By Anonymous Punjabi | LETTER TO EDITOR | OPINION |
This problem can be traced back to the second half of the Nineteenth Century. The Hindus claimed that the Sikhs were Hindus. The Sikhs insisted that they were a separate community, a unique entity. One of the first Sikhs to stress this point was non other than Bhai Khan Singh Nabah, the author of Mahan Kosh, (the first encyclopaedia in Gurmukhi script). He wrote an article Hum Hindu Nahi (We are not Hindus).
At the time of the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, the sole Sikh representative at the London Conference was one Baldev Singh. On the prompting of Pundit Nehru, he issued a very damaging statement ’The Sikhs have no demands’. Only an idiot could have made such a statement. He then went on to say that their sole demand was that the British should leave India immediately. Baldev did this because the cunning Nehru had thrown a bone at this cur; Nehru told him that he wanted to make him the Defence Minister of Hindustan. Baldev was made Minister of defence (1945-1952), but after sometime was replaced by Kailash Nath Katju. Only then Baldev realized his folly, that he had been a mere pawn in Nehru’s endgame and he had unwittingly betrayed his community.
Prior to his death he asked for forgiveness from the Sikh community; a friend of mine said in utter disgust: “Only if there was Baldev’s grave, I’d spit on it.”
Recently, India and Bangladesh (East Pakistan) exchanged enclaves in their territories. Surely the Sikhs could have demanded that at least Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib should be made lndian enclaves. The British would have gladly obliged the Sikhs; the Colonial authorities would have adjusted the boundary to make Kartarpur part of lndia.
It is only now, owing to the friendship of Imran Khan and Navjot Singh Sidhu (both cricketers) that Pakistan has agreed to open Kartarpur to Sikh pilgrims sans visas. A bridge over the River Ravi will allow lndian Sikhs to visit Kartarpur unhindered.
A sad fact is that only the Sikhs led demonstrations against the proposed creation of Pakistan prior to the partition.
MASTER TARA SINGH
Master Tara Singh led these demonstrations against the proposed creation Of Pakistan, the rallying cry being ’Pakistan murdabad’, thus creating Muslim Sikh enmity in the Indian sub -continent.
Tara Singh had his sympathy with the Hindus for the simple reason that he came from Hindu background; he was Tara Chand prior to being baptised to Sikhism and becoming Tara Singh.
The great Muslim leader, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, met Tara Singh and urged him to join Pakistan and said he was willing to give in writing that the Chief Minister of Pakistani Punjab will always be a Sikh and furthermore, no law would be passed in Pakistan without the consent of the Sikhs! Tara Singh rebuffed this very generous offer. Jinnah Sahib then told Tara Singh: “Sardar ji, you have only seen a ’gulam Hindu’ (subjugated Hindu)!” Tara Singh fell into the cunning Kashmiri Nehru’s charm and believed him when he promised to give the Sikhs whatever they asked for; the naive Tara Singh got nothing in writing from Pundit Nehru.
Later when Punjab was denied the linguist based Punjabi speaking state, Tara Singh reminded Nehru of his promises; Nehru dismissed Tara Singh by saying: “The situation has changed Masterji.” Only then Tara Singh realized how he had been tricked by the cunning Pundit, but it was too late. it was a great betrayal, and Tara Singh was dubbed as being communal in asking for ’Punjabi Suba’. (The Arya Samajists opposed the creation of Punjabi Suba). Tara Singh then launched ’morchas’ (agitations) to get the genuine rights for the Sikh Panth; he was jailed; he then went on death fasts, only to break the fasts without gaining anything from the central government. Tara Singh did not ask for a separate country; all he asked was for Punjab be given the same status as enjoyed by Jamu and Kashmir.
He died in November, 1967, a broken man, abandoned by his former colleagues. The Punjab Government declared a day of mourning; all schools and government offices were closed; the Government of Pakistan observed two days of mourning while the Indian government did not observe any official mourning.
SANT FATEH SINGH
Next came Sant Fateh Singh on the stage, eclipsing Tara singh whose popularity and stature declined drastically in Punjab. Fateh Singh had never been involved in politics prior to this and was a novice. When Kamraj, the Tamil leader and Congress President asked Fateh Singh if he wanted a Punjabi speaking or Sikh majority area as Punjabi Suba; Fateh Singh said he wanted Sikh majority area and this what he got! Punjab lost the hilly areas of Lahul and Spiti and its capital, Chandigarh.
