Home Global Village Fear of Sikh state? Indian SC moves to reopen anti-Sikh massacre cases

Fear of Sikh state? Indian SC moves to reopen anti-Sikh massacre cases

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News Analysis |

India is to reopen nearly 200 unsolved cases associated with a frenzied massacre of Sikhs in 1984 that left nearly 3,000 dead, mainly in the capital New Delhi. The development is an important step in the overall Sikh struggle for a separate state and freedom from India.

The Supreme Court said Wednesday it would task a new three-member panel with “reinvestigating” 186 cases previously closed by police into the deadly mob violence directed against the Sikh minority. The carnage erupted just hours after then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, and lasted three days with Sikhs raped and murdered, and their homes and businesses torched.

It can be asserted that the current focus on solving the 1984 pogrom against Sikhs is an attempt by the Indian state to curtail the rising Khalistani movement, which can otherwise become dangerous for the Indian government.

Few have been brought to justice over the massacre, with government-appointed commissions in the past failing to prosecute more than a handful of minor cases. Gandhi, also the Congress leader at the time, was shot dead after ordering Indian troops to storm the Golden Temple — Sikhism’s holiest shrine in northern Punjab state — to flush out separatists from the minority faith holed up inside.

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Sikh leaders say the death toll from the pogrom that followed far exceeded the official figure of 3,000, and accuse Congress leaders of fanning the violence that saw Sikhs dragged from their homes and burned alive. The new investigative panel will be headed by a retired high court judge and assisted by former and serving senior police officials.

The decision to reopen the historic cases was “good news for the victims who have been waiting for justice for the last 33 years,” said lawyer HS Phoolka, representing the victims. India’s top investigating agency had blamed senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for inciting the mobs, but he was acquitted by a court in 2013.

This ban has been extended to RSS and Shiv Sena members from entering gurudwaras under their control. The UK-based Sikh Federation has proposed a similar ban.

The idea of Khalistan, a separate state for Sikhs in Indian Punjab is largely rising across the globe. A major droving force of this campaign has been the 1984 mass killings of Sikhs. The Sikh massacres of 1984, which has been reported to be a planned pogrom by the Congress against the Sikhs. This wholesale slaughter, which led to the deaths of many Sikhs including entire families, has been widely condemned by human rights activists, and has been designated as genocide by the California State Assembly.

Read more: Sikh Man ties Turban in Times Square as a Protest against…

There is a strong sense of attachment among Sikhs to their culture and religion despite residing outside of India. There is an unrelenting demand for justice for the Sikh victims of Indian state oppression. In several aspects, the Sikh diaspora is seen as the main driving force for the creation of Khalistan. Recent reports clearly indicate a rise in the pro-Khalistan sentiments among the Sikh Diaspora overseas, which can revive the independence movement.

The Gurudwaras that have passed the resolution have done so as they hold the Indian government responsible for the June 1984 events when the Army entered the Sri Harmandar Sahib.

Most of this sentiment is diverted to political nonviolent measures to attain Khalistan like lobbying and demonstrations. India complained to the USA about the role of pro-Khalistan elements in the launch of a Sikh Congressional Caucus inside the US itself. According to India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing, Sikh resurgence is imminent, given the increased activities of Pro Khalistan organizations globally, allegedly in countries such as Germany, UK, France, US, Pakistan and Malaysia. Protests have been held globally from Germany to San Francisco with as many as 10,000 people attending these protests.

Read more: Sikh anger simmers even after 33 years…

The most recent struggle has been overseas Gurudwaras banning Indian officials and those close to the Indian establishment. Days after 14 Gurudwaras in Ontario Canada banned the entry of Indian government representatives, other Gurudwaras in Canada and US have followed suit. The Sikh Coordination Committee East Coast (SCCEC) and American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (APGC) have claimed that 96 Gurudwaras in the United States have resolved to ban the entry of Indian officials.

There is a strong sense of attachment among Sikhs to their culture and religion despite residing outside of India. There is an unrelenting demand for justice for the Sikh victims of Indian state oppression.

This ban has been extended to RSS and Shiv Sena members from entering gurudwaras under their control. The UK-based Sikh Federation has proposed a similar ban. The Gurudwaras that have passed the resolution have done so as they hold the Indian government responsible for the June 1984 events when the Army entered the Sri Harmandar Sahib or Golden Temple and 40 other Gurudwaras, to flush out militants hiding there. They also have accused the Indian government of interfering in the internal affairs of Gurudwara management.

Read more: Operation Blue Star: When Sikhs were massacred by the Indian Army

It can be asserted that the current focus on solving the 1984 pogrom against Sikhs is an attempt by the Indian state to curtail the rising Khalistani movement, which can otherwise become dangerous for the Indian government.  


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