By Asad Ali
Indian political and military leaders’ quest for power is jeopardizing not only South entire region but India federation itself. Their hunger for power is increasing rapidly to get more and more control in both political and military affairs. In this regard, Indian government had been trying to suppress non- Hindu communities. The rulers in India had used various illegitimate tactics in order to accomplish their Hindutva-driven objectives. The Muslim, Sikh and Dalit communities are imminent victim of Hindutva ideology, which is undertaken by Hindu fanatics across the country. Since the partition of sub-continent, Indian government had launched various steps and operations to target non-Hindu communities. Operation Blue Star was one of the most lethal act, done by Indian government.
Indian government had started Operation Blue Star in 1984, making it biggest internal security mission ever undertaken by New Delhi’s forces inside any religious place. The operation was former Premier Indira Gandhi’s brainchild and solution to maintain growing law and order situation in state of Punjab. During June 1984, Indian Army attacked Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple, as well as 41 other gurudwaras in Punjab. The operation marked the beginning of policy of gross human rights violations in Punjab that continues to have profound implications for rule of law in India.
Likewise, the root of operation was linked to rise of Khalistan. The Khalistan movement was a political Sikh nationalist movement which aimed at creating an sovereign state for Sikhs inside India. The movement was at its peak that time due to the discriminatory policies of Indian government.
Indian federation’s problems with poverty, pluralism, inequities in development and gross disparities in wealth and education, and continuing provincial and communal violence didn’t disappear or diminish. The worst violence erupted in Punjab, where, ironically, the majority of the Sikh population had gained affluence in the wake of India’s Green Revolution of the late 1960s. Yet bumper crops and higher per capita incomes brought all the gadgets and toys of modernity, which pulled or lured many younger Sikhs away from ingrained tradition and religious values that others considered sacred. This opened large gaps within Sikh society, almost as wide and deep as those that separated Punjab from the rest of India.
During 1980s, some Sikhs were calling for more than mere separate provincial statehood, instead demanding nothing less than an autonomous state of their own, Khalistan, or ‘Land of Pure.’ Many moderate leaders of Sikh community for instance Harchand Singh Longowal, who was elected President of political party named Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in 1980, unsuccessfully attempted to avert civil war by seeking to negotiate a settlement of Sikh demands with Congress party.
Likewise, the operation was segregated into two parts. First part of the operation was named as Operation Metal. This operation was restricted to Golden Temple but it also led to Operation Shop, which aimed at capturing of suspects from outskirts of Punjab.the second part of the operation was named as Operation Woodrose, which was launched throughout Punjab. The operation, too, was carried out by Indian Army, using sophisticated and latest military might such as tanks, artillery, helicopters and armored vehicles. During the operation, the Indian Army violated all liberal values of Indian constitutions and Nuhruvian concept of secular India.
Former Premier Indra Gandhi and her government had done nothing constructive in order to curb growing number of politically motivated killings and acts of terror in Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi. Gandhi had visualized that countrywide Lok Sabha elections would have to be called in early months of 1985, and massive Hindu majority of India’s electorate would likely judge her government too weak to be retained. In this regard, by 1984, Indra Gandhi gave her military leaders permission to launch their ‘Operation Bluestar,’ as it was code-named, against Golden Temple.
It is pertinent to mention here that brutalities of Indian government against non-Hindu communities are not new thing. This trend is going since inception of so-called secular Republic of India. The intolerant and Hindutva ideology is making the lives of minorities miserable. Their properties are being vandalized. They are facing life threats due to rise of Hindutva ideology. The Hindu monks are attacking religious culture of non-Hindus to accomplish their so-called dream of Akhand Bharat. The Hindu monks are doing their utmost to sabotage progress of Sikh community. Even, BJP government was not ready to open Kartarpur Corridor, fearing rise in Khalistan movement. Sadly, security situation in Indian Punjab is worsening now as young Sikh leaders are being killed in broad day light. All this is happening under ambit of Hindu nationalist government of India, which must be stopped. The global community and human rights watchdogs must take notice of discriminatory policies against Sikh/ other minorities in India. They must press New Delhi to ensure provision of basic and constitutional rights to everyone especially non-Hindus.
The military action at ‘Golden Temple’ had left a lasting impact on many generations of Sikhs, leaving many to try and piece together fragments of painful pasts. Indian Army violated sanctity of religious place of particular community. Unfortunately, in their quest to rewrite history, Hindu fundamentalists in India are stoking the fires of communal enmity. Their attempt to mix history, religion and politics creates an incendiary situation that can have far-reaching consequences for communal peace.
*The writer is Islamabad based expert of Indian political culture and can be reached at [email protected]