ISSN 2330-717X

Are Minorities Safe In India? – OpEd

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After independence India declared itself Sovereign, Democratic and Republic state by adopting constitution. In the present time, modern states ensure minorities’ rights and consider their opinion too in state affairs. Since its inception, India has been violating minorities rights including Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. Hindu extremists have been targeting the minorities and the situation has further exacerbated after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came into power in 2014. Indian minorities have been bearing the brunt of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led fascist regime in one way or the other. Currently minorities do not feel safe and have existential threat in the country. 

Sikhs constitute 2% of the national population of the country and mainly reside in the north-western India i.e. Punjab. Due to majority population in Punjab, 58%, Sikhs started ‘Khalistan Movement’ in 1940s but it became popular in 1980s when ‘Operation Blue Star’ was conducted at Golden Temple in Amritsar by Indira Gandhi’s regime. 251 Sikhs were killed there and when Sikhs throughout the country came to know about this incident then they left for Punjab. Indian military stopped them to reach there and hence, massacre took place with killing of 50,000 Sikhs. Such frustration for Sikhs led agitation and in October 1984, two Sikh security guards from Indira Gandhi’s security personnel killed her. Additionally, Khalistan Movement preceded speedily.  

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a non-governmental organization which is working for Sikh community throughout the globe. SFJ has conducted referendum under the shadow of Khalistan Movement in different parts of the world. In UK more than 200,000 and in Italy more than 40,000 Sikhs have turned out to vote. Results provided solid opinion of a separate homeland for 30million Sikh community worldwide. Likewise, referendum was conducted within country too. Indian authorities have banned SFJ in 2019 under the draconian ‘Unlawful Activities Prevention Act’ (UAPA) and have declared SFJ’s General Council as a ‘terrorist’.

Chattisingpora, a hilltop hamlet of southern Kashmir, on May 20, 2000 became a massacre site and took 36 lives. The lone survivor of incident ‘Nanak’ suspected that there could have been state’s hand behind this massacre. It is because, at that time, the then US president Bill Clinton was visiting India and it could have been a part of an attempt to portray Kashmir’s militancy as deeply communal. It is an ample evidence of brutality of Indian government towards minorities especially Sikhs. 

Recently, Indian Supreme Court has sentenced 1year prison to former Indian cricketer and Congress leader ‘Navjot Singh Sidhu’ in a road-rage incident, occurred 34 years ago. In 2018, SC fined Mr. Sidhu INR. 1000 and acquitted him from murder. Later on, SC reviewed the decision and found it pertinent to prison Mr. Sidhu. Here question arises on the credibility of SC and seems a matter of religious based violence towards minorities.

In addition to that, a very recent killing of a renowned Sikh artist and Congress leader ‘Sidhu Moose Wala’ is another incidence of hatred against minorities in the reign of BJP. State police has termed it as inter-gang rivalry while family and friends have called it a brutality of BJP and Hindu extremists, following Hindutva ideology. Moreover, CM has announced to set up a judicial commission under the sitting judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court to probe the killing. 

A year back farmers of Punjab started protests against the BJP led regime due to ineffective policies regarding agricultural sector. Livelihood of majority of Punjabi farmers is associated with agriculture. Moreover, agitation was observed and police used tear gas, water cannons and baton charges and media called them ‘terrorists’.

Similarly, an incidence of ‘Lakhimpur Violence’ incidence also took place in which the son of minister Ajay Mishra crushed farmers to death under his car. Eight people died including four farmers. Frustration led agitation and infuriated farmers lynched few workers of BJP and a journalist was also killed in the incident. However, PM Narendra Modi didn’t sack the minister which shows the negligence of authorities towards lives of minorities. 

List of brutalities is not limited to above mentioned incidents but continues to unlimited. Shortly, few of them are opposition by BJP regime to opening of ‘Kartarpur Corridor’, despotic legislation by the BJP legislator such as doubling the punishment for minorities, verdict of ‘Babri Masjid’ in favor of Hindus, revocation of special status of Kashmir, harassment of hijab girl, named Muskan Khan, by infuriated crowed, case of the son of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, vandalism of Catholic Church in south India and many more. 

It is clear from the above discussion that minorities in the country never felt secured throughout the history since independence. Sikhs as well as other minorities were sacked every time in the state affairs. The atrocities of Golden Temple, attempts to suppress Khalistan Movement, killings of Congress leaders, agitation towards farmers, opposition to Kartarpur Corridor and putting religious hurdles are ample evidences of fascist regime of BJP and former governments. All these scenarios depict a horrible picture of minorities in the Hindu state. BJP led regime must come to an end of such cruelties and probe pending cases justly in order to ensure minorities’ rights. Such measures may help to develop better state for minorities. 

  *Ahmed Saeed is freelance writer based in Islamabad. 

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