liar who was part of the whole scheme to kill innocent Sikhs and to install fear into Sikhs. I'm sure you've all heard of the saying that when an army wants to win a war, they kill, imprison, torture and rape the civilian population, the innocent, the unarmed and the weak. That was what Indian army did (and Punjab Police), they killed thousands, and SONIA was too "upset" to hear their views she was like "OMG i'll rather not know the details!" How can you IGNORE the details, okay they might be hard to hear, but YOU ARE PRESENTING THIS to so many people, stop acting like a baby and act like a professional journalist! Also, it should be titled "A Sikh Story"…it should be titles "Sonia Deol's Journey"….and at the end, shes doing bhangra! WOW! what a great way to end it in her journey to India, by doing bhangra, because thats what ALL sikhs do right? YES SONIA Punjabis just dance like that on the streets whenever they want to"celebrate" something! AND BTW, for Sikhs, Diwalii is not a "fun" festival to be dancing, its when you remember the day Guru Hargobind got released from jail. Sonia Deol is just pathetic, just because she was born into a Sikh family, doesn't mean she has the right to just show up in Punjab, start filming a documentary and think that she can get away with a shitty job because shes a "Sikh" and this is coming from a so called British Sikh.

  19. Pardeep says:

    SONIA DEOL should be criticized, she is a journalist, whether she is a Sikh or not doesn't even matter, because it is HER JOB as a journalist to look for some truth and since she had the power and authority to present her "findings" to millions, she should have done A LOT more research. Also, interviewing Brar always pisses me off because who goes to the master mind of an army assault to get the answers about "what happened."? (it is not a "Sikh" story if you ask a mass murderer of innocent Sikhs about what happened). Obviously, the Indian soldier is not going to tell about what really happened. She spent so much time talking to that liar who was part of the whole scheme to kill innocent Sikhs and to install fear into Sikhs. I'm sure you've all heard of the saying that when an army wants to win a war, they kill, imprison, torture and rape the civilian population, the innocent, the unarmed and the weak. That was what Indian army did (and Punjab Police), they killed thousands, and SONIA was too "upset" to hear their views she was like "OMG i'll rather not know the details!" How can you IGNORE the details, okay they might be hard to hear, but YOU ARE PRESENTING THIS to so many people, stop acting like a baby and act like a professional journalist! Also, it should be titled "A Sikh Story"…it should be titles "Sonia Deol's Journey"….and at the end, shes doing bhangra! WOW! what a great way to end it in her journey to India, by doing bhangra, because thats what ALL sikhs do right? YES SONIA Punjabis just dance like that on the streets whenever they want to"celebrate" something! AND BTW, for Sikhs, Diwalii is not a "fun" festival to be dancing, its when you remember the day Guru Hargobind got released from jail. Sonia Deol is just pathetic, just because she was born into a Sikh family, doesn't mean she has the right to just show up in Punjab, start filming a documentary and think that she can get away with a shitty job because shes a "Sikh" and this is coming from a so called British Sikh.

  20. Sewa says:

    If a Punjabi rises, others bring himdown..diito for Sikhs, esp Sikhs

    This is our problem. Jews stick together and the richest helps the poorest, we don’t. Jews have made Europe guilty by forcing the education of their holocast upon them..That is all Sikhs need to do..send India on its worst Guilt Trip…or get a truth and reconciliation committee south Africa style..will never get direct justice in India, ever..if we can’t when the PM is Sikh, then we never can…

  21. Sewa says:

    If a Punjabi rises, others bring himdown..diito for Sikhs, esp Sikhs

    This is our problem. Jews stick together and the richest helps the poorest, we don’t. Jews have made Europe guilty by forcing the education of their holocast upon them..That is all Sikhs need to do..send India on its worst Guilt Trip…or get a truth and reconciliation committee south Africa style..will never get direct justice in India, ever..if we can’t when the PM is Sikh, then we never can…

  22. Harinder says:

    What is our understanding of the word

    "JUSTICE"

    Since SIkhs got delivered on this planet gencoides have visited us at regular intervals begining from the first Gallughara to the latest.

    I Think SGPC or its like should have a SOP made for genocides say like

    1) Prevent situations which can lead to genocide for "GENOCIDES " like hurricane do give warning before they come.May be a Genocidometer could be invented LOL.

