– A.R Darshi
Ideology professed and advocated by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was not entirely new. It was exactly the same as enunciated by Guru Nanak and developed by Guru Har Gobind and Guru Gobind Singh. However under the influence of Hinduism Sikh ideology was diluted. This diversion happened during the British rule in India. Nevertheless it did not lose its distinct identity as it floated like a lotus in the pool of turbid water. The Sikh religion and the Sikh ideology still looked like a lotus floating in the pool of muddy water.
What Sant Bhindranwale did was that he had picked up the lotus from a pool of muddy water and transplanted it in the pool of purity. In other words Sant Bhindranwale revived the true tenets of the Khalsa and gave it a new dimension. This dimension stands in conformity with fundamental law of nature which explains that nature develops progressively and so does the ideology. If any ideology is not allowed to flow and flourish it would becomelike a stagnant water.
Therefore he persistently exhorted the Sikhs to follow the path shown by Guru Gobind Singh and accordingly motivated and inspired them to become Amritdhari and Shasterdhari. Without undergoing that process Sikh could not be transformed into true Khalsa and without keeping arms he could neither defend himself nor the Khalsa Panth.
The tradition of arming the Sikhs was introduced by Guru Hargobind after bitter experience of non violence and patience experienced by Guru Arjan Dev who gave a supreme sacrifice for the cause of his faith but his sacrifice failed to change the hearts of the tyrant Mughals. When the policy of patience and sacrifice failed only then Guru Hargobind had to take to arms.
He then instructed the Sikhs to offer him weapons and horses instead of money. He accepted weapons and horses at the Akal Takht from his followers. He himself wore two swords as manifestation of
Miri Piri. He raised and maintained a Jatha of 800 horsemen, and 60 Sikhs armed with match-locks who always remained present around him to ensure his personal security.
Guru Gobind Singh further developed the concept of Miri Piri by creation of the Khalsa.
Sant Bhindranwale simply revived this tradition in letter and spirit and gave it a new dimension by substituting revolvers and guns with swords and spears, and motor cycle with horse.
He therefore did not commit any offence by following the Gurus. The cynics may criticise him for revival of the age old tradition of the Khalsa.
When Sant Jarnail Singh felt that the Hindus are manipulating to assimilate Sikhism by following manifold devices he waged a relentless war against this drive and cautioned the Sikhs of the impending danger.
In the Constitution of India the Hindus have already incorporated Article 25 (2) (b) which has clubbed the Sikhs with the Hindus. So the campaign launched by Bhindranwale to save Sikhism was justified by all means. For this reason the Hindus dubbed him as anti national.
Not only that, the chauvinist Hindus branded him anti national, extremist, secessionist and disruptionist. It is however not a new trick of the orthodox Hindus. For that matter minority religion which fights for its honorable survival is branded by them as anti-national.
Sant Bhindranwale had always been drawing attention of the Sikhs to the way they were treated as second rate citizens, rather as slaves. He cited numerous instances in support of his arguments. Some of the recent instances he quoted are given below :
i) “When Indira Gandhi was defeated in the general elections held in January 1977, she was convicted by the Parliament for breach of privilege and was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for seven days. She was detained in Tihar jail in Delhi. In protest against her arrest two Pandey (Brahman) brothers from Uttar Pradesh hijacked an aeroplane of the Indian Air Lines. They were not convicted and sentenced at all. Instead Indira Gandhi, when regained power in 1980, got them electedMembers of the Legislature as the Congress (I) nominees.
On the other hand when Sikh youths hijacked a plane on 29th September, 1981 in protest against arrest of Bhindranwale the hijackers were arrested, tortured and prosecuted. They are still languishing in jail. When again Musibat Singh (real name Manjit Singh) and his companions hijacked another plane of Indian Air Lines in protest against the burning of Guru Granth Sahib and two busses of Dam Dami Taksal in village Chando Kalan in Haryana State the main hijacker was persuaded to surrender but was shot dead by the police at Raja Sansi Air Port near Amritsar.
