"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

The Khalistan conspiracy makes startling revelations about state complicity in the Sikh Genocide, but glosses over the crimes of the current Hindu nationalist regime Featured

 

Gurpreet Singh   

Authored by a former Indian spy, the latest book tells how then-ruling Congress party of India engineered a pogrom against the minority Sikh community during the month of November, 1984.  

Thousands of innocent Sikhs were slaughtered across India by mobs led by Congress party activists following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards, who were seeking revenge for the military invasion on their holiest shrine in Amritsar in June that year. 

The ill-conceived army operation, which left many pilgrims dead and enraged the Sikhs worldwide, was avoidable, according to author G.B.S. Sidhu, a former Sikh officer of India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).  

He explains in detail how the attack was planned and executed to suppress the Sikh struggle for the right to self-determination and autonomy of their home state of Punjab, to polarize the Hindu majority for the so called secularist Congress party to win the upcoming general election.  

He gives first-hand information of how Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv Gandhi - who succeeded her as the next Prime Minister - and his close associates were directly involved in the Sikh massacre, which helped him gain a brute majority in the election that followed.  

Significantly, he puts on record how the police force in the national capital of New Delhi was helping the mobs going after Sikhs. He himself had to briefly take refuge in a Hindu colleague's house. 

This memoir is important to read, to put the movement for a separate Sikh state of Khalistan in perspective, and to see how repression of the Sikhs strengthened that movement, rather than blaming Sikh activists in places like Canada alone for instigating violence and bloodshed in Punjab.  

Sidhu makes us understand that Khalistan was never a popular demand. It was the creation of the Congress leadership, which deliberately wanted to discredit and weaken a genuine Sikh movement in Punjab, for more autonomy to the state and several religious concessions, by othering Sikhs to gain the sympathy of Hindu voters. Its calculation failed completely. The extremist elements they wished to prop up against moderate Sikh leaders went out of control, and Punjab was pushed into turmoil during a decade long militancy.  

He rightly observes that neighbouring Pakistan had only taken advantage of the domestic crisis, for which the blame lies squarely with the Congress party. He warns that if India fails to bring closure to 1984, Pakistan and Khalistan supporters outside India will continue to precipitate their agenda.  

However, Sidhu has conveniently overlooked the involvement of the currently ruling right wing Hindu nationalist government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

That the supporters of Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) also participated in the Sikh massacre is well documented. Yet that part is missing in the book. So much so, Modi’s government gave Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, to the late Nanaji Deshmukh, a Hindu supremacist leader who had justified the violence against Sikhs. But Sidhu is silent about this.  On the contrary, he tries to paint a rosy picture of Modi's government by claiming that is has removed the names of Sikh expatriates from a blacklist prepared by the previous Congress government, to deny entry to those who had been raising voices against state repression abroad and creating an environment for reinvestigating the massacre of 1984.  

How could he gloss over all this, especially when the attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have grown under Modi? It is pertinent to mention that Modi had repeated what happened in 1984 back in 2002, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, which witnessed Muslim genocide after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire leaving more than 50 people dead. Although one commission of enquiry found that it was an accident, Modi blamed it on Muslims and incited violence against them. Because of that, he was denied a visa by the US and other western countries until he became the Prime Minister in 2014.  

Even in 2019, Modi supporters targeted Kashmiri Muslims across India, following a militant attack that left forty soldiers dead in Kashmir.   

Interestingly, while claiming to be an authority on Sikh history, Sidhu does not take pains to look into the BJP agenda of assimilating Sikhs into the dominant Hindu society, which is a great source of worry among the Sikhs and has been at the root of the conflict between the community and the Indian establishment. It is not surprising to see how this anxiety has grown under Modi, who remains highly unpopular among the Sikhs in spite of the opportunistic political alliance between trhe BJP and Akali Dal, the party that claims to represent Sikh interests in Punjab.

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