ਨਾਨਕ ਪਰਖੇ ਅਾਪ ਕੳੁ ਤਾ ਪਾਰਖੁ ਜਾਣੁ ॥ ਰੋਗੁ ਦਾਰੂ ਦੋਵੈ ਬੁਝੈ ਤਾ ਵੈਦੁ ਸੁਜਾਣੁ ॥

ਬੜੀ ਵੇਰ ਘਟਨਾਵਾਂ ਦੀ ਉਡਾਈ ਗਰਦ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਉਸਦੇ ਕਾਰਨਾਂ ਤੱਕ ਨਹੀਂ ਪਹੁੰਚਣ ਦਿੰਦੀ। ਅਸੀਂ ਜੜ੍ਹ ਤੱਕ ਪਹੁੰਚਣ ਦੀ ਵਜਾਏ ਘਟਨਾ ਉੱਤੇ ਹੀ ਐਨਾ ਕੇਂਦਰਿਤ ਹੋ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਾਂ ਕਿ ਅਸਲ ਕਾਰਨ ਸਮਝ ਨਹੀਂ ਪੈਂਦੇ। ਘਟਨਾਵਾਂ ਭਾਂਵੇ ਨਿੱਜੀ ਬੰਦਿਆਂ ਅਤੇ ਨਿੱਜੀ ਮਸਲਿਆਂ ਤੱਕ ਸੀਮਤ ਲਗਦੀਆਂ ਹਨ ਪਰ ਕਈ ਵੇਰ ਇਸਨੂੰ ਡੂੰਘਾਈ ਨਾਲ਼ ਸਮਝਣ ਲਈ ਕੌਮ ਦੀ ਸਮੂਹਿਕ ਦਸ਼ਾ ਦਾ ਅਧਿਐਨ ਕਰਨਾ ਜ਼ਰੂਰੀ ਹੈ।

ਅਫ਼ਰੀਕਨ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੇ ਬਹੁਤ ਭੈੜੀ ਗ਼ੁਲਾਮੀ ਹੰਢਾਈ ਹੈ, ਇਸਦਾ ਅਸਰ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀ ਮਾਨਸਿਕਤਾ ਉੱਤੇ ਅੱਜ ਤੱਕ ਹੈ। ਦੂਜਾ ਸਰਕਾਰਾਂ ਨੇ ਮਿਥ ਕੇ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਨਸ਼ੇ ਦਾ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਕੀਤਾ ਹੈ ਤਾਂ ਕਿ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੇ ਨੌਜਵਾਨ ਆਪਣੇ ਹੱਕਾਂ, ਭਵਿੱਖ ਅਤੇ ਆਲ਼ੇ-ਦੁਆਲ਼ੇ ਵਾਰੇ ਫ਼ਿਕਰ ਕਰਨਯੋਗ ਨਾ ਰਹਿਣ।

ਅਗਰ ਆਪਾਂ ਕਿਸੇ ਅਫ਼ਰੀਕਨ ਨਾਲ਼ ਥੋੜੀ ਭਾਰੂ (aggressive) ਹੋ ਕੇ ਗੱਲ ਕਰੀਏ ਤਾਂ ਉਹ ਅਚਾਨਕ ਆਪਣੇ ਬਚਾਅ 'ਚ ਆ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ਲੜਨ ਲਈ ਤਿਆਰ ਰਹਿੰਦੇ ਹਨ। ਲੜ੍ਹਾਈ ਦਾ ਕਾਰਨ ਭਾਂਵੇ ਸਮੇਂ ਜਾਂ ਹਲਾਤ ਨਾਲ਼ ਕੋਈ ਹੋਰ ਬਣੇ ਪਰ ਐਨੇ ਸਾਲ਼ਾ ਦੀ ਗ਼ੁਲਾਮੀ ਅਤੇ ਮਿਥ ਕੇ ਹੋਏ ਸਰੀਰਕ ਅਤੇ ਮਾਨਸਿਕ ਸ਼ੋਸ਼ਣ ਦਾ ਜੋ ਉਸਦੀ ਮਾਨਸਿਕਤਾ ਉੱਤੇ ਅਸਰ ਹੋਇਆ ਹੈ, ਉਸਨੂੰ ਅੱਖੋਂ ਪਰੋਖੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਕੀਤਾ ਜਾ ਸਕਦਾ।

ਕੱਲ੍ਹ ਮੈਂ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੇ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਮਾਨਸਿਕ ਦਸ਼ਾ ਦੀ ਗੱਲ ਕੀਤੀ ਤਾਂ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਇਸਦਾ ਮਜ਼ਾਕ ਬਣਾ ਲਿਆ, ਖ਼ੈਰ ਮੈਨੂੰ ਪੂਰੀ ਆਸ ਸੀ ਕਿ ਇਹ ਗੱਲ ਇੰਨੀ ਕੁ ਹੀ ਸਮਝ ਆਵੇਗੀ। ਜੇ ਸਾਡੇ ਲੋਕ ਐਨਾ ਸਮਝਦੇ ਹੁੰਦੇ ਤਾਂ ਮੌਜਾਦਾ ਹਲਾਤਾਂ ਪ੍ਰਤੀ ਅੱਜ ਸਾਡਾ ਸੰਵਾਦ ਅਤੇ ਰਵੱਇਆ ਹੋਰ ਕਿਸਮ ਦਾ ਹੁੰਦਾ।

ਕਨੇਡਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਬਹੁਗਿਣਤੀ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ ਸਿੱਖ ਘਰਾਂ 'ਚੋਂ ਆਉਂਦੇ ਹਨ। ਇਹ ਸਭ ਚੌਰਾਸੀ ਤੋਂ ਅਤੇ ਖਾੜਕੂ ਲਹਿਰ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਜਨਮੇ ਹਨ। ਇਸ ਲਹਿਰ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਜੋ ਸਰਕਾਰਾਂ ਨੇ ਮਿਥ ਕੇ ਵਿਦਿਆ ਅਤੇ ਮੀਡੀਏ ਰਾਹੀਂ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦਾ ਮਾਹੌਲ ਸਿਰਜਿਆ, ਜਿਸਦਾ ਮਕਸਦ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੇ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਆਪਣੇ ਹੱਕਾਂ, ਭਵਿੱਖ ਅਤੇ ਇਤਿਹਾਸਕ ਨਾਇਕਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਦੂਰ ਕਰਕੇ ਨਵੇੰ ਕਿਸਮ ਦੇ ਝੂਠੇ ਨਾਇਕ ਸਿਰਜਣਾ ਸੀ। ਜਿਸ ਨਾਲ਼ ਕਿ ਨੌਜਵਾਨ ਨਿੱਜੀ ਐਸ਼ਪ੍ਰਸਤੀ ਵੱਲ ਧੱਕੇ ਜਾਣ ਅਤੇ ਸਰਕਾਰਾ ਦੇ ਚੱਲ ਰਹੇ ਝੂਠੇ-ਪੱਕੇ ਏਜੰਡੇ ਜਾਂ ਮਿਸ਼ਨ ਨੂੰ ਚੁਣੌਤੀ ਨਾ ਦੇਣ। ਇਹ ਨੌਜਵਾਨ ਉਸੇ ਮਾਹੌਲ ਦੀ ਪਦਾਇਸ਼ ਅਤੇ ਸ਼ਿਕਾਰ ਹਨ। ਹੋਰ ਮਾਨਸਿਕ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵ ਤੋਂ ਇਹ ਮਤਲਬ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਿ ਨੌਜਵਾਨ ਪਾਗਲ ਹਨ। 

ਇਸ ਤਰ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਟਿੱਚਰਾਂ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲ਼ੇ ਸ਼ਾਇਦ ਭੁੱਲਦੇ ਹਨ ਕਿ ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀ ਮਾਨਸਿਕਤਾ ਵੀ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵਤ ਹੈ। ਕਿਉਂਕਿ ਮੌਜੂਦਾ ਗੀਤ ਸੰਗੀਤ ਅਤੇ ਨਸ਼ਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਤਰਜ਼ ਉੱਤੇ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੀ ਸਿੱਖ ਨੌਜਵਾਨੀ ਨੂੰ ਰੋਲ਼ਣ ਦਾ ਕਾਰਜ ਤੀਬਰਤਾ ਨਾਲ਼ ਦੋ ਦਹਾਕੇ ਪਹਿਲੋਂ ਹੀ ਸ਼ੁਰੂ ਹੋਇਆ, ਇਸ ਕਰਕੇ ਪਹਿਲੋਂ ਜੰਮੇ ਜਾਂ ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਚੌਰਾਸੀ ਜਾਂ ਖਾੜਕੂ ਲਹਿਰ ਵੇਖੀ, ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਉੱਤੇ ਮਾਨਸਿਕ ਅਸਰ ਹੋਰ ਕਿਸਮ ਦੇ ਹਨ, ਸੰਤਾਲ਼ੀ ਦੀ ਵੰਡ ਵੇਖਣ ਵਾਲ਼ਿਆਂ ਉੱਤੇ ਹੋਰ ਕਿਸਮ ਦੇ ਹੋਣਗੇ। ਕੋਈ ਵੀ ਵੱਡੀ ਘਟਨਾ ਵੱਖ-ਵੱਖ ਕੌਮਾਂ ਉੱਤੇ ਵੱਖ-ਵੱਖ ਕਿਸਮ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵ ਛੱਡਦੀ ਹੈ।

ਸਮੂਹਿਕ ਰੂਪ ਵਿੱਚ ਸਾਡੀ ਕੌਮ ਸਾਰੀ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਵਿੱਚ ਇੱਕ ਡਰ ਵਿੱਚ ਜਿਉਂ ਰਹੀ ਹੈ। ਸਾਨੂੰ ਪੈਰ ਪੈਰ ਉੱਤੇ ਆਪਣੀ ਚੰਗਿਆਈ ਸਾਬਤ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਭੁਸ ਪੈ ਗਿਆ ਹੈ ਕਿਉਂਕਿ ਅਸੀਂ ਅੰਦਰੋਂ ਡਰੇ (insecure) ਹਾਂ। ਕਿਤੇ ਕੋਈ ਘਟਨਾ ਹੋਵੇ, ਸਾਨੂੰ ਇਹ ਮਹਿਸੂਸ ਹੋਣ ਲੱਗ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਕਿ ਜੇ ਅਸੀਂ ਇਸਦੀ ਨਿੰਦਿਆ ਨਾ ਕੀਤੀ ਤਾਂ ਖੌਰੇ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਕੋਈ ਦੋਸ਼ੀ ਨਾ ਕਰਾਰ ਦੇ ਦੇਵੇ। ਭਾਰਤ ਬੈਠਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਡਰ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਦੇਸ਼-ਵਿਰੋਧੀ ਨਾ ਆਖ ਦੇਣ ਅਤੇ ਬਾਹਰ ਬੈਠਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਕਿ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਕਿਤੋਂ ਇੱਥੋਂ ਕੱਢ ਨਾ ਦੇਣ।

ਗ਼ੁਲਾਮੀ ਨੇ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਲੇਲੜੀਆਂ ਕੱਢਣ ਵਾਲ਼ੀ ਕੌਮ ਬਣਾ ਦਿੱਤੀ ਹੈ ਜਿਸਨੂੰ ਰੋਜ਼ ਹਰ ਘਟਨਾ ਉੱਤੇ ਆਪਣੀ ਨਾ-ਸਮੂਲੀਅਤ ਅਤੇ ਚੰਗੇਪਣ ਦਾ ਸਪਸ਼ਟੀਕਰਨ ਦੇਣਾ ਪੈਂਦਾ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਪੈਰ ਪੈਰ ਉੱਤੇ ਸਮਝੌਤਾ ਕਰਨਾ ਪੈਂਦਾ ਹੈ। ਕਨੇਡਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਹੋਈ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਹਿੰਸਾ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਕੌਮ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਤੀਕਰਮ ਇਹੋ ਡਰ ਹੈ। ਆਪਣੇ ਆਪ ਨੂੰ ਕਨੇਡੀਅਨ ਹੋਣ ਦਾ ਭਰਮ ਪਾਲ਼ੀ ਬੈਠੇ ਵੀ ਅਸਲ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਜ਼ਾਦ ਨਹੀਂ ਹਨ। ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਜਾਪਦਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਕਰਕੇ ਗੋਰੇ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਗੁੰਡੇ-ਬਦਮਾਸ਼ ਨਾ ਸਮਝ ਲੈਣ, ਸਾਨੂੰ ਕਨੇਡਾ ਤੋਂ ਕੱਢ ਨਾ ਦੇਣ। ਓਥੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਅਤੇ ਇੱਥੇ ਗੋਰੇ, ਅਸੀਂ ਸਭ ਕੁਝ ਦੂਜਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਸਾਬਤ ਕਰਨ ਨੂੰ ਫਿਰਦੇ ਹਾਂ, ਸਾਡਾ ਆਤਮ-ਵਿਸ਼ਵਾਸ ਅਤੇ ਸਵੈਮਾਣ ਦੂਜਿਆਂ ਕੋਲ਼ ਗਹਿਣੇ ਹੈ।

ਰੋਜ਼ ਕਿੰਨੀਆਂ ਲੜਾਈਆਂ ਹੁੰਦੀਆਂ ਹਨ, ਕਿੰਨੇ ਗੈਂਗ ਅਤੇ ਹਥਿਆਰ ਫੜੇ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ, ਕੀ ਕਦੇ ਗੋਰੇ ਜਾਂ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਜਾਂ ਹੋਰ ਸਾਡੇ ਵਾਂਗ 'insecure' ਮਹਿਸੂਸ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਨ? ਉਹਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਕਦੇ ਸਪਸ਼ਟੀਕਰਨ ਨਹੀਂ ਦੇਣਾ ਪੈਂਦਾ ਪਰ ਅਸੀਂ ਜਦ ਤੱਕ ਸਪਸ਼ਟੀਕਰਨ ਨਾ ਦੇਇਏ, ਉਦੋਂ ਤੱਕ ਇੱਕ ਤਰਾਂ ਨਾਲ਼ ਦੋਸ਼ੀ ਮਹਿਸੂਸ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਨ। ਕਿਸੇ ਬੁਰੀ ਘਟਨਾ ਨੂੰ ਨਿੰਦਣਾ ਗ਼ਲਤ ਨਹੀਂ ਪਰ ਸਾਡੇ ਬਿਆਨ ਘਟਨਾ ਨੂੰ ਨਿੰਦਣ ਲਈ ਘੱਟ ਅਤੇ ਆਪਣੇ ਡਰ 'ਚੋਂ ਜ਼ਿਆਦਾ ਨਿਕਲ਼ਦੇ ਹਨ।

ਆਧੁਨਿਕ ਸਮਾਜ ਵਿੱਚ, ਜਿੱਥੇ ਸੱਭੋ ਕੁਝ ਤਟ ਫਟ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ, ਅਸੀਂ ਹਰ ਮਸਲੇ ਨੂੰ ਸਮਝਣ, ਉਸਦੇ ਉੱਤੇ ਰਾਏ ਬਣਾਉਣ ਅਤੇ ਉਸਦੇ ਹੱਲ ਲੱਭਣ ਵਿੱਚ ਵੀ 'ਤਟ ਫਟ' ਕਰਦੇ ਹਾਂ। 'Black and white' ਦੀ ਮਾਨਸਿਕਤਾ, ਜਿਸਤੋਂ ਭਾਵ ਕਿ ਚੀਜ਼ ਸਿਰਫ਼ ਗ਼ਲਤ ਜਾਂ ਸਹੀ ਹੀ ਹੈ, ਇਸਤੋਂ ਬਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਤੀਜਾ ਜਾਂ ਚੌਥਾ ਪੱਖ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੋ ਸਕਦਾ, ਸਾਡੇ ਉੱਤੇ ਭਾਰੂ ਹੈ। ਅਸੀਂ ਘਟਨਾਵਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਡੂੰਘਾ ਉੱਤਰ ਘੋਖਣਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਚਾਹੁੰਦੇ। ਜਦ ਤੱਕ ਸਮੱਸਿਆ ਦੇ ਕਾਰਨ ਸਪਸ਼ਟ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੁੰਦੇ, ਹੱਲ ਕਦੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੋਵੇਗਾ ਅਤੇ ਮੌਜੂਦਾ ਹਲਾਤਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਭਰਮ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਅਸੀਂ ਕਾਰਨ ਸਮਝਦੇ ਹਾਂ।

ਕਨੇਡਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਪੰਜਾਬੋਂ ਆਏ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਹਿੰਸਾ ਅਤੇ ਹਲਾਤਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਅਸੀਂ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਨਾਲ਼ੋਂ ਵੱਖ ਕਰਕੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਸਮਝ ਸਕਦੇ। ਇਸਦੇ ਲਈ ਸੰਤਾਲ਼ੀ ਵੀ ਸਮਝਣੀ ਪਵੇਗੀ, ਚੌਰਾਸੀ ਵੀ ਸਮਝਣੀ ਪਵੇਗੀ ਅਤੇ ਮੌਜੂਦਾ ਹਲਾਤ ਵੀ। ਜੇ ਇਸਨੂੰ ਅਣਗੌਲ਼ੇ ਕਰਾਂਗੇ ਤਾਂ ਕਦੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਸਮਝਾਂਗੇ ਕਿ ਪੌਣੀ ਦੋ ਸਦੀਆਂ ਤੋਂ ਗੁਲਾਮੀਂ ਹੰਢਾਈ ਆ ਰਹੀ ਕੌਮ ਅੱਜ ਕੀ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਕਿਉਂ ਹੈ। ਅਫ਼ਸੋਸ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਹਾਲੇ ਚੌਰਾਸੀ ਬਾਰੇ ਵੀ ਸਪਸ਼ਟਾ ਨਹੀਂ, ਇਸ ਲਈ ਬਹੁਤ ਥੋੜੇ ਲੋਕੀ ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਘਟਨਾਵਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਸਮਝ ਸਕਦੇ ਹਨ ਪਰ ਜੇ ਇੱਛਾ ਅਤੇ ਸੁਹਿਰਤਾ ਹੋਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਸੰਵਾਦ ਰਚਾਏ ਜਾ ਸਕਦੇ ਹਨ।

ਆਮ ਮਾਨਸਿਕਤਾ ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਗੁੰਝਲ਼ਦਾਰ ਮਸਲਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਸਮਝਣੋ ਅਸਮਰਥ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਕਈਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਨਾ ਸਮਝਣ ਦੀ ਤਨਖ਼ਾਹ ਮਿਲਦੀ ਹੈ। ਇਸ ਲਈ ਕੌਮ ਦੇ ਕਨੇਡਾ ਅਤੇ ਹੋਰ ਥਾਈਂ ਬੈਠੇ ਸੂਝਵਾਨ ਸੱਜਣਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਵਿਦੇਸ਼ ਆਏ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਅਤੇ ਬਾਕੀ ਪੰਜਾਬੀਆਂ ਦੇ ਰਵੱਈਏ  ਪ੍ਰਤੀ ਆਪਣੇ ਆਪਣੇ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਰੱਖਣੇ ਚਾਹੀਦੇ ਹਨ। ਖ਼ਾਸਕਰ ਮੀਡੀਆ ਵਿੱਚ ਕੰਮ ਕਰ ਰਹੇ ਸੂਝਵਾਨ ਸੱਜਣਾ ਨੂੰ ਭਾਰਤ ਦੀ ਤਰਜ਼ ਉੱਤੇ ਕੰਮ ਕਰ ਰਹੇ ਦੇਸੀ ਮੀਡੀਏ ਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਚਾਰ ਨੂੰ ਬੇਅਸਰ ਕਰਨਾ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ ਹੈ।

ਜਸਪ੍ਰੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ (ਬਰੈਂਪਟਨ)

paneldisucssionbrampton.jpeg

Plenty of times the intensity, or the profoundness of an event masks the causes behind the event itself. Rather than trying to unmask the root causes we become infatuated by the incident itself. Sometimes, an issue seems to appear as that of personal enmity between people or organisations. However, in order to understand an incident in depth one needs to reflect on the collective conditions of the Quam.

Black people have endured slavery, and the effects of this still continue to impact their psyche. Secondly, governments have tried to repress them through the introduction of drugs, so that their youth become unaware and uninterested, in their rights, future, or their surroundings. If we try to dominate any Black person, they come to their personal defence and are always prepared to resist. While the immediate causes of the incident or fight may change, it is impossible to ignore the context of physical/mental/social exploitation upon their people.

Yesterday, I spoke about the psyche of the youth of Panjab and I was mocked; however, I did not have any higher expectations either. If our people were so understanding, then our present conversation, behaviour and attitude would have been different.

Much of the Panjabi student population in Canada comes from Sikh households. Most of them were born after 1984 and the Kharku Lehar (Khalistan movement). Since then the social environment manufactured by the state's education and media polices were designed to make them forget their future and their heritage. The purpose of this is to push them towards a life of hedonism so they don’t challenge the state's designs. These youngsters are a product and victims of those designs. Behaviours as a result of these influences must be understood in context to the social environment and not maligned as merely irrational.

Those making such derogatory remarks must keep in mind that they themselves are products of their own social environment. The state’s intense aim to destroy the Sikh youth of Panjab with toxic music and drugs took place almost two decades ago. Due to this, those who were born before this, or they who witnessed the Kharku Lehar post 1984, were effected in a particular way; and those who witnessed 1947 were effected differently. Every big event effects and influences, different communities in a different way.

Collectively, our entire Quam is living in a state fear. At every step we become infatuated with proving our “goodness”, because we have become insecure. Whenever an incident takes place, we feel that if we do not discourage, or distance, ourselves from it then we might be blamed for the incident having taken place. Those residing in India are afraid that they will be called “anti-national”, and those that reside abroad are afraid that they we will be ejected or deported. 

The condition of slavery has relegated the Quam to a powerless position of continuous supplication, a community that has to clarify and explain our collective disapproval and obedience at the sign of any incident, and comprise our existence at every step. In Canada, following the violence amongst youth, the Quam’s response manifested in this fear. 

Even those that falsely believe themselves to be Canadian are not genuinely free. They are afraid that Whiteness will consider them thugs and hooligans following the actions of these few youth, and kick them out from Canada. We constantly aim to prove ourselves to others. There to the Hindu, and here to Whiteness. Our self-respect and self-confidence have been mortgaged, and pawned, to others.

How many fights take place daily? How many gang members and weapons are confiscated and arrested? Do the White people, the Hindu, or any other feel as insecure as us? They do not feel the need to explain themselves, but we feel self-conscious until we have justified ourselves.

It is not wrong to condemn a crime, but our condemnation arises more out of our fears rather than out of moral outrage. In this modern society everything takes place instantly; we try to understand, take a position, and provide a solution with a similar rapidity. We are overwhelmed by this idea that everything is black or white, or that everything is good or bad; and, that there can be no third or fourth way. We do not sincerely analyse events that take place. Until the cause of an incident is not clear we will never find a solution; and, in our present situation, we suffer from the delusion that we understand the cause.

We can not separate the violence and condition amongst Panjabi youth in Canada, from the reality in Panjab. For this we must understand ’47, we must understand ’84, and we must also understand our present situation and environment. If we neglect this context, then we can never understand what enduring nearly two centuries of slavery has done to the Quam today and why.

Unfortunately, many do not have clarity on 1984; therefore, very few people can truly understand the complexity of our situation. However, if one has the sincere intent and the desire then this dialogue can develop.

The uninformed masses are unable to understand such complex issues, and some are paid not to understand altogether. Therefore, insightful Sikhs sitting in Canada, and elsewhere, should critically reflect on the behaviour of the Panjabi youth who have recently arrived abroad as well as those Punajbi’s already settled. Specifically they should make certain that those media personalities, who dance to the tune of India, are made ineffective.

Jaspreet Singh (Brampton).

How Indian commandos, trained by Mossad and briefed by British SAS, were greeted by Khalsa Forces

It has long been known within Sikh Activist circles that Indian soldiers who invaded Sri Darbar Sahib in June 1984 were not only advised by British SAS agents but also received specialist training by Israeli Mossad operatives.

In a recent article, Prabhash K Dutta boasted about the involvement of Mossad and whilst his piece was littered with sensationalist propaganda vilifying Sikh activism, it highlighted the military prowess of the Khalsa, who withstood attack after attack before the Indian army eventually broke through with the aid of armoured vehicles and battle tanks.

Dutta claims the commandos trained by Mossad were part of the 56th commando company of the Indian Army. They formed part of the elite task force deployed into battle with the Khalsa combatants who had fortified Sri Darbar Sahib in anticipation of the attack, which Indian forces code name Operation Bluestar.