The Sant’s grievance was that if a plane is hijacked in protest against arrest of a Brahman’s daughter
(Indira Gandhi), the hijackers are rewarded with membership of the state Assembly and the Parliament , and if the plane is hijacked by Sikh youths in protest against desecration of their “Isht” the hijackers are shot dead. Is it not discrimination against the Sikhs? Is a person like Indira Gandhi more sacred than the “Isht ” of the Sikhs?
ii) “One Ashok Kumar, a criminal and a Brahman by caste, was shot dead by the Patiala police while he was indulging in hooliganism and arsening in 1983. P.C. Sethi, the then Union Home Minister and Chaturvedi Secretary Home Department of India, rushed to Patiala to find out the facts. But when more than two hundred Sikhs were shot dead by the Police during the Dharm Yudh Morcha, not even a peon of the Central government bothered about them.”
iii) “As many as eight Sikh volunteers were shot dead and many more were injured by the Police on the day of “Rasta Roko Call”. Under pressure of Akali Dal one man Enquiry Commission headed by Justice Dubey (a Brahman) was constituted by the Central Government to hold inquiry into the death of 8 Sikhs besides a Brahmin Ashok Kumar. The Commission shamelessly concluded that killing of eight Sikhs was justified but death of one Brahmin Ashok Kumar was a murder. Is it not a gross discrimination against the Sikhs?”
iv) “One Pawan Kumar Sharma, a notorious criminal (againa Brahmin) of Patiala was found having in his possession 230 high explosive hand grenades. He was let off without registering any case against him. On the other hand a Sikh soldier, Piara Singh, of Ferozepur was accused of stealing a sten gun. Later the sten gun was recovered from the residence of a Hindu soldier but Piara Singh was tortured to death by a Hindumilitary officer. Is it not a discrimination against the Sikhs?”
v) “Harbans Lat Khanna, a prominent Jan Sangh leader of Amritsar, published provocative posters and displayed them on the walls of the city. The poster said “Duki Tiki Khain NahinDent- Sir Te Pagri Rehan Nahin Dent ” Katchh Kara Kirpan Ihnu Ghallo Pakistan. (We shall not allow any rank of the Sikhs to raise their voice, if they do, we shall remove their turbans and eliminate them. If any Sikh who wears Five Ks he should be pushed into Pakistan”. Evidently such provocative and slanderous slogans which were publicly displayed and also shouted in the streets constituted an offence under the Indian Penal Code, for the offenders had criminally intimidated the Sikhs. The language used in the slogan was derogatory and also anti national, but no criminal case was registered against Khanna. Why? Because he was a Hindu. But if the Sikh youths gave a befitting reply to such a provocative slogan criminal cases are registered against them.”
vi) “P.C. Sethi Union Home minister threatened that he would get Bhindranwale dragged out of Guru Nanak Niwas forcibly within a week. Sant Bhindranwale said that the statement amounted to a criminal intimidation. However he challenged let Sethi himself dare come to lay hand at him. On this account a criminal case was registered against him whereas no action was taken against P. C. Sethi.”
vii) “Indira Gandhi declared several times that the Sikhs living in Punjab should think of the fate of those living outside. This statement too amounted to a threat given to the Sikhs. In reply Bhindranwale said that the Sikhs are not cowards. They were ready to meet that threat as twenty Hindus could be taken care of by one Sikh. Bhindranwale’s retaliatory reply was taken serious notice of and a criminal case was registered against him.
But no case was registered against Indira Gandhi who openly and publicly threatened the Sikhs to be ready to face the consequences. Eventually Indira Gandhi’s threat was put into practice in Haryana from 17th February 1984 to 24th February when some Sikhs were killed, dozens of Gurdwaras were burned and hundreds of shops owned by them were looted and plundered by the Hindus at the behest of Bhajan Lal, Chief Minister of Haryana. No action against the murders, arsonists and lumpens was taken. What all this lead us to believe?”
Sant Bhindranwale commented that Hindus have unfolded their ugly plans by killing Sikhs and molesting their women under the very nose of the biased police. When the Sikhs were mercilessly massacred, their women molested, their Gurdwaras and Guru Granth Sahib burnt, their shops looted and plundered in an organised manner by the Hindus in Haryana from February 17th to 24th 1984 abetted by the Haryana police and instigated by Bhajan Lal, Sant Bhindranwale was convinced that the threats given by Indira Gandhi were not empty and hollow.
It proved that she meant what she said. It was a very serious development. If the Prime Minister of the country openly and publicly incites the Hindus to commit atrocities on the Sikhs and the Hindus readily obeyed her who would save the minorities in India? Does it behove the Prime Minister of a secular India to act like a communal leader?