Sikh Community in India after winning a year-long social fight against BJP is now under another kind of danger—this time it is the wrath of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who believes that Sikhs have eroded his political base and they must be penalized and punished.
Independent Indian media indicates that PM Modi is not ready to digest his political defeat though he had to withdraw controversial farm laws. He is neither ready to accept reality nor let Sikhs live in peace. Meanwhile, reports coming from BJP political circles, Modi Sarkar has launched an onslaught of defaming Sikhs as separatists and the bomb blast at Ludhiana by a sacked policeman can be linked with a deep-rooted design of BJP to start crackdown on Indian Punjab youth.
In a series of background interviews with Sikh students from Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, and Ludhiana, it came to the surface that the Sikh youth lives in fears that after the victory of Morcha over Central Government, the BJP government would use intelligence agencies to pick them up, harass them, arrest them and tag them terrorists because BJP is not ready to accept Sikhs as patriotic as Hindus are. “Asking for the right of living from Modi Sarkar has become an axiom of flouting and contesting the Indian Constitution. If you are against PM Modi, you are against India –is the new rule in India,” commented Jaswant Kaur (original name withheld on request).
The majority of youth believes that reputational hurt to PM Modi due to protracted farmers’ movement is non-digestible, hence Modi will take revenge using the following measures: –
Use of multi-pronged strategy to politically engineer elections, discredit Sikhs in info domain, use judicial lever for forging cases against prominent Sikhs and farmer’s movement leaders.
On the pretext of Khalistan separatism, use security forces to break the will of those having dissenting views with the center.
Use Godi Media for the political advantage of BJP.
Use his charisma of personality to influence foreign governments against prominent NGOs working for the cause of Sikhs and minorities.
Uttam Singh, a student of the Sociology Department while answering questions about what are major fears being faced by Sikhs, was of the view that Indian intelligence agencies have a history of using drugs against Sikh youth and he feared that again intelligence agencies would spread drugs among Sikh Youth. Citing an Indian film—Urta Punjab, Utham was of the view that history can repeat itself because Hindutva and its followers are now considering Sikhs as their “open enemies” so wish to drug Sikh youth as they did after 1984 events.
It may be mentioned that Sikhs have a history of purge and subjugation in India and have never been trusted after 1984 events that triggered hatred between Hindus and Sikhs when thousands of Sikhs were burnt to death, their properties were looted and their women had been raped by Hindus. Eight days long Operation Blue Star (OBS) still haunts the Sikh community.
OBS was an official beginning of a systematic purge of the Sikhs community in India. Over 100,000 Sikhs (mostly youth) were killed in the next four years (till 1988) while over 25,000 victims were left crippled for the whole of their lives. Over 20,000 Sikh families migrated out of India (mostly in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom) after this event as they felt India does not own them and they were alien in their land. The OBS assault started on June 1, 1984, and continued till the night of June 8.
One of the most important events related to OBS is the “Mutiny of 9th battalion of the Sikh Regiment” that started from Bihar and spread as far as Rajasthan and over 2600 Sikh soldiers were killed by Indian Police and Army after this mutiny and their bodies were not handed over to their relatives. One serving Brigadier Brig Puri was shot dead at brigade headquarters in Ramgarh in Bihar by Sikh soldiers. Sikh Soldiers were under constant surveillance in the Indian Air Force, Army, and Indian Navy for years to come after this incident.
The Khalistan movement was a politico-religious Sikh nationalist movement that aimed at creating an independent state for Sikhs inside the current North-Western Republic of India. Even though the Khalistan movement started in the early 1940s and 1950s, it gained popularity in the 1970s when former East Pakistan became “Bangladesh”. Sikhs understood that India helped Bangalis to form their separate country on the basis of language, culture, ethnicity then why Sikh should not get their own separate country on the same basis?
The Sikh community strongly believes that the assassination of PM Indira Gandhi after OBS was planned to provide a justification to purge the Sikh community all over India. It may be mentioned that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who ordered for Operation was assassinated on 31, October 1984 when her two bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, shot her with their service weapons when she was standing in the garden of the Prime Minister House. Her murder was instantly followed by Anti-Sikh riots spread all over India, killing more than 8,000 Sikhs in New Delhi alone in four days, and an estimated 20,000 or more Sikhs were killed in 40 cities across India. At least 50,000 Sikh families were displaced and their belongings, homes, shops, transport, offices, and businesses were looted and burnt down. Armed mobs stopped buses and trains in and near Delhi, pulling off Sikh passengers for lynching; some were burnt alive.
Some students were of the view that BJP would mess up with the law and order situation in Punjab to delay state elections because political turmoil in Punjab will give BJP time to manipulate/forge alliances, thereby undermining farmers and Sikhs.
Sikh youth fears that winning over Farm laws has actually created unseen problems for the Sikh community. “Having failed to pacify farmers’ protests, despite the use of excessive force, BJP government was forced to repeal the controversial farm laws. The repealing of laws seriously affected ‘invincibility’ of PM Modi thus increasing challenges for BJP,” commented Sardar Balraj when asked what did he fear action against Sikh Youth.
He added that some of the challenges faced by BJP include embarrassing performance in UP and Punjab – fearing humiliation in upcoming state elections and increased pressure of Khalistan referendum and growing internal security concerns in Punjab.
BJP after killing more than 750 farmers and injuring thousands of them failed to break their will and ultimately submitted to their demands. BJP’s submission to farmers has not been liked by Sanghis. Therefore, they are using extra-constitutional means to cause sacrilege of their sacred religious places to hurt the sentiment of Sikhs. BJP considers Sikhs as the main proponent of their failure, hence Sikhs are facing the wrath of BJP which is likely to intensify until they are marginalized. BJP’s highhandedness would not restrict to Punjab but they will target Sikh’s diaspora abroad.
Makhan Singh, a student of Law was of the view that the perturbed by demands of the referendum, the Indian establishment is using intelligence agencies and other tools on a deliberate plan to repeat the episode of operation Blue Star and using the Indian Army to oppress the Sikhs peaceful struggle cannot be ruled out.