Whilst the Indian Army has never openly admitted this, former Major Generals have come out with accounts that show how much the Indian Army suffered. In an interview with Day & Night News in 2012, the Divisional Commander of Amritsar, Major General J. S. Jamwal of the 15th division admitted how he refused to carry on, “the operation had more or less failed...the moment we moved one soldier forward, a bullet would come flying in and he would get shot”.

He went onto state “there were tremendous army casualties, the guards suffered heavily”. At that point he describes how General K.S. Brar soon became fearful of what he was seeing, despite bullishly claiming days earlier “we shall see to it that they [the Sikhs] are on their knees in just two hours”.

Whilst the Khalsa contingent at Sri Darbar Sahib was limited in both personnel and weaponry, under the tactical leadership of General Shabeg Singh and the overall command of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, they decimated wave after wave of Indian attack.

Such was the tactical masterplan of Sikh Generals, that despite six days of pitched battles, Indian forces only broke through to the Akal Takht when they asked Delhi for permission to bring in armoured vehicles and Vijayanta battle tanks.

This proved to be a turning point in the battle as photographs which emerged later indicated quite clearly that the Vijayanta’s 105mm main armaments pumped high-explosive squash-head shells into the Akal Takht. Due to the repeated explosions, the Akal Takht was reduced to rubble and the Sikh fighters attained martyrdom defending it. General Shabeg Singh's body was found amongst the rubble, with his hands clutched to his carbine.

For Sikhs, the battle is placed amongst some of the most illustrious battles from Sikh history, whilst for the Indians it is viewed as an embarrassment. Despite the Sikhs being totally outnumbered, they kept the might of the entire Indian army at bay for six days. An army who had received specialist training from Mossad and tactical advice from British intelligence services.

The world witnessed the military prowess of the Sikhs as a force of approximately 250 Khalsa took on seven divisions of the Indian Army, including all three wings of the armed forces – Army, Navy and Air Force that were brought into the operation.

Mary Anne Weaver, a British correspondent in her report to the Sunday Times dated June 17, 1984, stated “Not since Independence had the army been used in such numbers – about 15,000 troops took part in the assault, with another 35,000 standing by”.

The courage, bravery and resistance shown by the Sikh fighters is awe inspiring. Facing impossible odds, they gave their lives to protect their faith and nation. It is on record that in stark contrast to the Government, who was indiscriminately massacring Sikhs, the Sikh soldiers engaged only with the army, and no civilians were reported to have been harmed.

Military analysts have commented that although the Sikhs that defended Sri Darbar Sahib kept the army at bay for almost a week, had the Sikh Regiment been stationed in Panjab, the outcome of the battle would have been very different.

In 2012, Gurdwara Thara Sahib which is situated within Sri Darbar Sahib, right next to the Akal Takht, was unveiled by the Sikhs to commemorate the Khalsa martyrs of the Battle of Amritsar 1984. The Sikhs who fought to defend Sri Darbar Sahib are revered the world over, with photos of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, General Shabeg Singh, and many others, are proudly displayed in Gurdwaras and other Sikh spaces.

Whilst Sikh activism and political dissent continues to be vilified to this day, the Sikhs remain steadfast in their struggle. They proudly commemorate the achievements of those brave Sikh combatants of the Khalsa, who 34 years ago, whilst heavily outnumbered and under resourced, battled paramilitary troops and commandos trained by some of the most decorated militaries around the world.

In the end those highly trained commandos, battalions and regiments proved ineffective as Indian Generals were forced to send in armoured vehicles and battle tanks to overcome the resistance shown by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and the Khalsa forces.

Sikh Naujawan Force Arson Culprit to Surrender

On Tuesday 5th June just before 4am the doorway of a Gurdwara in Leeds was deliberately set alight. Panth Dardhi Sikh Sangat all over the U.K. were angered at this senseless attack. This attack is particularly provocative given the month of June as Sikhs all over the world remember the equally senseless violence as India troops massacred the congregation in their bid to occupy Sri Darbar Sahib, eliminate Sikh leadership, and crush the very spirit of Sikh resistance. This attack, like all attacks on the Sikh Panth, was met head on by Sikh Naujawan.

PanthMaharaj.jpg

Sikh Naujawan mobilised, and at noon that day a convoy of 8 vehicles left from the midlands to conduct their investigation. Upon arriving in Leeds the convoy visited all the pubs in the vicinity of the Gurdwara and made it known to the locals that they wanted the identity of the culprit(s). As the investigation progressed it became clear that this was the work of a local facist group. 

Two pubs were identified which were very close to each other, Sikh Naujawan visited these pubs and demanded the attacker come forward, a local came forward to give the name of the attacker who had visited the pub bragging about his attacks. The convoy of Sikh Naujwan began a search of local estates, asking locals and passing vehicles, eventually the search paid off as the home of the attacker was located. Sikh Naujwan spoke with a family member of the attacker and demanded that he hand himself over to the Naujawani or the police. Later that day the culprit made himself known to the police and surrendered.

In the U.K, Sikh youth have been at the forefront of Panthic Seva in the most difficult of circumstances, from combatting religiously motivated group based child sexual exploitation (“grooming”), to holding corrupt Gurdwara management committees to account. The National Sikh Youth Federation commends Sikh Naujawan for showing true Sikhi spirit, dropping their worldly affairs to prioritise the Seva of our Gurdwareh.

ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧਕੀ ਵਾਗਡੋਰ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਹੱਥ ਸੌੰਪੀ ਗੲੀ

ਗੁਰਦੁਅਾਰਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦਸਮੇਸ਼ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਜੀ,ਸਰੀ ਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧਕੀ ਵਾਗਡੋਰ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਹੱਥ ਸੌੰਪੀ ਗੲੀ।
Management of one of N.America’s largest Gurdwara Entrusted to Sikh Naujawan
Qaumi Awaaz Punjabi Radio Australia, 29th April 2018, (translation, with edits for context below)


ਸਰੀ, 29 ਅਪ੍ਰੈਲ 2018 ਗੁਰਦੁਅਾਰਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦਸਮੇਸ਼ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਜੀ ਸਰੀ,ਬੀ.ਸੀ (ਕਨੈਡਾ) ਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧਕੀ ਕਮੇਟੀ ਦੀ ਵਾਗਡੋਰ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਹੱਥ ਸੌਂਪੀ ਗੲੀ ਹੈ।ਅੱਜ ਗੁਰਦੁਅਾਰਾ ਕਮੇਟੀ ਦੇ ਡਾੲਿਰੈਕਟਰਾਂ ਦੀ ੲਿੱਕ ਮੀਟਿੰਗ ਹੋੲੀ,ਜਿਸ ਵਿੱਚ ਗੰਭੀਰ ਵਿਚਾਰਾਂ ਕਰਨ ੳੁਪਰੰਤ ਸਰਬਸੰਮਤੀ ਨਾਲ਼ ਅਗਲੇ 2 ਸਾਲਾਂ ਲੲੀ ਗੁਰਦੁਅਾਰਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧਕ ਕਮੇਟੀ ਦੇ ਮੁੱਖ ਸੇਵਾਦਾਰ ਵਜ਼ੋੰ ਕਨੈਡਾ ਦੇ ਜੰਮਪਲ 37 ਸਾਲ ਦੇ ਨੌਜਵਾਨ ਭਾੲੀ ਮਨਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੀ ਚੋਣ ਕੀਤੀ ਗੲੀ।ਅਤੇ ੲੇਸਦੇ ਨਾਲ਼ ਹੀ ਜਰਨਲ ਸਕੱਤਰ ਵਜ਼ੋਂ ਭਾੲੀ ਮਨਜੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਧਾਮੀ ਨੂੰ ਚੁਣਿਅਾ ਗਿਅਾ ਅਤੇ ਬਾਕੀ ਅਾਹੁਦੇਦਾਰਾਂ ਦੀ ਨਿਯੁਕਤੀ ਨਵ-ਨਿਯੁਕਤ ਮੁੱਖ ਸੇਵਾਦਾਰ ਭਾੲੀ ਮਨਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਅਗਵਾੲੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਕੀਤੀ ਗੲੀ।

ਜਿਕਰਯੋਗ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਭਾੲੀ ਮਨਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਪਿਛਲੇ ਲੰਮੇ ਸਮੇਂ ਤੋਂ ਕਨੈਡਾ ਤੇ ਹੋਰਨਾਂ ਮੁਲਕਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਸਿੱਖ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਲਾਮਬੰਦ ਕਰਨ ਤੇ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਸਿਧਾਤਾਂ ਪ੍ਰਤੀ ਚੇਤੰਨ ਕਰਨ ਹਿੱਤ ਕਾਰਜ ਕਰ ਰਹੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ੳੁਹਨਾਂ ਦਾ ਦੁਨੀਅਾਂ ਭਰ ਦੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਧਾਰ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ੳੁਹ ਅਕਸਰ ਹੀ ਸ਼ੋਸ਼ਲ ਮੀਡੀੲੇ ਰਾਹੀਂ ਸਿੱਖ ਪੰਥ ਨੂੰ ਦਰਪੇਸ਼ ਸਮੱਸਿਅਾਵਾਂ ਦੇ ਸੁਯੋਗ ਹੱਲ ਲੲੀ ਅਗਵਾੲੀ ਦਿੰਦੇ ਰਹਿੰਦੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ੳੁਹਨਾਂ ਦੀ ੲੇਸ ਨਿਯੁਕਤੀ ਨੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਪੰਥ ਦੀ ਲੀਡਰਸ਼ਿਪ ਵਿੱਚ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਦਾਖਲ ਦਾ ਰਾਹ ਮੋਕਲਾ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਹੈ।ਭਾੲੀ ਮਨਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੀ ਗੁਰਦੁਅਾਰਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦਸਮੇਸ਼ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਜੀ ਸਰੀ,ਬੀ.ਸੀ (ਕਨੈਡਾ) ਦੇ ਮੁੱਖ ਸੇਵਾਦਾਰ ਵਜੋਂ ਹੋੲੀ ਨਿਯੁਕਤੀ ਦਾ ਕਨੈਡਾ, ਅਮਰੀਕਾ, ਯੂ.ਕੇ, ਅਸਟ੍ਰੇਲੀਅਾ, ਨਿੳੂਜ਼ੀਲੈਂਡ ਅਤੇ ਯੂਰਪ ਦੇ ਕੲੀ ਮੁਲਕਾਂ ਸਮੇਤ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੀਅਾਂ ਸਿੱਖ ਨੌਜਵਾਨ ਜਥੇਬੰਦੀਅਾਂ ਨੇ ਭਰਵਾਂ ਸਵਾਗਤ ਕੀਤਾ ਹੈ।

bhai moninder singh.jpg
13055561_689449461196467_2026228349066916045_n.jpg
29136374_10160336657030085_4189902985666494464_o.jpg

The Prabandhak Committee of Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar Ji, in Surrey, B.C. (Canada) has entrusted Sikh naujawan with the management of the Gurdwara Sahib. A meeting took place of the Gurdwara’s directors; and, after a serious, and thoughtful, discussion the Gurdwara Committee unanimously decided to elect 37-year-old Moninder Singh (one of 5 Jathedars of the Sikh Liberation Front), born and raised in Canada, as Mukh Sevadar of the Gurdwara Sahib. Alongside Bhai Moninder Singh, Bhai Manjeet Singh was elected as General Secretary and the remaining positions were elected under the guidance of Bhai Moninder Singh. 

It should be mentioned that Bhai Moninder Singh, who has support amongst Sikh naujawan throughout the world, has been continuously working to mobilize, and awaken, the youth to Sikhi and Sikh principles, heritage, and philosophy. [Furthermore], via social media, he has routinely provided insightful guidance, and leadership, that is befitting the issues that are currently being addressed by The Sikh Panth. 

His election has made it easier for Sikh naujawan to enter the leadership positions in The Panth. Bhai Moninder Singh Ji’s election as the Mukh Sevadar of Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar Ji in Surrey, B.C. (Canada) has been welcomed by the Sikh naujawan jathebandia in Canada, America, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Punjab.

"Bhai Moninder Singh's work engaging with Sikh naujawani to further the Panthic Kafla towards Khalistan has been foundational to the work that Sikh naujawan jathebandies, NSYF, KAF, and SLF, have done, and continue to do. We have no doubt that this historic moment will be a source of inspiration and hope to panth dardi naujawan across the world."
- National Sikh Youth Federation 

ਭਾਈ ਕੁਲਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਬੱਬਰ

ਮ:੩॥
ਕਿਆਜਾਣਾਕਿਵਮਰਹਗੇਕੈਸਾਮਰਣਾਹੋਇ॥
ਜੇਕਰਿਸਾਹਿਬੁਮਨਹੁਨਵੀਸਰੈਤਾਸਹਿਲਾਮਰਣਾਹੋਇ॥
ਮਰਣੈਤੇਜਗਤੁਡਰੈਜੀਵਿਆਲੋੜੈਸਭੁਕੋਇ॥
ਗੁਰਪਰਸਾਦੀਜੀਵਤੁਮਰੈਹੁਕਮੈਬੂਝੈਸੋਇ॥
ਨਾਨਕਐਸੀਮਰਨੀਜੋਮਰੈਤਾਸਦਜੀਵਣੁਹੋਇ॥੨॥

ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦੀ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਸਦਕਾ ਕੁਝ ਦਿਨ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਗੁਰਪੁਰ ਵਾਸੀ ਭਾਈ ਕੁਲਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਬੱਬਰ ਦੇ ਅੰਤਮ ਯਾਤਰਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਹੋ ਕੇ ਇਸ ਮਹਾਨ ਯੋਧੇ ਦੇ ਸ਼ੰਘਰਸ਼ਮਈ ਜੀਵਨ ਨੂੰ ਸ਼ਰਧਾਂਜਲੀ ਦੇ ਫੁਲ ਭੇਟ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਮੌਕਾ ਨਸੀਬ ਹੋਇਆ। ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦੇ ਬਹੁਪੱਖੀ ਜੀਵਨ ਅਤੇ ਸੰਘਰਸ਼ ਲਈ ਦਿੱਤੀਆਂ ਅਨੇਕ ਸੇਵਾਵਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਜੇ ਵਿਸਥਾਰ ਨਾਲ ਕਲਮਬੰਧ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਕੋਸ਼ਿਸ਼ ਕਰਾਂਗੇ ਤਾਂ ਲਿਖਦਿਆਂ ਸਿਆਹੀ ਮੁੱਕ ਜਾਵੇਗੀ ਪਰ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਸਿਫਤ ਅਤੇ ਦੇਣ ਦੀ ਗੱਲ ਪੂਰੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੋਵੇਗੀ।ਪੁਰਾਤਨ ਬੱਬਰਾਂ ਦੀ ਝਲਕ ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦੇ ਜੀਵਨ ਤੋਂ ਸਾਫ ਮਿਲਦੀ ਸੀ: ਉਹੀ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਜਜ਼ਬਾ, ਕੁਰਬਾਨੀ ਲਈ ਚਾਅ, ਨਾਮ ਬਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਵਾਹ, ਅਤੇ ਰਹਿਣੀ ਬਹਿਣੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਪਰਪੱਕਤਾ।

ਪਰ ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦੇ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇ ਕੁਝ ਖਾਸ ਪਹਿਲੂ ਅਜਿਹੇ ਹਨ ਜੋ ਪਿਛਲੇ ਕਈ ਦਿਨਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਵਾਰ ਵਾਰ ਘੁੰਮਦੇ ਰਹੇ ਅਤੇ ਜੋ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਇਸ ਦੁਨੀਆਂ ਤੋਂ ਕੂਚ ਕਰ ਜਾਣ ਦੇ ਸਦਮੇ ਨੂੰ ਇੱਕ ਉਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਵਿੱਚ ਤਬਦੀਲ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਨ। ਸਿਰਫ ਉਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਹੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਪਰ ਜੋ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਕੌਮੀ ਅਜ਼ਾਦੀ ਦਾ ਜੀਵਨ ਮਨੋਰਥ ਰਿਹਾ ਉਸ ਦੀ ਪੂਰਤੀ ਲਈ ਮਾਰਗ ਵੀ ਰੌਸ਼ਨ ਹੁੰਦਾ।ਇਹ ਦੁਨੀਆਵੀ ਜੀਵਨ ਯਾਤਰਾ ਭਾਵੇਂ ਸਮਾਪਤ ਹੋ ਚੁੱਕਾ ਪਰ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਜੀਵਨ ਘਾਲਣਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਲਈ ਬਹੁਤ ਕੁਝ ਸਮਾਇਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਹੈ। ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਨੇ ਸਾਡੇ ਸੀਨਿਆ ਵਿੱਚ ਅੰਗਿਆਰ ਨੂੰ ਸੇਕ ਹੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਬਲਕਿ ਉਸ ਮਚਦੀ ਭਾਂਬੜ ਨੂੰ ਆਪਣੇ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਮਲੀ ਰੂਪ ਦੇ ਕੇ ਮਿਸਾਲ ਵੀ ਪੈਦਾ ਕੀਤੀ।

ਇਹੋ ਜਿਹੀਆਂ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਰੂਹਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋਂ ਅਲਵਿਦਾ ਕਹਿਣਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਾਂ ਲਈ ਹਮੇਸ਼ਾਂ ਵਧਾਈ ਵਾਲੀ ਗੱਲ ਰਹੀ ਹੈ।ਫਖਰ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਇਹੋ ਜਿਹੀ ਰੂਹ ਦੇ ਪਰਛਾਵੇਂ ਹੇਠ ਕੁਝ ਪਲ ਬਿਤਾਉਣ ਦਾ ਸੁਭਾਗ ਮਿਲਿਆ। ਜਿੱਥੇ ਇੱਕ ਵੀਰ ਲਈ ਖੁਸ਼ੀ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ ਉਥੇ ਸਿੱਖਿਆ ਅਤੇ ਉਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਵੀ ਮਿਲਦਾ ਕਿ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਵਾਂਗ ਇਸ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਨੂੰ ਮਾਣ ਨਾਲ ਛੱਡ ਦਈਏ। ਗੁਰਮੁਖ ਦੇ ਚਲਾਣੇ 'ਤੇ ਕੋਈ ਅਫਸੋਸ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਸਗੋਂ ਸਕੂਨ ਮਿਲਦਾ ਕਿ ਸਾਡਾ ਵੀਰ ਗੁਰੂ ਚਰਨਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਬਿਰਾਜ ਗਿਆ। ਆਪਣੇ ਕੌਮੀ ਫਰਜ਼ ਨਿਭਾਏ ਅਤੇ ਗੁਰਪੁਰੀ ਸਿਧਾਰ ਗਿਆ।ਆਪਣੇ ਜੀਵਾਨ ਦੌਰਾਨ ਬੇਅੰਤ ਕੁਰਬਾਨੀਆਂ ਅਤੇ ਸੇਵਾ ਰਾਹੀਂ ਕੌਮੀ ਅਜ਼ਾਦੀ ਦੀ ਸ਼ਮ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਜਗਦੀ ਰੱਖਿਆ ਅਤੇ ਇੱਕ ਚਲਦੀ ਨਦੀ ਵਾਂਗ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਰੂਹ ਆਪਣੀ ਮੂਲ ਸ੍ਰੋਤ ਵਿੱਚ ਜਾ ਰਲੀ ਹੈ। "ਐਸੀਮਰਨੀਜੋਮਰੈ" ਵਾਲੀ ਗੱਲ ਨੂੰ ਅਜਿਹੇ ਵੀਰ ਪਰਤੱਖ ਜਿਉਂਦੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ਇਸ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਰ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਆਵਦੇ ਜੀਵਨ ਬਾਰੇ ਅਤੇ ਸੁਆਸਾਂ ਦੀ ਬਚੀ ਪੂੰਜੀ ਬਾਰੇ ਸੁਚੇਤ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਨ।  

Shaheed Bhai Talwinder Singh Babbar and Bhai Kalwant Singh Babbar.jpg

ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਅਖੀਰਲੇ ਸਮ੍ਹੇ ਬਾਰੇ ਸੁਣ ਕੇ ਯਾਦ ਆਉਂਦਾ ਕਿ ਸਾਡਾ ਸਮੁੱਚਾ ਜੀਵਨ ਮੌਤ ਦੀ ਹੀ ਤਿਆਰੀ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਇੱਕ ਪੰਧ ਹੈ। ਜਿਸ ਚੜਦੀਕਲਾ ਅਤੇ aੱੱਚੀ ਸੁਰਤ ਨਾਲ ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਨੇ ਦੁਨੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਵਿਦਾਇਗੀ ਦਿੱਤੀ ਇਹ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਸਮੁੱਚੀ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਇੱਕ ਝਾਤੀ ਸੀ। ਜਿਹੜੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖ ਨਾਮ ਦੇ ਰੰਗ ਵਿੱਚ ਰੰਗੇ ਅਲਵਿਦਾ ਕਹਿੰਦੇ ਹਨ - ਇਹ ਅਚਾਨਕ ਕਰਿਸ਼ਮਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਸਗੋਂ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੌਰਾਨ ਘਾਲੀ ਹੋਈ ਘਾਲਣਾ ਦੇ ਹੀ ਫਲ ਹੁੰਦੇ ਹਨ। ਗੁਰੂ ਨੂੰ ਸੀਸ ਅਰਪਣ ਕਰਕੇ ਇੱਕ-ਇੱਕ ਕਦਮ, ਇੱਕ-ਇੱਕ ਸਾਹ, ਅਤੇ ਇੱਕ-ਇੱਕ ਕੀਤਾ ਕਰਮ ਆਪਣੀ ਮੌਤ ਵਲ ਘਟਦੇ ਫਾਸਲੇ ਨੂੰ ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਵਰਗੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਨੂੰ ਹੀ ਸਭ ਕੁਝ ਲੇਖੇ ਲਾ ਕੇ ਮਰਜੀਵੜੇ ਬਣ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ। 

ਇਹ ਇੱਕ ਸਚਿਆਈ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਅੱਜ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਦੇ ਕੋਨੇ ਕੋਨੇ 'ਤੇ ਅਜਿਹੇ ਵੀਰ ਭੈਣ ਮੌਜੂਦ ਹਨ ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੇ ਚਲ ਰਹੇ ਅਜ਼ਾਦੀ ਦੇ ਸੰਘਰਸ਼ ਵਿੱਚ ਵਧ ਚੜ ਕੇ ਯੋਗਦਾਨ ਪਾਉਣ ਲਈ ਆਪਣੀ ਜਵਾਨੀ ਕੌਮ ਦੇ ਲੇਖੇ ਲਾਈ ਅਤੇ ਪਿੰਡੇ 'ਤੇ ਸੰਘਰਸ਼ ਹੰਢਾਇਆ। ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਅੱਖਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ, ਬੁੱਢੇ ਹੱਡੀਆਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਤੇ ਦਿਲਾਂ ੳੱਤੇ ਕੌਮੀ ਸੰਘਰਸ਼ ਦਾ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ ਗੂੜ੍ਹੇ ਅੱਖਰਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਉੱਕਰਿਆ ਗਿਆ। 

ਅਜਿਹੇ ਅਣਗਿਣਤ ਵੀਰ ਸਾਡੇ ਸਫਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਜੇ ਵਿਚਰਦੇ ਹਨ ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਅੱਖਾਂ ਸਾਹਮਣੇ ਸਰਕਾਰੀ ਕਤਲੋਗਾਰਤ 'ਤੇ ਕੌਮੀ ਬੇਪਤੀ ਦੇ ਦਰਦਨਾਕ ਮੰਜਰ ਅੱਜ ਤੱਕ ਘੁੰਮਦੇ ਹਨ। ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦਿਆਂ ਕੰਨਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਆਪਣੇ ਸ਼ਹੀਦ ਹੋਏ ਸਾਥੀਆਂ ਨਾਲ ਕੀਤੇ ਵਾਹਦੇ ਅੱਜ ਤੱਕ ਗੂੰਜਦੇ ਹਨ। ਅਤੇ ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੇ ਅੱਜ ਤੱਕ ਆਪਣੇ ਸੀਨਿਆਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਤਪਦੀ ਭੱਠੀ ਵਾਂਗ ਕੌਮੀ ਅਜ਼ਾਦੀ ਲਈ ਜੂਝ ਮਰਨ ਦਾ ਜਜ਼ਬਾ ਜਗਾਈ ਰੱਖਿਆ।

