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Posted Online on Friday 2, September 2005 11:20 IST

Anti-Sikh riots: shameless collaborators 

By VB Rawat

The Milli Gazette (online edition)

The ghost of the 1984 massacre of Sikhs has returned to haunt the Congress. For two days you make noise in the parliament and then ask a person to resign. It's good but not enough. We know it well that the Congress party want to look good as Sikhs seems to have been enjoying 'their' prime minister as well as Chief of army staff. That Punjab was back to normalcy and the religious party of the Alkalis got defeated in the subsequent elections because it did not deliver. Congress and other political parties in India don't come to power on a positive vote but on a negative mandate. This negativism of our people has damaged the secular polity of the country. Now the small fry has gone out of the cabinet, so government will go on an offensive. Its good that several head rolls for the involvement but what about those who have lost their nears and dears ones in these state sponsored massacres.

The grave fact is that the Congress Party refused to take action against any of the conspirators in the violence. In fact, they occupied important positions in the party. It is not just the question of one commission or the other. We all know how much Parliament remained out of work during Rajiv Gandhi's regime on the report of Thakkar-Natarajan commission where the needle of suspicion of Indira Gandhi's assassination was pointed towards some high ups in the party.

It is strange that the secular elite which have been active elsewhere kept conspicuous silence. Where are the people sitting on Rajghat with candle lights? No, it would be politically incorrect for them to charge a 'secular' regime for this. Unfortunately, we in India have been divided in the camps. Secular camps belong to left of center beneficiaries of the Congress and the other side we have the Hindutva gangs. Hence when secularism is a matter of political choice between the upper caste Congress or upper caste BJP or upper caste communists, then all those who differ and disagree with this criminal philosophy remains on the margins of so-called national mainstream.

One should not ignore the grave fact that minorities are slowly becoming pawns for those in power for their narrow political gains. And this politicisation of hate for vote started in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination, when the government forgot all decency, allowed slogans like 'khoon ka badla khoon se lenge', blood for blood, on the Doordarshan regularly till she was cremated. It was time when every Sikh was looked down as a terrorist. People may not remember but the fact is in the forces they were splinted between different groups. They were not trusted after some of their friends had revolted in the army against the desecration of the golden temple complex in June 1984. The Sikh alienation continued and it was the time when Hinduisation process of the congress was on the highest level. In Punjab, the terrorists were targeting the innocent particularly minority Hindus and in return feeding the communal feeling. The party which exploited it to the best of its use was none other then Congress party.

Indira Gandhi's assassination gave a point to the Hindu communal elements to prove their point of how dangerous the minorities could be if they are not controlled. Rajiv took over India. He became pride of Hindu youths. He was the son of Bharat mata, Indira Gandhi who has to be saved from the Sikhs. For days we were watching Rajiv carrying the dead body of his mother Indira Gandhi on his shoulder and then went to Gaumukh to pour her ashes in the Himalayas. He then promised to purify Ganges, though a noble gesture yet had sentimentally linked to appease the caste Hindus. It is not unknown fact that the Sangh Parivar had appreciated Rajiv Gandhi during this period. The parivar cadre in fact did not vote for the BJP that time because the issue of Hindu leadership at the helm was bigger. So Congress and Rajiv was much bigger then any other leader and that India has to be saved from the onslaught of Sikhs. The entire country voted on a highly charged atmosphere. Sikhs became a matter of not only jokes but also hatred.

Then Rajiv came to power with a thumping majority and wiped out the entire opposition. Never in the independence India, had, any prime minister got majority in the Parliament. He was India's 'Nayak' that time. The opposition was completely decimated. Congress became the original Hindutva representative and duplicates got wiped out. The people allegedly involved in the killings of Sikhs got wonderful rewards. They got plum ministries and party position. Since the mandate was a negative one basically to teach the Sikhs a lesson, there was no need for any political party or government to go the Sikh families and talk about their rehabilitation. Therefore, on the first death anniversary of Indira Gandhi in 1985, Rajiv addressed a big rally of the Congress workers at the vote club and said ' jab bada ped girta hai to dharti hilati hai', when the big tree falls, the earth tremble'. Thereafter, every anniversary of Indira Gandhi became a point to remind others, that the mandate have exonerated him and his party from every evils they did. In fact Rajiv promised Ramrajya later on in his 1989 elections when charges were hurled and his Mr clean image had got immensely hurt. It is interesting that some time he even spoke like ' nani yaad kar denge'.

It is therefore shameful for the human rights defender's in India to be in this or that camp. We have made ourselves a tool in the hands of the power groups because at some point of time, every one of us is suffering from a myopic vision of India. When ever any thing happen we pretend that we had a golden past when we all lived together. We think of an India where massacre happened so far were an aberration. When a gangster burns a missionary in Orissa, it is an aberration for our Dalit president as if such things never happened. Dalits always faced this victimization from the upper castes Hindus. When the Babri Masjid was demolished we all wept that Hindus are not like that. They are the most tolerant people. When the Muslims were slaughtered in Mumbai in the aftermath of the Babri demolition, we again cried, oh they are not Hindus but Shiv Sainiks. When the Muslims were killed in Gujarat, we all came to the street that Narendra Modi is the villain and not the Hindus. So when Hindus do something, we have different identity for them. We never said so far that Hindus killed Sikhs or Hindus killed Muslims but when the same thing is done by the others, we all immediately generalized the things. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by Sikhs so they must be taught a lesson. Train in Godhara was burnt by Muslims and not fanatic Muslims. Bomb blasts in Mumbai are by the Muslims; hence they need to be taught a lesson. Our media jump on the stories. The ill informed reporters would put the mikes in the mouth of those who would shout and abuse this fame. Hence we would see a Togadia opening abusing Muslims or a Sikh fanatic abusing the Hindus or a Muslim fanatic glorifying the Pan Islamism.

