Sikhs all over the world are celebrating the anniversary of the completion of their holy scriptures. Guru Granth Sahib was first completed in 1604. The Sikhs consider the holy text as their living Guru that remains their guiding light.
On September 7, the Indian Prime Minister extended his greetings on social media. Narendra Modi tweeted, “Greetings on the sacred occasion of the Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, whose noble principles, the emphasis on compassion, justice and equality guide the entire humankind.”
But considering the track record of his government, such messaging sounds hollow and hypocritical. Not only have the attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents grown under his right wing Hindutva nationalist BJP government, the gulf between the rich and the poor has also widened. So much so, he has hardly shown compassion even as social injustice has become an everyday reality for the oppressed and the weak.
It is pertinent to mention that Guru Granth Sahib includes the hymns of saints belonging to different faith groups, including Hindus and Muslims, besides those considered as “untouchables” within the orthodox Hindu society. The teachings of the scriptures take everyone into its embrace and encourage its followers to stand up against repression. Modi’s government has failed to respect any of those values.
On the contrary, the supporters of his party believe in a brutal caste system and openly discriminate against Muslims and other non-Hindu groups. Thanks to the heartless economic policies of the BJP government, the poor have become poorer.
Even if that is not enough, those questioning the people in power are either being killed or thrown behind the bars. The September 7 events coincided with the death anniversary of a daring journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was assassinated by the suspected Hindu extremists on September 5 four years ago. Her murder was rejoiced by those allegedly followed by Modi on Twitter. Likewise, when an Indian photo journalist Danish Siddiqui had recently died in the line of duty in Afghanistan during an ambush by Taliban, the pro-BJP trolls celebrated his killing. That was because Siddiqui had covered the ongoing farmers agitation against Modi’s unjust farming laws and scores of Covid-19 deaths. He was accused of maligning the image of India by the BJP supporters. All this goes against the principles of compassion taught by Guru Granth Sahib.
The Modi government has refused to release the jailed scholars and teachers who are being incarcerated under inhuman conditions. Among them is former Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist and suffering with multiple ailments. Saibaba was not even given a bail to see his mother when she was on her deathbed. He was arrested and convicted on trumped-up charges for raising his voice against repression of Adivasis (the Indigenous peoples of India) who are facing forced eviction from their mineral rich traditional lands by the extraction industry with the alleged backing of the Indian government. This is despite the fact that Modi had also tweeted on the Teachers’ Day on September 5 to shower praises on the educators.
Modi should either change his ways and do what he says or just stop fooling the people and himself by indulging in such tokenism.
*Opinions expressed are the author’s own.
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