04 November 2010

Khalistan

I know a man at work, who's a Sikh by religion and thought. We were having a conversation at work today, and I asked him a question inspired by another Sikh friend. I asked him what were his thoughts on Khalistan.

I don't know very much about the issue, I knew of Operation Blue Star and the assassination of Mrs Gandhi (1) and the Sikh cry for a separate state. I thought I understood why the government said NO... because we didn't want to keep giving everyone their own freedom, because a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. At least that's what I thought.

Then today I saw the face of a very sober, calm and generally happy go lucky Sikh man turn awry, emotional and angry. He poured out his frustrations, and dominated, a 15 minute conversation and there's only one thing I clearly remember. He said that this country treated their kind as terrorists, when all they were asking for was equal representation.

Now, I took a step back. Firstly, isn't Sikhism just a separate religion? And aren't all Sikh's a part of us, the Hindus? Apparently, this was the same mistake the state government's been making as well. He explained to me, that during independence they were promised autonomy. The right to exist as a free state, with Sikh laws favoring the practice of a Sikh community- within this state, they would not be minorities, they would marry as per their religious ceremonies, they would NOT be classified as Hindus.

I read it up, the story checks out. The problem was, while this was promised it was never delivered. And Sikh separatism began, to reach crescendo with Indira Gandhi's death and all that followed- and thus the 'Sikh' became a terrorist.

Amnesty International alleges the separatist groups are at fault for human rights violations. What is even more unacceptable is that it claims, the Punjab police, the Indian Army tortured family members to reveal information on separatists, raped Punjabi women on house raids amongst other things.

Soon all the separatists moved out of the country, and New India began. The rat race, the speedy cars, the inflating prices amongst other things. So we moved on.. that's what the books say.

But today I learnt something about this gracious country's past and present. We need to make some apologies not to the cause, but to its people. For those who did not go out and burn houses, for those who felt victimized, for a promise we have yet to keep. And yes, that means we have to admit that we have made some mistakes. And we need to make ammends. No one's saying give the land away, but we need to attempt to create a world were we can keep at least some of our minority citizens happy. Even though we all know, it serves no political gain.

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