ਇਹਨਾਂ ਮਰਜੀਵੜਿਆਂ ਵਿੱਚੋਂ ਭਾਈ ਕੁਲਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਬੱਬਰ ਇੱਕ ਸਨ।

ਸਾਡੇ ਜਿੰਦਗੀ ਦੌਰਾਨ ਕਈ ਮੌਕੇ ਆਉਂਦੇ ਹਨ ਜਦੋ ਅਸੀਂ ਨਿੱਜੀ ਅਤੇ ਪਰਿਵਾਰਕ ਹਿੱਤਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਉਪਰ ਉਠ ਕੇ ਪੰਥ ਨੂੰ ਪਹਿਲ ਦੇ ਕੇ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਫੈਸਲਾ ਲੈ ਸਕਦੇ ਹਾਂ। ਪਰ ਅਜਿਹੇ ਮੌਕਿਆਂ 'ਤੇ ਮੇਰੇ ਵਰਗੇ ਖੁਦਗਰਜ਼ ਪੈਰ ਪੈਰ 'ਤੇ ਨਿੱਜ ਨੂੰ ਮੁੱਖ ਰਖਦੇ ਹੋਏ ਕੁਝ ਮਜ਼ਬੂਰੀਆਂ ਜਾਂ ਸਮ੍ਹੇ ਦੀਆਂ ਹਲਾਤਾਂ ਦਾ ਬਹਾਨਾ ਲਾ ਕੇ ਪਰਿਵਾਰਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਮਸ਼ਰੂਫ ਰਹਿ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ।  

ਪਰ ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਵਰਗੇ ਪਹਾੜ ਜਿੱਡ੍ਹੇ ਜਿਗਰੇ ਵਾਲੇ ਧੰਨ ਹਨ ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀ ਰੂਹ ਵਿੱਚ ਕੁਰਬਾਨੀ ਦਾ ਜਜ਼ਬਾ ਵਸ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਹਰ ਮੌੜ 'ਤੇ ਫੈਸਲਾ ਲੈਣ ਲੱਗਿਆਂ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਆਤਮਾ "ਪੰਥ ਵਸੈ ਮੈ ਉਝੜਾਂ" ਪੁਕਾਰਦੀ ਹੈ। ਕੌਮੀ ਦਰਦ ਨਾਲ ਧੁਰ ਅੰਦਰੋਂ ਭਿੱਜੇ ਇਹੋ ਜਿਹੇ ਵੀਰ ਆਪਣੀ ਸਮੁੱਚੀ ਹੋਂਦ ਨੂੰ ਇਸ ਦਰਦ ਵਿੱਚ ਸਮਾ ਲੈਂਦੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ਹਰ ਇੱਕ ਮੌਕੇ 'ਤੇ ਹਮੇਸ਼ਾਂ ਪੰਥ ਨੂੰ ਹੀ ਪਹਿਲ ਦਿੰਦੇ ਹਨ। 

ਇਸ ਦਰਦ ਨਾਲ ਭਿੱਜੀ ਹੋਂਦ ਵਿੱਚੋਂ ਹੀ ਕੌਮੀ ਤਕਦੀਰ ਖੁਲਦੀ ਹੈ। ਜੇ ਆਪਾਂ ਸੰਘਰਸ਼ ਵਿੱਚ ਆਈ ਖੜੋਤ ਨੂੰ ਵਾਕਈ ਤੋੜਨ ਲਈ ਸੰਜੀਦੇ ਹਾਂ ਤਾਂ ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਵਾਂਗ ਇਸ ਦਰਦ ਨੂੰ ਦਿਲੋਂ ਮਹਿਸੂਸ ਕਰਕੇ ਆਪਣਾ ਵਜੂਦ ਅੰਦਰ ਸਮਾਉਣਾ ਪਵੇਗਾ। ਤਾਂ ਹੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਦੀ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਨਾਲ ਸਾਥੋਂ ਵਿੱਛੜੇ ਵੀਰਾਂ ਦੇ ਹਾਣੀ ਬਣ ਸਕਾਂਗੇ 'ਤੇ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦਿਆਂ ਮੋਢਿਆਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਜ਼ਿੰਮੇਵਾਰੀਆਂ ਦਾ ਭਾਰ ਚੁੱਕ ਸਕਾਂਗੇ। 

ਭਾਈ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਨੂੰ ਅਸਲ ਸ਼ਰਧਾਜਲੀ ਇਹੀ ਹੋਵੇਗੀ ਕਿ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਪੀੜ ਨੂੰ ਆਵਦਾ ਮਹਿਸੂਸ ਕਰੀਏ 'ਤੇ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਅਧੂਰੇ ਸੁਪਨੇ ਨੂੰ ਸਾਕਾਰ ਕਰਨ ਦੇ ਲਈ ਸੁਹਿਰਦਤਾ ਨਾਲ ਸੰਘਰਸ਼ ਅੱਗੇ ਤੋਰਨ ਲਈ ਯਤਨਸ਼ੀਲ ਹੋਈਏ।

ਇਸ ਯੋਧੇ ਨੂੰ ਪ੍ਰਣਾਮ… ਜਿਸ ਨੇ ਸੰਘਰਸ਼ ਦੇ ਬਿਖੜੇ ਪੈਂਡੇ 'ਤੇ ਆਪ ਤੁਰਕੇ ਸਾਡਾ ਰਾਹ ਪੱਧਰਾ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਜੀਵਨ ਪੰਥ ਦੇ ਲੇਖੇ ਲਾ ਦਿੱਤਾ। ਅਤੇ ਇਹੀ ਅਰਦਾਸ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਾਂ ਕਿ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਚਰਨ ਧੂੜ ਸਾਡੇ ਵਰਗਿਆਂ ਦੇ ਮੱਥਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਵੀ ਤਕਦੀਰ ਬਦਲੇ ਤਾਂ ਕਿ ਸਾਡੇ ਹਿੱਸੇ ਵੀ ਕੌਮ ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਲਿੱਖੀ ਜਾਵੇ… ਅਤੇ ਸਾਡੇ ਮੋਢਿਆਂ 'ਤੇ ਉਹਨੇ ਦੇ ਅਧੂਰੇ ਸੁਪਨਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਪੂਰਾ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਜ਼ਿੰਮੇਵਾਰੀ ਨੂੰ ਆਖਰੀ ਸੁਆਸਾਂ ਤੱਕ ਨਿਭਾਉਣ ਦਾ ਬਲ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਬਖਸ਼ਿਸ਼ ਕਰਨ…

ਪ੍ਰਭਜੋਤ ਸਿੰਘ (ਸਿੱਖ ਲਿਬਰੇਸ਼ਨ ਫਰੰਟ)

Represent Sikhi...not just Sikhs.

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਗਾਖੜੀ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥: 
It is very difficult to serve the Satguru; to do so one must surrender their head (physically through shaheedee and/or spiritually through the eradication of haumai)

The last few months have been hard for many amongst the Sikh community, I am not one of them though. For 20 years I have witnessed the Indian government use propaganda through its channels within the Indian media to periodically raise an issue of Sikh extremism in an attempt to thwart Sikh political activism from the diaspora Sikh community. This response from the Canadian media when it comes to Sikhs in Canada speaking about human rights, political change (domestic or international), and Khalistan is the standard approach of “lazy journalism” that many self-declared experts on Sikh issues and Khalistan portray. This is nothing new and nothing shocking. For some of us, it has always been the norm. The idea that this country is ours has been foreign to me for a very long time and therefore the expectation that white media, with all its privilege, would want to understand me and represent the truth of what I say is also foreign to me. 

When I explain this line of thought to other Sikhs I get a response of “then what are you?” as if I need a nationality to identify myself. I am a human being and a Sikh of the Guru Granth and Guru Panth. That is my identity and when it comes to my nationality, what I am is homeless. My home is Khalistan/Punjab and it has been occupied by foreigners from the time of the British in 1849 to the reins of power being handed to the Brahmin and India in 1947. Decades of colonial rule have turned into centuries, and the only thing that changed for us was the color of the hand holding the chains we are enslaved by. Punjab/Khalistan is my home because my Guru created a vision for what it was to become and that revolution started for us when he asked for one of us to come forward, head in hand, and has continued through every Sikh generation since. To serve the Guru is to serve and reflect on Naam/Shabad and in doing so, to truly live the sach (truth) we ought to speak:

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜਿਨੀ ਨ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕੀਤੋ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ 
ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਓ ਮਿਰਤਕੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥: 
Those who have not served the “Satguru” no Divine Wisdom has dawned in their Heart; 
they may appear as alive but they are dead in the world (spiritually dead-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ)

If Punjab/Khalistan is my home then why am I or others like me here you might ask? Well, where should we go? I live on the unceded traditional territories of the Katzie, Kwantlen and Matsqui First Nations and am still learning and coming to terms with my settler history here. Should I go back to the occupied and oppressed territories where my brothers and sisters remain in silence caused by the psycho-trauma of genocidal campaigns inflicted upon them by the Indian government? Should I go back to the villages where Jaswant Singh Khalra found thousands of young boys disappeared and extra-judicially murdered so perhaps one day I could be added to that list just like he was? Or should I go to the capital of Delhi and await another genocide of my people like in November 1984 when thousands were burned alive in the streets with no justice being provided after almost 35 years? I have every right to be here and I have every right to raise my voice for the people of Khalistan/Punjab. We are colonizers, occupiers, and settlers here on this land and I can agree that my existence here is somewhat of a hypocrisy in itself, but until I have somewhere to return to, I fully intend to build solidarity with the traditional rulers of these unceded territories and use this space for the betterment of people here and elsewhere. I have a passport, social insurance number, etc. for as long as I need it to survive. I have no ill-will towards Canada as the land and society has provided me with a platform to engage the Indian government’s violent and genocidal agenda; although I fully understand the need to do better in the treatment and acknowledgement of First Nations and their legitimate claims to their territories. Personally, I would love to see every single human being succeed in life and be safe from discrimination, exploitation and oppression and that is why my advocacy for Khalistan is completely legitimate from this land. It doesn’t matter if you came here in the 1600s or came here last week, you still came here from somewhere and nobody has true “ownership” of the land here aside from those whose unceded territory it is. Therefore, the trauma and wounds some of us carry from the sufferings of the multiple identities (racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, etc.) we see ourselves through will always be with us.

“Canada in the twenty-first century exists as a country enriched by immense human and natural resources. It is a nation filled with majestic beauty beyond compare, populated by talented individuals attracted from all corners of the globe in recent years and generations past in search of better lives for themselves and their families- all of this occurring with little regard to its illegitimate and immoral beginnings.”
- Bradford W. Morse, "Reconciliation Possible? Reparations Essential," ed. Mike DeGagne, Marlene Brant-Castellano and Linda Archibald (Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2008), 235.

Currently, some Sikhs who are responding inadequately to media coverage in Canada are doing so from an ideologically and politically confused position of weakness. There are two things happening simultaneously; the first is this position of being “shocked” that this is happening to them in what they consider their “home” and the second that they are trying to respond in a manner to fit into this “home” by misrepresenting Sikhi to satisfy needs that stem from their own personal position of weakness. Putting the interests of individual Sikhs over Sikhi itself has been problematic in the past for Sikhs and a well-known example is the case of Ram Rai. Ram Rai misrepresented Sikhi (changed a shabad) out of fear to the state/political power (Aurangzeb and the Mughal Empire) in order to avoid harm. By doing so Ram Rai was accepted by the Mughal Empire and then rewarded with a Dera near Dehradun; a similar need for acceptance and possibly “rewards” is manifesting itself currently as well. Ram Rai was excommunicated by Guru Har Rai Sahib from the Sikh Panth for this misrepresentation and where some may not consider the misrepresentation of Sikhi occurring right now through media engagement at the same level, there is no denying that the misrepresentation itself is occurring. If the only issue for us in this misrepresentation is the degree of Ram Rai (full or partial) we want to become, then I will say without a doubt, we have failed as Guru de Sikh.

The context of sangarsh and patshahi is missing from all media coverage and as stated already, it is to be expected. The unfortunate thing is that this same context is missing from virtually all Sikh responses within Canada as well. There is a desperate need to represent Sikhs amongst the Sikh sangat in Canada and everyone wants to #AskCanadianSikhs while unfortunately, Sikhi is being misrepresented due to the fear and weakness of those being “asked.” Even this is going to be hard for many apologetic types to digest, but how can you condemn all forms of violence as a Sikh? Using terms like struggle, defense, resistance and revolution are completely fine, yet these terms all depend on the mode and means adopted in order to carry them out. They can all be carried out with non-violence like Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur and when necessary, they can all be carried out with the use of arms and violence like Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh. 

As a Sikh, you cannot and should not run from this. To condemn this is to condemn your Guru. The Guru gave clear instruction as to when and where there was justification for their Sikhs to take up arms and the moral and ethical code a Sikh must abide by in doing so:

ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਇ ਨਾਮ ਜਪ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਇ ਮਲੇਛ ਪਰ ਚੜ੍ਹ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ॥ (੫੧)
Khalsa is the one who remembers the divine name; Khalsa is the one who charges at the invaders.(51)

ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਇ ਨਾਮ ਸਿਉੁਂ ਜੋੜੇ ॥ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਇ ਬੰ ਧਨ ਕੋ ਤੋੜੇ ॥ (੫੨)
Khalsa is the one who is permeated with the celestial entity; Khalsa is the one who destroys bondage.(52)

ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਇ ਜੋ ਚੜ੍ਹ੍ਹ੍ਹੇ ਤੁਰੰਗ ॥ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਇ ਜੋ ਕਰੇ ਨਿਤ ਜੰਗ ॥ (੫੩)
Khalsa is the one who charges (into a righteous war); Khalsa is the one who is ever ready for righteous war.(53)

ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਇ ਸ਼ਸਤਰ ਕੋ ਧਾਰੈ ॥ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਸੋਇ ਦੁਸੰਟ ਕੋ ਮਾਰੈ ॥ (੫੪)
Khalsa is the one who adorns the arms; Khalsa is the one who exterminates the vicious.(54)

-Bhai Nand Lal, Tankhanama (conversations with Guru Gobind Singh)

Representing Sikhi in its mool form is the issue, not representing Sikhs and yes, there is a difference. A Sikh like me carries many weaknesses and in moments of uncertainty and potentially fear, I may want the problem to just go away and be accepted. If that means changing the mool (origin) of who I am and what I am supposed to represent then I may go along with it. But Sikhi is from the Guru and represented and manifested within Gurbani, Gur-itihas, and Gurmat. It is clear that the approach a Sikh must take in the most difficult moments must be gauged through Sikhi based on the examples of those who have represented it through action in our itihas. Almost every media piece written with some “context” as to the Indian government’s bloody campaigns against minority communities came at a price, but they were widely shared by panthic Sikhs nonetheless. So desperate were some of us for any half-decent representation that we let the very best of us, like Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, be sacrificed in the process. Sandy Garossino wrote a piece titled “The Truth Behind the Story Engulfing Canada’s Sikh Politicians” and even though it had the following in it, far too many Sikhs treated it as some kind of victory:

“India in the early eighties saw the emergence of a ruthless and charismatic Sikh nationalist, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Then-prime minister Indira Gandhi had once cultivated the religious zealot for her own political purposes. Now Bhindranwale directly challenged her authority by violently seizing and occupying Sikhism's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar… 
The Golden Temple assault electrified the entire Sikh faith. By slaughtering innocents along with Bhindranwale, Gandhi legitimized his cause and gave a face to Sikh religious persecution...
Bhindranwale's transformation from ruthless thug to religious icon and the face of Sikh religious persecution was complete.”

The highly derogatory language used against Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in this piece and many others is being forgiven or even purposely cast aside in order to use the remainder of the story to protect “Sikh politicians” like Jagmeet Singh in Canada. This is an unacceptable position for Sikhs to take from purely a Sikhi-sidhant perspective. 

The issue that Jagmeet Singh faces is highly problematic in and of itself. Jagmeet Singh is being forced to explain himself for attending events where Sikh sovereignty is on full display, much like Prime Ministers, Premiers, MPs, MLA’s and Mayors of various municipalities and political parties and leanings across Canada have as well. The stark difference in media coverage however, illustrates the difference in how he is talked about compared to his White counterparts. The issue seems less about the venue or context and more about the legitimacy of the person himself, speaking frankly, a young brown man with a full beard and round turban who represents a very visible minority in this country. If Jagmeet Singh spoke about the events of 1984 and mass human rights violations the Sikh people suffered at the hands of the Indian government, then so have elected officials of multiple political parties and the former leader of the NDP Jack Layton. If Jagmeet Singh as a MPP spoke about Sikh genocide and put a motion forward in the Ontario legislature, then so did Sukh Dhaliwal a Liberal MP under Michael Ignatieff’s leadership and he did it in parliament in Ottawa. Further, it was Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals that stood for and pushed through the declaration of genocide in the Ontario legislature and not Jagmeet Singh and the Ontario NDP (who did raise it the year before, but didn’t have enough seats to see the motion through). 

For someone like me, who has been involved in Sikhi parchar (with advocacy for Khalistan being a segment of that parchar) for almost 2 decades, I have no issue in stating that Jagmeet Singh is a Canadian political leader; Jagmeet Singh is NOT a Sikh leader. Jagmeet Singh agreeing or disagreeing with Sikh political causes doesn’t make them any more or less relevant and nor has he ever been given any authority to speak on behalf of the Sikh Panth. For any sangarsheel Sikh, Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara is the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib and it is his leadership that we seek since his history, perspective and outlook continue to be centered around the patshahi the Guru bestowed upon us. Jathedar Jagtar Singh Hawara is in a leadership role because even while wrapped in chains he continues to represent the soch that Guru sahib gave us in the form of Sikhi. Jathedar Hawara doesn’t and nor should he ever, represent the fears and weaknesses of Sikhs who become unhinged because they no longer know how to justify their mool and existence in the diaspora. Jathedar Jagtar Singh Hawara re-ignites in panthic Sikhs a never-ending and never-wavering inspiration to put the strength of Sikhi before the maya-infested weakness of Sikhs:

ਡਗਮਗ ਛਾਡਿ ਰੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ॥
Stop your wavering, O crazy people!

ਅਬ ਤਉ ਜਰੇ ਮਰੇ ਸਿਧਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਲੀਨੋ ਹਾਥਿ ਸੰਧਉਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Now that you have taken up the challenge of death, let yourself burn and die, and attain perfection.

Our position is clear, we wish to represent Sikhi to the best of our ability. Sikh Liberation Front (SLF) penned a piece a few weeks ago which best captures the state of the apologetic Sikh today who either knowingly or unknowingly are distancing themselves from their mool by representing and defending their personal weaknesses and defining it as “representing Sikhs.” 

“The apologists choose to project the Sikh jujharoo lehar (rebellion) as an anachronism of the past—an irrational (“extremist/terrorist”) outburst of violence that has no place in the liberal democratic “present” of their imaginations. They choose to latch on to a clear-cut division of time in order to banish Sikh existence and resistance into the realm of the “Other” in order to maintain their image as obedient, non-threatening citizens. .. The ignorance of these claims overlooks the legacy of genocide and the ongoing structures of repression which inhibit discourses of Sikh sovereignty from the political space in Punjab (52 Khalistani activists have been arrested in Punjab between April—December 2017 alone). Secondly, these claims ignore widespread political movements in recent years which centre around the movement for Khalistan. This includes massive mobilizations against the pending execution of Sikh political prisoners and for their immediate release—all of whom are in prison for waging an armed struggle against the Indian state in the pursuit of Khalistan. The symbolism and discourse underlying this movement clearly focused on the necessity of the armed struggle these prisoners were imprisoned for.”
-Prabjot Singh (SLF), “Confronting Race and Rejecting the Politics of Apology”

My appeal is to all those Sikh jathebandees, organizations, Gurdwara Sahibs, and any other individual or collective Sikhs that are currently speaking on this issue, ensure that we represent Sikhi in its mool form rather than giving in to fear or weakness in those difficult moments. As a Panth we have each other in the form of sangat and the Guru; if we are not able to perform this representation then we must look for and utilize those amongst our sangat that can. Our misrepresentation today will set unfortunate precedents for generations of Sikhs and how they interact with shastars, Gur-itihas and Khalsa Mahima. We cannot allow this to happen.

As stated in Panth Parkash by Rattan Singh Bhangu, when Bhai Taru Singh was arrested the Sikh sangat came together and did ardas and it was in the hopes that Sikhi would be represented until the last breath so that it would continue to exist in its mool roop as the Guru intended:

ਸਿੱਖੀ ਸਾਥ ਨਿਬਾਹੀ ਸਾਸ ॥
(May Bhai Taru Singh) Represent Sikhi until the last breath.

When news of Bhai Taru Singh’s shaheedee came to the sangat they once again performed ardas:

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪੈਜ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਰਾਖੀ ॥
ਰਹੈ ਜਗਤ ਮੈਂ ਜੁਗ ਜੁਗ ਸਾਖੀ ॥
Satguru has honored the Khalsa (through Bhai Taru Singh’s representation of Sikhi until his last breath); this example (representation of Sikhi) will remain until the end of time.

This is who we are and must become...in time Bhai Taru Singh and at least for now, the sangat that believed death was preferable to misrepresentation of Sikhi.

KHALISTAN ZINDABAD
Moninder Singh
Sikh Liberation Front (SLF)

Confronting Race and Rejecting the Politics of Apology

We were told that violence in itself is evil and that, whatever the case, it is unjustified morally. By what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence of a slave master?Violence aimed at the recovery of human dignity and at equality cannot be judged by the same yardstick as violence aimed at maintenance of discrimination and oppression.

    -Walter Rodney, Groundings with my Brothers 

Following the events of September 11, 2001, Sikhs across the Western world have been disproportionately marked as targets of violent hate crimes. As the US-led “War on Terror” inflicted the world with renewed imperialist intervention, racialized brown bodies would be increasingly marked as the legitimized targets of this war—particularly Sikh communities residing in North America and Europe. Throughout this period, various projects arose in response to this targeted violence. One of them, a t-shirt produced following the 2005 bombings in London, featured the racist message: “Don’t freak, I’m a Sikh.”

The message was clear in a world that had been divided into two camps by the famous American declaration: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Rather than challenging the Islamophobic racialization of brown bodies or the monopolization of violence by oppressive states, the creators of the t-shirt sought to submissively align Sikhs with Whiteness and the power of the West. By emulating the norms and practices of White bodies at the top of the racial hierarchy, many racialized individuals often hope that if they can perfect this mimicry, they may successfully escape further racial discrimination and violence. Sikh groups who seek to respond to Islamophobic violence by differentiating themselves from Muslims illustrate this perfectly.

racist t shirt.jpg

Thirteen years later, this strategy is once again reappearing in Sikh circles. This time, however, it revolves around the racist media coverage of Sikhs themselves, and the claims of Sikh apologists in response. 

Two claims are simultaneously put forth by these groups and individuals. Firstly, they “abhor violence” and claim that Sikh extremism is a phenomenon that only exists in the past. While implicitly accepting the branding of Sikh resistance as extremism, it is presented as an aberration that does not reflect “today’s” Sikh community. Rather than rejecting this racist characterization and seeking to place Sikh militancy in the context of genocide, they distance themselves from this reality altogether. 

The apologists choose to project the Sikh jujharoo lehar (rebellion) as an anachronism of the past—an irrational (“extremist/terrorist”) outburst of violence that has no place in the liberal democratic “present” of their imaginations. They choose to latch on to a clear-cut division of time in order to banish Sikh existence and resistance into the realm of the “Other” in order to maintain their image as obedient, non-threatening citizens. Whereas the initial strategy was to differentiate a Sikh identity from the Muslim “Other” targeted in the War on Terror, it now moulds itself to differentiating a non-violent and non-threatening identity from an “extremist/terrorist” Sikh identity. Their new slogan becomes, “Don’t freak, I’m a (“moderate/peaceful”) Sikh.”

These groups seemingly have no problem with the racist establishment demonizing and criminalizing militant Sikh resistance to genocide, as long as they aren’t labelled and targeted with the same racist brush.

Flowing from this, is the second claim that Khalistan is no longer a relevant political issue. When they are forced to reconcile with its undeniable presence, however, it is reframed within norms acceptable to Whiteness ie. as a pacified non-violent social media campaign. One of the aspiring politicians quoted in the most recent article, reveals his ignorance by suggesting that the Khalistan movement “was a movement in the past tense. It’s been in the past tense for a couple decades now.”