    2) Send relief at the first available opportunity to the affected community

    3) Prevent "Post traumatic stress disorder " engulfing the community and let "CHADI KALA " be the guiding spirit even in face of a genocide

    4) Extend this benifiet to all the memebers of Homo-Sapiens

    etc etc

  23. Harinder says:

    What is our understanding of the word

    “JUSTICE”

    Since SIkhs got delivered on this planet gencoides have visited us at regular intervals begining from the first Gallughara to the latest.

    I Think SGPC or its like should have a SOP made for genocides say like

    1) Prevent situations which can lead to genocide for “GENOCIDES ” like hurricane do give warning before they come.May be a Genocidometer could be invented LOL.
    2) Send relief at the first available opportunity to the affected community
    3) Prevent “Post traumatic stress disorder ” engulfing the community and let “CHADI KALA ” be the guiding spirit even in face of a genocide
    4) Extend this benifiet to all the memebers of Homo-Sapiens
    etc etc

  24. Bhupi says:

    It matters because we have learnt lessons and should never let it happen again. Everyone has their own perspective…

    I was a kid living outside Punjab in 84. My father took me to Amritsar to show me the ruins, we both were in tears. Growing up, I read more and more about Golden Temple attack, Delhi riots, Police extremism in Punjab, Sikh extremism (or patriotism ?) etc and it became difficult to point a finger.

    Its important to know the facts, be rational in thoughts, be a moderate (society is more global than ever) and make sure that we prevent this from happening again to our utmost ability. However, in India, a religious issue is very sensitive one and still leads to riots easily, resulting in killing of innocent people most of the time.

    Just picture yourself as a muslim kid in gujrat/bombay or a christian missionary in orissa. Mob fury in India is a permanent feature whose remote control is held by politicans so the minority will always suffer, thanks to the population dynamics and more so to the JUSTICE system.

    My reflections …

    1. A Gurudwara is not a dera, so I don't know why S. Bhindrawale chose to make it a camp ? Had he been outside, the army wouldn't have come in. If the army hadn't come in, it wouldn't have hurt sentiments in the sikh community worldwide and have wounded them forever.

    Q: Who should be allowed to live inside G'wara premises ? A Sant is a sant for a subset of the mass (its induced upon other people indirectly. ex.. present days babas in Punjab and the resulting issues)

    2. Delhi Riots: Sikhs are known for honesty, a trait created by our forefathers. Indira Gandhi had guts to still keep Sikh guards. Two guards killing a women creates unthinkable emotions which were catalysed by then prevalent news (innocent hindus being killed 80-84). Congress party proved that they could eradicate. They tried very hard…

    Normal people: In Maharashtra, a hindu family took my sisters to their house as a precaution. When I went back to school, one of my seniors asked me 'how come I was alive ? That question changed me forever.
    Lesson learnt: A common man in 1984 hated a Sikh so much, because of whom ?

    3. Police extremism: Khalra and the youth disappear and nobody could question the GODS. Why were Sikhs killing Sikhs.
    Answer: an obedient officer was trying to recreate order and a patriot was doing his job, fighting for independence or partial freedom.

    Today corruption is so rampant because politicians owns police and everybody in hierarchy wants a piece of action. The common man just wants peace and livelihood (and indirectly help the corrupt system).

    People who suffered in Delhi (riots) and Punjab (police) probably have given up hope. I personally feel that in India 'a life doesn't have any value'. And everybody has a price, hence the current state. Will it change ever ? maybe, but not in near future. Till then Sajjan Kumar will probably die a natural death, just like some other culprits of Delhi riots. Will justice heal the wounds ?

    On the lighter side…
    Post Gujrat riots: Oh yes, that event did give some 'TEMPORAL' balls to Gujjus in US. One of my gujju colleagues told me that he'll f*** me as they did to m******. I just smiled at him and he realized his mistake and apologized.

  25. Bhupi says:

    It matters because we have learnt lessons and should never let it happen again. Everyone has their own perspective…

    I was a kid living outside Punjab in 84. My father took me to Amritsar to show me the ruins, we both were in tears. Growing up, I read more and more about Golden Temple attack, Delhi riots, Police extremism in Punjab, Sikh extremism (or patriotism ?) etc and it became difficult to point a finger.

