October 15, 2014 | By Karnail Singh Peermohammad
While I was reading my daily news, I came across Kuldeep Nayar‘s article on a number of English medium websites. One example is copied below (from a newspaper called the Statesman). This article is not really about the blacklist – it goes much wider than that. In his article Nayar is basically asking the Sikhs to simply forget the terrible injustices of the past as a way to restore harmony in Punjab. He does not seem to understand that reconciliation can only happen when injustices are removed and when the guilty are punished.
I want to let Mr.Nayar understand the truth which he wants us to forget without justice , there are a number of points which I want you to think about, For example:-
1. Mr. Nayar you say you are a journalist. Most journalists will want the truth to be uncovered, so that justice can be delivered to the victims of oppression (which he himself acknowledges took place). Why does he want to silence the efforts to uncover the past and punish the guilty? What agenda is being served by covering up the atrocities faced by the Sikhs in the 1980s and 1990s? What kind of harmony we will have, if there is no justice for those innocent people who lost their life in this struggle crushed by the government of that time? There is no bias on the ground level a number of Hindus and Sikhs are all on the same about what happened at that point of time, and they are even coming forward with their views on the issue. So with all due respect fight for justice wont hamper the peace or lead to any kind of bias between these two communities, what it may really do we hope is we will see the truth come out and justice served which long pending from the last 30 years.
2. We say that such injustice is EXACTLY the cause of polarizing society in Punjab. The blacklist is a very small example of this on-going injustice and, if Mr. Nayar is interested in harmony in Punjab, he should support efforts to get all injustices removed. Those include:
The failure to address the causes of the Indo-Sikh conflict (there has been no attempt by India to resolve any of those) continued detention of Sikh political prisoners and the threat of hanging people like Bhai Rajoana-Reconciliation is done when effort is made to convey solidarity from both sides , for example political prisoners in Ireland were freed as a sign for an effort towards peace. Which we can also follow as the world’s largest democracy.
Impunity being given to those who carried out genocide – in a couple of weeks we will mark the 30th anniversary of the November 1984 genocide for which none of the responsible political or security officials have been punished. so this is the long pending step where all governments at different point of time and judiciary has failed in. No meaningful justice has been served, we talk about human rights what about the rights of innocent people who died in November 1984 genocide or should that also be forgotten as Mr.nayar has suggested.
continued intimidation of Sikh political activism in Punjab – even the Punjab Police chief today is an alleged encounter specialist
3. Mr. Nayar says that when he appointed as Indian High Commissioner in the UK, his task was “explain that New Delhi was prepared to transfer all subjects to the state except three”. This is a huge lie. No such offer was ever made by New Delhi to the Sikhs. I challenge Nayar to produce evidence of this outrageous claim. The reality was (and is) that India has crushed a legitimate, mass struggle for self-determination by the Sikhs by the illegal use of force which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. It is very convenient for Nayar to try to hide that reality by telling such lies in media but, those who know the bitter experience of the past, will not be fooled by that shameful tactic.
4. Mr.Nayar claims to have ended the blacklist of UK Sikhs whilst he was High Commissioner. That is also not true. There are Sikhs in the UK today who are still being denied visas. In addition, those foreign based Sikhs who do get to visit Punjab are still liable to be picked up and imprisoned on fabricated terrorism charges (we can give examples) so that the Sikh Diaspora remains a target of political suppression to this day. Is this is the way Mr.Nayar wants us to proceed ?
5. The Sikhs have given up on the Indian judicial system and are now calling for an international criminal court to intervene and punish the guilty. Denying justice or forgetting and not talking about doesn’t ensure peace and harmony between classes and castes or as a matter of fact a nation.
Mr. Nayar says that both communities need to find reason for suspicion and bias, I want to ensure Nayar that no Hindu brother is against the demand for justice. Among all the points he has put forward he is quite right about Sikhs being a short sturdy community, what he seems to not mention is we are proudly shining in the world for what we stand for, we fought for your rights and justice under the leadership of
Guru Gobind Singh Ji at that point in history, we surely won’t forget the injustice done to us and keep on demanding justice for the killings of innocent lives lost in November 1984 Sikh genocide, so that we can have real peace and harmony.
Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad
President, All India Sikh Students Federation.