What more, Fateh Singh too went on a fast unto death and broke the fast without getting anything. He was instrumental in , the nomination of his driver, Kikar Singh, to stand for election as a Member of Parliament. The little educated driver won and went to the Indian Parliament, wearing a ’chadra’ (sarong) with a transistor radio on his shoulder. He cut a sorry figure; what could one expect this man to speak in Parliament!
Then came the question of sharing the Punjab river waters. The Sikhs mentioned only three riversRavi, Beas and Sutlej; the fools never mentioned Jamna River although it formed the boundary between undivided Punjab and Utter Pradesh at the south-eastern border. Then to their utter stupidity they said: ”Bibi indra faslah karagi” (Indra Gandhi will divide the river waters between Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan). Indra Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, allocated a mere 24% of the river waters to Punjab state, the riparian state!
The great ”crime” committed by Fateh Singh was changing the order in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Book. In the early ’granths’ the ’bani’ always started with ”Ek Ong Kar”. Fateh Singh was influenced by some unknown sant that the name of the ’bani’ should come first followed by Ek Ong Kar; the so called “sant” Fateh Singh, without consulting anyone gave orders to the press manager to carry out this alteration. When Harbhajan Singh, the Principal of Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar, came to learn of this change, he questioned the press manager. The press manager simply replied “Mai hisareh te chaldah” (I just follow orders).
SANT HARCHARAN SINGH LONGOWAL
Sant Hacharan Singh Longowal then appeared on the scene. He was a good man and wanted to get Chandigarh for Punjab; he and Rajiv Gandhi reached an agreement, but he was assassinated before the plan could be implemented.
Soon after, Sant Jarnail Singh, the rustic preacher took control of the affairs of the Golden Temple; he had many young supporters; there was much fear in Punjab; many were eliminated, including some innocent persons.
Bindranwala began to fortify the Golden Temple; in this respect he was greatly aided by General Shubhag Singh, a Sikh general and a hero in the Bangladesh war; he was sacked from the army 3 days before retirement. The temple was fortified and the fighters were largely based in the Akal Takt Building.
Under the orders of Indra Gandhi, the the Indian Army attacked the Golden Temple as well as 38 other Sikh Gurdwaras in Punjab; the attack took place on Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom day celebrations; the battle for the Golden Temple lasted for 3 days in 1984. Many innocent civilians were murdered in cold blood by the Indian Army; Bindranwala and his associates were killed and Sikhs all over the world were shocked and angry at the destruction of the Akal Takt; there were over 300 bullet marks on the Golden Temple and the Sikh ’tosakhana’ was looted and the Sikh Reference library was burnt by the Indian Army after the fighting had stopped. It is believed that most of the records were carted away by the army. Later,the Punjab Police under K.P.S. Gill leashed a reign of terror in Punjab. Thousands of Sikh youths were killed under false encounters. He was the butcher of Punjab after General Dyer who was responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.
Following the murder of Indra Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984, there was a slaughter of Sikhs in New Delhi and other places. Thousands were murdered by Hindu mobs led by Congress leaders who were encouraged by Rajiv Gandhi, the new P.M. And sadly the Sikh President of India, Giani Zail Singh, did nothing to prevent this ’ghalugarah’ (slaughter) of the Sikh masses in Delhi and the desecration of their gurdwaras. The least he could have done was to resign but he did nothing. Sikhs were in shock. How could their Hindu brethren for whom the Sikh Gurus and Sikhs had sacrificed so much in the past could do this to them!
Punjab witnessed the coming and going of several Chief Ministers. Parkash Singh Badal remained the Punjab CM for many years. His family is allegedly involved in numerous corrupt practices. Punjab became notorious as a drug dumping ground. There is hardly a village in Punjab where Sikh boys have not died due to drug overdose. Jobs are hard to come by in Punjab. Sikh boys are now emigrating to other countries while Biharis are flocking to Punjab. Soon Punjab will have a Hindu majority. The future of Sikhs in Punjab and India is bleak indeed.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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