Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

GOVERNMENT ORGANISED CARNAGE [Sarkari Qatl-e-Aam]
FROM GURCHARAN SINGH BABBAR

WHY AND HOW THE INNOCENT WERE MASSACRED

Just try remembering this. The pain you feel when a drop of hot oil from a cooking pan falls on you. Just a tiny drop. Remember your pain and then, theirs. Sikhs, who were burnt alive. Now imaging the following scene. The half-hurt victims are begging for mercy. Crying and writhing in pain. And a group of human beings arround them is responding to their cries with loud cheer, savage and Satanic dance of joy. Most of us cannot even imagine such a situation in a civilised world. But, in the first week of November, 1984, violent mobs in Delhi, by dancing over the bodies of thousands of Sikhs as they were being devoured alive by fire, not only set new standards of violence but also a new bench-mark for our collective capacity to tolerate human savagery. For five long days, death danced in the streets 0f the Indian Capital and many other cities. It moved nobody. It seems that there were no human beings in this vast nation for five long days - not those who were killing, not those who were being killed, not those who were watching it all. Every body had transformed into some weird in-human entity that does not feel, know, see or hear any pain. Numb in mind and body. Frozen flesh and blood.

Why did it happen? Was it our latent cruelty and violence waiting to be aroused? Did a dormant demonic force suddenly come to the fore? Could anybody every have imagined the strong currents of hatred against the Sikh community in India until that November? Coule such savagery go on and on for five long days right under the nose of the Indian government? Where did our great traditions of secularism, non-violence, tolerance and compassion vanish during those death-filled days? The more we reflect over these questions, the more we shall be serving ourselves as evolved humans and, thereby, the society in which we live. Forgetting those days and the numerous questions that stare us in the face like stars in the nights sky, would deaden us further. To forget those events would be to prepare ourselves for more of the same. Because, those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.

What happened in November, 1984, was not riots. It was a massacre. Of Sikhs. To call it the massacre of innocents would be to justify violence against the guilty. No human being, innocent or guilty, deserves violence.

Every communal riot has a plan preceding it which, perhaps, is the only common factor between the numerous communal riots in India and the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in November, 1984. The genocide was planned and organised, better than any in the history of pre or post-partition India. Rumours were systematically spread. Criminal gangs were waiting in the wings. Congress (I) leaders were ready with their plot. Communal elements were just waiting for a signal from them. The conspirators and executors of the mass violence included members of the ruling party, the police and the administration.

The violence was absolutely one-sided. The attacks were a total surprise. The victims had no clue to the fate that awaited them. They had nothing to defend themselves with. The killers came prepared. With improvised weapons. Traditional weapons, had they been used, would have been a mercy.

The police, the bureaucracy and the government did nothing. For five long days, they just watched. Some ordinary folk did more to help the situation than them. So, what conclusion can we draw from all these factors? There is only one reasonable conclusion that we are allowed. The massacre of Sikhs was pre-planned and members of the government, right from the very top to the bottom, were involved in it.

The political angle to the massacre is nearly pronounced as the communal angle. Sikh had to be taught a lesson for the assassination of a Congress leader and prime minister. Similar lessons had been taught to many who dared raise their voice against Mrs. Gandhi’s dictatorial methods in Assam and the entire north-east region. But, nowhere was the ruling party directly involved in the job of teaching a lesson to socio-political delinquents.

The anti-Sikh violence was different. The ruling party took it upon itself to teach the Sikhs a lesson. The events of November, 1984 have, in fact, opened a new chapter (even political illiterates can read it) which shows the stranglehold of criminal and communal forces on the government, the administration and the police.

The Congress party, in the post-Nehru period, has had no qualms about inciting communal violence to suit its political interests. But, in November, 1984 the party beat all its previous records. In the face of its vicious role in the Sikh killings, is it not outrageous that the Congress party should be going to town about its, secular character ? It can be argued that the BJP, the Akali Dal and the Indian Union Muslims League are communal parties because they garner votes in the name of religion but the Congress, without doubt, is the deadliest face of communalism in India.

 

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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