Atanu Dey On India's Development

Did you know?

| 24 Comments

Here’s a bit about what happened to Sikhs following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in Oct 1984 — for the record.

* Over 3000 Sikhs across were killed in a week — 30th of October 1984 to the 7th of November.

* Almost 150 were killed in uniform: service personnel travelling in trains, pulled out even though they were in uniform and killed, only because they were Sikhs.

* No one has been found guilty — even though it is generally understood that the Congress party engineered the killings and orchestrated the pogrom.

* Rajiv Gandhi, who became the prime minister after Indira Gandhi, justified the pogrom saying that “when a mighty tree falls, the earth shakes”

* In the ensuing 1984-85 elections, full page advertisements were put out by the Congress party depicting scorpions and centipedes, snakes and barbed wire. Some of the advertisements asked: ‘Do you feel apprehensive when you come out of the airport and look at your taxi driver?’

[Source: "Emerging India" by Jaswant Singh, Feb 1993.]

  • http://ketanpanchal.blogspot.com Ketan

    What I do not know:

    * Who felt insecure of and angry at the Sikhs for the killing of a single person, that too someone who had imposed emergency in the past?

    * How many non-Sikh Congress workers had died in retaliation by the Sikhs?

    * How many non-Sikhs were killed by police bullets?

  • Harpreet Singh

    it gives solace to see there are Indians who choose to stand with sikhs in opposing the wrong doings of 1984

  • Harpreet Singh

    We had Sikh neighbours, Sikh classmates and Sikh friends. Bad jokes about Sardars were our staple diet and we usually cracked the Barah baj gaye ones in their presence. It’s all kind of baffling in retrospect. For I have never met a dumb Sardar in my life.

    I have known hard working Sardars, Sardars with business acumen, mild and affable Sardars, sturdy and macho Sardars who opted to be in the police or armed forces and Sardars who own dhabas that serve yummy food. And yes, I know of a Sardar who is undoubtedly the most civil and upright Prime Minister this nation has known. You can have difficulty in comprehending some of Manmohan Singh’s policies, but I doubt if even the opposition parties can find fault with the gentleman’s personhood. A Sardar is also an integral part of the literary background of this nation and sometimes we find it difficult to separate him from the history of Indian writing in English. I am talking about the irreprisible Khushwant Singh of course, who at 95 continues to be an icon and his book, Train to Pakistan, a must read for any aspiring novelist.

    It’s difficult to understand when and why other religious affiliations started alienating the Sikhs, not just as it turns out in this country but in the sub continent as well. We all know about the festering couldron Punjab had turned out to be in the 80’s and the bitter aftermath that resulted in Operation Bluestar and the assassination of Indira Gandhi. But surely the policy of the ruling Congress party that created a Frankestein like General Bhindaranwale was responsible for the misguided aspirations. And then of course the plot played out in familiar ways
    http://www.bangaloremirror.com/article/36/2010031020100310193156415fd301a73/Sardar-tujhe-salaam.html
    The Gurudwaras welcome non Sikhs and members of any religious affiliation or socio economic background to participate in all their ceremonies. Can there be a better testimony to the inclusive nature of this religion and its members?

    The paradox is the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Tej Bahadur Singh lay down his life to protect Hindus from religious persecution in this country and the Hindus turned against the Sikhs a few centuries later.

  • Amit S

    @Harpreet

    I am not sure if you are expressing your surprise at seeing a non-Sikh Indian writing against the atrocities against Sikhs right after the Indira Gandhi’s assassination. If you are, then let me assure you that there are many (perhaps, most) Indians who find that mayhem wrong. I find your comments such as “Hindus turned against the Sikhs a few centuries later” disturbing and frustrating. I am not sure why the wrongdoings of a few powerful people with vested interest (Congress wallas) and their mindless pawns are projected to anyone who identifies with their religion. Surely, there were Sikh militants who killed innocent people in the 80′s. This does not mean that “Sikhs have turned against Hindus”. Also, there are Muslim militants who kill non-Muslims all the time. Surely, majority of Muslims have not turned against non-Muslims.

