Kite Fights is likely to raise many eyebrows in New Delhi
There’s more than meets the eye at first glance when one scrutinizes the motive for the massacre of 25 Sikhs at a Kabul, Afghanistan Gurdwara in March 2020 — and considers the geo-political realities of neighboring countries with vested ideological and territorial interests in the so-called “graveyard of empires.”
“Kite Fights is likely to raise many eyebrows in New Delhi,” writes Canadian Sikh journalist Gurpreet Singh about the new report co-authored by myself and Bhajan Singh, a humanitarian and businessman known as an activist for minority rights. “Those who are really concerned with what is happening in South Asia need to take out time to read Kite Fightsthoroughly and with an open mind. One may agree or disagree with interpretation of certain facts, but their authenticity cannot be challenged.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) not only claimed credit for the massacre of Afghan Sikhs but also insisted it was an act of revenge for India’s actions in Kashmir. Such actions, over the past year, have included scrapping Kashmir’s constitutionally-guaranteed semi-autonomy, stripping it of statehood, mass-arresting the entire civil society, imposing an ongoing lockdown, and deploying tens of thousands of new troops to join the hundreds of thousands already occupying the region.
Terrorism is typically in pursuit of a political goal. The struggle over Kashmir — and who will control it — has certainly provoked much terrorism over the decades. Yet how did any of the parties involved in the dispute over Kashmir benefit from the slaughter of Sikhs in Afghanistan?
Indian establishment commentators are now declaring the attack was part of a nefarious Pakistani strategy to thwart Indian interests in Afghanistan, a region which is increasingly viewed as a second front and a new battleground in India’s war to thwart Pakistan. Shishir Gupta, executive editor of the The Hindustan Times, insists the killings were “ordered” by the Taliban “at the behest of Pakistani deep state with the larger motive of driving out India from Afghanistan.” Gupta claims, “The play is much deeper with Pakistan setting sights on forcing India out of Afghanistan post withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.”
Yet researchers indicate that ISIS is at war with both the Taliban and Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan — long accused, sometimes correctly, of sponsoring cross-border terrorism against Indian interests — has, in recent years, openly acknowledged that, regretted and denounced it, and pledged a complete reversal of course. Elements affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, are known for not only sponsoring pogroms of minorities but also staging terrorist attacks used to frame Muslims.
“The report points out that the incident came as the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government in India was facing international criticism for mistreating religious minorities, particularly Muslims,” writes Gurpreet Singh. “In all probabilities, the attack was like a god-sent opportunity for the Indian establishment for reasons well explained by Friedrich and Singh.”
War is the health of the state. “Relations between the two countries have never been stable,” says Gurpreet Singh about India and Pakistan. Are there incentives to prevent peace?
Hostile relations with Pakistan — fueled by raging Islamophobia — has always been not so much a policy position as a raison d’être for the BJP. “Our fight for independence can be deemed to have come to a successful close only when we liberate all those areas now under enemy occupation,” said MS Golwalkar. The chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the fascist paramilitary that birthed the BJP, Golwalkar called for “the hoisting of our flag in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan.”
Golwalkar’s ideological forerunner, VD Savarkar, laid the mosaic floor in the RSS/BJP’s temple of hate. In 1938, calling Muslims “dangerous to our Hindu nation” and saying they should be watched “with the greatest distrust possible,” he threatened, “If we Hindus in India grow stronger, in time these Muslims… will have to play the part of German Jews.” Meanwhile, Nazi Germany staged Kristallnacht, the first pogrom against German Jews, thus laying the foundations for the Holocaust.
Savarkar — who articulated “Hindutva” as a religious nationalist political ideology — insisted that the entire Indian subcontinent was “not only a fatherland but a holy land” for Hindus. “The only geographical limits of Hindutva are the limits of our earth,” he declared. Golwalkar also presented an “expansive image of our motherland” that stretched from Iran to Singapore and as far south as Sri Lanka — and absolutely included Afghanistan.
Lal Har Dayal, another foundational Hindu nationalist ideologue, insisted that “the future of the Hindu race” required the conquest and conversion of “Afghanistan and the Frontiers.” He wrote: “Afghanistan and the hilly regions of the frontier were formerly part of India, but are at present under the domination of Islam… Just as there is Hindu religion in Nepal, so there must be Hindu institutions in Afghanistan and the frontier territory; otherwise it is useless to win Swaraj [Independence]…. If Hindus want to protect themselves, they must conquer Afghanistan and the frontiers and convert all the mountain tribes.”
For decades, The Republic of India has had a deep footprint in Afghanistan. Today, India views Afghanistan as a “second front” and an “emerging new battleground” in its rivalry with Pakistan. That foreign policy outlook takes on far more sinister dimensions when New Delhi is dominated by the expansionist and supremacist RSS/BJP.
Meanwhile, the stated motive for the Kabul massacre bursts into flames when exposed to the light of day. Why would Sikhs be targeted in revenge for India’s acts in Kashmir when they have grown famous for their self-sacrifice for the Kashmiris? As Gurpreet Singh writes:
“Notably, when 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers had died during a suicide attack blamed on Kashmiri insurgents seeking freedom from India in February 2019, BJP goons started targeting innocent Kashmiri Muslims all over India. This polarization helped the BJP government win its second term, riding on a Hindu nationalist campaign.
“As if this were not enough, the BJP government passed a highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that only allows non-Muslim refugees to enter the country from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
“Sikhs have stood up for Muslims both in the wake of February 2019 suicide attack and against the CAA. They helped Kashmiri Muslims stranded in other parts of India to safely reach their homes and were in the forefront of the protests against CAA.
“The Sikh diaspora also came out to show its solidarity with Kashmiri Muslims during demonstrations held in the U.S. and Canada. This has not gone down well with the BJP, which has an agenda to assimilate Sikhs into the Hindu fold.
“It is therefore logical to ask that why would Islamic extremists be targeting Sikhs in Afghanistan?”
So why then were those 25 Sikhs slaughtered in Kabul? There is no satisfactory answer to that question. The only response is that the incident must be probed by a patient, full, and transparent investigation that treats official accounts with the greatest of skepticism and questions — with the utmost suspicion—those who stand to benefit the most.
Official narratives, ideologies, and authorities must all pass interrogation to be deemed trustworthy and true.