Sometimes seven days is not just a week or weak but a long time in history.
Seven months- that makes history itself!
Around the 1st of September last year, when I first saw a billboard and a flyer of a Khalistan referendum at a Gurudwara in Toronto, my hometown, I was shocked to see the Khalistan support being openly marketed to brew hate in the Indo-Canadian community. I went up to the people in the Gurudwara who were sharing those flyers and their cold, frosty eyes were a sign of the times to come.
Over the next few days, till the first referendum in Brampton on 18th September 2022, I contacted tens of people, wrote to almost all politicians and local leaders who came to my mind and also wrote multiple mails to the Consulate General of India with a request to act and take immediate action to curb/stop this farce from spreading hate in Canada and worldwide. No one responded and almost everyone downplayed and asked to ignore this as a fringe activity that will have no takers.
Despite request, no one joined me there in protest, either in ignorance or fear while I stood alone from morning to dusk in rain and shine reminding our Sikh brothers that we are one and to vote “No” in such a farce.
The Brampton referendum was an eye opener where thousands and thousands of ordinary Sikh Canadians, our neighbors, brothers and sisters, lined up to vote for an activity and shouted anti-India slogans and vowed to create a Sikh homeland called Khalistan in times to come. Alas it also gave a new confidence to the marketers of Khalstani ideology and the Pannus of the world who used it as a tool to bring their activities to high gear worldwide.
Today on April 1st, 2023, the joke is on us.
Khalistani miscreants have been able to make their voice resonate worldwide from Canada to USA, UK, Europe, Australia and unfortunately their voice has reached some corners in India too.
In a young, handsome, educated and projected as a spiritual/religious convert- Amritpal Singh, they are also marketing a supposed reincarnation of Bhindrawale. And while Bhindrawale had a strong religious upbringing and took some years and strong backing of the then alienated Sikh community/Sangat to become a dark force, this Bhindrawale 2.0- Amritpal has leaped into worldwide prominence in just a few months with aggressive social media marketing backed by the support of extremely well-funded and organized Khalistani support machine.
To top it all, the Indian federal government and the Punjab government as usual have played their own high hand in trying to make a legend out of this goon. And yes, I will call him a goon as like any other gangster he openly talked about violence and threatened the Punjab Chief minister and the Home minister to not act against the Khalistanis lest they face the same fate as that of Beant Singh or Indira Gandhi. He is NOT religiously inclined nor has any qualms about using religion as a tool to market hate. The Sikh community including the Akali Dal itself recognized and spoke out recently when he openly used the most sacred symbol of the Sikh religion, Sri Guru Granth Sahib as a shield to attack a Police station in Ajnala, Punjab to try and free his associate with force.
On that day, he and his associates may have claimed victory as the Punjab Police stood silent while the miscreants ran loose. Yet the real victory on that day was of the Punjab Police when they chose to exercise restraint to ensure that the respect of the sacred symbol is maintained.
Yet over the last two weeks, the actions of Punjab administration and the federal government in a crackdown to catch Amritpal and his sympathizers is having reverse effects. They may have been able to nab some Khalistani sympathizers in India and yet by forcing a state wide mobile internet and communication stoppage, by arresting and later releasing within days a few prominent Sikh activists and youth, they are only rekindling angst amongst ordinary citizens. Furthermore the media which today works more like a lapdog of the state has added fuel to the fire with their one track sensational reporting of even ordinary incidences. To add fuel to the fire, the continuous outreach of the administration in banning and stopping social media posts and twitter handles of many respected Sikh and human rights activists and agencies worldwide is not helping the cause.
To top it all, the intelligence failure in actually nabbing Amritpal and the daily update being provided of his whereabouts a day or two days back is helping in making a legend out of a goon, especially amongst the youth. I was shocked to see Amritpal being referred to as “Bhaisaab” amongst many in the Sikh community. His actions are being justified as they say that he is only asking for a Sikh land in the same way that the right wing Hindutava sympathizers are asking to convert India into a Hindu rashtra or nation.
Yes, the last one is the biggest weapon being used in defence of Khalistan. This is also the biggest problem of India today unlike the eighties when India did not have to face such high religious extremism from the Hindutava zealots. Yes we had communal disharmony even then and Mandal and Kamandal were used by political parties and the fringe to gain hold over the masses and yet the Hindutva right wing fringe was under control and actually that itself- the fringe widely ignored and laughed at.