    I come across a lot of Sikhs on the net, especially those living outside India (Canada and UK especially), who believe in keeping angst against India and Hindus in their hearts, even though Punjab is back to normal. Why? Perhaps you can offer some insights.

  • http://cowmaaa.blogspot.com Kaushik

    @ Harpreet
    With all due respect to Sikhism, we Hindus have always considered you brothers in more than one way. Like Amit says, but for a few sick buggers, every single Hindu has this feeling deep down about the atrocities done to the Skihs.
    Just saying.

  • Sunil

    Hello Harpreet,

    I am acutely aware of the trauma and tribulations of Sikhs in 1984 and my heart goes out for them. However I feel that you need to have some historical perspective before saying that Guru Teg Bahadur gave his life for the Hindus and Hindus turned against Sikhs a few centuries later.

    You must understand that the targeted killings of 1984 were against “sardars” or the Khalsa Panthis and not all Sikhs and that Guru Teg bahadur was the guru of all Sikhs and not just what are now the Khalsa panthis. Hindus of Punjab and neighboring regions have long held the Gurus in veneration and were considered to be Sikhs till the Tat Khalsa Movement in the late 19th century that lead to the creation of the SGPC with the Gurudwara Act enacted by the British. Therefore it can be argued that guru ji laid down his life not for the Hindus who were distinct from the Sikhs but for his own disciples and for their freedom.

    Frankly I would not have responded to you but I have seen in recent times a strong tendency in many Khalsa panthis especially the ones settled abroad to somehow lionize the Gurus (and by association, themselves) by saying how they did a favor to the Hindus by protecting them and got betrayed a few centuries later through Operation Bluestar. So please be clear that all those who believe in the Sikh spiritual philosophy are Sikhs (Historically this included a large number of Sindhis and all Punjabi Hindus, as they are called now)and the sacrifices of the Gurus were for the benefit righteousness and not meant as a favor to any community. Please don’t betray the spiritual richness of Sikhism by reducing to a political cult like Islam.

    Regards

    Sunil.

  • Harpreet Singh

    my second comment i copy pasted from an article whose link i hav given and the comments of Amit s , Kaushik and sunil pertain to that article ,if u go to the link u will see it is written by intellectual lady ( who by chance is also hindu) so it is not me who is claiming Guru Teg bhadur ji did a favor to hindus ,in fact guru teg bhadur ji’s fight was against injustice it just happened that at that time victims of injustice were hindus had it been any one else too , i am sure gurus wud hav tried best to protect him/her/them from injustice .

    Ideals of Khalsa see beyond communal lines as pointed in previous comments it is becoz of wrong doings of few congress walaas that hindus get blamed similarly it is wrong doing of few people who claim them to be khalsa but in reality are not that people associate extremeism wid khalsa . Lifting sword for self protection and lifting arms to terrorise others are totally different things and through out history be it during mughals , britishers , partition sikhs hav lifted sword/arms to protect downtrodden and self defence ,( though movie like gadar show it wrongly )

    P. S. if u think it is self praise that is why i quoted article of other person in my previous comment.

  • http://None Sunil

    Hello Harpreet,

    1. You say – “is written by intellectual lady ( who by chance is also hindu) so it is not me who is claiming Guru Teg bhadur ji did a favor to hindus ” – I assume that by linking the article you are endorsing its views. If not then please ignore my comment. If so, my comment on increasing “Islamisation” of Khalsa Panthis and dumbing down of the spiritual richness of the Sikh Faith stands.