The ignorance of these claims overlooks the legacy of genocide and the ongoing structures of repression which inhibit discourses of Sikh sovereignty from the political space in Punjab (52 Khalistani activists have been arrested in Punjab between April—December 2017 alone). Secondly, these claims ignore widespread political movements in recent years which centre around the movement for Khalistan. This includes massive mobilizations against the pending execution of Sikh political prisoners and for their immediate release—all of whom are in prison for waging an armed struggle against the Indian state in the pursuit of Khalistan. The symbolism and discourse underlying this movement clearly focussed on the necessity of the armed struggle these prisoners were imprisoned for.

More recently, the reconvening of the Sarbat Khalsa in 2015, the collective assembly of the global Sikh panth, not only ratified the 1986 resolutions to wage a struggle for independence by any means necessary, it also appointed Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara as the Jathedar of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib (a revered guerrilla commander). In addition to these modes of civil disobedience, this period has also seen the resurgence of several Khalistani guerrilla organizations and a significant spike in guerrilla strikes across India. 

The ignorance and isolation of the apologists within their elitist silos, far removed from grassroots Panthic institutions and activism, speaks for itself.

Logically structured in exactly the same way as the the “don’t freak, I’m a Sikh” tees, these apologetic responses emanate from their lived reality of anxiety in a racist society and aspirations of an escape. By disavowing militant Sikh resistance as extremism, however, these responses accept and echo the attempt to relegate Sikh resistance as the barbaric “Other” while projecting an alternative sanitized image of a “Canadian Sikh.”

amritsar-khalistan.jpg

In the March 1925 edition of the Babbar Akali newspaper, anti-colonial Sikh revolutionaries made their positions clear in response to contemporary Sikh apologists disavowing the militant Babbar Akali movement in order to appease the British: 

We had reformed the enemies of the Panth and those who had deceived and harmed it. Our brothers were fighting a peaceful battle. We have fought battles as were fought by Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh Ji. We have done nothing against the tenets of Sikhi.

The Indian state declared war against the Sikh panth in 1984 and launched a genocidal campaign which Sikhs resisted en masse—mobilizing a range of strategies from civil disobedience to armed insurgency. From the Babbar Akalis to Khalistani jujharoo jathebandis (warrior bands), Sikhs have valiantly fought to defend our sovereignty from occupying forces and continue to do so. Those who are blessed with martyrdom in this struggle will continue to be venerated as shaheeds. As much as the apologists aspire to literally White wash Sikh existence and history to escape the harsh realities of racism, they will not erase our kaumi (collective) existence to do it. 

Along with other oppressed peoples of the world, including Palestinians, Tamils, Kurds and countless others, the Sikh panth will not disavow our right to resistance, self-defence, or self-determination in order to win the affection of imperialist powers or White supremacy. Nor do we need the approval of foreign powers to authorize our armed struggle. This right was already bestowed upon us by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib when he blessed the Khalsa with patshahi (sovereignty) in both worlds. 

 

ਚੁਕਾਰਅਜ਼ਹਮਹਹੀਲਤੇਦਰਗੁਜ਼ਸ਼ਤ॥ ਹਲਾਲਅਸਤੁਬੁਰਦਨਬਸ਼ਮਸ਼ੇਰਦਸਤ॥੨੨॥

When all other methods fail, it is righteous to take the sword in hand. 

 

On one hand, long grandiose speeches are made that India is a peace-loving country. Those who feel forced to resort to armed struggle in order to defend their rights are encouraged to engage in non-violent struggle instead. On the other hand however, it has been proven time and time again that those engaging in non-violent resistance will be consistently ignored or repressed by the establishmentAre the government and mainstream media not endorsing the belief that the only way to send a message through to the deaf ears of the state is through armed struggle?

-Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jathedar Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib (2013)

 

Prabjot Singh - Sikh Liberation Front

Countering Fake News

At the National Sikh Youth Federation, we will not tolerate slander and fabricated allegations made against the Sikh Shaheeds, who's names have been written in golden lettering in Sikh Ithihaas. Such is the greatness of the Guru and his Sikh, that those who are opposed, are unable to challenge Sikhi and the struggle for Khalistan it inspires.

Weak-willed and substandard journalists, have taken cheap shots at those who occupy the highest echelons of our nation. They fail to grasp the lofty ideals of the Guru and the dedication of his Khalsa and make ill-informed and unfounded claims.

Terry Glavin, a Canadian journalist has made a living out of peddling low-level sensationalist journalism which reinforce racist stereotypes and attempt to silence the voice of activists of the Sikh Quam. He recently jumped on the internationally trending topic of Khalistan, to offer up some of his own freshly concocted allegations:

“Across the shimmering pool from the Akal Takht, in his sandbagged four-storey bunker, Babbar Khalsa’s senior commander, Sukhdev Singh, happily admitted to me that on Parmar’s direct orders he’d recently carried out more than 40 assassinations. The dead were insufficiently observant Sikhs, poets, Hindu-Sikh peace activists, left-wing intellectuals and innocent Hindu shopkeepers. The killing would go on until Khalistan was won, Sukhdev Singh told me.”

The Babbar Khalsa was founded following the Vasaikhi Massacre of 1978 in which 13 Sikhs were brutally killed by armed Nirankaris (a god-man cult) with the assistance of the Panjab Police. Following the failure of the Indian Judicial system to dispense any justice, acquitting all the Nirankari accused, Sant Bhindranwale declared that as per Sikh tradition those guilty of murdering unarmed Sikhs should be punished.

The Babbar Khalsa is a Jujharoo Jathebandi, which mandated by the Akaal Takhat Hukumnama at the time, was set up to target those Nirankaris who were responsible for attacks on the Sikh nation.  It is false to claim that in the early 80s it was fighting for Khalistan, the struggle for which started after June 1984:

"The leading extremist Sikh group at the time, which had owned responsibility for killing 35 Nirankaris since 1981, was the Babbar Khalsa. It too denied any hand in the bus killings or indeed in the killing of any Hindus, bank robberies or religiously provocative acts. 'Our targets are only those Nirankaris who were involved in the Baisakhi killings of 1978, and those police officers who are guilty of torturing and humiliating Sikh youth’.
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
7 October 1983

 “Last fortnight Sukhdev Singh, the leader of one of the less well-known Akali groups, the Babbar Khalsa, proudly stepped out of the shadows to claim credit for the killing of 35 Nirankaris. Sukhdev Singh was unrepentant about his group's bloody activities, saying, "We shall continue to deal the same way with the enemies of the Panth."
India Today
January 15, 1984

 Shaheed Jathedar Bhai Sukhdev Singh Ji Babbar

Shaheed Jathedar Bhai Sukhdev Singh Ji Babbar

These statements, and the events as recorded at the time, completely disprove Glavin’s claim that the Babbar Khalsa was somehow bent on assassinating poets and innocent Hindu shopkeepers.

Political detractors of the time were quick to note that the Jujharoo Jathebandis would take full responsibility for their actual actions, and condemned actions that were carried out by Government sponsored groups to defame them:

“It is important to note that even the religious activists among the Sikhs who felt bold enough to claim responsibility for selected killings over this period, not only disclaimed these acts of communal murders of Hindus and desecration of Hindu temples, but also condemned them.”
Focus on Regional Issues, Volume 3
Institute of Regional Studies, 1984

 It is unclear therefore why the Babbar Khalsa would confide in Terry Glavin, of all people of their supposed 'real intentions'; to create Khalistan by massacring Hindus. It is noteworthy that those Terry claims to have interviewed have become Shaheed in the struggle for Khalistan, and cannot refute the fictitious claims that Terry chose to wait nearly 40 years to reveal.

"From his perch in the Akal Takht, “the throne of the timeless one,” the genocidal hatred of Hindus that Khalistani supreme leader Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale expressed during our interview was helpfully informative...  Khalistan was the ethnically cleansed theocracy that Bhinderanwale wanted to carve out of Punjab. It was nothing like the cause of a righteous Third World liberation movement that Canada’s Khalistanis were claiming it was."

It wasn’t only the Babbar Khalsa, Terry’s other alleged personal sources included Sant Bhindranwale (the most revered Sikh of the 21st century as declared by Akal Takhat). In the quote above from his recent article, Terry claims Sant Bhindranwale confided in him that rather than greater political autonomy and civil rights through agitations, for which over a hundred thousand Sikhs had courted arrest and over 100 died, Sant Ji's actual strategy for Khalistan was the ethnic cleansing of 10 million Hindus of Punjab.

Sant Bhindranwale repeatedly confirmed his stance in his speeches that he was not against Hindus in general but opposed to the Indian State that leveraged Brahmanism in a bid to galvanise a fanatical Hindu vote bank. He condemned any attacks on innocent Hindus, and no “ethinic cleansing” took place either while Sant Bhindranwale was alive or during the armed struggle for Khalistan.

Articles such as the one written by Terry are deeply problematic and show no understanding of Sikh thought or history. Fortunately for the Sikh Quam the media does not write our Itihas, rather Sikh Itihas is written by the Jivan and Kurbani of Gursikhs such as Shaheed Jatheder Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar and Shaheed Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale.

 

 Shaheed Jathedar Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale

Shaheed Jathedar Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale

There’s No Smoke Without Fire

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first official visit to India has been completely overshadowed by the topic of Khalistan. Political analysts globally have made much of the fact that, for the most of his trip, Trudeau was snubbed by senior members of the Indian Government.

modi_trudeau_5948a9bb9b01f.jpg

It was the absence of Indian Prime Minister Modi in Trudeau’s publicity pictures which has been most revealing. Modi, infamous for his awkward “bear hugging” of reluctant political leaders, is usually much more ‘touchy feely’ with his political counterparts, especially western ones.

The fall out derives from fears of the Indian Government that Canadian Members of Parliament, including ministers and Prime Minister Trudeau himself, are sympathetic to the struggle for Khalistan. First, Jagmeet Singh then Member of Provincial Parliament was denied an entry visa for India, punishment for his campaigning to have the massacres in Northern India in October/November 1984 be recognised as genocide.

The Indian Government then watched in dismay as 4 Sikhs were appointed as ministers of Justin Trudeaus Government in 2015, and worse still watching Jagmeet Singh become his party’s political leader (NDP Party) in 2017.

Chief Minister of Panjab Captain Amarinder Singh was quick to denounce the 5 (?) Sikh Canadian Ministers as being Khalistani sympathisers, and refused to meet Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan when he visited India in 2017. The allegations stem from the fact that Sajjan’s father was an executive member of the World Sikh Organisation, a Canadian based organisation which supported the creation of Khalistan.

It was only following Trudeau’s assertions that Canada supported a “united India”, was he finally met by a Chief Minister in India. Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister for Panjab met both Trudeau and Harjit Singh Sajjan on Wednesday (21/2/2018), after days of speculation with the Canadian Prime Minister’s office, unable to confirm whether they would be meeting.

It is clear that Canadian trade with India, which was estimated at $6 billion in 2016, played heavily on Trudeaus mind, as he successfully appeased the Indians. There were high stakes for the maverick prime minister, in addition to the existing trade, two stalled trade agreements -- one on fair trade and one on foreign investments -- have been under negotiation since 2010, and hopes had been high that Trudeau's visit would help to push those talks forward.

Indian Diplomatic Efforts Against Khalistan Pre and Post 1984

India has utilised all means to prevent the succession of the Panjab region for the formation of Khalistan, in the war for independence which has spanned nearly 40 years. This has included underhanded dealings with foreign governments, especially those with whom lucrative trade deals could be used in exchange for human rights suppression.

In exchange for lucrative contracts selling arms to India, Margaret Thatcher’s Government was happy to send over SAS advisors to help plan the assault on Darbar Sahib in June 1984, and curtail the rights of Sikhs in Britain who were proponents of Khalistan. The Cabinet meeting minutes of 22 November 1984 make it very clear what was behind the UK’s behaviour:

‘The British High Commission in New Delhi had reported continuing threats in Indian governmental circles of a trade boycott in the event of behaviour by the Sikh community in the United Kingdom which the Indians might regard as provocative.  This posed a serious risk: export contracts worth £5 billion could be at stake.  The march by Sikhs in Central London, which had been due to take place on 18 November, had been banned (by the Home Secretary).’

Originally representations between India and western governments were private, diplomatic and cooperative in nature, now they are more adversarial, aggressive and public. This is a clear sign that the target audience for this behaviour is Sikhs; India will close ranks on us, eroding our privileged positions in the west, and target those who support our struggle for Khalistan.

If we look at the current situation, the Indian Government through its intelligence agencies would know that Justin Trudeau is not a Khalistani sympathiser, nor are the Sikh members of his cabinet. That being the case, what was the purpose of making such a huge deal? Trudeau’s whole visit, his first official visit as prime minister to India, has been completely dominated by the issue of Khalistan.

He and his Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan have had to repeatedly make their position clear that they do not support Khalistan. If India was aware of this already, why the charade? It was only on the 23rd February, towards the end of his visit that Modi did meet Trudeau. After making their stance clear on Khalistan, Trudeau was rewarded with the customary Modi bear hug.

It is argued that this was a power play by India, to show Sikhs that if it wants to it can bully western governments, who are vying for its trade.

This would come as a blow to those Sikhs who see Trudeau as an ally of Sikhs, and Sajjan’s appointment, a boost for the Sikh nation. India forced the Canadian Government to make its position clear, removing all ambiguity that Sajjan and others stand with Canada, and thus with India, and its integrity, and not with the Sikh nation and its struggle for Khalistan.

Real Eyes - Realise - Real Lies

While there has been immense global coverage of Trudeau’s visit to India and his treatment by Modi and his Government because of Khalistan, a major theme has largely gone unnoticed by both western, Indian and Sikh commentary. Western media, particularly Canadian, have concentrated on the timing of Trudeau’s visit and its relevance to the Canadian federal elections in 2019;

"Indo-Canadians — a constituency that helped the Liberals win a majority government in 2015 and could play a decisive role in next year's federal election... For the Liberals, the domestic political aspects of the trip are primarily defensive in nature. There are 25 ridings in Canada where at least one-fifth of the population reports being South Asian (that includes Pakistanis and Sri Lankans along with Indians). The Liberals won 24 of those ridings in the 2015 federal election”

How Trudeau's India trip lays the groundwork for the 2019 election
Éric Grenier, CBC News (22 Feb 2018)

The Indians meanwhile have been whipping themselves into a frenzy, publishing pictures of Trudeau wearing a Ramaal, questioning whether Khalistan will be formed in Canada first! While initially instigated by Indian politicians like Captain Amarinder Singh, and fuelled by Modi’s dismissiveness, the Indian press has gone into full hysteria.

Sikh response has been largely to tow the media line, and to hint that Sikhs were being demonised, with Khalistan discussed with polarising language, such as extremism and even terrorism. What has gone largely unnoticed is the glaring contradiction in the Indian Government narrative.

While all diplomatic and propaganda measures have been adopted and all levels of state machinery mobilised against the Khalistan movement, the Indian Government simultaneously maintains the “Khalistani Sikhs”, are a fringe element of an otherwise docile and obedient Sikh diaspora:

“Militancy started in Punjab out of political reasons and Pakistan, too, was a fringe element, which was willing to take some benefit out of the dissenters. Today’s Sikhs do not harbour any Khalistani sentiment and this is a reality. This movement has no future anymore.”
A.B. Mahapatra
Centre for Asian Strategic Studies-India (CASS-India)

This statement above highlights the hypocrisy of the Indian Government’s position, if the Khalistan movement is an aging and toothless tiger, why is there such high-level discourse between two superpowers? Why did India risk a high level diplomatic fall out with Canada, by refusing to meet senior Canadian Government officials, and labelling them as being “terrorist sympathisers”.

Sikhs are a minority within India, making up only 1.72% of the country's total population. The diaspora in Canada only amounts to 2.5% of that in Panjab, and yet the “Khalistani Sikh” is allegedly a tiny minority within them! A tiny minority, and yet the Khalistan issue trumped the whole visit, prioritised over all other national interests, including those of all other States in India.

Some Sikhs claim that this is all an attempt to slander the community as extremists. However, this is an overly simplistic view, while slander of the Sikh community has always been Indian narrative, other revelations show that the deeper reasonings are more complex. For example, the idea that this whole episode was to defame Sikhs is contradicted by the fact that Trudeau has been trying to arrange the state visit for two years, but India proved cold and uninterested.[1] Insiders state that India was unhappy at Trudeau’s initial unwillingness to disown or distance from the Khalistani supporters, who he is alleged to have given patronage to.

Modi took the opportunity at the G20 in Hamburg to raise India’s objections to Trudaus attendance at Sikh rallies where Khalistan national flags and posters of Sikh Shaheeds (Khalistan Martyrs) were openly displayed. When Trudeau defended himself on the basis of freedom of speech, Modi made it clear that he viewed “pro-Khalistan groups as a serious security threat”, and that the relationship between India and Canada could not proceed, with a halt on any further trade, until Canada changed its position.

Between the G20 in Hamburg and last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, where the two leaders met again, the Trudeau cabinet had begun to show signs of reversing its position. More importantly, Trudeau himself dropped all talk of freedom of speech at the meeting, which paved the way for Trudeaus first visit to India. These high-level discussions and negotiations between Canada and India show that this is not a propaganda campaign, but genuine concerns India has about the potential threat, from a mobilised and active Sikh diaspora.

As part of the agreement between Modi and Trudeau, the Canadian PM had to meet Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. This would also be seen as forcing the Canadians to legitimise the State Ministership of Panjab, against the interests of Sikhs, who consider Panjab to be under occupation.

Captain Amarinder Singhs tweets following his meeting, and media reports[2] highlight the contradiction in State narrative, on the one hand the Khalistani’s represented “a fringe element, constituting a miniscule percentage”, but yet he raised the issue of Khalistan, because it was his “primary issue” of major importance. Singh, later tweeted that he was “really happy to receive categorical assurance” from Trudeau that he did not support Khalistan, and that those “words are a big relief to all of us here in India”.

If the Sikhs committed to Khalistan were truly an aging fringe section of the community it would make more sense for the Indian Government to ignore the Khalistanis’, and not give the struggle such prominence and attention. However, it is clear that while acknowledging that it would give it credibility, this was considered a necessary concession, out of desperation, to try and force Canada to stand against the Khalistanis'.

It is also interesting to note that Trudeau did not explicitly mention Khalistan himself in his actual statements, and was criticised by some Canadian journalists,[3] for refusing to explicitly denounce Khalistan. What he did say was that he was against religious extremism and radicalism, which does not apply to the Khalistan movement. Furthermore, Captains statements about their meeting have been now disputed by Trudeau who claims much of what Captain has told the press simply is a fabrication.

Whilst some Sikhs are concerned about the defamatory statements made by the Indian State and its media channels, who see Khalistani Sikhs as a serious threat, we should be inspired and emboldened to the potential we have as Sikhs of the Guru.

What Has Changed

As discussed, the Indian State has changed its approach with western governments, taking up aggressive almost threatening behaviour to coerce them into taking positions against Khalistan. This is radically different from the traditional secret world of closed meetings and deals between diplomats and intelligence agents.

One reason for this change in approach, is the development in the last 10 years that the Sikh diaspora has undergone. For the past 40 years, India has not had to worry about western politicians becoming sympathetic to the Sikh struggle for Khalistan. Sikhs were small in number, novice in politics, and it would not have been in the interest of western politicians, let alone governments to provide sincere support.

Whilst it can be argued that with further migration and more time spent in the diaspora, we lose connection with our homeland in Panjab, and grow new roots in our host countries, there are some by-product benefits. One of those is better engagement and lobbying with politics in our host countries, and the strongest example of this is the Sikh diaspora in Canada:

“The Canadian Sikh community nearly doubled in size between 2001 and 2011, and its members are concentrated in important electoral districts. All three major parties—the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP—actively try to win over Sikh voters, giving them significant influence. Parties make a point of fielding Sikh candidates, and provinces have been attentive to Sikh rights.” … “Out of 338 seats, 17 are occupied by Sikhs—forming a share that outstrips the corresponding percentage of Sikhs in Canada’s overall population. Within three generations, Canadian Sikhs have gone from disenfranchisement to disproportionate representation.”
Model Minority
The Caravan
February 2018

 

Not only is this problematic for the Indian State because Sikhs in Canada have greater influence over Canadian politicians, who may now have to be sympathetic to our causes, but what about when a Sikh becomes a prominent politician, and his causes are the same?

An example of this is Jagmeet Singh, leader of the NDP party in Canada. He along with other Sikh members of Provincial Parliament supported a motion which saw the Ontario Assembly become the first legislature in Canada to carry a motion that described the 1984 anti-Sikh violence as “genocide”.

This was a symbolic yet significant move, the gravity of which can be judged by the frantic, but ultimately, unsuccessful lobbying of the Indian Consul General in Toronto, and several prominent Indo-Canadian organisations, including the Canada-India Foundation, Panorama India and India Canada Chamber of Commerce, against the motion.

By defining as genocide, the narrative shifts from the Indian State narrative of random violence between civilian groups, to the state sponsored massacre, as part of the wider genocidal campaign against Sikhs it was. The latter accurate description of the events in October/November 1984 across Northern States in India, naturally inspires Sikhs towards Khalistan.

It is clear that India recognised the significance of the motion, in justifying Jagmeet Singh’s travel ban to India; it stated that it viewed Jagmeet’s activism as “seeking to undermine” Indian political institutions and “foment contempt to the country”, and that individuals such as Jagmeet were only “misusing the pretext of human rights to pursue their insidious agenda of disrupting the social fabric of India.”

Technology, including the internet and social media has also been a huge factor, as it has transformed how we receive and disseminate information. Traditionally most of the information and leadership would have been received from the stages at Gurughars, and therefore the Indian State has always had a vested interest and infiltrated where possible, in order to control the narrative. While the Gurughar will always be central to the community, if Panthic voices are supressed or deviant narratives pushed instead today, there are a whole range of alternate avenues, including social media, that are being used to maintain Guru-centric narrative.

With this new method of communication, Sikh activism and leadership takes on more organic and unfettered forms, unrestricted by geographical boundaries, Sikh diaspora across continents can be mobilised with one tweet. An example of this is the #FreeJaggi campaign. The Indian State has been unable to control the rhetoric as it may have been able before, and largely the traditional leadership have been irrelevant to the campaign, which is free to take which ever route it wants.

This sporadic rather than linear movement, is hard to track and counter, and produces spectacular unpredictable results. For example, as the anti-India feeling spread across the diaspora with the #FreeJaggi campaign, the Ontario Gurdwara Committee (OGC), which represents 15 Gurdwaras in the province, imposed a ban on Indian officials, including elected representatives, from entering their Gurdwaras. Within days this the boycott movement had spread across other Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, and beyond its borders to America, the UK (225 Gurughars), and most recently, Melbourne in Australia.

The implications of these overlapping Panthic Morchay are not lost on the Indian State, Hindustan Times reported on the boycott phenomenon with their fears that

“As the movement escalates, there’s fear that it might lead to call for an independent Punjab among Sikhs abroad.”
Hindustan Times
Fears of a New Sikh Uprising Emerge
12 February 2018

It is clear that it is the Sikh diaspora that is causing alarm to the Indian State. The recent assassinations of Hindu fascist leaders, attributed to the Khalisan Liberation Force has been linked with the Sikh diaspora. Use of western weapons, the assassins use of western training methods, counter surveillance technology for logistics and communication, clearly show that Sikhs outside of Panjab, had been coordinating the audacious executions across the State.

The fact that diasporic sikh are dominating military actions in Panjab rubbishes usual claims of Pakistan involvement. India is less concerned with Pakistan involvement, nor can it maintain the pretence of the latters involvement, as was made clear when Prime Minister Modi travelled to Pakistan in 2015 to celebrate the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s birthday.[4]

Furthermore, the willingness of Sikhs in Panjab to train, pick up arms and contribute to the armed movement, is equally troubling for the Indian State, especially given recent revelations that one of the alleged assassins is claimed to have returned home from Italy to join the Khalistan Liberation Force.

In a time when emigration is rife in Panjab, the sight of young Sikhs giving up materialistic exploits in the west, and committing to the liberation of Panjab, will draw disturbing parallels in the minds of Indian intelligence agencies, to similar actions of Khalistan leaders like Jathedar Talwinder Singh Babbar.

The Indian State has been rocked by the resurgence of Panthic activism across the Sikh diaspora. We  must recognise the potential within the Qaum, that India so clearly fears. A mobilised Sikh diaspora, is limited by its objectives only. As India attempts to use bully boy tactics to isolate Sikhs from western governments, this should strengthen our resolve and remind us that liberation can not be achieved piggybacking off the sovereignty of another. Throughout Sikh history through raj and rebellion, thrones and gallows, confederacies and genocides, our only source of constant support has been the Guru.

