Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Religion Politics

The Khalistan conspiracy makes startling revelations about the state complicity in Sikh Genocide

But the book glosses over the crimes of current Hindutva nationalist regime

Gurpreet Singh 21 Nov 2020


Image Courtesy:harpercollins.co.in

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

Thousands of innocent Sikhs were slaughtered across India by the 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 that left many pilgrims dead and had enraged the Sikhs worldwide was avoidable according to the 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 polarise Hindu majority to win the upcoming general election by the so called secularist Congress party.  

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 that helped him gain a brute majority in the election that followed. Significantly, he brings it on record how the police force in the national capital of New Delhi was helping the mobs going after Sikhs and 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 see how the repression of the Sikhs had strengthened it rather than blaming the 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 and it was the creation of the Congress leadership that 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 as the extremist elements they wished to prop up against moderate Sikh leaders went out of control and Punjab was pushed into the turmoil during a decade long militancy.  

He rightly observes that the 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 a closure to 1984, the Pakistan and Khalistan supporters outside India will continue to precipitate their agenda. However, Sidhu has conveniently overlooked the alleged involvement of the currently ruling right wing Hindutva nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

That the supporters of Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) also allegedly 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, a highest civilian award to the late Nanaji Deshmukh, a Hindutva supremacist leader who had justified the violence against Sikhs. But Sidhu is silent about it. On the contrary, he tries to paint a rosy picture of Modi government by claiming that is has removed the names of Sikh expatriates from a black list that was 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 that witnessed Muslim genocide after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire leaving more than 50 people dead. Although one commission of enquiry had found that it was an accident, Modi had blamed it on Muslims and incited violence against them. He was denied a visa by the US and other western countries because of that until he became the Prime Minister in 2014.  

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

Interestingly, Sidhu who claims to be an authority on Sikh history does not take the pain 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 an opportunistic political alliance between BJP and Akali Dal, the party that claims to represent the Sikh interests in Punjab.

*The opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s own.

More by Gurpreet Singh:

Modi must not be allowed to appropriate Bhai Taru Singh

Nothing humanitarian behind sham clemency to Sikh prisoners

 

The Khalistan conspiracy makes startling revelations about the state complicity in Sikh Genocide

But the book glosses over the crimes of current Hindutva nationalist regime


Image Courtesy:harpercollins.co.in

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

Thousands of innocent Sikhs were slaughtered across India by the 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 that left many pilgrims dead and had enraged the Sikhs worldwide was avoidable according to the 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 polarise Hindu majority to win the upcoming general election by the so called secularist Congress party.  

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 that helped him gain a brute majority in the election that followed. Significantly, he brings it on record how the police force in the national capital of New Delhi was helping the mobs going after Sikhs and 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 see how the repression of the Sikhs had strengthened it rather than blaming the 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 and it was the creation of the Congress leadership that 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 as the extremist elements they wished to prop up against moderate Sikh leaders went out of control and Punjab was pushed into the turmoil during a decade long militancy.  

He rightly observes that the 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 a closure to 1984, the Pakistan and Khalistan supporters outside India will continue to precipitate their agenda. However, Sidhu has conveniently overlooked the alleged involvement of the currently ruling right wing Hindutva nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

That the supporters of Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) also allegedly 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, a highest civilian award to the late Nanaji Deshmukh, a Hindutva supremacist leader who had justified the violence against Sikhs. But Sidhu is silent about it. On the contrary, he tries to paint a rosy picture of Modi government by claiming that is has removed the names of Sikh expatriates from a black list that was 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 that witnessed Muslim genocide after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire leaving more than 50 people dead. Although one commission of enquiry had found that it was an accident, Modi had blamed it on Muslims and incited violence against them. He was denied a visa by the US and other western countries because of that until he became the Prime Minister in 2014.  

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

Interestingly, Sidhu who claims to be an authority on Sikh history does not take the pain 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 an opportunistic political alliance between BJP and Akali Dal, the party that claims to represent the Sikh interests in Punjab.

*The opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s own.

More by Gurpreet Singh:

Modi must not be allowed to appropriate Bhai Taru Singh

Nothing humanitarian behind sham clemency to Sikh prisoners

 

Related Articles

Rule of Law

Handling of electronic evidence by agencies a perversion of criminal justice: CCG

A group of 92 former civil servants, organised together as the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) has called for the urgent need for legislative safeguards to ensure that search and seizure operations by the police follow due process and transparency

Rule of Law

Handling of electronic evidence by agencies a perversion of criminal justice: CCG

A group of 92 former civil servants, organised together as the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) has called for the urgent need for legislative safeguards to ensure that search and seizure operations by the police follow due process and transparency


Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

IN FACT

Analysis

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Archives