    2. You say – “in fact guru teg bhadur ji’s fight was against injustice it just happened that at that time victims of injustice were hindus had it been any one else too , i am sure gurus wud hav tried best to protect him/her/them from injustice ” – I agree that given GTB’s Philosophy he would have protected any community from Injustice. What I have a problem with is the claim that in the entire GTB Shaheedi episode, the Hindus are somehow a completely separate community vis a vis the Sikhs. This is clearly false given the fact that even the Khalsa Panth was not formed at that time. There has been and still remains (despite the best efforts of the SGPC) a large overlap between the communities and contrary to many expat Sikh ideologues, there was no clear cut distinction between Sikhs and Hindus till the beginning of the 20th century (case in point – Bhagat Singh’s grand father was an Arya Samaji and Bhagat used to recite the Gayatri mantra in his early days – Source “Why I am an Atheist” by Bhagat Singh)

    I am not denying that in the current political mileu the two communities might have separate and distinct political identities, nor do I have a problem with many Sikhs’ desire to create one. What I have a problem with is the revisionism of history for the purpose of establishing that the Sikhs are somehow a completely distinct race and have been so since time immemorial. It is in this context that I made the observation on expat Sikhs trying to reduce Sikhism to a political cult.

    By the way regarding your observation that “through out history be it during mughals , britishers , partition sikhs hav lifted sword/arms to protect downtrodden ” – You might be interested to know that the Khalsa actively supported the British during the first great uprising of 1857 and sacked Delhi and Avadh. As a reward they were classified as a martial race and given preference in the native Indian Army. I am not saying that this should be held against them. All I am trying to prove is that simplistic and jingoistic renditions of History can be very injurious to our future and hence we must exercise utmost caution in these matters.

    Regards and

    Rab Raakha

    Sunil.

  • Kaffir

    Harpreet,

    I think others have already responded to your comments (which, btw, make some good points), but I wanted to mention this: while Khushwant Singh’s literary acclaim is well-deserved, his politics is not quite that admirable, as he did support Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. While he may have had his reasons for his decision, it is undeniable that Emergency was a shameful incident in India’s history, brought about by the “great” Congress Party and its leader (and leader’s son), and any support of such shameful actions by a prominent writer (more so by a writer who should have opposed censorship and other unsavory aspects of Emergency) deserves opprobrium.

  • Beenu

    Muslims have wreaked havoc in India, yet we treat them like our brothers. This is the greatness of a Hindu. There are no parallels.

  • trilok

    kashmiri hindus, including myself, will forever be indebted to guru teg bahadur and tthe sik faith, who gave the ultimate sacrfice for our sake – indeed, were it not for teg bahadur, there would be no kashmiri hindus, only muslims.
    i urge you all to google “kashmiri pandits and guru teg bahadur” to learn more.

    p.s. until those reponsible for the 1984 anti sikh pogroms are bought to justice, india has no right to claim the “secular” label.

  • trilok

    were i not agnostic i would proudly convert to sikhism.

  • Harpreet Singh

    @ trilok thanks for your comment and enlightening others of the real facts.

    @kaffir : the fact u responded to is from the article that i quoted .. as far as i know khushwant singh does not considers himself to be sikh .. he is communist cum atheist .

    TO ALL : we smwhere strayed away from main topic of ” why after 26 years also sikhs in India hav not got justice wrt 1984 roits”

  • Harpreet Singh

    @sunil : “You might be interested to know that the Khalsa actively supported the British during the first great uprising of 1857 and sacked Delhi and Avadh. ”
    ( the use of khalsa word is faulty and very generalised in above statement )

    The role of sikhs in 1857 rebellion is a topic of Phd and we cant discuss it in details here but when you make such remarks on a widely read blog it becomes my responsibility to respond .

    there is no denying the fact that sikh princely states of patiala and jind supported and supplied britishers with soldiers but then there were more hindu and muslim princely states who supported british ( scindias and rajputs for instance ,presence of rajput and maratha regiments along with sikh regiment from the british era )above metioned princely states were with british even during anglo sikh wars . and these states fought against there own sikh brothers.

    Second major reason sighted by historians on why sikhs supported british was that the rebellion aimed at restoring the Bhadur shah as ruler of india, now sikhs had been fighting against the mughals so how can now they support re establishment of mughal rule .

    thirdly , 9 years before 1857 i.e. 1847 the soldiers from avadh/oudh (UP) and central india and bengal help british in annexing Punjab ,and the psychological wound of defeat at the hands of these soldiers were still not healed so sikh soldiers could not be made the part of 1857 rebellion.

    fourthly , while searching for resources to reply to your allegation i found a book by DU historian that says that no doubt princely states army helped british but other sikhs in british army revolted and help the rebells in fighting british ( http://beta.milligazette.com/news/073-how-india-lost-1857-its-first-war-of-independence )

    Lastly , you quoted this point in response to my saying “through out history be it during mughals , britishers , partition sikhs hav lifted sword/arms to protect downtrodden ” then not only you and me but all of us should study history and see how sikhs opposed and supported british during there rule in india .