Sri Akaal Ji Sahai

Khalistan Zindabad

 

 

[1] https://theprint.in/2018/02/20/trudeau-wanted-india-visit-two-years-ago-modi-was-cold/

[2] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/canada-wont-support-separatist-movements-trudeau-tells-punjab-cm/article22816851.ece

[3] http://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/fatah-all-trudeau-needed-to-do-was-denounce-the-khalistan-movement

[4] https://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/25/asia/india-pm-visits-pakistan/index.html

Challenge the Darkness: Sikh Activism and Indian Torture

Blog-02.jpg

The recent (illegal) arrest, detention and subsequent torture without charge of a Sikh activist and British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal,[1] referred to affectionately as Jaggi, needs to be viewed in the context of a larger struggle between the Sikh Qaum and India.

Sikhs are concerned with Jaggi’s welfare, with the threat of continued torture and the risk of an extrajudicial killing by the State. For nearly 4 decades, torture and extrajudicial killings have been the weapons of choice against Sikh activists by the Indian State, and disturbingly for Jaggi’s family and the wider Sikh Qaum, often welded together.

Since the partition of Panjab, the Sikh homeland, to create the two modern-day nation states India and Pakistan, the Sikh Qaum has been in a state of conflict with India for its existence and independence. In 1947, the tearing apart of Panjab caused 40% of the Sikh population to become homeless and almost 2.5% to be brutally massacred. Over 700 Gurudwaras, including 130 historical Gurudwaras such as Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib, and over 70% of the fertile, irrigated and rich Punjabi land fell into Pakistan’s territory.

It was in this backdrop that the Sikh Qaum reeling from the loss of territory, both geographic and political, built from Guru Nanak to Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, began a desperate struggle for its existence. The promise of regaining the “glow of freedom[2] upon which Sikh lives were sacrificed to liberate “India” quickly diminished with the creation of India.[3] Panjab didn’t exist and according to the Constitution of India, neither did the Sikhs.[4]

“Without a determined and grim struggle, we shall get demoralised and will disintegrate, losing our identity and perish in the dust. It would be cowardly to accept this fate. If we struggle and fall, we die a brave and noble death and if we struggle and win, we live an honourable life. So, the choice is clear”.[5]

 Master Tara Singh
 Sikh Leader

The Sikhs refused to sign the Constitution, and the struggle, now against India, commenced. Whilst the Sikhs threw themselves into this struggle with the same fervour as in the past, nearly a century of British Colonial rule had left its impact on the Sikh ideology and its institutions. Where “diplomatic” and “democratic” measures were given precedence over more Khalsa oriented direct action. As a result, there was much sacrifice with no result, proving to be counter-productive to the overall Sikh cause.

For example, the Akali Dal agitation for a Punjabi Suba saw over 60,000 Sikhs peacefully courted arrest. The Reorganisation Act of 1966 in response dissected Panjab further into four pieces. The major portion of its territory was ceded to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. A sizeable chunk of its territory, about 23%, was transferred to Himachal Pradesh, while the State of Haryana secured 35.8% of the territory of the pre-organised Punjab.

The struggle continued against this latest attack on the Sikh Qaum but was lethargic and lacklustre. The next ten years only bringing about the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, a document which encapsulated the vision of the Sikhs at that time, of their aspirations for the Khalsa Bol Bala (the voice and power of the Khalsa/pre-eminence of the Khalsa).

This changed drastically with the arrival of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Panthic scene, the Jathedar of the Dam Dami Taksaal appointed in August 1977. Sant Bhindranwale galvanised or “woke up the sleeping” Sikh Qaum.[6]

In August 1982, he joined the Akali led Dharam Yudh Morcha and gained even more prominence. Speaking from the Akali stage to thousands day-to-day, his passionate speeches anchored in Gurbani and rich with glorious memories of great Sikhs, such as Banda Singh Bahadhur and Baba Deep Singh, resonated with Sikhs from all walks of life. His speeches were less about the Constitutional rights of Sikhs in India, and more about Sikh ideology; the relationship between the Sikh and the Guru, and concepts of Azaadi and Ghulami, Dharam and Panth.

It was in this context, and at this time with the rise of a desire of Sikh sovereignty that the Indian Government responded with State terror to suppress the organic movement for self-determination.

Extrajudicial killings and Torture of Sikh Activists

It was during the Dharam Yudh Morcha that the Indian State, through its security forces, began to target Sikh activists. Over 190 Sikhs were killed, primarily peaceful demonstrators, during the morcha at roadblocks etc. The state also carried out targeted extrajudicial killings. The first being Shaheed Bhai Kulwant Singh Nagoke, a leading member of the Sikh resistance.[7] While the security forces had beaten and mistreated other Sikh detainees during the DYM, in Kulwant Singh Nagoke’s case the levels of depravity were exceeded, amounting to the most gruesome torture:

“From 27th May to 9th June 1982, Kulwant Singh was so brutally tortured that his bones were broken at various places; his body was torn at the hip joint by pulling his legs in opposite direction; his intestines had been taken out and both eyes had been gouged out. His nails had been pulled out. His thigh had been ripped open and salt poured into it. On 9 June ‘82 Kulwant Singh died in custody of the Police.”[8]

This became a major milestone in the Sikh struggle. The sanctioning of this treatment by the Indian State, and the Sikh response to it intensified the struggle where the only acceptable outcome now was death or Azaadi (Khalistan). While this had been the mindset of the Sikh Jujharoos, the vanguard of the struggle throughout, it was the Battle of Amritsar in June 1984 that, as prophesied by Sant Bhindranwale, laid the foundation for Khalistan in the minds and hearts of the rest of the Qaum. These sentiments were later ratified by the Sarbat Khalsa in 1986, which officially declared the decision of the Qaum to secede from India and create Khalistan.

From a small band of armed fighters, the entire Sikh Qaum was now obligated to Joojh (struggle/fight) for Khalistan. In response, the State galvanised all of its armed machinery against the Sikh Qaum. From a small concentration of senior police officers tasked with targeting and executing key Sikh activists, the entire Indian Security forces from the Army to the Police and all in-between were made aware that the target was now much wider:

“Any knowledge of Amritdharis, who are dangerous people and pledged to commit murders, arson and acts of terrorism should immediately be brought the notice of authorities.  These people might appear harmless from outside but they are basically committed to terrorism.  In the interest of all of us, their identity and whereabouts must always be disclosed….They have to be subdued to achieve the final aim of restoring peace in the country”[9]

Indian Army, Baatcheet (Army circular), No. 153, 1984.
Circulated to the Army following the Battle of Amritsar

The attack on Sri Darbar Sahib, Codenamed Operation Bluestar by the Indian Army, was part of a wider plan to suppress the voice and spirit of the Sikh Qaum, who had for the first time in decades began to assert its desire to be completely autonomous. Other operations by the Indian State were similarly brutal and coincided with Bluestar, including Woodrose which attempted to round up and eliminate any other Azaadi Pasand (activist) Sikh:

“The pattern in each village appears to be the same. The army moves in during the early evening, cordons a village and announces over loudspeakers that everyone must come out. All males between the age group of 15 and 35 are trussed and blindfolded, then taken away. Thousands have disappeared in the Punjab since the Army operation began.”
The Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 1984.

During this period, of the struggle for Khalistan, torture was not as prevalent as extrajudicial killings, as the State hurriedly tried to eliminate the leaders and activists of the young revolution. Clearly, the State had not taken into account Sikh history, or maybe it thought that it was just that, history:

"Manu is our sickle; we the fodder for him to mow.

The more he reaps, the more we grow."[10]

(Manu asadi datri, asi Manu de soe Jeon jeon

Manu Wad-da, asi dune chaune hoe)


Over the next decade, the full might of the Indian State including its Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature were employed to bring down the heights reached by the Khalistan movement. As opposed to achieving this through military might, which India possesses, the strategies which ultimately proved successful were barbaric and inhumane. Legislation like the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1985 legitimised the genocidal campaign against all Sikhs giving the authorities:

“Wide powers to arrest and detain without trial under vague provisions facilitate arbitrary arrests, as well as torture and other grave violations.”
Amnesty International
1 November 1994, Index number: ASA 20/039/1994

The armed movement was a popular movement backed by the masses, the Jujharoo Sikhs (armed groups) were themselves a minority. The State however directly targeted the Sikh populace at large rather than undertake any reasonable effort to engage in combating the Jujharoo Sikhs, who had occupied and controlled large areas of Panjab.

The extrajudicial killings of Sikhs were rewarded by the State, paying out tens of thousands of cash bounties to police officers simply by presenting a dead body and alleging it was a militant.

“By 1994, cases of disappearances in the state given by Human Rights Organisations were around 50,000.”
Report in Asian Age, February 8, and Pioneer, February 4, 1995

“It was a terrible tale of sadistic torture, ruthless killings, fake encounters, calculated ill-treatment of women and children, and corruption and graft on a large scale.”
Citizens For Democracy; Report To The Nation: Oppression in Punjab (Bombay, 1985).

Human rights organisations argue that the figures of Sikhs that were “disappeared” (euphemism for extrajudicial killings) were grossly understated. The State did not conduct any investigations into itself obviously, activists that took up the challenge found themselves added to the statistic.[11]

What is clear is that the main victims of state brutality were the ordinary Sikhs. Why were they targeted to stop an armed movement? The State decimated a generation of Sikhs, because they supported the goal of Khalistan, and they revered their Sikh Jujharoos who were fighting for it. The State attacked the Sikh civilian population in order to drive fear into the hearts of Sikhs. While a large number were killed, those that survived lived with the unimaginable fear of witnessing people “disappear” simply for looking as if they might support Khalistan.

Torture proved to be an effective tool for this purpose. While the Sikh Jujharoos are revered as martyrs, the ordinary citizen who was tortured lived with the scarring memory and the horrific lifelong injuries, as a permanent reminder for the others.

A Harvard Study into torture in Panjab during the Khalistan movement provides insights into the methods and objective of those who tortured:

“In virtually all cases, detainees were forced to disrobe and were then beaten with leather straps and/or wooden sticks. These acts were so common that most respondents did not even consider them acts of torture”

“…The most common form of torture, reported by (75%) of the respondents, was leg stretching. For this torture, detainees were forced to sit on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs. One police officer stood behind the detainee, pulling his or her head back by the hair, inserting his foot between the detainee's tied hands and low back while forcing his knee into the mid-back. Two other policemen, one on each side, stretched the legs as far apart as possible.

“Electric shocks were administered using wires that touched their earlobes, genitals, toes, and fingers.”

“According to one police officer, in his police station alone, between 4,000 and 5,000 acts of torture were committed each year from 1985 to 1990.”

The overwhelming majority of the victims of torture surveyed in this report were not suspected to be combatants in the Khalistan movement by the police. These victims included both men and women and the ages ranged from 17 to 82. The report concluded that the police arrested, detained without charges, systematically tortured and killed “thousands of Sikhs who were perceived to be sympathetic to the movement”.

The levels of violence and intended trauma this caused the individuals, their immediate families and their wider communities was to strike fear into the hearts of the Sikh Qaum as a whole.
The methods in which India has treated Sikh activists, especially those who advocate Khalistan, has not changed since the 1990s. In Jagtar Singh’s case, the same methods of barbaric torture have been inflicted upon him, from beatings and stretching limbs beyond their range of motion and electric shocks administered to his earlobes, nipples and genitals.[12] The report of the torture carried out in 2017 is almost identical to the case studies of torture from Human Rights reports from the 1980s/90s (as considered earlier).

It is not that the nuclear superpower which recently launched a space mission is unable to update its torture methods, but that by utilising the same historic methods of abuse, invokes painful memories and trauma for thousands of Sikhs worldwide:

“I’ve been hiding what’s happening to Jaggi from my mom in fear of triggering the trauma she’s been through. She just found out and burst into tears. She’s shaking and begging me to stop posting things online.
My heart goes out to all the people who have PTSD from the Sikh genocide and are going through a very tough time.”

The State’s abuse and rhetoric force Sikhs to internalise the trauma and the burden of guilt, that those “dark days” were the result of us challenging the darkness (State). The dynamics and cycle of fear are complex, while the Government “cracks down” viciously on Sikh activists to strike fear; it is the Government itself that is most afraid. Often against an individual or a small number of individuals that are deemed a threat, the Government exercises all of its powers to destroy them so severely that you would be mistaken to believe they pose a serious threat to one of the largest armies in the world.

In the case of Jagtar Singh, the whole establishment from the Executive to the Judiciary has been put into action against one man. Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh held a press conference after Jagtar Singh’s arrest, alleging that he was involved in a series of high profile crimes and that the crimes had been solved with Jagtar’s arrest. It is extraordinary that the Chief Minister of the State would get involved in an individual case, let alone prejudice the case from the start by reporting to the world that Jagtar was guilty before charges have been made.

Then there is the Judiciary, which, in the face of complaints of serious torture is extending (currently up to 30 days) police remand without charge, to enable the torture and mistreatment in police custody. This is in addition to the Police who illegally abducted him in the manner of a kidnapping (snatched off the streets of Panjab with a sack thrown over his head), and has been torturing Jagtar Singh to obtain a false confession. They have also been harassing his family and threatening them with a similar fate, which has led to many of Jagtar Singh’s family having to go into hiding.

Jagtar Singh was targeted for his political activism, he had published websites and magazines which were anti-State and pro-Sikh. The material which has been deemed so inflammatory documented the Sikh struggle for a separate state, and the human rights abuses committed against the Sikhs in this pursuit.

His case has parallels to that of Bhai Jaswant Singh Khalra. In 1995, the Punjab police abducted, tortured, and murdered human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra for his work in documenting human rights abuses committed against the Sikhs during the Sikh struggle for a separate state. Khalra uncovered evidence to prove that tens of thousands of Sikhs (non-combatant) had been extrajudicially murdered, and secretly cremated by the Punjab police.

Khalra was also labelled as being a member of the Khalistan movement and additionally an agent of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence[13] by the Indian State, as Jagtar Singh has also been accused. These allegations, especially the ISI connection is designed to dehumanise and discredit Jagtar Singh and essentially justify his persecution. In the case of Jaswant Singh Khalra, these allegations were used to legitimise the abduction, torture and extrajudicial killing of the late human rights activist.

Whilst it is only natural to feel fear following the brutal persecution of Jagtar Singh and relive past traumas, we must remember these sacrifices as a contribution for the Chardi Kala of the Sikh Qaum. 

The dark days are not when we are oppressed, but when we do not make a stand.

In his last speech, Jaswant Singh Khalras addressed the Sikh diaspora in Canada in a soul-stirring address, in which he exposed India’s human rights abuses to the world. Many requested Khalra to remain and claim political asylum as his life would be at risk in India. In response to his speech, he spoke of a Panjabi fable about the one lamp that challenged the darkness (oppression). The lamp, (that he, in fact, manifested himself), would challenge the darkness from setting, even if only around that lamp. He said that the lamp was then joined by other lamps until the darkness was overcome.

Jagtar Singh is one of the other lamps Khalra spoke about. The light that Jagtar Singh’s case has shed on Sikh human rights issues, by first becoming an example himself, and then through the global #FreeJaggiNow campaign is clear. There have been others before them, and there must be more now also, to continue this challenge, to the darkness.

 

Excerpts from Jaswant Singh Khalra’s last speech in Ontario (1995)


There is a fable that when the Sun was setting for the first time, and it was completing its journey, Light was decreasing. The light was decreasing, and the signs of Darkness were appearing.

It is said that lamentation was rife among the people – that the Sun will set, Darkness will spread, and no one will be able to see anything. “What will happen to us?” Everybody was worried, but the Sunset.

In order to show its strength, Darkness set its foot on the Earth. But far away, in some hut, one little Lamp lifted his head.

It proclaimed “I challenge the Darkness. If nothing else, then at least around myself. I will not let it settle. Around myself, I will establish Light.”

Watching that one Lamp, in other huts, other lamps arose. And the world was amazed that these lamps stopped Darkness from expanding so that people could see.

I believe that today, when Darkness is trying to overwhelm Truth with full strength, then if no one else, Ankhila (proud) Punjab, like a Lamp, is challenging this Darkness.

And I pray to the Guru, who identifies with Truth, to keep this light lit.

….

We ask the Guru for everything, but afraid, we don't ask the Guru for that one gift. The Guru has many gifts, but what is the greatest gift the Guru has?

That special gift -- which the Guru possesses -- is the gift of martyrdom.

Those who receive this gift -- they don't get to be Guru. But after the Guru, they are the most respected people of our Sikh nation.

I have hope. I am not a political leader who plays politics. I will definitely say this to you:

The Khalsa was inaugurated to protect the human rights of the world.

If you cannot protect your own human rights, you will not be able to give any sense of the Khalsa to the world.

 

I ask that you please don't learn how to just take from the Guru. Also learn how to fulfill the instructions given to you by the Guru.

That will encompass everything. You will obtain all joys.

With these remarks, please join in me the victorious greeting: Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Sri Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh (“The Khalsa belongs to the Waheguru, and all victory belongs to Waheguru”)

 

Dhan Guru, Dhan Guru Piyaarai
Parnaam Sada Shaheeda Nu
Khalistan Zindabad!

Baljit Singh
 

[1] Jagtar Singh Johal (Jaggi), a 31 year old British national was abducted of the streets of Panjab on 4th November 2017. At the time of writing Jagtar has been in detention for over 20 days without charge.

[2] "...the brave Sikhs of Punjab are entitled to special considerations. I see nothing wrong in an area set up in the North of India wherein, the Sikhs can also experience the glow of freedom." (Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lahore Bulletin, January 9, 1930)

[3] "...in future, the Congress shall accept no constitution which does not meet with the satisfaction of the Sikhs" (The Lahore session of the Congress Party. December 31, 1929)

[4] Sikhs are not recognised in the Constitution; Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, refers to Sikhs as being a part of the Hindu faith.

[5] Partap Singh; Biography of S. Hukam Singh (New Delhi, 1989), P52.

[6] Reference to the popular maxim; “Bhindranwale Sant Sipahi, Jihna Suthi Kaum Jugaee”, (Bhindranwale the Saint Soldier who awoken the Sleeping Sikh Qaum).

[7] See Game of Love page, Akaal Publishers p136

[8]  S.S. Dharam; The Only Option For Sikhs (Jaipur, 1984), P. 109

[9] Indian Army, Baatcheet (Army circular), No. 153, 1984

[10]  Legendary folk saying among the Sikhs during the time when Mir Mannu was the governor of Lahore during the period 1748-53 AD. Sikhs had organized themselves into the Dal Khalsa. Mannu responded with indiscriminate killings and persecution of Sikhs during his reign.

[11] The late Jaswant Singh Khalra is testament to this; a Sikh human rights activist who was himself killed by the Indian security forces for documenting their extra judicial killings of Sikhs. For more information on Jaswant Singh Khalra and his work: http://www.ensaaf.org/publications/reports/protectingthekillers/  

[12] Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, Jagtar Singh’s lawyer has confirmed reports of torture are true; https://sikhsiyasat.net/2017/11/15/relative-lawyer-jagtar-singh-jaggi-uk-updates-arrest-detention-torture-video-update/

[13] Human Rights Watch, Protecting the Killers, A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India (paragraphs 40-45)

[1] Jagtar Singh Johal (Jaggi), a 31 year old British national was abducted of the streets of Panjab on 4th November 2017. At the time of writing Jagtar has been in detention for over 20 days without charge.

[2] "...the brave Sikhs of Punjab are entitled to special considerations. I see nothing wrong in an area set up in the North of India wherein, the Sikhs can also experience the glow of freedom." (Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lahore Bulletin, January 9, 1930)

[3] "...in future, the Congress shall accept no constitution which does not meet with the satisfaction of the Sikhs" (The Lahore session of the Congress Party. December 31, 1929)

[4] Sikhs are not recognised in the Constitution; Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, refers to Sikhs as being a part of the Hindu faith.

[5] Partap Singh; Biography of S. Hukam Singh (New Delhi, 1989), P52.

[6] Reference to the popular maxim; “Bhindranwale Sant Sipahi, Jihna Suthi Kaum Jugaee”, (Bhindranwale the Saint Soldier who awoken the Sleeping Sikh Qaum).

[7] See Game of Love page, Akaal Publishers p136

[8]  S.S. Dharam; The Only Option For Sikhs (Jaipur, 1984), P. 109

[9] Indian Army, Baatcheet (Army circular), No. 153, 1984

[10]  Legendary folk saying among the Sikhs during the time when Mir Mannu was the governor of Lahore during the period 1748-53 AD. Sikhs had organized themselves into the Dal Khalsa. Mannu responded with indiscriminate killings and persecution of Sikhs during his reign.

[12] The late Jaswant Singh Khalra is testament to this; a Sikh human rights activist who was himself killed by the Indian security forces for documenting their extra judicial killings of Sikhs. For more information on Jaswant Singh Khalra and his work: http://www.ensaaf.org/publications/reports/protectingthekillers/  

[13] Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, Jagtar Singh’s lawyer has confirmed reports of torture are true; https://sikhsiyasat.net/2017/11/15/relative-lawyer-jagtar-singh-jaggi-uk-updates-arrest-detention-torture-video-update/

[14] Human Rights Watch, Protecting the Killers, A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India (paragraphs 40-45)

 

Walking in the trail-blazing footsteps of Guru Nanak Sahib

This week the Sikh world will celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, an enlightened and profound thinker who not only challenged injustice and falsehood, but initiated a revolutionary movement to emancipate the world. He resisted crooked politics and unjust social orders to pave a new reality which gave rise to Sikh psyche.

Having studied many languages including Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic from an early age, young Nanak quickly surpassed renowned scholars in wisdom and spiritual prowess. His use of Sanskrit and Arabic terminology, to express some of his theological views found in the Guru Granth Sahib, shows he had mastered the vernaculars of ancient scriptures and contemporary governance.

Circa 1499 Guru Nanak describes how, as an unemployed bard/musician[1] he was bestowed with the task of propagating divine truth and thus spent the next 25 years travelling across modern day regions of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, South West China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

Wherever he travelled, in addition to spreading knowledge of the Creator, the Guru heavily criticized the political powers that ruled, and questioned the superstitious rituals of self-proclaimed religious leaders that had led people astray.

Guru Nanak's world vision was based on the notion that a leader must be guided by divine light for him/her to be of real service to the people. Such an authority should not be swayed by material pleasures but should create conditions in which love for the Almighty and spiritual values flourished.

On his trip to the South, Guru Nanak commended the Queen of Ceylon for her love of her subjects; "you gather your revenue and return it for the benefit of your subjects. The Chief who does not appropriate everything for oneself but gives to others in the name of the Almighty, is blessed".[2]  

Where the Guru praised those, who honoured their office and performed their duties conscientiously, he equally condemned those who indulged in corruption. When referring to the Pathan administration, he said "The King administers justice if his palm is greased".[3]  The assumption being that the whole paraphernalia of government is corrupt if officials at every level indulged in such acts.

He recognized the fallacies propagated by government officials and religious leaders who were both well-rehearsed in manipulating and exploiting the people for personal gains. He likened them to tigers, and their officials to dogs that went out to awaken sleeping people and harass them. He spoke metaphorically of how public servants inflicted wounds with their nails and the officials licked up the blood that was spilled. At the same time, he forewarned that all beings would inevitably be judged and those that had violated the people's trust would be disgraced.[4] 

He was also outspoken about the discriminatory rituals that were commonplace across South Asia. One such ritual was the wearing of a piece of thread that was tied around one's neck, common amongst followers of Hinduism; the janeo. Hindus believed that without it, one would not be able to break out of the caste system and would forever remain in the lowest of castes. 

When young Nanak was presented with the janeo, he spoke out against such superstitious beliefs and rebutted their claim.[5]  He criticized the Hindu priest, "you buy the thread for a few shells, and seated in your enclosure, you put it on. Whispering instructions into others' ears, the Brahmin becomes a guru. But he dies, and the sacred thread falls, and the soul departs without it."[6]   

Similarly, Guru Nanak was critical of Muslim rituals[7] and refused to accept the misconceptions that had enraptured the masses. He continuously shook the foundations upon which these self-proclaimed leaders stood.

He likened the current Age to a knife in which the rulers are butchers; where righteousness has sprouted wings, and flown away.[8]  Highlighting the hypocrisy of what they preached and what they practiced, the Guru constantly scrutinized their actions. There is no ambiguity in what he wrote; "the sacred marks on their foreheads, and the saffron loin-cloths around their wastes; in their hands they hold knives - they are the butchers of the world".[9]   The Guru adopted a no holds barred approach when exposing the duplicity of the men that abused their positions of power and authority.