    Its important to know the facts, be rational in thoughts, be a moderate (society is more global than ever) and make sure that we prevent this from happening again to our utmost ability. However, in India, a religious issue is very sensitive one and still leads to riots easily, resulting in killing of innocent people most of the time.

    Just picture yourself as a muslim kid in gujrat/bombay or a christian missionary in orissa. Mob fury in India is a permanent feature whose remote control is held by politicans so the minority will always suffer, thanks to the population dynamics and more so to the JUSTICE system.

    My reflections …

    1. A Gurudwara is not a dera, so I don't know why S. Bhindrawale chose to make it a camp ? Had he been outside, the army wouldn't have come in. If the army hadn't come in, it wouldn't have hurt sentiments in the sikh community worldwide and have wounded them forever.

    Q: Who should be allowed to live inside G'wara premises ? A Sant is a sant for a subset of the mass (its induced upon other people indirectly. ex.. present days babas in Punjab and the resulting issues)

    2. Delhi Riots: Sikhs are known for honesty, a trait created by our forefathers. Indira Gandhi had guts to still keep Sikh guards. Two guards killing a women creates unthinkable emotions which were catalysed by then prevalent news (innocent hindus being killed 80-84). Congress party proved that they could eradicate. They tried very hard…

    Normal people: In Maharashtra, a hindu family took my sisters to their house as a precaution. When I went back to school, one of my seniors asked me 'how come I was alive ? That question changed me forever.
    Lesson learnt: A common man in 1984 hated a Sikh so much, because of whom ?

    3. Police extremism: Khalra and the youth disappear and nobody could question the GODS. Why were Sikhs killing Sikhs.
    Answer: an obedient officer was trying to recreate order and a patriot was doing his job, fighting for independence or partial freedom.

    Today corruption is so rampant because politicians owns police and everybody in hierarchy wants a piece of action. The common man just wants peace and livelihood (and indirectly help the corrupt system).

    People who suffered in Delhi (riots) and Punjab (police) probably have given up hope. I personally feel that in India 'a life doesn't have any value'. And everybody has a price, hence the current state. Will it change ever ? maybe, but not in near future. Till then Sajjan Kumar will probably die a natural death, just like some other culprits of Delhi riots. Will justice heal the wounds ?

    On the lighter side…
    Post Gujrat riots: Oh yes, that event did give some 'TEMPORAL' balls to Gujjus in US. One of my gujju colleagues told me that he'll f*** me as they did to m******. I just smiled at him and he realized his mistake and apologized.

  26. Pardeep says:

    Bhupi, was Sant ji in the 41 other gurdwaras? Was it all really his fault for the attack? No, he was used as a scapegoat to invade Punjab. Tne government wanted to teach Sikhs a lesson and that was to shut up and stop asking for more rights,dictator Indira wanted to suppress a movement for more autonomy, plus,the plans to invade Siri Harmandar Sahib were made 2 years before, they even set up a replica of the complex in a secret location. Since there were many Sikhs in the army, this information leaked and Sant Ji was betrayed by people like Longowal and Badal (who have no religion, but are just selfish greedy bastards who think they stand for the panth but they really stand for NOTHING). Badal, so called "Captain" Amrinder, Kushwant Singh, Longowal, all these people do not represent the common Sikh, many of them were friends with congress leaders, like Amrinder and Kushwant, who were friends with Rajiv and Indira, also, Kushwant Singh is an agnostic, he does not "know" whether or not there is a god, so how can he be called a Sikh? According to gurbani, he is a ponderer. Also, most of these people I just mentioned are not even liked by the common Sikh in Punjab or elsewhere. No one gives a shit about Kushwant Singh, his books are not popular amongst Punjabis, he is not a "prominent" Sikh but a prominent man in India who has assimilated himself into the North Indian Hindu culture. Kushwant Singh also comes from a wealthy family. Amrinder Singh comes from a "royal" family, he considers himself to be better then others, so does Badal, who is a lying Kuta and has taken so much money from Punjab, when the money should be used for the people, these fuking politicians take all of the money, i dont get how some people can be soo fuking greedy and selfish, when you go to punjab, every morning, theres line ups in front of the hospital in the hottest fuking weather, the government is so fukin greedy, they have money to fix things but they deliberately don't do anything because they are selfish pieces of shit.

