1984 INDIA'S HOUR OF DARKNESS
Date: 10 Jun 2009
STATE SPONSORED MASSACRE OF SIKHS IN 1984.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’ attack on Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984 coincided with the Gurpurb when thousands of pilgrims were expected to gather there to pay respect to the Fifth Guru while recalling his martyrdom. It was a diabolic act for which she paid with her life.
The unprecedented massacre of Sikhs across India following her assassination caused immense grief and suffering among the Sikhs and deep resentment against the ruling establishment of India. It was widely regarded as State sponsored massacre of the Sikhs, an act of vindictive nature.
Grievances of the Sikhs in India go back a long way. To start with we had the Partition of India in 1947 when the SAME political Party had signed the unconditional surrender of West Punjab, including the capital LAHORE to indigenous Muslims.
Thereafter, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s Congress Party stayed on in power with the post of Prime Minister virtually becoming hereditary. From Nehru it went down to his daughter Indira as if by Divine Right. After her assassination it again automatically went down to her son Rajiv who was not even a Member of Parliament at that time. It was like someone woken up from his sleep to be told, “Get up young man, you are the Prime Minister of India.
At present the widow of Rajiv Gandhi is the President of the ruling Congress Party.
It should be obvious that where governments are afraid of losing elections they work really hard to improve life and conditions in the country but where they are assured of perpetual hold on power, corruption, nepotism and red tape flourish. Education and free enterprise suffer the most. Frustration rises and leads to assassination of leaders. (Rajiv was the third “Gandhi” to be assassinated.) Violence breaks out in streets.
Post partition India has a very different map outline. Areas of conspicuous Sikh influence and presence in West Punjab like Lahore, the former seat of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Sri Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, Gujranwala, Multan, Lyallpur (renamed since), Panja Sahib and Rawalpindi have been surrendered, causing a void in the Sikh psyche.
If a product is made with a defect in it, it will never function properly. India emerged badly chopped and truncated after Partition that some regard as the greatest surrender in history. The glaring defect in her design and system was one man (Nehru) on the top of the political pyramid who seemed a democrat until Partition but became an autocrat immediately thereafter.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the same India that the British ruled quite successfully until 1947 now lies in three fragments but with common soul, common culture, common history and common identity. How can she be independent with some parts under an Islamic Law while the others are under Secular Law? Logically, all of India ought to be under ONE Constitution as before.
India is not yet independent. She will be independent only after Swat, Baluchistan, Sindh, North Kashmir, West Punjab and East Bengal, too, come under the same Constitution as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. A man whose legs are caught in the crocodile's mouth but head and shoulders still visible outside, will look ludicrous if he shouts to the world, “I am free.”
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had to hide an ugly fact. To do so he had to be autocratic and scheme to keep political power within his dynasty for ever. He had to continue the illusion that nothing had happened to the country. He had to delete the word “Partition” and substitute it with “Independence” in Constitution. But how long can this grand illusion last? Nobel Prize winner author VS Naipaul identified this Illusion, calling his book, “India: A Million Mutinies Now. (1990)
The rulers have also had a serious problem with Nehru’s version of Secularism that was imposed on Delhi but surrendered in Lahore and Dhaka. Even the most loyal and humble subjects would need an explanation for such a diabolic turnabout.
The Muslims and the Sikhs both have strong cultural, spiritual and physical presence on both sides of this artificial divide. Sikhs in Amritsar cannot be de-linked from the ones in Lahore and Sri Nankana Sahib nor can the Muslims of Kashmir be detached from those in Islamabad and Karachi.
East Pakistan was the first to revolt in 1971. Instead of regarding it as Pakistan’s internal affair Indira Gandhi sent the Indian army to liberate her. A new State, Bangladesh, was born.
Her eyes now fell on East Punjab. She knew that the Sikhs, too, will be encouraged to demand some autonomy for their own State. As this was totally unacceptable, she decided to give the Sikhs a “bloody nose”. The result was Operation “Blue Star” in June 1984.
India, as a free country, was expected to apply her mind, time, talents and resources to increase social harmony and prosperity of her subjects. She was expected to beautify the holy city of Amritsar and make it a tourists’ attraction, negotiate with the Government of Pakistan to grant freedom to the City of Amritsar at par with that of VATICAN in Italy,
improve EDUCATION and provide job opportunities for the youth instead of launching a military attack to demoralise the Sikhs.
It showed complete lack of political sagacity, magnanimity and vision by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her government.
What happened in 1984 has become a sad memory for the Sikhs but it was also a warning shot for the rest of India with regard to the dangers of entrusting ONE Dynasty with Destiny.