Another way in which Guru Nanak challenged social norms was the way in which he championed women's rights. He denounced the ritual of Sudak which was widespread amongst the followers of Hinduism. This was a superstitious belief that having given birth, a woman remained unclean for a specific amount of days, the exact number itself depended on the caste to which the women belonged. Guru Nanak a stern critic of the caste system, condemned this practice.[10]  

Guru Nanak recognized that at its very core the Brahmanical domination was traditionally very rigid, based solely on a hierarchical model where one's rights as an individual were limited to the caste in which one is born.  An unyielding restriction was placed on one's ability to break out of the caste system and further disparities were placed on womenfolk.

Guru Nanak exposed the errors prevalent within the Brahmanical system, in the same way he was outspoken and blunt with his view on the Mughal rulers and their discrimination against fellow humans. His mission remained centred on the idea of uplifting a people from the slums of spiritual blindness and worldly bigotry that had plundered humanity.

In this way the Guru remained vocal and continued to question the cowardice of so called leaders. One such incident occurred during the impending invasion by Mughal Emperor Babur. The Yogis had refused to defend their people, relying instead on recitation of mantras and assuring the people that their efforts to remain passive and chant mantras would blind the Mughal forces.

When the Mughal forces attacked, Guru Nanak states "Millions of religious leaders failed to halt the invader, when they heard of the Emperor's invasion. He burned the rest-houses and the ancient temples; he cut the princes limb from limb, and cast them into the dust. None of the Mughals were blinded and no one performed any miracle". [11]

The Yogis lacked the courage and bravery to oppose the brute of Babur's forces and chose to abandon their people. The Guru thus highlighted the importance of standing up against injustice and oppression, which when the time came, was the same philosophy adopted by successive Gurus and later the Sikh themselves.

He condemned empty rituals such as fasting and other forms of penance adopted to achieve enlightenment. The austerities of which the Yogis were so proud, were of no value to the Guru, like the counterfeit coin, which may appear genuine but is ultimately rejected as it does not contain the necessary properties. The Guru was astute when he held discussions, whether he was in the heat of Baghdad or the cold foothills of the Himalayas.

Having exposed the falsehood that was flowing throughout the world around him, Guru Nanak set up a base in Kartarpur from where he initiated the Sikh Panth.  The Guru removed superstition and hypocrisy that was so prevalent amongst the other religions of the world and established a kingdom of truth, built on the strongest of foundations. [12]

As Bhai Gurdas comments, he established the authority of his doctrines and started a new path devoid of any impurity.[13]  Roaring like a lion, the Guru recognized that humanity had been led astray mainly by the corruption and falsehood of the ruling elite but also in part due to the ritualistic idol worship that had entered the sanctity of spiritual centres.

The State naturally labelled Guru Nanak an outlaw for his views and actions which they considered outlandish and in direct opposition to their rule. For this charge he was imprisoned during the tenure of Mughal Emperor Babur. However, the Guru remained resolute in laying the ideological and physical foundations of the Sikh Nation which revolutionized some whilst alarming others. That has been the pattern throughout Sikh history and is the reason Sikhs have faced opposition and near extinction since inception.

The pursuit of Sikh sovereignty has been a fundamental aspect of establishing the Guru's principles. Whether it was the Khalsa Republic of the early 18th century; the subsequent Sikh Confederacy; the Sikh Raj of the 19th century or the current Sikh movement for Khalistan, the Sikhs have always understood the need to establish political autonomy to truly implement the ideology of the House of Guru Nanak.

As Sikhs across the world celebrate this week, lets also strive to walk in the trailblazing footsteps of our Guru who condemned false creeds, hollow scriptures, isms, pieties and all religious and political hypocrisies[14] to galvanize the Sikh movement and help reshape the world around us.

Footnotes

[1] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Maajh, Ang 150
[2] J S Bains, Political Ideas of Guru Nanak, Indian Journal of Political Science, 1962; Quoted in the Sikh Review, November 1961 p44
[3] Guru Nanak. Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Asa, Ang 339
[4] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Malaar, Ang 1288
[5] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Asa, Ang 471
[6] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Asa, Ang 471
[7] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Maajh, Ang 140
[8] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, Raaj Maajh, Ang 145
[9] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Asa, Ang 472
[10] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Aasaa, Ang 472
[11] Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib,  Raag Aasaa, Ang 418
[12] Bhatt Satta & Balwant, Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Raamkalee, Ang 966
[13] Bhai Gurdas ji, Vaaran, Vaar 1
[14] Professor Puran Singh, Spirit of the Sikh, Chapter 1

 

SatGuru Bandhi Chhorr Hai

DSGHSJ.jpg

SatGuru Bandhi Chhorr Hai - Guru, Who Speaks and Acts in Truth, is the Emancipator and Liberator.

ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਕਿਨਿ ਸਮਝਾਈਐ ਮਨੁ ਰਾਜਾ ਸੁਲਤਾਨ ॥ ੪ ॥
Who other than the Guru will explain that within the mind resides The Ruler, The Emperor. 

ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
The great treasure of Love is obtained when the Gurmukh contemplates the essence of reality.

Bandhi Chhor Divas celebrates deeply held Sikh beliefs, our love for humanity (Pyaar), sovereignty (Raj), true social justice (Niaou), challenging and seeking to destroy all oppressive power dynamics and being awake to the realities that we live in (Dharam).

Dhan Sri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji (the formal title given by Sikhs to their Guru, the Gurus were not only revered as spiritual teachers, but as warriors, poets, emancipators, and as sovereign rulers) became the 6th Guru after his father, Dhan Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji become the first Sikh Shaheed (martyr). Becoming the Guru at the age of 11 Dhan Sri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji built on the foundation laid by the previous Gurus. Guru Ji kept 700 horses (many of which were originally purchased by Dhan Sri Guru Arjun Dev ji), 300 trained horsemen and 60 musketeers (gun men). Thus Guru Ji furthered the training of the Sikhs to become masters of their minds and bodies. Dhan Sri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji himself was said to be so broad that he had to walk sideways through passages in the villages of Punjab. 

Dhan Sri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji was imprisoned at the age of 14 in 1609 because he accepted the sovereignty of none other than ਅਕਾਲ (Akāl: That Creator that is beyond death and time). Guru Ji established the ਅਕਾਲ ਤਖਤ (Akāl Takht: the Throne/Fortress of Akāl) in 1606, and wore the Two Swords of ਮੀਰੀਪੀਰੀ (MiriPiri: Interwoven temporal/metaphysical/spiritual realities bound to perceptions/experiences of reality itself through the ਕਿਰਪਾਨ: Kirpān of the Khalsa), to make it known to the world forever, that the Sikhs are sovereign and will never be subjugated by any worldly power. This spirit of Sikh sovereignty underpins Sikh being. It was first taught to us by Dhan Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji who was born in 1469. Dhan Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was released from Gwalior Fort in 1611/12 depending on the accounts, with the Khalsa being formally established in 1699. 

Sikh Itīhās (history, oral and written) is long, it is an inter-woven tapestry from which we continually learn and are reminded of our values and philosophies, it contains our collective memories. For a Sikh therefore, one moment of Itīhās is not isolated from another. Everything we do as Sikhs, as human beings, in our personal and civic lives, is inspired by the Guru, this is expressed by Sikhs as a central self-defining concept in their native Gurmukhi as ਜੀਵਨ (Jīvan: life, existence, being, way of life/mode of living). Dhan Sri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji's GurSikhi Jīvan, and the Jīvan of the Gurus, Shaheeds, and GurSikhs throughout Sikh Itīhās forms this interwoven tapestry that becomes Sikh Itīhās. Our beloved Gurus made great sacrifices as did their families and generations of Sikh Shaheeds so that our unique voice is heard, Sikh values continually strived for and we as a Quam (Sovereign Sikhs of a Sovereign Guru) remain existent.

The primary source for Sikh thought, vision and guidance remains the current Guru, Sacheh Pathshah Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj and as Sovereign Sikhs in Sangat of the Sovereign Guru we are on our journey to actually experience Sikhi, and strive to build our own GurSikhi Jīvan with the ਕਿਰਪਾ (Kirpā: kindness, benefaction, grace, love) of the Guru.

Sikh philosophy teaches us that power should be transparent, decentralised, visible and step down from notions of authority to humbly, humanely, and directly engage with the people it claims to serve so that collectively we can serve the greatest value of humanity: Love. This is shown in the life of Dhan Sri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji, and the Jīvan of the Gurus, Shaheeds and Sikhs that came before and after, and continues to be a driving aspiration for every Sikh organisation and charity today.

Dhan Sri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji was imprisoned for refusing to accept the authority of the Mughal Empire and its then Emperor Jahangir. By the Gurus own sovereign judgement the Mughal Empire was deemed unfit to exercise authority over the minds and bodies of the people, and Dhan Sri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji made sure to constantly remind the Mughal emperor that his authority was unfounded, and insignificant and irrelevant when compared to Akāl.

Sikhs of the 6th Guru liberated cities from the Mughal emperor, renamed them after their Guru, captured the emperors prized falcon, raised battle standards of the sovereign Guru, and gathered armed and defiant at Akāl Takht. The Sikhs of the Guru fed and armed the poor and oppressed, started wars and instigated open rebellion, they completely rejected the authority of the oppressive regime of the day, this frame of mind has inspired generations of Sikhs to place absolute faith and trust in the values of their Guru alone, above all other values of priests, holy men, kings, emperors, colonisers or any other worldly rulers. Only the Guru showed respect and love to all, giving us Langar, teaching Sikhs that the supreme value of all is Love and we are only subordinate to the power that created Love, Death and Life: Akāl.

Today hundreds of Sikh political prisoners still languish in jails in 'India' awaiting trials, mistreated because they too reject the authority of an oppressive regime, they place more faith in the teachings of their Guru and the values of the Guru and submit to only one authority Akāl. Like their Guru the GurSikhs that are in jail today strive for a world where the values of humanity and love can flourish. This is what Khalistan means to Sikhs, a dream for a future where Sikhs can begin to determine their own destiny with the guidance and authority of none other than Akāl and their beloved Guru. 

Today when you light the diva and set the fireworks off, light your spirit on fire too, break all worldly bonds and grab hold of the Gurus cloak. The True Sovereign. Dare yourself to believe so much in your Guru that you want a whole world where the values taught to Sikhs by their beloved Gurus can uplift, inspire, and empower the most disenfranchised, the “lowest of the low”, the sick, the poor, the hungry, this is what “Raj Karehga Khalsa” is about, and we strive for it through Khalistan.

ਖਰੇ ਖਰੋੲੇ ਬੈਠਤ ੳੂਠਤ ਮਾਰਿਗ ਪੰਿਥ ਿਧਅਾਵੈਗੋ ॥
ਸਿਤਗੁਰ ਬਚਨ ਬਚਨ ਹੈ ਸਿਤਗੁਰ ਪਾਧਰੁ ਮੁਕਿਤ ਜਨਾਵੈਗੋ ॥੫॥
Standing idle, sitting down, getting up, focus/meditate on the way of the Panth. 
The word that is given is that of Satguru and the word of Satguru is as Satguru, the way to emancipation is revealed.

ਸਾਸਿਨ ਸਾਿਸ ਸਾਿਸ ਬਲੁ ਪਾੲੀ ਹੈ ਿਨਹਸਾਸਿਨ ਨਾਮੁ ਿਧਅਾਵੈਗੋ ॥
ਗੁਰਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਹੳੁਮੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਤੌ ਗੁਰਮਿਤ ਨਾਿਮ ਸਮਾਵੈਗੋ ॥੬॥
Each breath gives strength, with the Gurus training, the aim is taken for the target of Naam. 
With the Gurus grace, ego is understood, it is silenced, and one is merged into Gurmat Naam. 

 

As emphasised above within a Sikh context Bandhi Chor Divas is not just a celebration of one moment, but rather a reminder of the values with which we must constantly live as Sikhs. An exploration of the Vār that will be recited at every Gurdwaras on the evening of Bandhi Chhorr Divas that I liked.

 

 

Shaheed Bhagat Singh

March the twenty-third marked the eighty-fifth anniversary of the martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Hung by the British Raj for sedition, Shaheed Bhagat Singh at one point allegedly renounced Sikhism and adopted an atheistic anarcho-communist philosophy – expressing admiration (sometimes in his written publications) for radical ideologues such as Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx.

There is an ongoing debate as to whether Shaheed Bhagat Singh remained an atheist at the time of his execution, or re-embraced his Sikhi. Whilst I personally believe the latter, I also believe that this debate is ultimately irrelevant.

What matters is that Shaheed Bhagat Singh was undoubtably influenced by the Sikh martial tradition and the stories of his forefathers in his fight for freedom against a brutal colonialist regime. Indeed, resisting repressive dynasties and invaders has been a common theme throughout Sikh history, from the Mughals to the Afsharids to the Durranis. Formidable Sikh warriors, with their renowned military prowess and uncompromising commitment to justice, have been a consistent thorn in the side of any imperialist tyrants who have ventured into the land of the Five Rivers. 

We, the Sikh community, should take inspiration from the examples of individuals like Shaheed Bhagat Singh, regardless of what his religious beliefs were. Learning about these courageous freedom-fighters should surely galvanise us to fight for our rights in the contemporary world; to struggle for our rights today, in the same way our predecessors fought and died for independence and liberation in the past.

Shaheed Bhagat Singh dreamt of a free, egalitarian society - a land where Hindu, Muslim and Sikh would be equal and where invidious notions of caste and higher status would be abolished. Unfortunately, this dream has not been realised. Widespread inequality and impoverishment blight the India of today. Millions live in decadence and poverty, without access to satisfactory education or sufficient medical care. Moreover, the consistent bipartisan policy of oppressing secessionist minorities has been decidedly exacerbated by the increasingly popular and virulently divisive ideology of Hindu nationalism, which often manifests itself as outright supremacism. In the self-proclaimed “world’s-biggest democracy”, security-forces are unleashed on entire regions to operate with absolute impunity, committing human-rights’ violations and ensuring the convenient “disappearance” of peaceful protesters through false-encounters.

The British Raj has been replaced by another fascist, self-serving administration. Reasoned diplomatic attempts, initially, to secure greater sub-national autonomy for Punjabis were repeatedly rebuffed. Subsequently, the response to heightened activism was religious provocation and a deliberately-timed incursion into our holiest shrine.

The invasion of Durbar Sahib, codenamed “Operation Bluestar" in June 1984 was conducted on a pretext of eliminating separatist “terrorists” from the complex, despite there being ample opportunity beforehand to capture any wanted individuals without causing so much destruction, in addition to the fact that separatism was not being espoused by these individuals at the time. The consequences of the invasion – namely, a desecrated Gurduwara and countless Sikh civilian deaths – were essentially dismissed as necessary collateral-damage by a callous government. The bloodshed and slaughter several months later by braying mobs of ‘rioters’ (assisted by Congress-Party members) effectively amounted to a government-facilitated pogrom – a Kristallnacht for Sikhs.  Duplicitous politicians have since attempted to placate the Sikh community with perfunctory lip-service and false-promises to indict those involved in inciting the murder of Sikhs. After thirty years, the perpetrators are walking free.

We must purge Punjab of the systematic corruption and self-doubt that has plagued it. We cannot have freedom and dignity without self-determination. We cannot have self-determination without an independent Sikh state. The actions of the Indian government have made it abundantly clear to the Sikh community that they have no future in India as valued equal citizens. Therefore breaking away to form Khalistan is the only solution, because living as a humiliated subaltern is something no Sikh can tolerate.

Irrespective of whether you believe Shaheed Bhagat Singh died an atheist or a believer, what really matters is that Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s actions were commensurate with the characteristically Sikh ideals of standing up for the beleaguered and challenging persecution. Therefore, Bhagat Singh’s story should serve as an enduring reminder to everyone that no price is too high for freedom.

An article by guest contributor Navjot Singh.

Countering Narratives of Extremism

The below article by Ranveer Singh was featured on Naujawani and Sikh PA and received a great response on social media. The article challenges the specious dialogue that attempts to create a narrative of sikh “extremism” although this dialogue is deeply flawed its implications can be far reaching; as we have seen in recent times with hate crimes, racism and targeting of Sikh Gurdwareh.

 

As an activist and writer I appreciate the importance of providing an informed perspective when it comes to matters affecting the Panth. Knowledge of Sikh history, ideology and polity provides an educated and competent viewpoint. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and any attempt made to open dialogue on matters affecting the Sikh Panth must be commended. That said, one’s opinion of Sikh affairs will lose any iota of credibility if it is devoid of Gurmat inspired analysis. That is and always has been the benchmark for resolving Sikh affairs.

An article entitled ‘Sikh Extremism‘ was recently published on the Critical Muslim website. Seemingly out of place, a few paragraphs in, it becomes clear why this piece is on the site along with articles such as “The Top 10 Jihadi Janes”.

Written by Sunny Hundal, the article sensationalises a handful of protests and the behaviour of a few individuals to tarnish a whole community as having an “extremist” issue. The author has a track record of denigrating members of the Sikh community with his offensive and mostly ill-informed articles. The real issues which he attempts to discuss lose focus due to his belligerent vilification of the Sikh community with misguided viewpoints that only serve to create controversy. This latest article of his catapults aimlessly from one issue to another in an attempt to provide support for his proposed theory of “Sikh extremism”. He relentlessly babbles on about the threat of division within the Sikh community with twisted evidence that is grossly out of context.

In opening, he refers to the xenophobic behaviour of two individuals who supported the fascist groups, the BNP and EDL in 2005 and 2010. The author then compares the isolated behaviour of the aforementioned individuals to what he terms “puritanical” Sikhs, thus demonstrating the existence of a division in his own mind with the more “liberal” Sikh. His oxymoronic depiction thus dictates the tone of his entire article and exposes the flaws in his understanding and analysis of Sikh history, ideology, psyche and current affairs. Branding one side “religious extremists” and another “liberal”, he instantly tarnishes one group whilst simultaneously painting a positive perception of the other. He appears to show concern over a “growing movement of puritanical Sikhs”.

This division which the author talks about exists because of his perceived (mis)understanding of Sikh affairs, which is contrary to Sikh polity and Sikh ideology. There can be no “liberal”, “conservative” or “secular” Sikh, as suggested by the author. These terms are a relatively new occurrence created to cause division – rather than point out division – amongst the Sikh Panth. Derived from the democratic political spectrum, the terms hold no relevance within the Sikh Panth. Secularism, a term used to describe the separation of state and church, is a foreign concept for Sikhs and an affront to the concept of Miri-Piri. This is what I like to term classic neo-colonial objectification; trying to define and view a community and its institutions within the constraints of a foreign system, the master’s system. The Guru challenged such systems and instilled a spirit amongst the people which not only saw them clash with empires and Governments for their exploitative and suppressive ways but also saw them challenge the manipulation of religion by high ranking priests who had misled the people into idol worship, superstition and empty rituals. 

The Guru’s mission was to empower the plebeian cause and he created the Panth as an example of how an egalitarian society should function. The implementation of concepts such as Halemi Raj, Miri-Piri, Sarbat da Palla, Sangat and Pangat all serve as a testament to this fact. The Guru created a Sikh, whose very existence throughout history has been enough to challenge all the xenophobic and bigoted societal norms. Guru Nanak’s Sikh is liberal by nature. Yet Sunny Hundal still feels the need to create a sub-category of Sikh, as if to distinguish between those in tune with Sikhi and those on the “conservative” periphery. The idea that a Sikh who follows the Guru’s mandate is the same today as they would have been in the 15th century seems to create some discomfort for him.

These labels can be traced back to the systematic categorisation of Sikhs during the colonial encounter. This manner of division is counterproductive to the Sikh narrative and must be challenged at every opportunity. The prospect of walking the Guru’s path, as shown by the Guru and great Sikh scholars, poets and warriors, is not enough for some new age followers of Sikhi. They feel compelled to label those traditions and codes of conduct as archaic. This is done to justify their own bastardisation of the order; to suit their lifestyle, to claim they too follow Guru Nanak but only on conditions which fit around their own interpretation and implementation of the Guru’s instruction, thus creating a total paradox of Sikhi. Hundal seeks to validate this paradox just to seemingly create a point of discussion which he then becomes a self-made expert on.

Unsurprisingly, Hundal’s use of the term “religious extremists” is swiftly followed by a short and ill-equipped reference to the events of 1984 and the continued suppression of Sikh political activism. The author deems both to be as big a problem as his perception of “Sikh extremism” which he alleges “can fuel hate crimes”. Statements such as this – that unresolved issues around 1984 are as big a threat to the Sikh community as Tommy Robinson appearing on the Sikh Channel – are where Sunny Hundal loses all credibility and descends into the realms of absurdity. Has he forgotten the peaceful agitations made to discuss and resolve the denial of social, economic and political rights of the people of Panjab before the Government of India responded with tanks and machine guns? Has the author no knowledge of how Sikhs in Panjab have been systematically robbed of their rivers, land and their language? At what point will it cross the author’s mind to consider any real destabilisation of Panjab and the Sikh community is/was orchestrated by the violence of State sponsored military operations? Instead the author wishes to condemn the actions of those who justifiably agitate for a separate Sikh state. Who are the real extremists in all of this? As a Nation, the Sikh community has been in a constant state of war with those who wish to dilute the Sikh way of life. When Sunny Hundal labels Sikhs “extremists” based on his own petty interpretations, he either unknowingly or maliciously supports this war against the Sikh Panth.

Next, the author attempts to build his case for the “extreme Sikh” by turning the reader’s attention to the general racial and religious intolerance shown by Asians in Britain before delving into a personal story from his days at university. He ends this section by questioning the efforts of the ‘Sikh Awareness Society (SAS)’ who work tirelessly to highlight the problem of sexual grooming in the UK. The murky depths of grooming circles in the UK largely perpetrated by Muslim men has only recently come to light. SAS have been speaking about this issue for over a decade. Sunny Hundal has the audacity to state that the Sikh girls targeted by Muslim groomers were not targets for conversion, rather for sexual exploitation alone. It is strange of him to say this after admitting a leaflet was found to encourage Muslim men to convert Sikh girls in the mid-90s. It seems he will not let facts get in the way of demonising Sikhs, instead suggesting the SAS were speaking out to create anti-Muslim sentiments. This is his own conclusion based on his own knowledge and experience. It is in no way conclusive or accurate, and citing a “BBC Asian Network investigation” on the issue does not validate his claims either.

So why did the author choose to make such an absurd claim? Well, he is building towards his favourite topic of inter-faith marriages; a topic in which he fails to recognise that much like most of the problems we face amongst the Sikh diaspora, the issue of inter-faith marriages is very simple. The Anand Karaj is not your conventional “wedding ceremony”. Most “marriages” in other faiths are legally binding contracts between man and wife regulated by the law of the land. The Anand Karaj at no point specifies responsibilities or duties commonly found in orthodox wedding vows. That is because the Anand Karaj ceremony is a union of two Sikhs (in my opinion practicing Sikhs, so there is no confusion over how one defines a Sikh), with the Guru. The first laav is effectively a declaration of allegiance to the Guru and the Sikh way of life. All four stanzas of the Anand Kaaraj are about commitment to the Guru. This is something that is completely undeniable fact, yet remains largely ignored in debates on the topic. So for someone to get “married” by way of an Anand Karaj, it is only logical that they are a practicing Sikh, otherwise what they are doing would simply be hypocritical. To partake in an Anand Karaj without fully embracing the Sikh faith belittles Guru, which is why this entire subject causes much distress to practicing Sikhs who hold our Guru in the highest regard possible. Taking part without this reverence for the Guru is usually done to appease either family, friends or a partner, or to do what is required of a “Sikh”. Allowing only Sikhs to part take in an Anand Karaj is not “discrimination against non-Sikhs” like the writer has alluded to, rather it is the most logical method to adopt for anyone that wishes to respect the Guru.

With regards to the author’s vilification of the Sikh protestors: on 23rd August 2015 the Sikh Council UK (SCUK) facilitated a meeting in which over 180 representatives from UK Gurdwaras passed a resolution that only a Sikh, in accordance with the Sikh Rehat Maryada definition, is allowed to participate in the Anand Karaj ceremony. To do something other than this is simply bending the rules for personal appeasements, which not only devalue the Anand Karaj but also question the validity of the Sikh Code of Conduct. Sikhs do not need to adhere to anyone else’s view of what equality is other than our Guru’s. Furthermore, in a statement televised on Sikh media outlets, the SCUK recognised the efforts of those who protest against inter-faith marriages and described them to be in line with Sikh principles.

The author then jumps on the topic of protests made by “dozens” according to the Guardian, regarding the film Nanak Shah Fakir. Whilst I agree the calls of blasphemy seem a little far stretched, the author makes a mountain out of a mole-hill. With many Sikhs believing the film should have been allowed to have been shown, it is an issue that calls for dialogue between Sikhs, something which Sunny Hundal himself looks to prevent by simplistically labelling protesters “extremists”.