Should the event after our independence be called an aberration? Years after years, we have witnessed riots, massacres and bloody battles where the police and those in power play games. In fact, the police are an instrument to retain us in power, defend them and snatch the rights of the people and therefore a policeman in India is a law unto himself. He damn care for law books as whatever he says is a law. We have seen the gory events of Gurgaon in Haryana, as how the police mercilessly beat the workers of a factory who were demanding fair wages. So in every riots and massacre, the police are a party.

Satwant Singh was hanged to death on charges of assassination of Indira Gandhi. Interpol has arrest warrant against Dawood Ibrahim for his alleged involvement in Bombay blasts in January 1993. Rajiv's assassins are also given death sentence but never in the history of India has any politician been charged and send to gallows for butchering innocent people or inciting hatred. We cannot think of Mumbai Badshah behind the bar for spreading hatred and speaking whatever he wishes. We cannot think of the chums of Dilli Darbar in the jail for their involvement in the numerous riots they have participated. It is beyond our belief that those who were involved in the heinous crime of demolishing a place of worship in Ayodhya would be taken to task. We cannot imagine that Narendra Modi would face trial, even our prime minister regretted US decision of not permitting him visit there. I fear none of them will ever be booked for their criminal work of inciting hatred. By the time some body comes to the conclusion, the politicians are on their way. Nobody can now hang Narsimha Rao for his monumental blunder of keeping conspicuous silence for three days when Sikhs were maimed and killed in the streets of Delhi and they had nowhere to go and ask for help. Kalyan Singh became hero as the court gave him one day imprisonment despite the fact that he has been seeing he does not believe in this court but court of 'Ram lala". In fact, the reactionary events become more important for us. Hence the blast issue became more important then the rehabilitation of the riots victim in Mumbai. In Delhi it became more important for the government of India to punish those killed Indira Gandhi but it never bothered to take care or even check as what happened to those families who lost their family members. Nobody went to wipe the tears of those who have victims of our tainted nationalism.

Minorities are simply becoming fodder to majority nationalism in India. It may be BJP one day or Congress other day but the victim are the hapless minorities. If they assert, it is easier to level them anti national. If they form their own party, they are communal. If something is done for them then it is their appeasements. If they go to the court, the process is tardy. Who can forget that when CBI went to arrest one of the great leaders allegedly involved in the anti Sikh violence, there was violence against the CBI. It could not arrest him. Of course, we should not forget that the leaders of the community betrayed the cause. Today, Akali Dal is raising the issue of violence against Sikhs because it gets strength. It fails to condemn the terrorist violence. We all keep silence when the issue involves our own community and cry our best when we are the victims. The minority commission in India became a joke for all those who know what happened in Gujarat. The Commission's chairman, a Sikh, was interested in a dialogue between different religious groups and RSS. It refused to say a single word against the notorious Gujarat government but now the same Commission is crying that nothing is done to calm the Sikhs. In fact, the Sikhs are saying that the prime minister should be keener on helping them. It is tragic that in democracy how we use our identity to get justice. Prime Minister belongs to us all. He is an Indian first, a prime minister and a Sikh the last but the religious gangs would always like to make us believe that he is first a religious man and then other. This exhibition of religious symbols to get justice need to be stopped because we are ultimately going to be a victim of religious fanaticism and hatred. It is therefore not strange that the Akali Dal are condemning every kind of terrorism including what happened in Kashmir but keep quiet on the Sikh terrorism. They were partner to a government in Delhi whose subordinate had a field day in Gujarat. The minorities became whims and fancy for them and gangs of the Hindutva. Today the powerful make a mockery of judiciary. The witness come to the court, say one thing today and take a U-turn the next day and cannot blame any one. Same happened in Gujarat.

The BJP, the Congress and others would blame each other. The fact is that India's upper caste leadership is conspirator against minorities. It used their religious leaders for its own different purposes and ignored the common man of the street. It needs to learn a few lesson of civilization before it is too late. You cannot push them to walls by harping on their weakness and without protecting them. You cannot bring minorities to mainstream without giving them due protection. And this protection is not possible with out participation. If our police force has remained brutal towards the minorities and the marginalized, it is because there is very less representation from these community. The cruel fact is that after the operation blue star, the Sikhs were carefully sidelined in every sector and hence when Indira Gandhi was assassinated eyewitnesses said there were just three Sikhs during her cremation. The same thing is there in Provincial Arms Constabulary in UP and others in Gujarat and other state. You may not find even 1% Muslim representation in our paramilitary and police forces. Above all, the religiosity in our forces is tremendous hence any religious conflict become emotional for them. Muslims and other minorities become 'they' and Hindus ' we'. The Indian state has done very little to secularize our police and Para military forces and the victim are the innocent.

We need to fix responsibility on the political leadership against this kind of carnage. The highest leaders must assume more responsibility and face impartial probe. There is a need for law against genocide and its implementation. And the responsibility should be at the highest level. Let us ensure participation of minorities in our nation building. You cannot build an India on hatred and retaliation. You cannot blame the entire Sikh community for killing Indira Gandhi. You cannot blame the entire Muslims for Godhra carnage and Bombay blasts. It is as clear that nobody ever said that all the Brahmins were responsible for killing of Gandhiji simply because Nathu Ram Godse happened to be a Brahmin and impressed with brahmanical values. We should show sign of a mature democracy and give chance to every one to flourish. Politics of religious appeasement will ultimately destroy India's fabric. We need to be stern on politics of religion and religious gangs taking public space. It is time to call them bluff and civilise our police force and make them professional by make them more pluralistic and representative of the values of diversity in India. India will only shine when every body here live with dignity, with out fear and participate in our national life. (Countercurrents.org)

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