    Also, its not just the wounds of the army destroying the Akal Takht, but dont forget how they imprisoned thousands of people accross Punjab. Read a book called "Reduced to Ashes," in this book, it reveals how over 200 Sikhs who were not terrorists but just gathered around a gurdwara in Patalia were shot to death. The attack on the golden temple was so horrendous and evil that it usually gets all of the attention when talking about june 84' and other attrocities committed in june84' usually get hidden and forgotten but there are soo many stories about how brutal and inhumane the army was. When an army wants to suppress a movement, they hurt innocents, they torture & rape civiians, and kill and imprison people. For godsake, during operation bluestar, over 20 kids between the ages of 2-17 were PUT INTO WAR CAMPS!!!! now, is this Sant Jis fault? Is a 2 year old a terrorist? Why would the army of your "own" nation throw children into jails? Don't you think the motive to invade Punjab was more then to just "Capture" Bhindranwale? Also, as guru arjun dev ji said to guru hargobind singh, it is better to die in battle then to be captured by the enemy and tortured. This was when the fifth guru told Sikhs to take up arms and to create an army because you need one to protect yourself from evil invaders and people.
    Also, between 1980-84, Sikhs were being randomly picked up and tortured, hung upside down, what did you accept Sant Ji to do? To allow police to harm innocents and burn Sikh siri guru granth sahibs in haryana? and to rape women ? what kind of son of guru gobind singh would accept this sort of behaviour? The police couldnt be called to help since those bastards were the ones behind most of the crimes. The newspapers couldnt help, all they did was make matter worse because they would spread lies and propaganda. This was all part of evil Indira and her congress fuckers, as well as Indian intelligence, to discredit Sikhs.

  27. Pardeep says:

    Bhupi, was Sant ji in the 41 other gurdwaras? Was it all really his fault for the attack? No, he was used as a scapegoat to invade Punjab. Tne government wanted to teach Sikhs a lesson and that was to shut up and stop asking for more rights,dictator Indira wanted to suppress a movement for more autonomy, plus,the plans to invade Siri Harmandar Sahib were made 2 years before, they even set up a replica of the complex in a secret location. Since there were many Sikhs in the army, this information leaked and Sant Ji was betrayed by people like Longowal and Badal (who have no religion, but are just selfish greedy bastards who think they stand for the panth but they really stand for NOTHING). Badal, so called "Captain" Amrinder, Kushwant Singh, Longowal, all these people do not represent the common Sikh, many of them were friends with congress leaders, like Amrinder and Kushwant, who were friends with Rajiv and Indira, also, Kushwant Singh is an agnostic, he does not "know" whether or not there is a god, so how can he be called a Sikh? According to gurbani, he is a ponderer. Also, most of these people I just mentioned are not even liked by the common Sikh in Punjab or elsewhere. No one gives a shit about Kushwant Singh, his books are not popular amongst Punjabis, he is not a "prominent" Sikh but a prominent man in India who has assimilated himself into the North Indian Hindu culture. Kushwant Singh also comes from a wealthy family. Amrinder Singh comes from a "royal" family, he considers himself to be better then others, so does Badal, who is a lying Kuta and has taken so much money from Punjab, when the money should be used for the people, these fuking politicians take all of the money, i dont get how some people can be soo fuking greedy and selfish, when you go to punjab, every morning, theres line ups in front of the hospital in the hottest fuking weather, the government is so fukin greedy, they have money to fix things but they deliberately don't do anything because they are selfish pieces of shit.

    Also, its not just the wounds of the army destroying the Akal Takht, but dont forget how they imprisoned thousands of people accross Punjab. Read a book called "Reduced to Ashes," in this book, it reveals how over 200 Sikhs who were not terrorists but just gathered around a gurdwara in Patalia were shot to death. The attack on the golden temple was so horrendous and evil that it usually gets all of the attention when talking about june 84' and other attrocities committed in june84' usually get hidden and forgotten but there are soo many stories about how brutal and inhumane the army was. When an army wants to suppress a movement, they hurt innocents, they torture & rape civiians, and kill and imprison people. For godsake, during operation bluestar, over 20 kids between the ages of 2-17 were PUT INTO WAR CAMPS!!!! now, is this Sant Jis fault? Is a 2 year old a terrorist? Why would the army of your "own" nation throw children into jails? Don't you think the motive to invade Punjab was more then to just "Capture" Bhindranwale? Also, as guru arjun dev ji said to guru hargobind singh, it is better to die in battle then to be captured by the enemy and tortured. This was when the fifth guru told Sikhs to take up arms and to create an army because you need one to protect yourself from evil invaders and people.
    Also, between 1980-84, Sikhs were being randomly picked up and tortured, hung upside down, what did you accept Sant Ji to do? To allow police to harm innocents and burn Sikh siri guru granth sahibs in haryana? and to rape women ? what kind of son of guru gobind singh would accept this sort of behaviour? The police couldnt be called to help since those bastards were the ones behind most of the crimes. The newspapers couldnt help, all they did was make matter worse because they would spread lies and propaganda. This was all part of evil Indira and her congress fuckers, as well as Indian intelligence, to discredit Sikhs.