Hundal also provides a brief analysis of Panjab which provides no real substance or wider context to the social problems faced by women, or even men for that matter. The writer wrongfully implies the problems exist explicitly as a result of the shortcomings of the Sikh community, ignoring actions imposed on the State of Panjab by the central Government. As a journalist he discredits himself when discussing the issue of female infanticide in Panjab by not mentioning the Sikh Guru openly declared anyone taking part in this practice can no longer be called a Sikh. Yet, “Sikh extremist” remains his most sellable product, so he ignores the fact this stems from cultural and not religious issues. I concur with the Hundal’s comments regarding the silence of UK Sikh leaders on issues such as honour killings, however most of the social problems referred to are due to the imposed cultural tendencies in Panjab that create this type of behaviour amongst the diaspora. Such behaviour has no place in the teachings of the Guru. There is a difference between cultural behaviour and conduct based on the teachings of a certain faith. It seems this subtle difference is lost on many, including the author. In this light, maybe to make his article less absurd he could have named it “Panjabi Extremism”.

An insinuation from Sunny Hundal that 1984 was the tipping point for a defensive mentality where everything reverts to discussions of Khalistan among the Sikhs is unfounded and misleading. The movement for a Sikh homeland began with Guru Nanak when he founded the city of Kartarpur with subsequent Guru’s building more cities and raising armies to fortify Sikh space and ward off acts to undermine Sikh sovereignty. This is a fact lost on many people today, partly due to colonial history, partly due to the continued suppression of Sikh political activism by the Indian Government and its agencies and partly also due to the ignorance of misguided writers and academics.

In the closing paragraphs the author showcases his limited understanding of how an independent Sikh homeland would look. His rhetoric appears to be based on classic anti-Sikh propaganda churned out by the Indian Government. The author suggests Khalistan would be a theocratic state, with little explanation for why he believes this to be the case. It is glaringly obvious that the author needs to be educated on Panthic matters so that he can hold informed and intelligent discourse on the subject of Khalistan.

The culture of sexism and alcoholism as categorised by Hundal is not a challenge faced by the Sikh community alone, it is a problem faced by every single society on this planet. Due to the soul-draining demands of capitalism, people are glorified based on their gender, women are used as symbols of sex and multi-billion dollar companies have a frighteningly expansive advertising budgets to market and sell alcohol. Instead of disproportionality placing the blame with the Sikh community, how about starting a conversation to tackle the problem of sexism and alcoholism at its root?

The author has left the most bemusing and laughable statement till the end; “they [the Sikh community] haven’t yet addressed how to keep Sikhs within the fold even if members start to adapt to different lifestyles and cultures”. This is Sunny Hundal at his oxymoronic best. The Sikhs have never relied on numbers to uphold the House of Guru Nanak. If a Sikh adapts to a different lifestyle and/or culture which advocates anything contrary to the tenets of Sikhi then they are no longer a Sikh. It is that simple. Historical precedence shows when 40 of the Guru’s Sikh left Him during war, he didn’t label them apostates, he simply allowed them to follow another path in that moment. When they later approached the Guru to re-join the Panth, he allowed them back in to the fold. The chali mukte (40 liberators) themselves did not attempt to legitimise their stance by saying to their Guru “we will still be Sikh, but we are just pacifist Sikhs that no longer wish to fight”, they understood the position of their Guru and agreed they would no longer be his Sikhs after leaving his side. They were Sikh as long as their conduct and actions defined them as Sikh.

This article is in no way intended to deny the serious issues that affect Sikhs which the author mentions. However, the tabloid-esque manner of his reporting, combined with a clear lack of understanding of Sikhi itself, do more to harm than help relations within the Sikh community. It must also be noted, that along with the relatively small rise of things such as Anand Karaj protests, is a comparatively massive rise in seva (selfless service) by Sikhs. Statistics compiled by the Sikh Press Association show approximately 10,000 meals a week are served to the needy on the streets of the UK by Sikh charities. There is also the recent opening of a free education centre (the first of its kind opened by a minority community in the UK) and increased encouragement towards practices such as meditation and community integration, all stemming from UK Sikhs maintaining a more adherent approach to Sikhi.

Contrary to the author’s belief, Sikhi will continue to prosper under what many will deem the direst of circumstances, as it has done since inception. The Sikh Panth has faced many external foes but it has learnt that the most destructive enemy is one which lingers within. It would seem the latest threat comes from the many self-appointed writers and commentators who attempt to promote this pseudo Sikh lifestyle and condemn those who follow the Guru’s system as too puritanical. It would be more beneficial for them to reflect on their own actions and try walking the journey, before judging those on the path.

 

The effects of Abrahamic & Brahminical influences on Sikhi

I recently read a number of English translated excerpts from ‘Sri Nanak Parkash’, the original work of which was written in Panjabi by Kavi Santokh Singh during the 19th century. The primary source for this voluminous book was the hagiography of Guru Nanak by the supposed Bhai Bala. In the past I have often read the English translation for many other historic Sikh writings too, including Gurbani itself.

However, this latest read has led me to question those English translations, which I now believe are swamped under an inevitable quagmire of Abrahamic jargon. They also contain a myriad of misleading references to Hindu mythology.  Not only is this evident in the translated work of Sikh poets, scholars and historians but this interpretative phenomenon has also fathomed itself within the Guru’s word, due to the many English translations of Gurbani available on the internet; all accessible via applications on smartphones. I wonder if we are at risk of creating a generation of Sikh who solely rely on these warped English translations that subsequently result in the Sikh losing sight of the Guru’s core message. The over reliance on such translations is also giving rise to a naïve and ignorant portrayal of Gur-itihaas and a distorted understanding of Gur-sedant.

The erroneous translations not only threaten the distinct philosophy of Guru Nanak, which is fundamental to Sikh sovereignty, but they inevitably lose authenticity as words are literally lost in translation. One such inference is the incorrect reference to the term “avtaar”. The word “avtaar” ordinarily means birth, however in Hindu mythology it is used to describe the descent of a “heavenly deity”. The Guru specifically states that many Beings referred to in Hindu scriptures were in fact once kings in different periods of time but due to the work of their followers, the kings were raised to the status of “avtaars” (in the Brahminical “heavenly diety” sense). Speaking in Raag Aasaa the Guru states that the exploits of the kings ruling in various ages were sung as the feats of avtaars (ਜੁਗਹ ਜੁਗਹ ਕੇ ਰਾਜੇ ਕੀਏ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਕਰਿ ਅਵਤਾਰੀ). In the previous two lines of this pangti the Guru explains how the Brahmin was given four Vedas to read and understand, however unable to understand the experience of ਹੁਕਮੁ (perpetual command/law of nature), the helpless Brahmin was condemned to wander aimlessly, thus creating demi-gods of worldly kings.

We must be careful not to describe Guru as an “avtaar” in the classic Brahminical context.  The translation of Bhatta de Svaiya is of particular concern. There are 11 Bhatts that have been included in Guru Granth Sahib. Many English translations have wrongly suggested that Bhatt Kalh (also referred to as Bhatt Kalhashar) has referred to Guru Nanak as an “avtaar” in the orthodox Brahminical sense. Firstly, let us provide some general context to the Bhatta de Svaiya of which there are 123 starting from Ang 1389 and concluding at Ang 1409.

The word ‘bhatt’ is derived from the Sanskrit word “bhrit” used to describe mercenaries who fought for their masters and were full of praise for their greatness. Mahan Kosh too describes the word “bhatt” to mean those people who sing the praise of great personalities. Historically originating from Rajasthan around the 9th century the Bhatts have been recorded to have had two main duties, namely expression of praise and expression of bravery. They attained the highest religious and Vedic education available to the people of their time. When the glory of Guru Nanak reached the Bhatts they immediately sang spontaneous praises of the Gurus, thus their verses were included in the Granth, a sign of the Guru’s sovereign authority and his intent to reinvent religion and faith as it was then understood. Let us consider one of the Svaiye of Bhatt Kalh. This common English translation is taken from Ang 1389 (found on most Gurbani search engines today):

“Kapila, and the other Yogis sing of Guru Nanak. He is the Avataar, the incarnation of the Infinite Lord. Parasraam the son of Jamdagan, whose axe and powers were taken away by Raghuvira, sing of Him. Udho, Akrur and Bidar sing the Glorious Praises of Guru Nanak, who knows the Lord, the Soul of All. KAL the poet sings the Sublime Praises of Guru Nanak, who enjoys mastery of Raja Yoga”.

ਗਾਵਹਿ ਕਪਿਲਾਦਿ ਆਦਿ ਜੋਗੇਸੁਰ ਅਪਰੰਪਰ ਅਵਤਾਰ ਵਰੋ ॥

ਗਾਵੈ ਜਮਦਗਨਿ ਪਰਸਰਾਮੇਸੁਰ ਕਰ ਕੁਠਾਰੁ ਰਘੁ ਤੇਜੁ ਹਰਿਓ ॥

ਉਧੌ ਅਕ੍ਰੂਰੁ ਬਿਦਰੁ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵੈ ਸਰਬਾਤਮੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਾਣਿਓ ॥

ਕਬਿ ਕਲ ਸੁਜਸੁ ਗਾਵਉ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਜੁ ਜੋਗੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਮਾਣਿਓ ॥੪॥

When we read the Gurbani, in context, it becomes evident that Bhatt Kahl is not stating that “Guru Nanak is the avatar, the incarnation of the infinite lord”, as implied by most of today’s Gurbani search engines and applications. This is a weak and inaccurate English interpretation of Gurbani. When read in context to the rest of the Svaiyas it is clear that Bhatt Kahl is stating something very radical for its time. He states yogis such as Kapila (who was the founder of the Sankhya philosophy, prominent throughout the Bhagavata Purana and Bhagavad Gita) sing of and deem beings such as Jogesur (which according to Mahan Kosh is a reference to Krishna and Shiva) to be divine avtaars; just like Jamdagan and his son Parasraam (characters prominent in the Puranas) sang; just like Udho (from Mahabharat and the Bhagavata Purana), Akrur (famous commander of the Yadava army in the Bhagvata Purana) and Bidur (devotee of Krishna, mentioned in Mahabharat) praise those whom they deemed to be ਸਰਬਾਤਮੁ (the soul of all). In the last line of this particular stanza, Bhatt Kahl then concludes that he sings of Guru Nanak, the one who mastered ਰਾਜੁ ਜੋਗੁ (political science, not to be mistaken with “Raja Yoga” as erroneously described in English). This is the first pangti in which the Bhatt explicitly refers to Guru Nanak. It is no coincidence that Bhatt Kahl first talks about worldly kings and their “spiritual” inclinations, and then concludes that Guru Nanak perfected that union best, in the truest manifestation. In that last pangti, Bhatt Kahl dethrones the demi-gods that have been worshipped for 2000+ years, and places Guru Nanak higher than them all.

Take a look at the previous Svaiye and those that follow immediately after and one will notice a pattern in the style of the Bhatt’s writing. There is a constant reiteration that whilst others sing of self-acclaimed/self-appointed “divine avtaars”, the Bhatt sings the praises of Guru Nanak, who truly embodied all that is wonderful and magnificent in the universe.

It is so important to read and understand Gurbani in context, and not interpret one pangti via the limits of the English language. The English translations are so weak that they offer different meanings of the same word throughout the Svaiyas; on one hand they suggest that these characters from Hindu mythology are singing the praises of Guru Nanak, on the other they suggest they are singing praises of “His” virtues (presumably this “His” being a reference to the divine). There is a constant over-reliance on Abrahamic terminology which is highly detrimental to Sikh psyche because Gurbani is so vast that any attempt to translate it into English causes the core principles to be lost in translation.

The Guru’s glory does not lie in the continued comparison to Hindu deities and demi-gods, rather it manifests in the Guru’s condemnation of such deities; unique to the Guru’s Shabad. The Guru tells us in Anand Sahib ਵੇਦਾ ਮਹਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਉਤਮੁ ਸੋ ਸੁਣਹਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਜਿਉ ਬੇਤਾਲਿਆ (in the Vedas, the ultimate objective is ਨਾਮੁ, but they cannot hear it, and they walk around like demons). Notice the Guru’s choice of using ਸੁਣਹਿ ਨਾਹੀ, it is very purposeful and very definitive. The glory of the Guru further manifests itself in his actions to challenge the status quo, uplift society, oppose tyranny and establish righteous rule. There can be no admiration for those who seek to compare or liken the Guru to other “divine beings” be they prophets of one faith or saints of another because to do so would place them on par with Guru Nanak and we know through his word and his actions that the Guru was far greater. He was truly revolutionary in ideology and in action, on a spiritual and political level. This is awe-inspiring and far more empowering than any anecdotal reference to the Guru being the Ram or Krishna of Kaljug. Sikhi stands out because the Guru challenged the very foundations of religion and politics within society and the Guru’s Sikh have followed the example of standing for truth no matter what the consequences.

Historically the Sikh Nation has not concerned itself with attracting followers for a strictly numerical advantage, nor has it fought a battle to simply win. The emphasis has always been on making a stand for the continuation of the movement, for the betterment of the Panth, even in the face of inevitable death. Our concerns should not be focused on telling the world about Sikhi if rather ironically that understanding of Sikhi is based on the English translations of some white colonial folk who defined Sikhi to be an “ism”. Guru Nanak’s ideology challenged everything and is not a religion as taught in RE or ashamedly regurgitated in the same vein across Gurdwaray today. A thorough understanding of the Guru’s dialect will reveal the Guru’s true mission, which in turn would ensure the Sikh of today are not misled by the enigma of English translations that are littered with fallacious references to Hindu mythology and wrongly converted to mirror the tenets of an Abrahamic reference to “god”.

The Guru is unique for many reasons, however perhaps the most exalting of them all is the notion of ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਆਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ (O mind you are the embodiment of divinity, recognise your root origin).  This idea challenges other doctrines which place an emphasis on searching for an external divine experience. The Guru showed the people of this world the true origin of divinity. It does not miraculously drop from a “heavenly abode”; it is not reserved for a certain man-made caste; it is not exclusively reserved for one race, gender, colour or creed. The light of true divinity resides within each and every being, it is innate and humans have wandered aimlessly for years thinking it is outside; in a sun; a stone; in a messiah; in the clouds; in another; so much searching some have even given up hope of looking and deny it’s very existence. The Guru’s spiritual message goes hand in glove with the emphasis on social and political involvement in Sikhi. Where others promote renunciation and exclusivity based on gender and social status for gains in spirituality, the Guru promotes societal involvement and inclusivity of all as a means of abetting spiritual emancipation.

The Guru spoke truth; such truth which challenged the social norm created by religious bigotry and corrupt governments, all of whom were guilty of misleading the people. What he spoke of on a spiritual, political and social level was a threat to the powers that controlled the masses. There are many Sikh who mistakenly believe religion and politics to be diametrically opposed to one another, however the Guru intertwined the two with the establishment of Miri-Piri. For this revolutionary act he and his movement has been targeted, imprisoned and assassinated, but still the movement continues because the Guru taught his Sikh to continue the righteous battle even if it took them to the brink of annihilation. The Khalsa Panth was bestowed with the task of establishing Khalsa Raj in 1699 and while others have endeavoured to capture political power for personal and hegemonic means, those who are in tune to the Guru’s Shabad, the Guru’s beloved, have always striven to acquire political power for the chardikala of the Panth. Over three centuries later, having fought many a battle and despite the onslaught of attacks to dilute and weaken Gurbani and Guru inspired actions, the movement lives and it yearns to breathe the air of freedom.

May the Flag and Insignia of the Sovereign Remain Forever Free

The Panthic Kafla (caravan: collective migration towards a common goal) has been moving under dubious guidance for far too long, it's during adversarial circumstances that we truly see how well we are being led. Our Panthic Nishaana (national objective) has always been sovereign rule and nationhood.
 
Whilst those that claim to represent the Sikh community advocate peaceful protest and continue to pursue the status-quo, the Indian state continues to violently disregard dissent and demonstrate it's complete intolerance for Sikh political activism in pursuit of independence. When the Panth faces adversarial circumstances the collective resistance we put up is not only a measure of our Panthic ability, our understanding of the conflict that we are engaged in is demonstrated by the methods we employ in our defence.
 
Our challenge as Panthic activists is to build on the foundations laid by generations of Sikh revolutionaries. As Bapu Surat Singh Ji takes inspiration from the legacy of Quami Shaheeds, and acts in full awareness of the larger context of the Panthic Nishaana, Khalistan, we too must act in a way that is true to ideals of Sikh Sangarsh, and Khalistan.
 
The Diaspora, Sikh youth in particular, are increasingly vocal on Panthic matters that arise in Panjab, and the responsibility lies in the hands of Sikh activists to ensure that the narrative that is presented is true to Sikh Ithihas. Far too often the Sikh position is compromised by well-meaning yet ill-informed individuals. We must be mindful, use the correct language and build using Panthic constructs, and abandon the methods and imposed ideas of our former colonial masters.
 
I believe the greatest injustice and deceit of colonialism (aside from the immense human tragedy), is to convince the native that their cultural constructs and their forms of governance are archaic, backwards and not relevant. The master instructs the colonised native to prefer the methods he invents and controls, further entrenching colonial constructs in the mind of the native. This results in obedience to subtly destructive alien ideas and ideological stagnation. We cannot pursue our freedom unless we use our own ideals and our own constructs, in Sikh spaces that speak to our history of resistance, our culture and language, all of which have been suppressed. 
 
The methods we are employing today are not only flawed, they show a lack of understanding of the nature of the ideological warfare we have been engaged in since Guru Nanak refused to don the Janeou (sacred Hindu thread). We are catering Panthic activism to suit the masses, victim to capitalism, we are turning Panthic revolt in to a product that is easily digestible to the target audience and easy to market to the wider world. As activists we should be inspiring our fellow Sikh to rise to the challenges presented to the Panth, not moulding our struggle to fit slacktivists. Of course we need an element of popular support but it cannot come at the cost of the ideology of the movement itself, at the cost of our Panthic Nishaana. This idea that we need to validate our movement by explaining it in a way that is palatable to a western audience is self destructive and insults the legacy of the great individuals that have been martyred for the freedom of Panjab; as is attested by our history, the children of Panjab will be the only ones to bring back freedom to Panjab.
 
Nowhere is this dynamic greater demonstrated than in the advocation for the use of peaceful protest. We have managed to completely distort this concept to suit our needs and in the process, undermined it's legitimacy as an initial method of resistance. The words 'peaceful protest' assume an inherent escalation, they are employed as a means of civil disobedience to sound out a challenge to authority and warn of further action unless the issues are resolved. For Sikh peaceful protest has meant causing interruption to the state's infrastructure and economy through methods such as 'Panjab Bandh' (shutting down of businesses) and 'Rasta Roko' (blockade of transport network). When faced with the threat of police action Sikh have openly courted arrest, in 'Jail Dakho' actions (large numbers of Sikh getting arrested to fill up prisons).  
 
Presenting flawed petitions to governments (especially in the case of the diaspora where host governments have continually made clear that they have little power and no desire to demand anything from India) without plans to thoughtfuly escalate the issue further, is not peaceful protest. Asking human rights organisations to validate our struggle and issue statements to tell us what we already know is not peaceful protest. Asking the media to cover our struggle and then standing by as they label us terrorists and write inaccurate, untrue and biased pieces is not peaceful protest. These methods are our attempt at mitigation of responsibility, we employ these methods with no plan of escalation and little coordination, they serve to make us feel good, to quantify the redundancy of our Panthic-ness. We hide behind these flawed methods. Perhaps one of the most infuriating aspects of this misuse of peaceful protest is the constant pursuit of "awareness". Awareness is an intangible thing, we have made thousands of collective tweets and posts, and we’ve seen “celebrity” endorsement and media coverage. Yet Bapu Ji is abducted at the discretion of the police and the issue lies no closer to resolution. This is an ongoing issue and Bapu Ji is symptomatic of a larger struggle. He is not the first Bapu nor the last to make a stand for the Sikh pursuit of nationhood and Azaadi.
 
The only people that face the consequences for our misuse of peaceful protest is us, and by “us” I mean the activists on the ground in Panjab. We wrongly believe that peaceful methods will lead to peace but they lead to violence as the state is an inherently violent entity. 
 
We in fact create the space for violence and leave our people open to attack and abuse. There forms a void between the limits of our peaceful activism and the state desire for violence. There is a moment of silence as the state takes a measure of the resistance that is forming before it, as the state confirms that the methods employed are without power, it steps in and fills the void with violence. Our misuse of peaceful protest is contributing to this violence. The state has a monopoly on the use of force, yet this is not an idea that we subscribe to as Khalseh, our very existence challenges this idea. Have we become so afraid of war that we turn a blind eye to injustice in the name of peace? The Gurus knew that in the pursuit of nationhood, conflict with the state is inevitable, that is why they prepared us for war. Today it seems we have completely abandoned the to think about the reality of the conflict we are engaged in.
 
The state knows clearly that legitimate peaceful protest will ultimately revive Sikh political activism, this is why they seek to misdirect our efforts through coordinated violence and propaganda. In the diaspora Sikh media is in danger of becoming a mouth piece for the Indian state. Our media has to develop the capabilities to offer intelligent analysis, instead of presenting the propaganda of the state in raw form, completely unchallenged.
 
State representatives of Panjab, instead of representing the people of Panjab, regurgitate decades of anti-Sikh propaganda, concocted by the centre, and offer it up as "fresh insight". The Sikh of the diaspora needs to wake up, we are losing touch with more than 500 years of Sikh political activism. This is largely due to community leaders and misinformed activists who haven't put in any work into developing their understanding of Sikh political ideology and history, and haven't cultivated a revolutionary mind state. These reactionaries are guided by emotional, specious logic.
 
Our Panthic Nishaana is the pursuit of Khalistan, the foundations of which were laid in the ideology of sovereignty and the pursuit of nationhood that the Gurus nurtured for 239 years.
 
Alarm bells should be ringing when the narrative presented by misinformed activists and community leaders is the same as the narrative of the state. The state is trying it's utmost to contain Bapu Surat Singh's actions to 'human rights', 'rehabilitation', 'peaceful protest' and the ‘release of prisoners who have served their time'. Whilst at the same time the state continues to arrest Sikh activists en-mass, arrest and force feed Bapu Ji, label Khalistanis terrorists and suppress any talk of the larger context.
 
These revolutionaries are not criminals, they reject the states notions of rehabilitation, they have forsaken their human rights, facing the reality of an oppressive regime, they do not believe in peaceful protest. They have carried out revolutionary actions in an armed liberation struggle. They have been fighting every inch of the way on the road to Khalistan since their generals declared war in 1986. Their goal is victory and thus vindication. They have no desire for vindication through Indian courts. The state continues to disconnect their political struggle from the actions of Bapu Surat Singh claiming the agitation has been "high-jacked by Khalistanis", Bapu Ji is a Khalistani.  
 
"At 83 I have seen terrible injustice heaped against by beloved Panjab and its native Sikh...we must regain our liberty" - Bapu Surat Singh.
 
The Indian state is incapable of giving justice to the Sikh, fundamentally justice is not theirs to give, it is ours to take as demonstrated by generations of Sikh revolutionaries. Throughout our history we have never shied away from incarceration, death sentences, police brutality or state oppression. Today we cry out for restitution, for restorative justice, we plead for clemency, this is not a reflection of the revolutionary Sikh mind (Gurmat). Our pursuit of capitalist ideals and our desire to preserve our families, our children, our wealth, our comfortable lives at all cost, has ruined our ability to revolt, to pursue our freedom and accept with courage and pride the fruits of our struggle, whether bitter or sweet. Our actions today have reduced centuries of Sikh struggle to mere stories.
 
This narrative of Khalistan, of our pursuit for freedom, our mission to create a truly egalitarian society that Panthic Sikh minds are presenting is being demonized by the state. They claim that Panjab will once again be "plunged into a state of civil unrest and terror". This is not a warning, this is a thinly veiled threat. What the representatives of the state are saying, bristling behind their police and paramilitary units, is this: "demand Khalistan again and we will do to you what we did before, eradicate an entire generation, use rape as a weapon, sanction extrajudicial killings, torture and black cats".

Make up your mind, either you align yourself with the narrative of the state or that of the Sikh revolutionary. If you wish to represent the Sikh Sangarsh then educate yourself so that you may be true to the Sikh Sangarsh GurSikhi, and Gurmat. If you commit to this struggle then you commit to its ideals, to its demand that it be escalated intelligently, that it be victorious.

Dogma of the Indian State

On the 21st of July 2015 Manish Tewari, a lawyer and former Union minister from Panjab, published an article which appeared on the website of the Hindustan Times.

