SAN FRANCISCO, USA—Sikh community of California marched on June 10th to commemorate the 34th anniversary of attack on the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) – the most sacred Sikh shrine in Amritsar, by the Indian government in 1984. The march started from 2nd Street and ended at Civic Centre Plaza of San Francisco downtown. An estimated gathering of 10,000 Sikhs walked on Market Street and covered one mile of every inch.
Sikh gathering reached at Civic Centre Plaza at 1:50PM and spent 3 hours on presentations, recorded speech of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and eye witnesses of attack followed by prominent speakers of Sikh community such as Bibi Navkiran Kaur Khalra, Bhai Ram Singh, Bhai Sandeep Singh Barnala, Bhai Jatinder Singh Grewal and Dr. Amarjit Singh. All speakers insisted on having a separate state known as Khalistan.
In June 1984, more than 150,000 Indian army troops, equipped with helicopter gunships and tanks, were sent to the northern Indian state of Punjab where the Indian army unleashed an attack on its own citizens unprecedented in post-independence India. Various other Sikh shrines were simultaneously attacked. In November 1984 thousands of Sikhs faced genocide in India. This was followed by a decade in which Government of India commenced a sweeping crackdown on Sikhs across Punjab. Sikh males, particularly youth, were rounded up, taken away and murdered extra-judicially. Three decades later, justice continues to elude those whose lives were affected by the violence.
Historically, Sikhs had one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world throughout the 19th century under Maharajah Ranjit Singh. When the British occupied it in 1849 after his death, Sikhs decided to part with India in 1947 when the British offered India independence. But after the attack of 1984, Sikhs again started fighting for their homeland.
The ‘March for Freedom’ is being organized to urge the international community to accept that the Sikh nation has an impeccable case for self-determination in the form of a sovereign state and that such a state would bring regional peace and stability.
India’s official rejection of the right of self-determination, as enshrined in Article 1 of the 1966 UN Covenant, is an untenable and outlandish position which the international community should see as a direct cause of the conflicts in Punjab. Sikhs seek right of self-determination so that the conflict and violence may be avoided, and communities are able to live together in peace.