  28. Bhupi says:

    Pardeep, I can understand your sentiments which are same as lot of Sikhs even now. The army follows orders. The police is owned by policians, so its the politicians fault and I blame both the Congress and Akalis, equally. If Santji knew he was going to be arrested anyhow and had stacked up arms for protection, he also knew that bullets will fly from both sides and the Akal Takht/Harmandir Sahib will get hit and thereby hurt the sentiments of masses. Was he using that opportunity to stir Sikh emotions if events like that happened ? Maybe his intention was to wake up the masses.

    25 years after, is Sant Ji's party ruling ? Did we get autonomy ? How strong are Akalis ? Possibly more divided ? Is SGPC independent body or remotely controlled ? Is RSS/BJP better than Congress in terms of genocidical history ?

    Please understand what I am trying to convey as 'lessons learnt'. Its not supposed to hurt your or anybody's feelings. The reason I say this is its easily possible to see another Sant Bhindrawale come up and get back to Akal Takht ?

    The demand for autonomy is a 60 yr issue and we should point fingers to people who decided on behalf of 'all Sikhs' to make Punjab a part of India and then divide it further based on language.

    At the same time, lot of Sikhs live in rest of India as well, so a Sant can't think of Sikhs in Punjab only if he really is for well being of all the Sikhs. Now you'll say we should have guns and die fighting if we are targeted outside Punjab. That's possible but the eventual result will be death, destruction and more division.

    If our politicians are corrupt, should we just sit and watch ? We need educated and pragmatic leaders who are neither for Congress and Akalis but for people and prosperity of Punjab. We all keep on quoting Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Punjab as the best time but forget how he ruled and achieved all that.

  29. Bhupi says:

    What is the role of common man in giving power to corrupt politicians ? If I am a farmer, I'll vote for a party which is CORRUPT but will give subsidy to me. If I am a businessman, I'll vote for a party which helps expand the business (Ambanis are the richest in just two generations, thanks to corruption).

    So we the people are also to be blamed to give POWER to these CORRUPT politicians. Some of the educated ones do not vote or take part because of 'Chalda hai' attitude.

    Awareness amongst the masses and literacy is one answer.

  30. Bhupi says:

    Pardeep, I can understand your sentiments which are same as lot of Sikhs even now. The army follows orders. The police is owned by policians, so its the politicians fault and I blame both the Congress and Akalis, equally. If Santji knew he was going to be arrested anyhow and had stacked up arms for protection, he also knew that bullets will fly from both sides and the Akal Takht/Harmandir Sahib will get hit and thereby hurt the sentiments of masses. Was he using that opportunity to stir Sikh emotions if events like that happened ? Maybe his intention was to wake up the masses.

    25 years after, is Sant Ji's party ruling ? Did we get autonomy ? How strong are Akalis ? Possibly more divided ? Is SGPC independent body or remotely controlled ? Is RSS/BJP better than Congress in terms of genocidical history ?

    Please understand what I am trying to convey as 'lessons learnt'. Its not supposed to hurt your or anybody's feelings. The reason I say this is its easily possible to see another Sant Bhindrawale come up and get back to Akal Takht ?

    The demand for autonomy is a 60 yr issue and we should point fingers to people who decided on behalf of 'all Sikhs' to make Punjab a part of India and then divide it further based on language.

    At the same time, lot of Sikhs live in rest of India as well, so a Sant can't think of Sikhs in Punjab only if he really is for well being of all the Sikhs. Now you'll say we should have guns and die fighting if we are targeted outside Punjab. That's possible but the eventual result will be death, destruction and more division.