    If you want to read in details before forming opinion .

    http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/events/mutiny1857.html
    http://www.san.beck.org/20-2-BritishIndiaWars1848-81.html Paragraph just before the heading ‘Reconstruction of British India 1858-76’ mentions reasons for failure of revolt .
    http://sikhspectrum.com/112006/doris/ch13.htm
    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/The_Sepoy_Mutiny_-_1857
    http://beta.milligazette.com/news/073-how-india-lost-1857-its-first-war-of-independence

    I searched on Google ‘ sacking of avadh by sikhs’ got 1500 results but none had the information mentioned by you .

  • Harpreet Singh

    @sunil : “You might be interested to know that the Khalsa actively supported the British during the first great uprising of 1857 and sacked Delhi and Avadh. ”
    ( the use of khalsa word is faulty and very generalised in above statement )

    The role of sikhs in 1857 rebellion is a topic of Phd and we cant discuss it in details here but when you make such remarks on a widely read blog it becomes my responsibility to respond .

    there is no denying the fact that sikh princely states of patiala and jind supported and supplied britishers with soldiers but then there were more hindu and muslim princely states who supported british ( scindias and rajputs for instance ,presence of rajput and maratha regiments along with sikh regiment from the british era )above metioned princely states were with british even during anglo sikh wars . and these states fought against there own sikh brothers.

    Second major reason sighted by historians on why sikhs supported british was that the rebellion aimed at restoring the Bhadur shah as ruler of india, now sikhs had been fighting against the mughals so how can now they support re establishment of mughal rule .

    thirdly , 9 years before 1857 i.e. 1847 the soldiers from avadh/oudh (UP) and central india and bengal help british in annexing Punjab ,and the psychological wound of defeat at the hands of these soldiers were still not healed so sikh soldiers could not be made the part of 1857 rebellion.

    fourthly , while searching for resources to reply to your allegation i found a book by DU historian that says that no doubt princely states army helped british but other sikhs in british army revolted and help the rebells in fighting british ( http://beta.milligazette.com/news/073-how-india-lost-1857-its-first-war-of-independence )

    Lastly , you quoted this point in response to my saying “through out history be it during mughals , britishers , partition sikhs hav lifted sword/arms to protect downtrodden ” then not only you and me but all of us should study history and see how sikhs opposed and supported british during there rule in india .

  • Harpreet Singh

    continued :
    If you want to read in details before forming opinion .

    http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/events/mutiny1857.html
    http://www.san.beck.org/20-2-BritishIndiaWars1848-81.html Paragraph just before the heading ‘Reconstruction of British India 1858-76’ mentions reasons for failure of revolt .
    http://sikhspectrum.com/112006/doris/ch13.htm
    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/The_Sepoy_Mutiny_-_1857
    http://beta.milligazette.com/news/073-how-india-lost-1857-its-first-war-of-independence

    I searched on Google ‘ sacking of avadh by sikhs’ got 1500 results but none had the information mentioned by you .

  • Harpreet Singh

    If you want to read in details before forming opinion .

    http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/events/mutiny1857.html
    http://www.san.beck.org/20-2-BritishIndiaWars1848-81.html Paragraph just before the heading ‘Reconstruction of British India 1858-76’ mentions reasons for failure of revolt .
    http://sikhspectrum.com/112006/doris/ch13.htm
    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/The_Sepoy_Mutiny_-_1857
    http://beta.milligazette.com/news/073-how-india-lost-1857-its-first-war-of-independence

    I searched on Google ‘ sacking of avadh by sikhs’ got 1500 results but none had the information mentioned by you .

