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Ghallughara 1984 and Sikh youth; And the Politics of remembering and forgetting

June 7, 2014 | By

by: Rashpal Singh

It is not over. Three decades are not enough that the opponents can claim that the memories are fading. It is not true that Sikhs are forgetting it. One could gauge the truth from the profile or timeline photos of youths having Sikh-relations. There is Tsunami of sketches or photos of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale or of Akal Takhat at social sites. “Never Forget 1984” is the pet slogan. They have spirits and a phase of transition is in progress. The negative things are more powerful but transition would convert such things into positive. Spirits of Sikh youth of present time are awakened or in the process of waking up. Aam Aadmi Party’s success in Punjab was just a trailer.

30 Years of June 1984

30 Years of June 1984

The Ghallughara of 1984 was a turning point in the recent history of the Sikhs, who already faced such Ghallugharas in the past. But this Ghallughara changed the present and future of Indian state. It is not me, who claims it but a Hindu nationalist journalist Shekhar Gupta admits this. See his words in English article of full-page published in Indain Express on June 3, 2014, “There lived and died a man called Bhindranwale. Charismatic and chilling, he wrote this country’s present and future as no one has done post-Independence.”

Shekhar Gupta was among three international media journalists who managed to stay in Amritsar during Ghallughara and witnessed it as well. Being a Hindu nationalist, he had to report the incidents with his mindset, but he admitted the fact that Bhinderanwale was Sikh icon and changed the fate of the so called nation India. Shekhar Gupta just resigned from his post in the Indian Express after Reliance took over Network 18, which publishes Indian Express and other publications. Shekhar claims that the memories of Ghallughara 1984 (he used operation blue star) are fading with the passage of time but I disagree to his claims.

A young Sikh wearing T-shirt with Image of Sant Bhindranwale

A young Sikh wearing T-shirt with Image of Sant Bhindranwale

“Ghallughara was our fate and Bhindranwale was our leader. We still get direction from his doings”, a newly beptised postgraduate youth from Moga Sukhdeep Singh Gill just uttered informally. It can be heard from the tongue of such several youths, who are not even baptised and are clean-shaven. They know what happened and why. They read the books written by Hindu nationalist journo and some ex-army people, who were part of operation blue star, but makes understanding according to the Sikh spirit and ideology (most of such writers justify army attack on Akal Takhat, which is the purpose to write the books). It is true. Technology has changed them. Exchange of ideas on social sites is their main source of knowledge.

I again say, it is not over.

Sikh historian S. Ajmer Singh talks of uplifting of spiritual state of present Sikh leaders first. As I just asked him that there should be a common platform with a common agenda to provide leadership and direction to the awakened youth and what should be the next step of Sikhs towards episode of 1984 Ghalughara under present scene after passage of three decades, he express concern on the issue. “It is a big issue. Many things are changed. It is hard enough to conclude in a single statement but present leadership has a dynamic spiritual state. The organisations are much more active in getting success in the field of Siyasat (politics) and they did nothing to build up spirituality among the Sikh youth”, he emphasize while talking over phone.

Sikh activist Prabhjot Singh favours my opinion.

Sikh youth need a platform but it is not a child’s play, he argued. “The Sikh youth whether baptised or not are in a phase of transition. It will happen when Sikh youth will attain morality and high spirits of Sikhism. It is not just my wish or a fake optimism but it is a must happen phenomenon. They themselves will build up a platform”, he seemed to be more confident than me while saying this over phone.

Sikh Youth of Punjab (SYP) held "Ghallughara" (holocaust) memorial march at Amritsar on June 6, 2014.

Sikh Youth of Punjab (SYP) held “Ghallughara” (holocaust) memorial march at Amritsar on June 6, 2014.

“The Indian state has established its narratives but Sikhs still struggling to establish their own narratives. The Sikh youth will establish the same soon”, he adds.

He reminds me some incidents when Sikh youth were organised without any proper guidance or the leadership in recent past. Balwant Singh Rajoana’s execution and Dera Sacha Sauda clash in Talwandi Sabo were some of such incidents. “These were the platforms, which they established themselves. Same will happen in the context of Ghallughara 1984”, he powered my opinion.

Sikh youth leader Mandhir Singh, who suggested me to read series of articles written by Shekhar Gupta a couple of days ago, oxygenated the same fact. He calls all pro-Sikh political and pro-Sikh social organisations to come forward and make collective efforts to attain Sikh goals in the present scene.

A news story published by Jagbani on June 7 and written by a so called journalist Dhawan proved that it is not over. He reports that the intelligence agencies of Indian state worried over the widespread awareness towards Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale and Ghallughara June 1984 among youngsters on social media. However, he failed to even quote a single officer (not even at the term of anonymity) but he reported it as one of his pet stories. But it is significant as the youth have awakened spirits.

“The Punjab youth is mislead by the youth living abroad”, he writes. It is true at some extent but I have allergy from word misguide. Dear Mr Dhawan and other likewise people! They have got guidance to form a platform. I use to re-narrate the story which my journalist friend Parminder Singh Jatpuri had once told about popularity of Sant Bhinderanwale. Jatpuri was getting his car repaired somewhere in Mohali when two Hindu youngsters (they were speaking Hindi as they were hailing from a northern Hindi state and were studying in a nearby college) asked for a sticker of Bhinderanwale for their bullet motorcycle two years ago. The shopkeeper offered sticker of Bhagat Singh but they refused saying, “Bhinderanwale sabhi ka baap tha, Bhagat Singh ton uskey saamne kujh bhee nahi…” (Bhinderanwale was the superman and Bhagat Singh was nothing in front of image of Bhinderanwle).


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