    If our politicians are corrupt, should we just sit and watch ? We need educated and pragmatic leaders who are neither for Congress and Akalis but for people and prosperity of Punjab. We all keep on quoting Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Punjab as the best time but forget how he ruled and achieved all that.

  31. Bhupi says:

    What is the role of common man in giving power to corrupt politicians ? If I am a farmer, I'll vote for a party which is CORRUPT but will give subsidy to me. If I am a businessman, I'll vote for a party which helps expand the business (Ambanis are the richest in just two generations, thanks to corruption).

    So we the people are also to be blamed to give POWER to these CORRUPT politicians. Some of the educated ones do not vote or take part because of 'Chalda hai' attitude.

    Awareness amongst the masses and literacy is one answer.

  32. Karimul says:

    Bhupi Jee, let's start with what you have asked in points :-
    1. Sant jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was not present in other 40 Gurudwaras which were raided and reduced to ground by indian Army.
    2. You are justifying the Delhi Riots there, so by your standards killing of women is far greater emotional things then killing and torture of thousands of innocents , rape of women folk and destroying the place of worship of one's religion. Besides that Honesty of a Sikh is towards the Indian nation not towards the single Individual . The individual in question was tyrant and oppresor of the weak.
    3. Here again you have faltered , Sardar Jaswant Singh Khalra was not killed in 80's but in 1995 , he was a human rights activist. And again you have justified the killing of inncocent youth under the guise of recreating order and top of it cover it with patriotism. You know why Sikhs kills Sikhs , it is beacuse of people like you who do not see the light at all . To peole like you then Guru Gobind would be perfect example of traitor because he asked people to raise arms againest oppersion and tyranny and people like Gangu Brahmin a perfect example of patriotism because he helped in getting 2 younger Sahibzadey being killed as he handed them over to State appointed person.

    The question which needs to asked is why the situation deteriorated to such an extent that same people who gave up their lands , their ancestral homes , their Gurudwars in West Punjab suffered worst ever human crisis , riots, looting and what not , for India , were up in Arms against India ? why?
    There must be some genuine reasons behind all this ? Did you ever find it out ? The situation of 1984 was not built in a day , it started to built from 1947 onwards? Here are few which i could find :-
    1. Indian Constitution was to be agreed by one and all concerned parties i.e Hinds,Muslims, Sikhs , Christians and then it was to be implemented . Till date no Sikh has ever signed for acceptance of Indian Constitution and yet it being enforced upon Sikhs.It is being put down the throat of Sikhs. Why ?
    2. Look at the loss of Capital city of Punjab :-
    a. Before Partition Lahore
    b. After Partition Shimla
    c. After Reorganisation of States Chandigarh that too with shared with three parties namely Haryana,Punjab and centre govt (Chandigarh is UT also). Why always Punjab has to give away its capital?
    3. Control of Water and Electricity by Central govt through the formation BBMP and its unfair distribution of water to non-riparian states. Can name any other state in India whose water and electricity is governed by the Central Government beside Punjab.
    4. Call of people like Lala Jagat Narain to Punjabi hindus to annouce their mother tongue as Hindi in place of Punjabi . Why? What was the need? And you know abt hindi bashing which is happening in maharashtra , Tamil Naidu , North Eastern states.
    5. If Bal Thackerey , Raj Thackerey, jayalalitha, MGR , Karunanidhi bashes Hindi and make a call for local people , they are labelled as regional jingoism or regional chauvinist . Why they are not called or labelled as terrorist. Why?
    6 If Manohar joshi in the oath taking ceremony at the center says jai Maharashtra , he is labelled as patriot but if a Sikh raises voice he is labelled as "Gaddar" or teh Sikhs are lookinf for Khalistan and worst of all if Sikh raises the 1984 bogey they are asked to "move on". Why?

    After partition Punjab was the only states have people majorly of other religion then Hindus. The newly elected government feared for another parition and did not had faith on the sikhs that's from where the problem starts getting originated?

    If you have to measure the people Bhupi VeerJee , have the same yard stick for all whether he is Sikh,Hindu, atheist, Muslim, Christian. But sadly in India, the Indians have different yardstick for different people. If the perprator of hate speech is hIndu he is labelled as regional chauvinist or a oppurtunist, If it is a Sikh or Muslim then he is labelled as terrorist?
    If the Hindus make jokes on Sikhs then it is called freedom of expression but when Sikhs install Sant portrait in museum then is called "Call for Khalistan". to them the poster is more dangerous then the psycological stress on the young sikh kids mind?

