Yet another attempt is being made by separatists whose mischievous intents have failed time and again to create unnecessary unrest and tensions among the Indo-Canadians in general and the Sikh community in particular by calling for a Khalistan referendum which is being held in Brampton, Ontario, Canada on September 18th.
And by allowing the same to be held in Gore Meadows Community Centre, a government run community centre, parts of Canadian government are showing that they have their priorities misplaced and feel that a section of the vocal, fringe Sikh community represents the views of the majority Indian diaspora.
First things first! I am all for upholding democracy and democratic values and support any genuine means of seeking views including a referendum. However a referendum means going back to people for an issue that is contentious. Also a referendum normally takes place when the issue is in serious immediate discussions especially amongst the people who are connected with the cause. Here nothing satisfies the cause for this referendum what to speak about the way it is being carried out.
First the political and social unrest in Punjab has been ended more than three decades back and strong democratic governments have been taking care of Punjab for far too long. Yes there was unrest in the eighties and yes a large section of the Indo-Canadian Sikh diaspora which migrated from India during those years may still remember the deep pain and anguish of those times. Yet they need to understand that wounds heal and while they may leave scars behind, positivity is always about not allowing your past control your present or future. It is evident that Punjab turned a new chapter decades back, its people have voted in and out successive governments by exercising their electoral franchise and have always chosen their destiny themselves.
There is no interest in the locals of Punjab for the idea of Khalistan then why people who do not even live there need to hold such a referendum without any support from the locals? And what would be the validity of such a referendum than just giving credence and importance of a group of separatists who wish to establish a stronghold over the North American Sikh community by creating a false façade of a dream land.
Punjab and Punjabi culture has been a part of India not just now but for centuries. Also Punjab is not just a land of Sikhs and while Sikhism emerged out of Punjab, Punjabis comprise of an equal number of people of other religions and faiths. There are extremely strong bonds between Sikhs and all other communities including Hindus and interfaith marriages between Sikhs and Hindus leading to strong family bonds is considered a norm and not an aberration.
The fact is that any such thoughts about Khalistan are abhorred by the Punjabis and when during the current farmers’ struggle, the right wing fringe in India and media tried to create an image of the locals as Khalistanis, the same was detested by almost all the Sikhs of Punjab and most Indians.
It is also deeply disturbing that Gurudwaras, the places of worship used by all, Sikhs and Hindus alike who believe in the teachings of the Gurus, is being allowed to be used to propel such a referendum. With flyers being distributed from there, banners and huge hoardings being put up there to showcase support for such a referendum, it is being portrayed that the support exists for such a referendum from a large section of the community and the religious leaders.
And the referendum-flyer talks about allowing only the Sikhs to vote. Than what would be the validity of such a referendum for Punjab when even all the Punjab origin residents cannot vote? It is being made as an attempt to divide Punjabis on religious grounds and this is a new wound being created in the psyche of the local Indo-Canadian population, especially the youth, one which will need conscious attempt by community leaders to heal.
I have been a strong critic of the divisive Hindutva policies being followed by the current regime in India and their attempts to divide people and will continue to stand in support of a secular and inclusive India. Yet any attempt to even think of dividing India is unacceptable and I will oppose the same tooth and nail and also request fellow Indo-Canadians and Indian origin diaspora to do the same.
Through this column I also request the Canadian Sikh community and especially the Sikh youth who are being misguided to reject this referendum as this has no bearing in India but will only lead to creating distrust and divisions in the Indo-Canadian community. If at all you still wish to take part in this referendum and voice your opinion then vote a BIG NO to such a division as a Khalis Sikh has always stood in support of a unified India and will continue to do the same always. We are one and will remain one for times to come. Amen.
Posted in Times of India. Link below-