Asian News Agency(ANI) is one of the major Indian News agencies, this year ANI tried to rub salt on wounds of Sikh community by terming the 35th anniversary of Operation Blue Star as a Celebration. The ANI report on this somber occasion stated that locals have celebrated 35th Anniversary of Operation Blue Star in Punjab’s Amritsar. This was totally opposite to situation on ground as thousands of Khalistani activists raised the slogans of Khalistan Zinda Baad and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale Zinda Baad at Akal Takht, demanding a separate homeland for Sikh community.
Sikh diaspora has lambasted this blatant assault on their feelings and emotions and demanded the Indian government to refrain from such efforts to defame great freedom fighters of Sikh cause. Is it the a sign of an arrogant Hindutva Republic as Modi 2.0 began its next tenure of five years to make sure minorities in India are kept oppressed? In the age of information empowerment of the masses, India cannot hide her shame of Operation Blue Star. Taking help from my previous articles on Sikh resistance, I thought of refreshing the memories of great sacrifices by the Sikh community and pay homage to those who laid their lives for Khalistan.
The month of June reminds us that Sikh resistance against Indian oppression is not only alive and kicking but also entering a new paradigm. In 2017, Indian high Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador Ajay Basaria was confronted by Sikh activists at Punja Sahib Hasan Abdal. Sikh community feels that Indian government and her agencies were involved in production of a film, which amounted to desecration of Sikh culture and religion.
In April 2015,Sikh community in UK was displeased at release of a film Nanak Shah Faqir ,as it personified the revered Sikh Guru, Baba Guru Nanak Sahib, something disallowed in Sikh religion. Indian government who claims to follow secular principles has failed its diverse communities at various occasions and Sikhs are no exception. Whether it be the physical attack on Akal Takht and massacre of Sikhs in droves in the eighties, the sponsorship of dubious characters like Ram Rahim Singh or the question of separate Sikh identity in the Indian constitution, Sikh community has been gradually pushed to the wall.
Operation Blue Star cannot be discussed without the mention of the Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a great leader who dedicated his life for Sikh freedom. He called for Sikh community to return to roots of Sikhism, fighting against the consumption of liquor, drugs and laxness in religious practices, such as the cutting of hair by Sikh youth. Launching the Dharam Yudh Morcha in August 1982, Bhindranwale aimed at the fulfillment of a list of demands based on the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. Thousands of people joined the movement in the hopes of acquiring a larger share of irrigation water and the return of Chandigarh to Punjab.
Operation Blue Star with heavy support of Armour and artillery was launched in Jun 1984 to assassinate Bhindranwale and his valiant soldiers including former Sikh Maj Gen Shabeg Singh. Bhindranwale was martyred by Indian Army on 6th June, creating ripples across India and paving way for permanent fissures between Sikhs and Hindu community.
From grandeur of Sikh rule in the subcontinent to bitter memories of Operation Blue Star and desecration of Akal Takht in 1984 (which resulted into a mutiny in Indian Military), Khalistan has remained a dream for the Sikhs of India as well as their strong Diaspora around the entire globe
In Canada, US, UK, Europe, South East Asia and Australia, Khalistan 2020 is becoming a major movement. The Sikh Federation UK had already presented their manifesto with three major objectives:
Independent inquiry into the actions of the UK government in the lead up to and after the June and November 1984 Sikh genocide.
Call for the UK government to recognise the events of June and November 1984 as a Sikh genocide
Call for the UK government to recognise and support the application for self-determination to the Sikhs for an Independent Khalistan.
Sikh diaspora across the world and especially those living in Europe and North America has found a new spirit to contest Indian hegemonic attitudes and browbeating of the proud Sikh community. The Hasan Abdal episode had highlighted that Sikhs would not allow Indian government and its head honchos in the Rajpath to bluff the world by posing as a secular republic. Many Gurudawaras across the west have put serious restrictions on Indian diplomats to visit or offer supplications as they believe that Indian façade of secularism has outlived its shelf life and India cannot bluff the international community .
Sikh community strongly feels that there has been sustained and graduated efforts to kill their identity and culture through a majoritarian philosophy of the Hindutva flag bearers since Independence of India in 1947. Even the constitution was subverted to make sure that Sikhs gradually lose their identity and culture.
Unfortunately, the Indian response to legitimate aspirations of minority communities like Sikhs and Muslims has been coercive and deceitful; Indian Punjab is likely to become the new battleground between the Sikh community and the Hindutvadi Nazis. Pakistan, as the favorite whipping boy of the Indian security establishment, will have to remain in the eye of the storm blowing across the River Ravi and should expect more false flag operations like Pathankot and Balakot.
Sikh community in North America and Europe has been very active in support of Khalistan 2020 campaign. Over 5000 Khalistani protestors along with their Kashmiri brothers staged a demonstration in Trafalgar Square in Aug 2018 asking for a free Punjab and separate homeland for Sikh community. Similarly burning Tiranga(Indian flag) movement has gained lot of currency in Sikh youth, this year in a large Sikh protest in Washington DC, Tiranga was burnt and pro Khalistan activists raised slogans against India.
To conclude, Khalistan 2020 campaign will pick up momentum in coming years as the Sikh youth becomes aware of the brutalities of Operation Blue Star, the killing of thousands of Sikhs after assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1985 and rise of Saffron terror in India.