The article superbly illustrates the grotesque amount of propaganda that still continues to be churned out by the Indian State regarding Panjab and its recent history. Tewari starts with presenting an incomplete commentary of the green revolution. His opening sentence is constructed to create an image of 1960s Panjab that was moving in the right direction (due to the green revolution), followed swiftly with an inaccurate reference to the strategic division of Panjab in 1966.

Firstly, the green revolution created more problems than solutions for the people of Panjab as the introduction of chemical pesticides and genetically modified seeds gave rise to water scarcity, pests and diseases, spread of cancer and the inevitable occurrence of violence due to the socio-economic constraints on the people. Environmental activists have written extensively about the failures of the so called green revolution and the crippling affect it has had on Panjab.

Secondly Tewari states that the geographical reorganisation of Panjab came “as a reward for the gallant role played by the Punjab regiments and the people in containing and, repelling the Pakistani aggression in 1965.” This could not be further from the truth. In 1955 The States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) declared that all States in India be recognised on their linguistic majority. One year later the States Reorganisation Act (SRA) created 14 States based on this notion. 

However, the SRC rejected the demand for a Panjabi-majority state, citing that Panjabi was not grammatically very distinct from Hindi and that there was a lack of support from the people. This was based on data collected under duress by Indian media outlets which pressured the Panjabi Hindus to declare Hindi as their mother tongue. 

Naturally the people of Panjab were outraged at the rejection and sought to campaign for their rights under the SRA. Much like the campaigns against the suppressive colonial power post-1849 annexation, it was the Sikhs that spearheaded a decade long movement, this time for a Panjabi Suba in which tens of thousands of Panjabi people were arrested for peacefully protesting. In 1966 Panjab was finally recognised on linguistic grounds, however this only came after the Central Government divided the region into 3 pieces and carved Haryana and Himachal out of Panjab. The immediate result was that Panjab was reduced to a mere fraction of its size, river water was diverted and Chandigarh the capital was declared Union Territory; the control of which was held by the Central Government.

Tewari continues his diabolical analysis of post-partition Panjab by claiming that the Anandpur Sahib Resolution (ASR) paved the way for sectarian violence that “claimed more than 20,000 lives over the next two decades.” On the contrary, the ASR was a document that contained 12 Resolutions which outlined the religious, social, political and economic rights of the people of Panjab. The document actually served as a blueprint for other States in India to seek greater autonomy from Central Government, as implied in the Federal make-up of the Indian Constitution. Under ‘Economic Policy’, the document demanded the whole tax structure to be revised in such a way as to eradicate the evasion of taxes and the flow of black money. For agriculture the document sought to introduce land reform measures for improving agricultural production with a view to bridging the gap between the rich and the poor. Another demand was for all Panjabi speaking areas that fell to neighbouring States following 1966, to be returned to Panjab forming a single administrative unit. Thus Tewari conveniently omits to accurately explore the legitimate demands of the ASR.

Tewari then jumps straight to 1978, completely ignoring the events of 1975 in which Indira Gandhi was found guilty of election fraud by the High Court. The Supreme Court upheld the decision following an appeal and the Prime Minister was debarred from voting and politics for 6 years. However the very next day she introduced martial law by unilaterally declaring a state of emergency. The Press was censored and political opponents were imprisoned. Mass protests followed as the country fell to the inevitable brink of dissolution. 

According to Amnesty International, 140,000 people were arrested without trial, and it is estimated that 40,000 were Sikhs. As in the 1950s, Sikhs spearheaded the protests against the fascist ways of the Indian State. Tewari however choses to present a different narrative, instead suggesting that “militancy followed in 1980 and thousands of political activists who opposed the fundamentalist and sectarian brand of politics or, for that matter, even mere bystanders were mowed down in cold blood by terrorists parading as religious zealots.” A stark contrast to the events on the ground which arose due to the oppressive style of governance adopted by Indira Gandhi with which she struck terror across the country. 

In one paragraph Tewari instantly takes the legitimate demands and actions of the Sikhs to represent an act of terrorism carried out by a group of separatists; an approach often taken by other puppets of the Indian ventriloquist act. If Tewari had his way he would claim Guru Nanak to be a terrorist for it was he who first  instilled the Sikhs with the spirit of standing up against oppression. In the 15th century he spoke against the barbarity of Babar’s actions and in the 20th century Guru Nanak’s disciples followed suit by highlighting the tyrannical ways of Indira Gandhi.
 
Sikhs from across Panjab voiced their discontent against the abhorrent ways of the Indian State. This defiance from the Sikhs, coupled with the legitimate demands of the ASR and the Civil Rights Movement that ensued in the early 1980s, were the reasons why the Indian Army was ordered to attack Darbar Sahib in June 1984. It was an attack to violently silence the Sikh voice once and for all. 

The events of 1984 threw Panjab into Civil War, in which the Sikhs now only sought self-determination. Delhi witnessed the Sikh Genocide in the November of 1984 in which thousands of Sikhs were butchered, raped and killed on the streets of India. The years between 1984 and 1995 saw the inexplicable rise of enforced disappearances, fake police encounters and other extra-judicial killings across Panjab. According to Human Rights organisations an entire generation was wiped out. 

Peace for the people of Panjab never returned as Tewari wrongfully suggests. Badal et al have merely regurgitated the policies initially intended by Delhi. The demands outlined in the ASR are yet to be fulfilled but remain as relevant today as they were 42 years ago. 

The inhumane actions of the Indian Government crippled Panjab’s economy which has increased the levels of unemployment leading to social issues such as drugs addiction and soaring rates of alcohol consumption. These are the exact issues the ASR sought to remedy in the 1970s; one of the goals was to seek a ban on the sale of liquor and other intoxicants. The ASR also pressed for the prohibition on consumption of intoxicants and smoking in public places. 

Furthermore rates of female infanticide have increased due to the introduction of illegal abortion clinics across Panjab and farmer suicides are common place due to the bleak financial outlook of the region. Sikh political prisoners remain behind bars even after having served their jail term. One generation was destroyed with bullets and a second has been swamped in a myriad of debt, intoxicants and state corruption. Punjab is in the clutches of totalitarianism and the Indian proxy war is thriving.

Bapu Ji is the Spark

On the 16th of January 2015, Bapu Surat Singh  of village Hassanpur, Ludhiana took charge of ensuring that the dignity of an Ardas, made for the betterment of the Panth, be rightfully upheld.  An Ardas was initially made by Gurbaksh Singh who on two separate occasions failed to deliver on his word. He originally made an Ardas to commence a hunger strike in protest of the illegal detainment of Sikh political prisoners who had long served their prison sentences in India. Gurbaksh Singh maintained that he would remain on hunger strike until the Sikh political prisoners were released or until he breathed his last. The Sikh political prisoners were neither released nor did Gurbaksh Singh breathe his last; opting instead to end his hunger strike prematurely.

Bapu Surat Singh then stood up and came forward to complete the Ardas. As someone who was active during the Dharam Yudh Morcha that took place in the 1980s, Bapu Surat Singh is fully aware of the historic and current political situation in Panjab. His decision to commence the hunger strike is reminiscent of the course of action taken by Darshan Singh Pheruman, who similarly took up the mantle after another Sikh failed to uphold an Ardas, which is inviolable. In 1969 when Sant Fateh Singh violated his Ardas, that he would rather die than live in a subjugated Panjab where Chandigarh and certain other Panjabi speaking areas were broken away from Panjab; Darshan Singh Pheruman announced that he would fast unto death in the place of Sant Fateh Singh as an Ardas cannot be reneged upon. Darshan Singh Pheruman was arrested but continued his hunger strike in jail until the 74th day when true to his word, he fulfilled his pledge to the Guru and embraced martyrdom. 

In his Will, Shaheed Darshan Singh Pheruman stated, “those who had played up the drama of undertaking solemn vows before the Akal Takht to immolate themselves have, by taking recourse to lies and cowardice, captured the decision-making centres of power…the traitors of the Panth and the pious frauds, called sants, have successfully hatched an ugly conspiracy to eliminate every vestige of the wholesome influence of Sikh religion from Sikh politics with the purpose of making Sikh people slaves of others”. He continued to express how this would only be corrected with a genuine and pure martyrdom, which he successfully achieved. 

Bapu Surat Singh has encapsulated the same spirit by acting to reinvigorate the Panth; showing that the Khalsa is as resilient as ever. He has remained steadfast throughout his 176 day hunger strike, maintaining that the Ardas is one of the most potent weapons a Sikh has. An Ardas has the power to spark a revolution and awaken the Kaum. This is the reason why Bapu Surat Singh is protesting in the manner he is. Furthermore, he understands that the Panth has digressed from the decision it collectively made in 1986 during the Sarbat Khalsa when the overarching mandate for the Panth was waragainst the State. Today many have adopted an approach which contravenes that Panthic mandate. 

It is plausible to suggest that the methods deployed by the Sikh Diaspora are a genuine attempt to highlight Bapu Surat Singh’s hunger strike. However such methods give rise to ineffective measures of nurturing actual change. For example many Sikhs in the diaspora have been advised to write to their MPs and Councillors in hope of them urging their government to investigate India’s treatment of Sikh political prisoners; the purpose of which is a global condemnation of the way India governs its minority communities. Herein lies the futility of such efforts. India is an independent country and has a track record of introducing draconian laws to quell the Sikhs. Most of the political prisoners currently languishing in Indian prison cells were arrested under TADA, a law which amongst other unjust provisions, virtually criminalised free speech.  This Act was purposefully brought in to provide the Indian establishment with a means of violently silencing the political voice of Sikhs in Panjab. Although it lapsed in 1995, those arrested under TADA remain imprisoned.

Surely we’re not that naïve to think the UK government, or any other foreign power for that matter, is unaware of how India treats Sikh political prisoners. The UK government will only act in ways to serve its own interests and with the billion pound trade agreements in place between the two countries, it is very unlikely that we will ever see the UK exert any pressure on India let alone force India to release Sikh political prisoners. The MPs may acknowledge letters of complaint and respond in kind, however the reality of the situation is that that’s as far as they will and can go. Ultimately this matter will only ever be resolved by the Sikhs themselves.

It is Guru Nanak who tells us that we should resolve our own affairs with our own hands. That is why we have a duty to ensure our actions today fall in line with the Panthic agenda, which as it stands is encapsulated within the resolutions passed at the Sarbat Khalsa of 1986. In lobbying foreign governments to intervene and pleading with them to launch enquiries, we as Sikhs undermine the sovereignty of the GuruPanth. We have accepted the methods of democratic countries because they are perceived in the west to be the most effective ways of governance. However we only have to take a look at the outcome of previous attempts made by the Sikh Diaspora of relying on their host nations to intervene on humanitarian grounds. Governments in the west are not charity organisations; they are corporate infrastructures with set objectives to ensure their capitalistic needs are met under the guise of democracy. The British Empire, after all, is thriving.
 
Let us also consider the trend of taking to social media as an attempt to raise awareness. On the surface of it, social media is a good platform via which information can be disseminated to the wider public. However, as illustrated by the Arab Uprising, awareness alone will not resolve the problem at its core. During the Tunisian Revolution in 2010, as well as the civil unrest in Egypt, Yemen and Libya during 2012, thousands took to social media in an attempt to raise awareness. However the real change came on the ground by the people through grass roots activism, civil disobedience and ultimately armed resistance. 
 
The risk therefore is an over-reliance and dependency on expecting the world to stand up and unite with the Sikh cause because we furiously tweet photos of Bapu Surat Singh. The danger of social media lies in the superficial creation of digital revolutions which may appear to gather momentum, but will not accurately represent the situation on the ground and more importantly fail to retain the crux of the original objective.  A prime example of this in the case of Bapu Surat Singh is the recent emergence of the hashtag “#indiasavebapu”. This hashtag is a compromised attempt to raise “awareness”, it only serves to divert the Sikh political movement. The Sikhs are now not only begging foreign governments, but they’re now begging India to intervene and “save” Bapu. Imagine the erroneous euphoria India would create by releasing all Sikh political prisoners. The same people would then laud India to be a wonderful, democratic country that listens to the cries of Sikh people. In light of India’s barbaric regimes; where would the justice be in that? 
 
As stated above, social media can be utilised as an effective means of sharing appropriate campaigns that serve to raiseawareness regarding Sikh affairs that are in line with the Sikh narrative. The focus should be on Bapu Surat Singh’s endeavour to reawaken the Sikh Nation. He knows full well the Indian establishment will not release political prisoners and thus is willing to give his life for Sikhs to understand that as long as we refrain from delivering on the mandate created from the 1986 Sarbat Khalsa, a Sikh will continue facinginjustice and suppression.
 
The success of Bapu Surat Singh’s hunger strike will come with his martyrdom for it will show Sikhs in the diaspora that no amount of petitioning, lobbying, and pleading with any foreign judicial system will free us of our suffering. We are a sovereign people and must realise our only means of ending the suppression will arrive through the realisation of Khalistan. When Bapu Surat Singh completes his journey of walking the Guru’s path, the responsibility to continue the resistance will land on our shoulders. How we choose to act will either defeat us or spark a revolution that defines us.

Keeping The Memory Alive

We were invited to share our thoughts at the annual Holocaust Memorial Day in Tower Hamlets, London. We took the opportunity as one that helps us continue the work of owning and defining our narrative as empowered Sikh activists. Below is the speech that I read out. 

We are all a part of that energy that pervades and permeates time and space binding all of existence together. It's manifestation in our interactions takes the form of love and truth. That same love and truth that transcends culture, religion and language, it is universal, it is one.

This is the egalitarian, universal message of the House of Guru Nanak. This message, this philosophy, of truth against lies, of love in the face of hate, of compassion in disagreement, is the cause that puts the House of Guru Nanak against the way of the tyrant.

When I became a conscious and active member of my community in my early twenties I began my own journey, one that continues to this day, of connecting with the history and trauma of the attack, in June 1984, on one of the most important centres of Sikh spiritual and political activity, the Harimandir Sahib, known as the golden temple. This attack was followed by the genocide of the Sikh community in Delhi in November, and a decade of state pogroms that all but silenced the dissent of a generation, extinguishing forever the lives of thousands of young Sikhs. Today we are still trying to find and piece together the broken fragments of our history, identify those that were killed and those that survived and bring those responsible, who today enjoy political power, to justice.

With even a rudimentary grasp of Sikh history, one will find that we are no strangers to large scale violence. Our history is full of tales of extermination, being hunted, barbaric torture and destruction of our places of gathering and worship. Historically in our community such tragedy has always been counterbalanced by ‘Chardi-Kala’ the firm belief of a high and unconquerable sprit of self confidence and positivity.

So I found it perplexing that so many Sikhs today, are resigned to being victims and rely on outside agencies to deliver justice. We lack the ability to articulate fully to a wider audience, the trauma of our past and how it resonates within our community today. The tragic events of 1984 and the decade of disappearances that followed has alienated many of us from our very identity as Sikhs and our commitment to realise an egalitarian society is largely forgotten.

I have found that much of the pain that is felt within the Sikh community comes from fear and uncertainty. We don’t fully own our narrative. If you talk to many Sikhs today they’ll talk about 1984, in terms of “operation bluestar”, the military code name given to the attack on Harimadir Sahib. This is the equivalent of the Jewish community referring to the holocaust as ‘the final solution’.

I when I was asked to share my experiences today, I asked myself why do genocides happen, why does the state turn to massacre, and industrialises oppression using all of their machinery to destroy a people?

Honestly, I don’t know, but I think the answer lies somewhere between individual lust for power and misdirected collective anger. Either way I refuse to be a victim, in fact my strength as a Sikh will never come from reconciling my lot as a victim but rather by celebrating the very culture, values and deeds that made us a target of violent extermination. My very existence as a Sikh that realises what is required of me in creating a better society, is rebellion and it's my duty to stand up against oppression, to fight tyranny. By the fact that we are alive, we survive, we can build a-new and invigorate the very people that the state has tried to destroy.

ਝੂਲਤੇ ਨਿਸ਼ਾਨ ਰਹੇਂ ਪੰਥ ਮਹਾਰਾਜ ਕੇ!

Let Us Be Honest With Our People

sikh.jpg

I am against most avenues of dissent commonly taken by our community such as petitions and demonstrations. It is not only because I cannot logically see how they could, or have ever resulted in real change, but because usually the initiative is fundamentally flawed. As we approached 30 years to the battle of Amritsar in June 1984, there had been calls from various groups and individuals within the Sikh community: calling on the international community for an inquiry into the Indian Army attack, to “get justice”. However, when one asks who this international community is (in terms of its organisation); or which mechanism can hold India accountable; or even for an example of where such a campaign has resulted in justice - the voices start to go quiet.

What are the Mechanisms?

India isn’t a member of the European Union, so the obvious “International” avenue must be the United Nations. Let us look at recent conflicts, and how they have been dealt with by the international community.

This May will mark 6 years to when the LTTE in Sri Lanka was brutally destroyed by the Sri Lankan army. In doing so the Sri Lankan Army targeted civilians in a vicious bombing campaign which displaced over 100,000 people and killed over 40,000 people. Towards the latter stages of the civil war the LTTE were unable to engage in conventional warfare, as their territory had been surrounded and the army was shelling indiscriminately. Due to the huge civilian casualties being suffered, the LTTE were forced to seek a unilateral ceasefire. They refused to escape. Instead, they placed all their hopes in the International community, who they believed would force a ceasefire. No ceasefire was brokered by the International community.

The International community watched Sri Lanka massacring tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, and yet no real attempt was made to get Sri Lanka to agree a ceasefire. In other words Sri Lanka only stopped the killing when it was happy that sufficient killing had been done. Following this, some countries like the United Kingdom, voiced support for an inquiry into war crime allegations. Yet they did so through mechanisms which they know will not succeed. This, coupled with the fact that the UK has also supplied arms to Sri Lanka, calls the integrity of their ‘concerns’ into question.

In May 2009, the EU sought to pursue a motion against Sri Lanka for an investigation into the war crimes at the UN Human Rights Council, however this was unsuccessful as 29 countries of the 47 member council voted in solidarity with Sri Lanka. We must ask ourselves, was the EU in any doubt that the 29 countries, which included India, were going to vote in any other way? China and Russia for example had vetoed in all previous occasions when the EU attempted to table a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Security Council. In fact due to opposition from China, Russia and India, the UNHRC was forced to drop a draft resolution condemning both the Tamil Tigers and the Government. Instead, they passed resolution S-11/1 on 27 May 2009 which commended the Sri Lankan government actions, and condemned the Tamil Tigers.

The motives for countries such as China, Pakistan and Russia are clear and simple. They have vested interests in the newly developing Sri Lanka, China is reported to have provided over $1.8 billion worth of arms to Sri Lanka, and Chinese companies are involved in a number of development projects. Russia and Pakistan also both provided arms to Sri Lanka, the former even lending $300 million after the war to be spent on arms.

The veto system is often lamented, as it only needs a permanent member to reject a proposal, and it will fail. The US has used its veto significantly and consistently in support of Israel each time it is required. Just a week ago, the US Government vetoed a Palestinian proposal calling for peace with Israel and an end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

These systems only serve as a means to placate aggrieved peoples of the world, with the false hope that there is a peaceful process in which their rights can be protected and enforced. In reality, commercial and political interests reign supreme. The power of the veto cripples any such chance of justice. These systems enable Governments such as the UK to say to its Tamil citizens, “We will demand an enquiry and table a motion in the UN.” This is said in the full knowledge it will be torpedoed by another member of the Security Council. It allows them to return in ‘shock’ and ‘disappointment’ reporting to the UK Tamil community, “We tried, but it got blocked, damn those Chinese!”

If the international community were not moved when India committed genocide against the Sikhs between 1984 and the mid 90s, if they were not moved when Sri Lanka committed genocide against the Tamils in 2009, or the continuing oppression for over half a century of the Palestinian people, why would they move now?

Diplomatic Efforts through other Governments?

This is a more informal method, through which other Governments, are pressured to lobby the Indian Government.

A few years ago I volunteered for the Sikh Organisation for Prisoners Welfare. I was a member of a negotiating team which facilitated discussions with the German Government, in regards to the Sikh political prisoner Professor Bhullar. We were trying to pressure the German Gov. to lobby the Indian Gov. to either unconditionally release him from detention, or order a retrial. We targeted the German Gov. because they had erroneously deported Professor Bhullar to India, where he faced torture, a miscarriage of justice, and the death sentence (he has been on death row for 14 years).

I remember in the last meeting with the German Foreign Office, their representative behind closed doors was very frank and open. He empathised with the situation but concluded, “India is a sovereign nation, we can only ask them, but in the end India can do whatever it wants”. For me that day confirmed asking another Government to lobby the Indian Gov. was a completely futile exercise.

Countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, Germany etc could use many diplomatic means to pressure and lobby India, they could cease trading or even cease all diplomatic relations, but the question is why would they do so?

Sikhs are a small minority in these countries, and the Sikhs that try to lobby these governments are a tiny minority within that minority. Recent revelations proved the British Government’s collusion with the Indian Army attack on Sri Harmandir Sahib. At the demand of the Indian Government, the UK attempted to suppress Sikh political activities. These revelations make it crystal clear, for any Sikh still viewing the world through Gandhian tinted spectacles, that trade agreements and commercial interests have more bargaining power and weight, than abuse of Sikh Human Rights in India.

These revelations meant that the 30 years we have spent lobbying the UK Gov. were effectively useless. That the reason they have not produced any results, is that while we marched and sat outside, all along these two governments were inside playing monopoly (“I will trade you this billion pound trade deal, you silence the Sikh dissent in the UK”).

Sadly, notwithstanding appeals, petitions and protests have ever produced any results for the past 3 decades and even after the revelations that proved commercial interests will always overrule - we are still forcing these ultimately useless initiatives on our people.

Isn’t it always better to do something?

No. A movement in the wrong direction only serves to distract, divert, divide and ultimately create disillusion. There is a petition currently doing the social media rounds which is an “urgent appeal to secure the permanent release” of Sikh political prisoners and to save the life of Gurbaksh Singh. What happens if the Indian Government does not agree to this petition? The continuing detention of prisoners and the death of Gurbaksh Singh will break the hopes of the hundreds who signed in the false hope that the release was possible. These hundreds will become disillusioned, and in the future may opt to not support a Panthic initiative at all.

Let us be honest with our people. Thousands of Tamils in the UK blocked roads surrounding Trafalgar Square for a number of weeks towards the end of the Civil war in 2009 to force a ceasefire. Hunger strikes were held and the blockades were mirrored in large capitals across the western world. Yet this had little or any effect. The Sri Lankan Army stopped when they wanted to, and not a moment sooner. Why is it then that we expect more for less? If the Tamil blockade for a number of weeks was unsuccessful, why do we think our one day walk or afternoon sit-in will have more of an effect?

These routines serve up a politically correct, false alternative to real methods of change, an alternative which satisfies the part time revolutionary. It makes no apology for its impotence; it provides the desired outcome, which is why we are not outraged when they don’t work.

Let’s not feign ignorance, most of the above information can be ascertained in 10 minutes on google, yet none of the proponents of these petitions or protests will do so, just so they can play along with the façade. Don’t plead illiteracy on their part, for the average Punjabi knows the planning laws, bylaws, rules and regulations better than his local planning officer. Why are we so unprepared and haphazard when it comes to the planning and foundations of our real home?

Let us be honest with our people. We do not place our hopes in the Indian Government or its morally corrupt counterparts. If Gurbaksh Singh dies he will do so and prove that Sikhs are slaves in India. If they release the prisoners, it will be a positive outcome, but the prisoners themselves will concede that it will be a small victory in comparison to the Panth’s needs. If the Sikhs remain in prison past their sentences, they will expect nothing less. They are political prisoners. Freedom fighters. They are not “Indian citizens” as they were imprisoned to prevent the formation of an Independent Sikh homeland. Let us not talk about the probability of them “reoffending” because they are not criminals.

True solidarity with the Sikh political prisoners is to develop and progress a mindset which is in cohesion with theirs:

‘‘Whatever we did, it was not meant to save our lives. We had reformed the enemies of the Panth and those who had deceived and harmed it. Our brothers were fighting a peaceful battle. We have fought battles as were fought by Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh Ji. We have done nothing against the tenets of Sikhism. When our Gurus did not care for their lives, who were true emperors and masters of the two worlds, what concern could the death have for us.....’’

Babbar Akali
March 1925
Pardesi Newspaper of the Babbar Akali Movement.

 

*(Note – Since this article was written 7 Sikhs made representations to the Thailand Embassy in London, urging Thailand to not extradite a recently detained Sikh to India. This was a commendable move, because as I outlined at the beginning of this article, my opposition was to inherently flawed initiatives. Lobbying the Thailand Government in this case is completely logical, as it can result in them refusing to extradite the detained Sikh.)