Another November starts, November, the month when the ‘Indian Dream’ started dying among crores of Sikhs in 1984.
Not just Delhi; entire North India burnt. UP, Haryana, Bihar, West Bengal. For the folly of a few, innocents were butchered, their livelihoods snatched or burnt.
Cut back to 1947, just 37 years before that week in 1984; Master Tara Singh, the Akali leader representing the Sikhs had a seat at the Round Table Conference, at par with Jinnah and Gandhi. Indians of today don’t know that sikhs joined India as a matter of choice, even though they were given a clear choice before independence to have a separate nation as was being carved out for Muslims.
They bore the brunt of partition, paid the price of India’s freedom. Lakhs died in one of the world’s largest human migrations ever in history.
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 invited by various 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, chose to remain with India.
But India forgot Punjab’s pain of partition, of the state’s further tri-furcation, 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 may 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!
And 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. They didn’t matter to India.
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 Punjab is dead or alive. Just 12 or so seats in the Lok Sabha, damn!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 separate 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.
By K.V Singh