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Anguish of the Sikh diaspora

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Jan 7, 2005
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    <TABLE border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=600 align=center><TBODY><TR><TD height=20 align=middle></TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#efefef>[​IMG]</TD></TR><TR bgColor=#f4faff><TD class=heading_txt height=20>
    Anguish of the Sikh diaspora

    </TD></TR><TR><TD>[​IMG]</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#efefef>[​IMG]</TD></TR><TR><TD>[​IMG]</TD></TR><TR><TD class=small_txt height=20>Saturday, July 03, 2010
    By Momin Iftikhar

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    Sikhs, by all accounts, are a dynamic and enterprising lot. Barely constituting a 2% segment of the Indian population pie they, as a community, have been upwardly mobile in social hierarchy of the Indian state. Excelling in all spheres of national activity, Sikhs have claimed a substantive share in vital and varied sectors of national activity way beyond their small demographic profile; particularly in the Armed Forces of India. Indian State of Punjab ranks close to, if not on the top of social development indicators among all Indian states. The Sikh Diaspora is also leading the way among the NRI’s scattered all over Europe, Canada and the US. The question remains as to why the Sikh community, despite such sterling achievements continues to remain gripped by a simmering sense of latent anger, not only at home but abroad as well. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Canada on the occasion of the G-20 Summit and the ripples it caused among the Sikh Diaspora there provides ample insight into this phenomenon.

    Canada, as per Indian Government assertions, has become the centre for activities promoting Sikh separatism in India. Despite the fact that the Canadian Government has banned Sikh Nationalist outfits viz Babbar Khalsa International, International Sikh Youth Federation, Khalistn Commando Force and Khalistan Zindabad Force, India continues to implicate Canada’s Sikh community for stoking insurgency in the Punjab State. This aspect has become the focal point of Indo-Canadian interaction at any given forum. On 13 April this year the Indian Prime Minister conveyed his concern over the surge in activities of Sikh separatists in Canada who were allegedly trying to revive militancy in the Indian Punjab.

    This was conveyed when he met his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper on sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in washington. The G-20 conclave held in Toronto on 26-27 Jun was also effectively used by the Indian Premier to spread the message, framing it in the context of terrorism. “Sikh extremism, separatism and militancy were a problem in India more than two decades ago... There are, however, some elements outside India, including in Canada, who try to keep this issue alive for their own purposes. In many cases , such elements have links to or are themselves wedded to terrorism,” he told a Canadian newspaper.

    The perspective from Canadian Sikhs remains diametrically opposed to what Singh was trying to project to the outside word. The community is highly concerned that by equating their political struggle to seek justice for the atrocities committed by the Indian Government during the Operation Blue Star (Jun 84) and the pogrom of Sikhs following the assassination of Indira Gandhi (Nov 84), Indian Government is making their life extremely difficult in Canada. They are also concerned that despite passage of quarter of a century and assigning eleven commissions to name the state functionaries and Congress activists who spilled innocent Sikh blood, no one has been punished so far. A point of considerable worry for Canadian Sikhs is the picking up thread of the Indian propaganda that connects them and their cause to the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

    The organization which predominantly is Kashmir specific is being actively propagated for being a threat to the US/Western interests due to its al Qaeda linkages. Sikh community is worried that the stigma of being a terrorism supporting community would leave them exposed to intense societal discrimination and adverse profiling in Canada, US and Europe.

    Another aspect during Singh’s visit was the matter of “blacklisted Sikhs”. During the height of anti Sikh campaign during 1980 to 1993, spearheaded by the Punjab Police under infamous K.P.S.Gill, thousands of Sikhs took flight to foreign countries to escape the indiscriminate dragnet of state terror. A large segment took asylum and settled in Canada. Given the no-holds-barred freedom and callous attitude of the security apparatus during the anti Sikh operations , no one knows who was unfortunate enough to have been picked up for inclusion in the “blacklist” by Indian intelligence agencies and police since the list remains classified.

    It may have been initiated two decades ago but it continues to tick and expand and can be a source of serious trouble for the unwary. The Sikh community in Canada wanted Manmohan Singh to make the “blacklist” public. Five times Canadian MP Gurbax Singh Malhi even offered to invoke the 1987 extradition treaty between India and Canada to initiate extradition proceedings against those in the “blacklist” whom India wanted to proceed against for criminal activities directed against the Indian state. On a parallel track Malhi wanted the Indian Government to speed up the delivery of justice and compensate the families of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots who still awaited justice and compensation despite passage of twenty six years. Both demands were stonewalled by Indian PM.

    Sikh community in Canada is manifestly anguished by Indian Government’s broad brush accusatory diatribe without outlining a sustainable case. This approach seems motivated by an urge to silence the Canadian Sikhs who have remained persistent in calling upon India to cleanup its human rights act, acknowledge extreme atrocities inflicted upon the community by its security apparatus, make amends to alleviate the pain of genocide by awarding commensurate compensation and serving justice to the well known criminals through a transparent judicial process. Unfortunately, the prospects for this healing process to take shape in contemporary India remain farfetched. Sikh anger and restlessness shall therefore continue to stir and simmer among segments of the diaspora.


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