- By Sajjad Shaukat
India has deliberately intensified war-like situation with Pakistan since September 18, this year when “four fidayeen, highly-trained militants who were carrying guns and grenades stormed a base in Uri, close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and killed 18 Indian soldiers, as Indian military sources said.
In this regard, India’s top civil and military officials and their media have been creating war-hysteria against Pakistan by accusing that the militants infiltrated across the Line of Control from Pakistan before attacking the base in Uri and Indian troops were “ready to give a befitting response.”
India has started concentration of troop, moving heavy arms and weapons along the LoC in the Indian side of the Indian held Kashmir.
Taking note of Indian threat of war, Pakistan’s armed forces have become high alert, and Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif said on September 23, the Army will defend “each and every inch” of Pakistan “no matter what the cost.”
It is notable that a few days before the attack at the Uri base, Indian Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhaag stated that India has to be prepared for “swift, short nature of future wars” because of frequent ceasefire violations by Pakistan and its “new methods” used to keep Jammu and Kashmir on the boil.
In fact, with the help of Indian intelligence agencies, particularly RAW, India has itself arranged the Uri Base attack not only to defame Pakistan, but also to achieve a number of sinister aims.
Since July 8, 2016 against the martyrdom of the young Kashmir leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in wake of continued sieges and prolonged curfew, Indian forces have martyred more than 100 innocent persons who have been protesting against the martyrdom of Burhan Wani.
Even, the minority groups of India have also been supporting the new phase of uprising in the Indian-held Kashmir by condemning brutal tactics of the Indian security forces, employed on the innocent Kashmiris.
In this regard, on August 29, this year, in a joint news conference at Srinagar, various Sikh bodies including Sikh Intellectual Circle Jammu and Kashmir, Shiromani Akali Dal, International Sikh Federation and Sikh Student Federation condemned the use of pellet guns and ‘brutal forces’ against unarmed protesters in Valley and favoured the right to self-determination for the people of the State.
Chairman of Sikh Intellectual Circle Jammu Kashmir, Narindar Singh Khalsa said, “The right to self determination should be given to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which was promised by the then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. We (Sikh community) support people of Kashmir in their struggle of Plebiscite.”
Refuting the claims any security threat to the Sikh community, Singh elaborated, “Those who say that Sikhs are in danger and should be given security in Kashmir are the puppets of RSS and other Indian agencies. The fight of Kashmiris is not any religious fight, but a fight for justice and right to self-determination.” He also insisted upon New Delhi to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the Kashmiris and Pakistan.
Similar sentiments have, also, been coming from the Dalits (Low caste Hindus population of India) in the India controlled Kashmir, as they have supported the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people, while condemning Indian extra-ordinary use of force to crush the new uprising in Kashmir.
However, question arises as to why minority groups like Sikhs and Dalits favour uprising and right of self-determination of the Kashmiris.
It is mentionable that India which apparently, claims to be the largest democracy, acting upon the principles of liberalism and secularism has broken all the records of violence, genocide and massacre perpetrated on various ethnic and religious groups, entailing the community of its own lower castes.
Taking note of the growing intolerance and plight of minorities in India on June 7, 2016, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress examined the current state of human rights in India, challenges to fundamental freedoms and opportunities for advancement.
The report said, “Despite Constitutional provisions…abolishing the legal existence of untouchable or Dalit castes, the caste system remains deeply ingrained within Indian society, leading to ongoing discrimination. Dalit communities, which make up a quarter of India’s population, are disproportionately at risk of suffering from major human rights concern in India.”
It further wrote, “Religious minorities also face growing challenges. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s most recent report, “In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India. Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups…these actions, coupled with perceived crackdowns on groups or individuals critical of the Indian government, have many concerned that the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association are being increasingly curtailed.”
Notably, since the leader of the ruling party BJP Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India, various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of minorities even of lower cast-Hindus, forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus, ban on beef and cow slaughter, inclusion of Hindu religious books in curriculum, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan etc. clearly show that encouraged by the Hindu fundamentalist outfits such as BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena including other similar parties have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India by propagating ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). Especially, assaults on Christians, Muslims, including their places of worships and property have been intensified by the fanatic Hindu mobs.
Instances of ‘Hinduized police’ and the biased judiciary is related to many cases such as Gujarat programmes, Sikh riots, violence against Christians, Dalits and other minorities whose cases are still unregistered-pending or unheard, while in many cases culprits have been exonerated due to the interference of the Mod-led government.
It is worth-mentioning that faced with declining provincial power under the centralizing government of Indira Gandhi, Akalis mobilized the Sikh peasantry in a major campaign for Punjab’s autonomy in 1980. The initiative centered on a combination of economic, cultural, constitutional, and religious demands. Between August 1980 and September 1981, the Akali Dal held seven peaceful agitations. The party decided in February 1981 to strive for the implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. The resultant Dharam Yudh Morcha (Righteous Struggle) of 1981-84 presented four key demands: recasting the Indian constitution to increase states’ autonomy, the return of Chandigarh to Punjab, state control over river waters, and an all-India gurudwaras act.