    Punjab was the only place after partition where hindus were not in majority

  33. Karimul says:

    Bhupi Jee, let's start with what you have asked in points :-
    1. Sant jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was not present in other 40 Gurudwaras which were raided and reduced to ground by indian Army.
    2. You are justifying the Delhi Riots there, so by your standards killing of women is far greater emotional things then killing and torture of thousands of innocents , rape of women folk and destroying the place of worship of one's religion. Besides that Honesty of a Sikh is towards the Indian nation not towards the single Individual . The individual in question was tyrant and oppresor of the weak.
    3. Here again you have faltered , Sardar Jaswant Singh Khalra was not killed in 80's but in 1995 , he was a human rights activist. And again you have justified the killing of inncocent youth under the guise of recreating order and top of it cover it with patriotism. You know why Sikhs kills Sikhs , it is beacuse of people like you who do not see the light at all . To peole like you then Guru Gobind would be perfect example of traitor because he asked people to raise arms againest oppersion and tyranny and people like Gangu Brahmin a perfect example of patriotism because he helped in getting 2 younger Sahibzadey being killed as he handed them over to State appointed person.

    The question which needs to asked is why the situation deteriorated to such an extent that same people who gave up their lands , their ancestral homes , their Gurudwars in West Punjab suffered worst ever human crisis , riots, looting and what not , for India , were up in Arms against India ? why?
    There must be some genuine reasons behind all this ? Did you ever find it out ? The situation of 1984 was not built in a day , it started to built from 1947 onwards? Here are few which i could find :-
    1. Indian Constitution was to be agreed by one and all concerned parties i.e Hinds,Muslims, Sikhs , Christians and then it was to be implemented . Till date no Sikh has ever signed for acceptance of Indian Constitution and yet it being enforced upon Sikhs.It is being put down the throat of Sikhs. Why ?
    2. Look at the loss of Capital city of Punjab :-
    a. Before Partition Lahore
    b. After Partition Shimla
    c. After Reorganisation of States Chandigarh that too with shared with three parties namely Haryana,Punjab and centre govt (Chandigarh is UT also). Why always Punjab has to give away its capital?
    3. Control of Water and Electricity by Central govt through the formation BBMP and its unfair distribution of water to non-riparian states. Can name any other state in India whose water and electricity is governed by the Central Government beside Punjab.
    4. Call of people like Lala Jagat Narain to Punjabi hindus to annouce their mother tongue as Hindi in place of Punjabi . Why? What was the need? And you know abt hindi bashing which is happening in maharashtra , Tamil Naidu , North Eastern states.
    5. If Bal Thackerey , Raj Thackerey, jayalalitha, MGR , Karunanidhi bashes Hindi and make a call for local people , they are labelled as regional jingoism or regional chauvinist . Why they are not called or labelled as terrorist. Why?
    6 If Manohar joshi in the oath taking ceremony at the center says jai Maharashtra , he is labelled as patriot but if a Sikh raises voice he is labelled as "Gaddar" or teh Sikhs are lookinf for Khalistan and worst of all if Sikh raises the 1984 bogey they are asked to "move on". Why?

    After partition Punjab was the only states have people majorly of other religion then Hindus. The newly elected government feared for another parition and did not had faith on the sikhs that's from where the problem starts getting originated?

    If you have to measure the people Bhupi VeerJee , have the same yard stick for all whether he is Sikh,Hindu, atheist, Muslim, Christian. But sadly in India, the Indians have different yardstick for different people. If the perprator of hate speech is hIndu he is labelled as regional chauvinist or a oppurtunist, If it is a Sikh or Muslim then he is labelled as terrorist?
    If the Hindus make jokes on Sikhs then it is called freedom of expression but when Sikhs install Sant portrait in museum then is called "Call for Khalistan". to them the poster is more dangerous then the psycological stress on the young sikh kids mind?

