The tensions between the Sikh diaspora and the Indian government have been causing ripples for a while now, but back home, Sikh leaders feel that putting those politicians allegedly responsible for the 1984 massacre behind bars is all the justice that can be delivered to Sikhs today.
In a conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee’s president S. Manjeet Singh GK emphasised how delay of justice in 1984 anti-Sikh riots will not allow healing of the depressed ties between the Indian government and Sikh diaspora. He spoke about the contemporary identity issues that Sikhs in India deal with today and if the uniform civil code (UCC) is seen as agreeable by the community.
Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision to form a SIT to investigate the 1984 riots cases, Singh GK said, “Unless a political solution is served, differences will exist. Though justice delayed is as good as justice denied, but the SIT has been formed by the SC. A lot of witnesses and evidence are lost now and the intensity of justice that could have been delivered back in 1980s-90s cannot be delivered today. Nonetheless, if Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar are put behind bars, then it will be some balm to our wounds.”
Most of the gurudwara committees in the United States of America, Australia and Canada have banned the entry of Indian government officials and Singh GK said that this is a consequence of a festering sore.
“We cannot deny anybody entry to the gurudwaras, but we can put a stop to anybody using their visits for political activity. That is what the gurudwaras abroad have done. So, the Indian government should understand that the community which gave maximum freedom fighters to the country, deserves to be treated fairly. We are only fighting for our rights. The government should understand the pain of Sikhs,” Singh GK said.
“We too get to suffer the brunt of the Sikhs who are abroad and have taken a stance against the Indian government. They think we only serve favours. But we feel that the legitimate demands of the diaspora should be fulfilled,” Singh GK added.
On the ongoing controversy over Tipu Sultan’s portrait in Delhi Assembly, vehemently opposed by the BJP, Singh GK said that those Sikhs who have made a significant contribution to Indian history should also find their due mention.
Singh GK said, “We are not talking about removing the portrait of Tipu Sultan. I am of the opinion that Sikhs, too, should get their due credit. Sikhs like Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and Bhai Randhir Singh are crucial parts of Indian history as well as Sikh history, but they are hardly spoken about. Their portraits should be decorated in Delhi Assembly.”
Ahluwalia was a Sikh general who fought the Mughals, while Bhai Randheer Singh was a freedom fighter and a reformer who founded the Akhand Kirtani Jatha.
Further, Singh GK said that to understand the relevance of these Sikhs, one can look at the kind of effort that is being put to celebrate the 300th birth anniversary of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.
The procession will start from a small village in Lahore, Pakistan, birthplace of Ahluwalia, and conclude at the Golden Temple, Amritsar. Various Sikh organisations have come together to make this event materialise in April.
Speaking on the issue of UCC, Singh GK said, “We do not support it right now. We need to have an informed discussion on it. The reason is that personal laws cannot be interfered with. If the Akal Takht agrees to UCC, then we will not have any objections to it. However, it might be a little too far-fetched an idea right now.”