By Shaikh Moazam Khan
The ruling elite in India is clearly on the path to accomplish its unrealistic dream of Akhand Bharat (united Hindustan) under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and other Hindu nationalist Home Minister Amit Shah. Once worked as active member of RSS – an armed group of Hindu fanatics – PM Modi is going all out to supress the rights of minorities living across India, ignoring all basic and fundamental rights. His Bhartiya Janta Party commonly known as BJP has increased the incidents of mob lynching. The government in India instead of protecting the minorities and their rights is backing the agenda of hardliners in the country, which gives ample reason to them to undertake state-sponsored barbarism. It is not the Muslim community who is the sole victim of rise of Hindutva under the BJP government, various other communities such as Muslims, Dalits (Other Backward caste) and Sikhs. The BJP’s Hindu clique is attacked Muslims, Sikhs and Dalits including their places of worships across India. There are many practical examples of Indian state-sponsored acts against minorities.
Operation Blue Star (1984) is best possible example of Indian religiously discriminatory actions against the places of worships of minorities. The 1984 Operation Blue Star was the operation undertaken by Indian Army on the order of the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to remove Sikh militants who were accumulating weapons in the Harmandir Sahib Complex (Golden Temple) to eliminate so called extremists and member of Khalistan movement from Golden Temple (Sacred Site of Sikh community). The other purpose of Operation Blue Star was Indira Gandhi’s solution to maintain law and order situation in Indian Punjab.
Indian government claimed that rise of Khalistan movement was the base for the Operation Blue Star. Khalistan was the proposed name of separate state for Sikh community. The movement got momentum in 1970s and things got complicated for both parties. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was the leader of Damdami Taksal and was one of the main reasons behind Operation Blue Star. As a leader, Bhindranwale had an influence on Sikh youth. Sikh youth followed his rules and tenets blindly. Indian government illegally ordered use of force and exaggerated the things just to pretend something terrible for Indian state and Sikh community. Meanwhile, Sikh community refused to accept the narrative of Indian government regarding the operation. However, it failed to get the sympathies of Sikh community and gave birth to the anti-Indian sentiments and rise of Khalistan in India.
In the aftermath of the Operation Blue Star, approximately 550 people died including 50 personnel of Indian Army. These are the official figures given by Indian government that time. However, as per independent reports, actual figures are more than 550. The Operation Blue Star is the one example the way Indian government treated its minorities and shows the nationalist designs which encompasses rise of Hinutva ideology where Hindus considered themselves as superior community.
However, the Operation Blue Star annoyed Sikh community across India in general and abroad in particular. It also gave birth to the rise of Sikhism and Khalistan in India. It further mobilized Sikh community across the globe to expedite their efforts for separate homeland. After hurting the religious sentiments of Sikh community by storming their sacred site (Golden Temple), on 31 October 1984, two bodyguards of the then Indian Prime Minister Indra Ghandi assassinated her for giving the permission of the Operation Blue Star.
Last year on 35st anniversary of the operation, Sikh activist in India raised slogans of Khalistan Zindabad and Free Khalistan. This shows their hatred frustration against the Indian government’s despicable action in 1984. In the protests, Sikh diaspora has lambasted this blatant assault on their feelings and emotions and demanded the Indian government to refrain from celebrating the success of Operation Blue Star to defame great freedom fighters of Sikh cause. By announcing celebration, India cannot hide shame of Operation Blue Star. Indian authorities will have to address the concerns of Sikh community and their sentiments. The Indian authorities cannot hide the sacrifices of Sikhs for the greater cause of Khalistan.
Operation Blue Star cannot be discussed without the name of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who devoted his life for Sikh community and religion’s freedom. He called for Sikh community to return to basic roots of Sikhism, fighting against the consumption of liquor, drugs and laxness in religious practices, such as the cutting of hair by Sikh youth. Indian government tried to stigmatize his devotions by maligning him over flimsy scenarios.
Apart from India’s dream of Hindu Rashtra, the authorities in New Delhi are trying their utmost to create hurdles for the Sikh community when it comes to their religious beliefs. Indian government created many troubles for the Kartarpur Corridor project, which was undertaken by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government. PM Modi’s government delayed work on the Indian side of corridor deliberately. Here, I would must say that one cannot expect anything positive related to religious freedom under the nationalist government of India. The clique of RSS is roaming around and harming minorities including Sikhs. This is the real face of so called world’s largest democracy and secular state under Hindu establishment. Indian government is making the life of minorities miserable day by day. The rise of Hindutva ideology has severe implications for the minorities. International community must come out to stop nationalist designs of Indian government, which is being governed by ultranationalist Hindus. The world must ensure religious freedom in India at any cost by pressurizing Indian establishment.