Nevertheless, it was owing to injustices by the Indian rulers that the Akali Dal’s adoption of more narrow demands like the constitutional recognition of Sikhs as separate nation and declaration of Amritsar as a holy city followed the raising of the Khalistan slogan by non-Akali Sikhs in 1981 and a sudden decline in Sikh-Hindu relations after the murder of Punjabi Hindu press baron Lala Jagat Narain in 1981.
Meanwhile, India’s Operation Blue Star added fuel to the injuries of Sikhs. It was a military operation which occurred between 3–8 June 1984, ordered by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to control over the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) complex, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs in Amritsar, Punjab, and to arrest Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers from the complex buildings. Bhindranwale was the only leader who had boldly been fighting for the genuine rights of the Sikhs.
Indian Army led by General Kuldip Singh Brar killed all 251 Sikhs along with Jarnail Singh Bhi. The brutality of the ‘Operation Blue Star’ was not confined to the Harmandir Sahib. Indian armed forces simultaneously attacked 40 other historical gurdwaras all over East Punjab. When Sikhs in other states came to know about the desecration of the Harmandir Sahib and massacre of their brethren, they quickly left for Punjab. New Delhi tried to stop them before they could reach Punjab. Many Sikhs were assassinated on the way and many others were arrested. According to an estimate, about 50,000 Sikhs were killed within a few days. The whole Amritsar city was sealed and was burnt.
In the same year of November, two dedicated Sikhs named Beant Singh and Satwant Singh who were posted at Premier Indira Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi, assassinated her. Then Hindu riots erupted in the capital and other cities in which more than 15,000 Sikhs were murdered in broad daylight by the supporters of Indira Gandhi, while police watched silently so as to provide the Hindus with free hand to massacre Sikhs.
Afterwards, Sikhs organized themselves into an armed power in order to fight the Indian state terrorism. Many Sikhs left India to escape religious persecution. Sikhs have spread out all over the world to keep the movement of Khalistan alive. In this respect, their struggle is still going on.
In this context, a renowned scholar, Dr. Sangat Singh writes in his book, “The Sikhs in History”, remarks, “The Indian government has killed over 1 million to 1.2 million Sikhs. Since 1947, Indian government has also killed 50,000 Christians and 100,000 Muslims. The only way to stop this state terrorism is to create a Khalistan state, where Sikhs and other religious people can enjoy their freedom.
It is noteworthy that in wake of new phase of uprising in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), pressure on the Indian government has been mounting both domestically and internationally.
In this respect, A. S. Dulat, former chief of India’s spy agency RAW, published in the magazine, ‘The Wire’ on August 27, 2016 said “Pakistan’s role is not the only catalyst for the crisis, talks about the need for the Indian government to start talking to separatist leaders in the Hurriyat Conference, Pakistan, and other important political players.” Indicating as to how Vajpayee’s and Narendra Modi’s strategies on Kashmir are poles apart and elaborates on why Kashmiris warmed to Vajpayee, he stressed, “India should engage in principled dialogue with people in the Valley, instead of taking a naïve and aggressive line.” His condemnation of the Modi government for not talking to Hurriyat and for its high handedness in IOK is spot on. He rightly concludes that the Kashmiri uprising is 100% indigenous.
And in response to the letter of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, on August 19, this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the killings of the Kashmiris in Indian-held Kashmir, and urged India and Pakistan to settle Kashmir and other issues through dialogue by offering his “good offices”.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had pledged to emphatically highlight violence against the innocent Kashmiris in the IOK during the annual session of the UN General Assembly. While, addressing the General Assembly on September 21, Prime Minister Sharif said that Kashmiris had to face atrocities and barbarism from India, which made Burhan Wani, the face of freedom movement. He added, “Pakistan fully supports the demand of the Kashmiri people for self-determination, as promised by several Security Council resolutions. Their struggle is a legitimate one for liberation from alien occupation.”
At this critical juncture, pressure is mounting on the fundamentalist government of Modi on a larger scale, Sikhs who reside abroad and have effective organizations in the West should use the Kashmir uprising to vent anti-Indian sentiments and their grievances against the state, especially in Punjab.
And with Sikhs and Dalits’ support, Muslims almost become a majority in this strategically vital area of IOK. Hence, they should avail this opportunity.
Besides giving a matching response to Indian war-hysteria, Pakistan’s media must keeps on highlighting the Indian atrocities in the Indian held Kashmir, as war of liberation in the Valley has been accelerated. Pakistan’s top officials and embassies abroad must continuously point out the Kashmir issue, while emphasizing the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir, as recognized by the UN resolutions.