The recent document released by India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) is nothing but a ploy to divide people along communal lines and cover up the failures of the government.
PM Modi and his government’s special relationship with Sikhs claims that the current right-wing Hindutva nationalist BJP government led by Narendra Modi has made efforts to redress many issues of the Sikh minority.
The booklet comes at a time when Punjab farmers, predominantly Sikhs are engaged in a conflict with those in power after the government passed controversial bills aimed at rolling back protections given to the peasants. While the BJP supporters have been mocking the agitating Sikh cultivators and labelling them as “seditious” and “separatists”, the Modi government has come out with a report card suggesting how considerate it has been for the Sikh community.
Appallingly, the booklet credits Modi for being instrumental behind the action against those involved in Sikh Genocide!
Thousands of Sikhs were murdered all over India in the first week of November 1984, following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, by the mobs instigated by the slain leader’s Congress party activists. Although it is well documented that the BJP supporters were also involved and a prominent Hindutva supremacist leader the late Nanaji Deshmukh had openly justified the massacre, the document remains silent about it. Rather, the Modi government conferred the highest civilian award (posthumously) upon Deshmukh in 2019!
That the only senior Congress functionary to be convicted for 1984 is former Member of Parliament Sajjan Kumar and that too in 2018 after a slow judicial process and tireless work of the human rights activists and persistent efforts of the victims’ families. In fact, Justice S Muralidhar of Delhi High Court who delivered the verdict had noted how the pattern of violence against Sikhs in 1984 was repeated against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat when the anti-Muslim pogrom happened and is widely seen as complicit in the mass murder.
Muralidhar was transferred after he pulled up Delhi police for failing to stop violence against Muslims by the BJP supporters and taking action against them early this year. It is a separate matter that he allegedly had no objection over his transfer and never made an issue out of it.
The Delhi violence followed angry protests by Muslims and others over an infamous Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that discriminated against Muslim refugees coming to India from the neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries.
Interestingly, the document praising Modi tries to explain that CAA was passed to help Sikhs facing persecution in Afghanistan and Pakistan and makes no mention about other non-Muslim communities, such as Hindus and Christians.
So much so, it also goes on to suggest that by revoking special status given to the only Muslim-dominated Indian state of Kashmir, Modi has helped in giving equal rights to the Sikhs in that region.
It is pertinent to mention that the Sikh activists both in India and outside the country had stepped forward to protest against CAA and the scrapping of the act granting special to Kashmir in solidarity with the Muslims. The document therefore appears to be aimed at creating a wedge between the two communities apart from making attempts to win over Sikh farmers to calm Sikh diaspora that is completely outraged at this time.
The Modi government had registered its protest against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for condemning the police violence on protesting farmers, following a series of demonstrations across Canada where Sikhs influence a number of political constituencies with sizable South Asian populations.
On one hand, the document mentions how Modi has scrapped the black list of Sikhs abroad who were denied visas for years by the previous Congress government for their involvement in separatist movement or their activism for justice to the victims of 1984, while on the other the Indian diplomats continue to harass expatriates by using their influence to suppress any voice of dissent. In response to Trudeau’s statement, the Indian officials even branded those protesting against farming bills as “extremists”.
One does not need any guesswork to understand the intentions behind such propaganda.
The citation describing Modi as Messiah by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex religious body of the Sikhs in the beginning of the booklet raises more questions. The SGPC is dominated by the Akali Dal, the mainstream political party of the Sikhs which has recently distanced itself from the Modi government on account of the farming bills. Such praises showered by the SGPC further adds to the speculations.
Modi needs to come clean on the farmers’ issue instead of spreading misinformation. The document based on lies and half-truth isn’t going to help. Modi needs to sit down and talk to the agitating farmers camping right outside the national capital of New Delhi and show some respect to them by taking back farming laws that are being opposed by not just Sikh, but the farmers of other faith groups.