When India lost its Sikhs

Kulveer Samra | Musings

This is the first week of November, the week when the ‘Indian Dream’ died in crores of Sikhs.

Not just Delhi; this was the week in 1984, when entire North India burnt. UP, Haryana, Bihar, West Bengal… For the folly of a few, innocents were butchered, their livelihoods snatched or burnt.

Just 37 years before that week in 1984, Master Tara Singh had a seat at the Round Table Conference, at par with Jinnah and Gandhi. Sikhs joined India as a matter of choice, when they were given a clear choice before independence to have a seperate nation.

They bore the brunt of partition, paid the price of India’s freedom. Lacs died. But they recovered, not a single beggar, not on charity, just working diligently. In a few decades they spread across the nation, contributing to business, agriculture, transportation, hotels and government; as engineers, as workers. Sikh farmers were called by State Governments and were give barren land to try and develop. They developed these barren lands into farms across the Terai, Rajasthan, MP and as far as Gujarat and even in Tamilnadu.

Sikhs gradually merged into India, chosen to remain with India.

But India forgot Punjab’s pain of partition, of the state’s further trifurcation, as it did after gifting away Chandigarh, as it did after looting its water, (as it did later after Rajiv Longowal accord).

Terror is blamed for everything. Reasons of terrorism are many, a different post on it someday, suffice to say that there were NO riots in Punjab even at the height of terrorism. But..

But, this was the week that for a folly of a few,  Sikhs across India were pushed back into the arms of the wounded Punjab; comforting arms but burdened arms!

1984 sikh riotsAnd since then, Sikhs stopped moving across India, lost the faith; and of course the rest of India stopped coming to them. One of the most industrialised states stopped in its tracks. Unemployment pushed the youth out to Canada, or to alcohol or drugs.

And this wound is getting deeper in the absence of justice, not even a semblance of justice, not even a semblance of an attempt towards reconciliation.

Sikhs redeemed their lost trust by fighting against terrorism and winning the battle at their terms on their own. But India did not redeem itself. India did not try. It did not matter to them.

The state that was once the gateway to the world is now a landlocked state in a corner of the country, far away from the economic buzz, rambling along into decay. Only thing that can push it is trade across borders, as a gateway to central asia and beyond, to europe, a mission impossible. No one cares however, if it is dead or alive. Just 12 or so seats in the Lok Sabha, damn! Who.gives a damn. No one cares if Sikhs are leaving India, no one cares if Gujarat is kicking out Sikhs from the farms they developed, no one cares if Rajiv Gandhi’s promises of Longowal accord lie in shambles, no one cares if Sikhs still cry for justice, no one cares if Sikhs abroad ask for a seperate country now, no one cares if the Sikhs are losing love for India. Like an ostrich, India has closed its eyes…

Yet, this was the week that started it all in 1984, the irrevocable alienation of Sikhs, the week when India failed its Sikhs,  the week that India lost its Sikhs. This was the week that MY India lost.