  • Kaffir

    Harpreet Singh,

    Next time, if you quote – that is, copy-and-paste – from an article, please use quotes (“”) or somehow indicate in your comment that you are quoting from someone else and these are not your words. There are also HTML tags that make it easy to indicate that one is quoting (‘blockquote’ tag).

    Also, if you copy-and-paste without offering your own perspective, it is common practice to assume that you agree with the content of what you copy-and-pasted.

    The way you “wrote” your comment, it wasn’t clear that those were not your words. A little clarity in communication and comment writing goes a long way in having a good discussion as well as avoiding misunderstandings.

  • Harpreet Singh

    @sunil .. continued ..
    If you want to read in details before forming opinion .

    http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/events/mutiny1857.html
    http://www.san.beck.org/20-2-BritishIndiaWars1848-81.html Paragraph just before the heading ‘Reconstruction of British India 1858-76’ mentions reasons for failure of revolt .
    http://sikhspectrum.com/112006/doris/ch13.htm
    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/The_Sepoy_Mutiny_-_1857
    http://beta.milligazette.com/news/073-how-india-lost-1857-its-first-war-of-independence

    I searched on Google ‘ sacking of avadh by sikhs’ got 1500 results but none had the information mentioned by you .

  • Harpreet Singh

    http://www.san.beck.org/20-2-BritishIndiaWars1848-81.html Paragraph just before the heading ‘Reconstruction of British India 1858-76’ mentions reasons for failure of revolt .

    blockquote cite=” http://sikhspectrum.com/112006/doris/ch13.htm
    blockquote cite=”
    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/The_Sepoy_Mutiny_-_1857

    blockquote cite= “http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/events/mutiny1857.html”

  • Harpreet Singh

    If you want to read in details before forming opinion .

    sikh-history.com/sikhhist/events/mutiny1857.html
    san.beck.org/20-2-BritishIndiaWars1848-81.html Paragraph just before the heading ‘Reconstruction of British India 1858-76’ mentions reasons for failure of revolt .
    sikhspectrum.com/112006/doris/ch13.htm
    sikhiwiki.org/index.php/The_Sepoy_Mutiny_-_1857
    beta.milligazette.com/news/073-how-india-lost-1857-its-first-war-of-independence

    I searched on Google ‘ sacking of avadh by sikhs’ got 1500 results but none had the information mentioned by you .

  • Harpreet Singh

    i am unable to post the websites that i used as source for writing my previous reply how to do it ?

  • http://None Sunil

    Hello Harpreet,

    Let me reconstruct the argument for you before we get drawn in to why the Sikhs helped the British.

    1. You said – “through out history be it during mughals , britishers , partition sikhs hav lifted sword/arms to protect downtrodden ”

    2. I said – “You might be interested to know that the Khalsa actively supported the British during the first great uprising of 1857 and sacked Delhi and Avadh. ”

    3. Now you are saying that Hindu and Muslim Princely states also helped the british and that the uprising was aimed at establishing the rule of zafar and that Soldiers of Avadh had defeated the Sikhs only nine years prior – - – -My response is, how is this relevant.

    You said that Sikhs have always helped the downtrodden and I gave you an example of when they did not. On the contrary they helped the oppressor. Now there can be a zillion reasons for it but the fact remains that they helped the oppressive Company Raj unless of course you believe that the cause of the uprising of 1857 was more oppressive.

    In my humble opinion this is a classic example of how blind faith in something blinkers us and turns us in to rationalising individuals rather than rational individuals.

    Regards and

    Rab Raakha

    Sunil

  • Harpreet Singh

    note :- not related to main topic though still to reply to sunil : for sikhs specifically mughal rule was oppressive to the extreme extent , when i say i am nt discountign the atrocities of british .

    secondly in opposition to your statement “You might be interested to know that the Khalsa actively supported the British during the first great uprising of 1857 and sacked Delhi and Avadh. ” i had said that use of khalsa word is wrong as sikhs as a community did nt support british but it were the princely states that supported british .And in some cases durign 1857 sikhs revolted against british too as mentioned in previous post .