    Punjab was the only place after partition where hindus were not in majority

  34. […] Langar Hall Discussion – The langar hall blog discusses points about the BBC documentary with comments from visitors Wikipedia Article – Wikipedia entry on the 1984 progroms […]

  35. Sewa says:

    Rich Sikh sare too cowardly to take on Indian Governement, which then forces poor ones to end up taking terrorist and inhumane actions, which then helps the Indian Government look right

  36. Sewa says:

    Rich Sikh sare too cowardly to take on Indian Governement, which then forces poor ones to end up taking terrorist and inhumane actions, which then helps the Indian Government look right

  37. Bhupi says:

    Dear Karimul,

    Thanks for enlightening me. I am from Amritsar district so I have lot of stories to tell if you want to hear. If I lived in Punjab, I should have been dead by now. Maybe the list of deads satisfy some of you more than to reflect on what happened and what is good and bad for Punjab and Sikhs in general. Who's and which actions were right or wrong or what could have been different, or avoided.

    This is a progressive blog, and I am for progress of Punjab and Sikhs. The topic is 'Why 84 matters' and I gave my perspective. If you don't like it don't try to enlighten because that should be left to Gyanis in G'waras and Politicians in rallies. We are common people who bear the brunt of actions dictated by a few men who think unidirectionally. A 'society' can't be run that way.

    Sikhism is still a religion where its difficult to discuss issues across tables because of hot-headedness. People don't like to hear anything except what they think is 'true'. 'History' teaches us something and in this case it was 84 for our generation. Our kids don't even know what it was but the future generations shouldn't face this again, that's the least we can take care of.

    You can keep hating New Delhi and Congress and the likes of me will probably keep on dreaming to make Punjab the next Germany or Japan. But then, brothers who don't think alike also live in the same house.

    Bhool Chook Maaf.

  38. Bhupi says:

    Dear Karimul,

    Thanks for enlightening me. I am from Amritsar district so I have lot of stories to tell if you want to hear. If I lived in Punjab, I should have been dead by now. Maybe the list of deads satisfy some of you more than to reflect on what happened and what is good and bad for Punjab and Sikhs in general. Who's and which actions were right or wrong or what could have been different, or avoided.

    This is a progressive blog, and I am for progress of Punjab and Sikhs. The topic is 'Why 84 matters' and I gave my perspective. If you don't like it don't try to enlighten because that should be left to Gyanis in G'waras and Politicians in rallies. We are common people who bear the brunt of actions dictated by a few men who think unidirectionally. A 'society' can't be run that way.

    Sikhism is still a religion where its difficult to discuss issues across tables because of hot-headedness. People don't like to hear anything except what they think is 'true'. 'History' teaches us something and in this case it was 84 for our generation. Our kids don't even know what it was but the future generations shouldn't face this again, that's the least we can take care of.

    You can keep hating New Delhi and Congress and the likes of me will probably keep on dreaming to make Punjab the next Germany or Japan. But then, brothers who don't think alike also live in the same house.

    Bhool Chook Maaf.

  39. Dosanjh says:

    I forgot all about this 'documentary' until someone just bumped this topic again. That had to be the worst 2 weeks of Sonia Deol's life.
    1) The documentary airs and draws widespread criticism.
    2) Her dad's court case comes up and he's sent to prison for a year or so for being a crook.
    3) She loses her job as an anchor on BBC News 24, after viewer complaints about her many many raeding and talking flaws.
    4) She's offered a job back at the only people who will give her a job : BBC Asian Network
    5) 4 days later, the government announce they are shutting down the BBC Asian Network because its a waste of taxpayers money.

    God works in mysterious ways.

  40. Dosanjh says:

    I forgot all about this 'documentary' until someone just bumped this topic again. That had to be the worst 2 weeks of Sonia Deol's life.
    1) The documentary airs and draws widespread criticism.
    2) Her dad's court case comes up and he's sent to prison for a year or so for being a crook.
    3) She loses her job as an anchor on BBC News 24, after viewer complaints about her many many raeding and talking flaws.
    4) She's offered a job back at the only people who will give her a job : BBC Asian Network
    5) 4 days later, the government announce they are shutting down the BBC Asian Network because its a waste of taxpayers money.

    God works in mysterious ways.

  41. Dosanjh says:

    Nah…tell you what Sher…..you just carry on being a demented delusional muppet. Don't stop posting until at least 90% of the 'recent comments' list on the top right of the screen says 'sher'. And remember, your arguments here are so brilliant and powerfull you've nearly convinced 99% of us Sikhs here to turn our back on what Sikhism says and bow down to the great god 'mother India' . You've almost single handedly finished off all Sikh resistence , Sher. Keep calm and carry on sir.