Today the joke has turned around and become a roar which not only creates fear in the minds of the minorities but even ordinary, secular Hindus, activists, writers, intellectuals, thinkers- anyone and everyone who wishes to speak out. One shouting of slogans and taking out swords and weapons here, another blackening of faces at another place, one extra judicial banning of movies and voices here and the other getting-in-the-house and point blank killing there! And Lo! The entire secular state and its citizenry go silent. One Akhlaq is burnt alive, one Manu Manesar goes scot free, one T. Raja Singh breathes fire and the entire nation stands terrorised. The Ram Navmi this year and the images coming out of India where the Hinudtava zealots and mob is going berserk while passing through a Muslim structure in their procession, sometimes even burning it down or running rampage over it, creates a picture of horror for the secular citizens, minorities and India sympathizers worldwide. How do you oppose the Khalistan narrative of these Khalistani miscreants when many amongst the Hindutava fringe on the other side are building a strong narrative of creating a Hindu nation? One which is openly being supported by the politicians and leaders of the right wing!
Yet let us be clear. Khalistan needs to be opposed and the idea needs to be nipped in the bud. Long back India has chosen inclusiveness as its guiding principle. It is engrained in our DNA and that is how it will remain for centuries. Anyone who talks about dividing the nation on religious lines or converting the nation into a Hindu nation just because that suits their ideology or need for power is wrong and should be equally considered an enemy of the state.
Amritpal is an offender of the state and so is T Raja Singh, Monu Manesar and any and all Hindutva zealots who are trying to light nation on fire. The law of the land MUST act against all such people to ensure that everyone feels safe.
I do not believe in any God since if a God existed and was really God like, he/she would never allow so much hate to brew. But for the sake of whatever God you believe in, stop using religion as a tool to divide communities and stop asking others to prove their love for a nation.
Last but not the least for our friends in India, please face the realities of a connected world. Every action in India will have a reaction worldwide. While the Sikhs may be a small minority in India, in a country like Canada, they are almost fifty percent of the entire Indo-Canadian diaspora and one of the earliest settlers. Over the last few decades, they have gained immense clout both politically and socially in the Canadian landscape with their hard work, intelligence, lively nature and deeply spiritual upbringing. They also are welcoming to all and perhaps almost all South Asian immigrants be they be of any religious background, have been welcomed in Gurudwaras and have enjoyed their hospitality and brotherhood at all times.
So if Indian media or people specifically target the Indo-Canadian Sikh community or that of other nations like USA, UK or Australia and label them in cohesion with the Khalistanis, you are hurting all of us and spreading your hate here. Also any high handedness towards ordinary Punjabis in India creates a louder resonance here and gives yet another marketing tool to the Khalistani sympathizers. This is a time of caution and not unnecessary bravado!
Alas in seven months, we are now standing yet again at a crossroad in the history of India and its people worldwide. This time the stakes are higher as the world has become a village and information flows in seconds. Our actions and our exercising of restraint and that of the state will enable this scar to heal fast and for the people to ignore the fringes on either side and get on with their lives.
History is on the side of India as a secular, inclusive state. That is how it has remained for centuries despite desperate attempts of the powerful in such times.
Yet again let us trust and believe in the soul inside which will show us the light of truth- one which recognizes and sees only a human behind the mask of religions that the bodies wear. Amen!
Typical Radical Hindu patriotism explained:
High profile rapist Ram Rahim bail out by modi. Ram Rahim raping women and modi raping your judicial system inside parliament and andh Bhagats singing patriotic songs outside parliament.
But dev narang is 1 step ahead of Indian andh Bhagats because Narang left Indias shit corruption system for better life in Western countries but still singing song of Indian patriotic songs..what a delliema…hahaha.
Your words touch a chord in many, including myself. The idea of an inclusive India seems to be fast disappearing. Sadly, demands for a Hindu India are mainstream, as you pointed out, with the vocal support of political and religious leaders,and that severely weakens any stand against the demands of Khalistan. Also, this demonization of our Sikh community in Canada and elsewhere is unfair and counterproductive. Let us be supportive of each other in the Indian diaspora instead of creating divisions.Thank you for reiterating this stand, Devanshu.