“By any means necessary” – Malcolm X
This famous saying by Malcolm X has continued to throw ripples across the world; it spoke to the masses that were being oppressed within the country they grew up in an identified as home. Yet, we often question the statement as to what it actually means. Malcolm spoke on behalf of his African-American brothers and sisters, he along with the Black Panthers’ realised that sometimes violence was necessary. The contrast between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King are evident, this contrast goes beyond America and the civil rights of African-Americans.
India is a country with an estimated 1.2 billion people. The ‘Census of India 2001’ demonstrated that 80% of this large population is Hindu, 13.4% Muslim, 2.3% Christian and 1.9% Sikh. While the tourist side of the world would believe India is a peaceful nation since its independence of the British, many problems still plague India. Multiculturalism comes at a steep price and India is no exception to this rule. Even today there are many reported clashes with Hindus and Muslims (stemming from India-Pakistan relations) and Sikh-Hindu.
India’s troubles within their own society go beyond the widely known problems with Pakistan. After the 1947 Partition where Indian-Muslim’s were given their own country, Pakistan, problems were intensified in setting the boundaries of these nations, epitomised by Kashmir. The state the lies between India and Pakistan, which has been a constant problem for both countries in their attempt to seize jurisdiction.
The creation of Pakistan has given hope to the struggle Sikh’s now face in India. Khalistan is the Sikh hope for the end of a violent, bloodshed, history for Sikh-Hindu relations in India. Many argue when these problems emerged, but there is a common feeling that the real start of today’s problems derive from Indra Gandhi and Operation Blue Star.
Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star (3-6th June 1984) will forever remain a dark spot in India’s history. The order by, then Prime Minister, Indra Gandhi to allow the army to storm the highly religious Golden Temple in Amritsar is an action that can never be justified and the direct result of her death.
The aim of this ill-thought operation was the capture and arrest of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a man accused of assassinating a rival member of another Sikh sect. Reports had reached Indra Gandhi that Bhindranwale had taken refuge in the Golden Temple and that rumours had also told of weaponry being stored within the confines of the temple.
The operation, when carried out, was a mess. Gandhi’s office ordered a media blackout of the country and an imposed curfew upon the state of Punjab. The world was blinded and silenced to what was about to be carried out. The timing could not have been worse; the date had clashed with a Sikh annual event, so the Temple played home to innocent men, children and women.
After 5hours of brutality, on part of the army, 492 innocent civilians were confirmed dead. Killed in the operation this defaced and decimated the iconic and holy Temple.
Indra Gandhi & Anti-Sikh Riots
4 months later, Indra Gandhi was made to answer for her crimes by way of assassination. On 31st October 1984, Gandhi’s two Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh & Beant Singh, assassinated Indra Gandhi in direct revenge for her involvement in Operation Blue Star. 33 rounds were fired at the Prime Minister, with Beant Singh being killed in the process and Satwant Singh captured and arrested.
Shocked by these events the Hindu-Sikh relations went down a road it could not ever come back from. The next 4 days a series of riots broke out in the Northern part of India, in Delhi. It is estimated that up to 20,000 Sikh’s were murdered by Hindu mobs in another revenge attack, in direct response to the murder of Indra Gandhi.
Balwant Singh Rajoana
The violent attitude towards Sikh nationals did not end there. Because of subsequent boycotts of elections and most public services by Sikh, in retaliation for the atrocities committed against them, Beat Singh became Chief Minister in Punjab in 1992.
During this time the Khalistan movement had become very active within the state of Punjab, something the Government very much has opposed. Beant Singh took the movement by the throat and became responsible for an estimated 50,000 Sikh deaths within the state on Punjab. The world remained silent and mostly unaware. The genocide of Sikh nationals within their own country continued beyond Blue Star, backed openly by the government.
Balwant Singh Rajoana was a member of the Punjab police force. The man who had once answered to Beant Singh could not take the injustice anymore; he had seen too much brutality under Singh’s regime to not do anything about it.
On 31st August 1995, Beant Singh, along with 17 other people, was killed by way of bomb. Dilawar Singh Babbar was discovered to be the suicide bomber who became responsible for the assassination. After Beant Singh’s death, there was a considerable decline in the number of murders within the Punjab province of India.
On December 25th 1997, Balwant Singh Rajoana admitted to strapping the bomb onto Dilawar Singh Babbar and also being the back-up bomber should Babbar have failed in his attempt. Balwant Singh refused a lawyer, he insisted upon defending himself. Rajoana made no attempt at seeking an acquittal or even to get himself off death row, he simply had the following to say:
“Thousands of Sikhs were massacred. It is submitted that these murderers have neither been punished nor been punished by any Court of law of the country even after 25 years” – Balwant Singh Rajoana
In 2007 Balwant Singh Rajoana was sentenced to be hung on 31st March 2012. On March 8th 2012 a stay of execution was granted due to the Sikh party, SGPC, filling two petitions to the Indian Government to have Balwant Singh Rajoana acquitted. The stay was granted by President Pratibha Patil as she wanted time to review the case.
“I am happy because Sikh religion has shacked the walls of Delhi government, not because my hanging has been postponed.”
This was Rajoana’s response to the news of the stay of the execution. He is ready to accept whatever fate is coming to him, he has no faith in the Indian democracy system, especially following the lack of conviction over finding those responsible for Operation Blue Star.
In recent years, since Balwant Singh Rajoana’s confession, there has been a decline in the activity of those who continue to press for the independence of Sikh’s within India with the creation of a new state of Khalistan.
What cannot be denied, however, is relations between India and their Sikh population have been torn apart throughout their long history. Bridges have been burn that simply cannot be rebuilt, and while the burning of turbans continues by even political parties (Shiv Sena) no progress can be made in bridging this gap.
If the Indian-Muslims could find the will to create the separate states of Pakistan and India, surely it’s not that much of an ask to create a new state of Khalistan.
Codemn India for hanging Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana on 31st March 2012 at 9 am in Patiala Punjab jail. Bhai Bhai Balwant Singh refuses to plea for clemency from the killers of the Sikh Nation. There has been no justice for the Sikh Genocide in 1984 by the Indian State. Bhai Balwant Singh has lost all faith in the Indian judiciary. India is not a democratic state has it crushes the voice of its minority citizens. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31519