Posted by: Singh Is King | Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why Sikhs Shouldn’t Celebrate India Independence

Gurjeet Singh, Sikh Federation (UK)

15 August marks India’s Independence Day and prolongs the suffering of the Sikhs. We are clear about our nationhood, but it is denied by the Indian State and the Indian political class which are not prepared to allow us basic rights.

Sikh sacrifices for freedom

Prior to independence Sikhs were less than 1.5% of the population, but their contribution to the freedom struggle was immense. 77% of those sent to the gallows were Sikh as were 81% of those sentenced to life imprisonment. During the Quit India Movement many indiscriminate arrests were made and Sikhs contributed 70% of the total Punjabis arrested. More than 60% of the 20,000 who joined the Indian National Army were Sikhs.

100-150 million refugees resulted from partition in August 1947 with 40% of all Sikhs becoming refugees. Partition resulted in up to 2 million people being murdered and another 10-50 million being injured.

Sikhs betrayed and promises broken

India’s founding fathers gave numerous solemn promises that the Sikhs freedom and dignity would be safeguarded. Jawaharlal Nehru said that “the brave Sikhs of Punjab are entitled to special consideration. I see nothing wrong in an area set up in the north of India wherein the Sikhs can also experience the glow of freedom”. These promises were conveniently forgotten after independence and the Sikhs were dismissively told by the same Nehru that the “circumstances had now changed”.

Sikhs have rejected India’s Constitution

Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru gave the Sikhs assurances that after India achieves political freedom no Constitution shall be framed by the majority community unless it is freely acceptable to the Sikhs. This promise was repeated throughout the period up to independence. When the Constitution was produced in 1950 it failed to deliver any safeguards or political rights for the Sikhs as a people or nation. The Sikhs therefore refused to sign the Constitution and have never accepted it. Article 25 even denies Sikhism, the fifth largest faith in the world, separate recognition as a religion – an affront that is widely seen as a deliberate act of suppression of the Sikhs.

Demands for greater autonomy were dismissed

The Indian authorities have systematically discriminated against the Sikhs since 1947 and subverted or suppressed all legitimate political demands for greater autonomy. The Anandpur Sahib Resolution of 1973 set out the basis on which the Sikhs were prepared to accept a political union within India, as a federal state. This demand for internal self-determination was pursued through decades of peaceful protest and attempts at negotiation with the central government. The demands were never seriously considered and given the history of the conflict between the Sikhs and India since 1984, this would now be too little too late.

Gross violation of Sikh human rights

In the last 30 years the Indian authorities have unleashed a rein of terror through gross violation of human rights of Sikhs in an attempt to extinguish the calls for freedom and Sikh independence.
In June 1984 the Indian army attacked the Golden Temple Complex and 125 other Sikh Gurdwaras in Punjab and massacred tens of thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims. This laid the foundation stone for an independent sovereign Sikh State, Khalistan.

In November 1984 tens of thousands of innocent Sikhs were massacred in Delhi and over 130 other cities throughout India by well-orchestrated mobs under the direct supervision of senior Indian politicians and officials.

Over 250,000 Sikhs have been murdered and disappeared since 1984. Many Sikh political prisoners still languish in Indian jails without charge or trial and others have been falsely charged and sentenced to death by hanging. Illegal detention and torture of Sikhs is common place and well documented by independent human rights organisations.

Sikh nationhood and independence

Sikhs first secured political power in the form of an independent state in 1710, after suffering centuries of foreign invasions and alien domination. The larger sovereign Sikh state was established in 1799 and was recognised by all the world powers. The Sikhs, after the two Anglo-Sikh wars, lost their kingdom and the Punjab came under British rule in 1849. However, in giving up power Sikhs were party to several Treaties with the British.

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