India earned independence from the British on the fifteenth of August in 1947.
Sikhs are proud of the fact that 93% of the sacrifices made for India’s independence were made by Sikhs. While Muslims were made to move to Pakistan for the most part, the newly forming government promised the Sikh community that Hindus and Sikhs would live happily together as “brothers” in this new democracy. As Sikhs soon learned, brotherhood meant second-class citizenship and as Indians learned, democracy meant corruption, tyranny, and poverty.
Sikhs have suffered great losses at the hands of the Indian government over the course of sixty-six years and so have the majority of innocent civilians throughout the country. As a result, Indians fight amongst each other on the basis of caste, creed, religion, and socio-economic status. We blame each other for the injustices and tragedies rather than picking each other up and offering greatly needed companionship and understanding. The boiling blood of the Sikh community is visible during protests in front of Indian embassies across the globe. We have boycotted Independence Day by renaming it “black flag day.” We burn the Indian flag. As our emotions escalate, we begin to name the public figures who have harmed us directly. Then, in the moments of anger that refuse to be doused, we express our hatred for the Hindu system while pledging allegiance to the goals set by Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale.
Bhindran waleya teri soch te, pehra deyange thhok ke!
Bhindranwale, we will guard your ideals with all our might.
If someone were to ask, what was the ideology of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji, how would we answer? This is how we seem to answer:
Na Hindu, na Hindi, na Hindustan! Laike rahaange Khalistan!
No Hindus, No Hindi, No Hindustan! We will get Khalistan!
This implies that Sant Ji promoted that in order to get Khalistan—an Independent Sikh nation—we would have to fight the Hindu religion and the Hindi language? Sant Ji was a man who saw humanity before anything else. He stood for the rights of Hindus and Muslims as much as he did for the Sikhs.
A true Sikh is not an enemy of ANY religion, if we look at the examples set by our Gurus and great Gursikhs, they have always maintained that unethical actions may make someone a bad person, but that is definitely not a reflection on the whole religion or community. We can’t say others are ungrateful of the sacrifices we made when we refuse to acknowledge the risks both Hindus and Muslims took when giving us shelter from the Mughal rulers and the government funded goons in 1984. How can we claim to be fighting for a righteous cause when we are unfairly defaming other religious groups? We have suffered at the hands of an unfair government and persons claiming to be Sikh have played an equal if not greater role in targeting us. If we recognize that the “Sikhs” who have hurt us are a tarnished minority, then we must also accept that to be a truth of other faith-based communities. We can’t expect others to stand with us in our fight if we are directing hatred towards them.
Sant Jarnail Singh Ji had said that we do not demand Khalistan, but the day that Harimandar Sahib (The Golden Temple) is attacked, the foundation for Khalistan would be set. Sikhs must realize that the foundation is indeed set and we have to rise up to the challenge of actually building it. The most important questions Sikhs need to ask themselves are:
- Who are we fighting against? Are we fighting or playing a blame game that continues full circle?
- What is our individual role in the construction of Khalistan and in the Sikh community?
- Are we reaching out to the worldwide community or isolating ourselves even from those who care about the pain we hold in our hearts?
Navdeep Kaur is a Sikh American writer currently obtaining her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from San Jose State University. More of her work can be viewed at http://aarsi-reflections.blogspot.com/ or connect with her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorkaur.