Apr 7, 2006
Nangal, India

Fighting for Sikh Causes in Indian Parliament

Book Review by
Dr. Devinder Pal Singh


Book Title: Fighting for Sikh Causes in Indian Parliament
Edited by: Prof. Hardev Singh Virk
Published by: Aarsi Publishers, Daryaganj, New Delhi, India
Publication Year: 2021; Price: Rs. 250/-; Pages: 104
Reviewer: Dr. Devinder Pal Singh, Director, Center for Understanding Sikhism, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

“Fighting for Sikh Causes in Indian Parliament” is a compendium of speeches delivered by four Sikh Parliamentarians, i. e. Hukam Singh, Kapur Singh, Khuswant Singh and Tarlochan Singh. Each speech refers to a critical point in India’s post-1947 political history where the relationship between India, the Sikh community, and Punjab was under utmost stress and scrutiny. Prof. Hardev Singh Virk has done a yeoman's service to publish the speeches of these eminent Sikh parliamentarians who fought for the Sikh Causes in the Indian Parliament. In the Foreword to the book, Vikramjit Singh Sahney has outlined the background of the current project. Herein, he points out that both Hukam Singh and Kapur Singh made outstanding contributions in highlighting the majoritarian bias against the minorities in the Indian Parliament. In addition, Khushwant Singh and Tarlochan Singh recapitulated the events leading to the Sikh genocide and its aftermath by presenting the Sikh Cause assiduously.

In the Preface of the book, Prof. Pritam Singh states that the criterion for selecting these four speeches (by Hukam Singh, Kapur Singh, Khuswant Singh and Tarlochan Singh) has not been specified. However, it can be inferred that these speeches refer to India's post-1947 political history. He opines that this book is expected to fulfill at least two objectives. Firstly, it allows Punjabis/Sikhs to investigate the role of their representatives in the Indian Parliament and raise awareness of their standing in the Indian federation. Secondly, it helps the social sciences researchers to understand the role of some of the Sikh/Punjabi parliamentarians. Welcoming the advent of this book, he states that the book can play a significant role in liberating the issues raised in these speeches from the records of parliamentary proceedings and presenting them to a broader readership.

In the Introduction (Chapter 1) of the book, Prof. Virk states that its objective was to highlight the contributions of four prominent members of the Indian Parliament who fought for the Sikh Causes. The parliamentarians chosen are Hukam Singh, a Member of the Constituent Assembly; Kapur Singh, an elected Member of Lok Sabha; Khushwant Singh and Tarlochan Singh, both Members of the Rajya Sabha. Hukam Singh was one of the two Sikh Members who did not sign the Indian Constitution in protest for providing no guarantees to the Sikhs, as promised by the leaders of the Indian National Congress, for joining India. Kapur Singh's speech on the Bill for the reorganization of Punjab state dilates on eight different controversial issues concerning the Sikhs. When the discussion was going on the floor of Parliament concerning Blue Star Operation and White Paper of the Government, Khushwant Singh intervened as a member of Rajya Sabha with the following remarks "….. a tragic error of judgement, a grievous mistake and a gross miscalculation….". Tarlochan Singh's speech, under review in this book, was delivered on 14th Dec. 2009 during the call attention motion on the killing of Sikhs in 1984.

Chapter 2 presents Hukam Singh's Speech in the Constituent Assembly on "Sikh Grievances." In this speech, Hukam Singh, as a representative of the minority Sikh community, excelled in viewing various provisions of the Indian constitution from the angle of majority-minority relations. Criticizing the constitution, he touched on several issues, which in his opinion, had grave implications for the Sikh community. He was very incisive in commenting on the power imbalance between the judiciary and the legislature in India, where the legislature was dominant. He eloquently expressed his fear, shared by several members of the Constituent Assembly, that the legislature might accumulate unwarranted powers. His remarks on the dangers of the provisions for emergency powers have proved prophetic.

Chapter 3 reports Kapur Singh's Speech on "Betrayal of the Sikhs." He delivered this speech on 6th Sept. 1966, in Lok Sabha. In it, he dilates on eight different controversial issues concerning the Sikhs. Moreover, he put forward a compelling argument highlighting the betrayal of the Sikhs by the leaders of the Indian National Congress and the Indian government in a chronological manner. Thereby, he did make an outstanding contribution in highlighting the majoritarian bias in the Indian Parliament.

Khushwant Singh's speech on "Operation Blue Star" is delineated in Chapter 4. He delivered it on 25th Jul. 1984 in the Rajya Sabha. In his remarks, Khushwant Singh tore apart the lies of the government— controlled media and the subservient press on Operation Blue Star. Furthermore, he touched on the role of the army cautiously but boldly. In addition, he successfully highlighted the degree of alienation being felt by the Sikhs.

The next Chapter reports Khushwant Singh's speech on "Massacre of Sikhs in Delhi." He delivered this speech in response to President's address in Rajya Sabha on 22nd Jan. 1985. Speaking about the 1984 November genocide, he narrated his own experience and highlighted the degree of insecurity felt by every Sikh, however highly placed. He pointed out that 6000 innocent Sikhs were massacred in these two days. At least 900 women were windowed, 50,000 Sikhs were rendered homeless and removed to refugee camps, thousands of crores worth of property of the Sikhs was destroyed. In this context, he even brought two reports to the notice of the house. Firstly, the report: 'Who are the guilty?' by Dr. Rajni Kothari, and secondly, the report by a committee presided over by the retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice S. M. Sikri. He ended his speech with his prophetic remarks: "unless the guilty are identified and punished, mark my words, there will be no settlement of the Punjab problem, and there will be no peace in this country."

Chapter 6 describes the translated version of Tarlochan Singh's speech, originally delivered in Hindi on 14th Dec. in 2009. He delivered this speech in Rajya Sabha during the call attention motion on the killing of Sikhs in 1984. Tarlochan Singh referred particularly to the role of the police, the judiciary, and the central government in demonstrating majoritarian institutional bias. Tarlochan Singh is known for his political acumen and oratory. At his rhetoric best in his speech, he reminds the Parliament: "Why didn't the earth shake when Mahatma Gandhi was murdered, how many Marathas were murdered in the country, because the murderer was a Marathi? When Rajiv Gandhi was killed, how many Tamils were killed? Why were only the Sikhs victimized? Why the tree had to fall only on the Sikhs?". He boldly invoked the UNO convention on Genocide and Article 7 of the International criminal court of crimes against humanity to demand a trial of the guilty from India's Supreme Court for the November 1984 violence.

The last Chapter of the book reports the profiles of the contributing members of Parliament. Except for the profile of Sardar Hukam Singh, whose source was Lok Sabha Speakers, all other profiles are reproduced from Wikipedia. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not credited as an authentic source of information in academia.

By initiating archival research in Indian parliamentary affairs, this book provides a valuable contribution to Punjab and Sikh studies. A collection of such speeches has the potential to highlight the roles and relevance of parliamentarians in Indian democracy by presenting a record of their activities and views to a broader readership. I hope that this initiative of Prof. Virk will inspire other social science researchers to produce similar works focused on Punjab and Sikh affairs.
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Dec 3, 2021
Seemingly excellent compilation ! Thanks for posting an abstract.

1. The Sikh community has been apprehensive of Nehru-Gandhi. Congress that promised to Sikhs an autonomy in 1929 when Gandhi met Baba Kharak Singh. He was carrying a strong rally of about 50,000 Sikhs in Lahore. Gandhi had assured him that Constitution would not be finalized unless it was accepted by the Sikhs. And Sikhs were classified as Hindus. The Constitution was imposed upon them. On a representation to Nehru it was said, " The circumstances have now changed."

But Sikhs were silent !

2. Punjab was reorganized when Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were carved out of it.

Sikhs were silent !!

3. Recently a district of Punjab, Malerkotla, has been declared as a Muslim/Islamic District by Congress.

But Sikhs are silent !
We get that we are considered fit for-Law of Nature.

4 .And the Sikhs of Punjab have very generously gifted the land to Muslims for the construction of a Mosque.

And the entire community was silent !

Some Reflections:-

Is it silent strutting of the tottering community that accepts everything as fait accomplii
Is it the complete dormancy of the Sikhs?

These fears are not exaggerated or unfounded. It is a general human tragedy, more wretched and widespread than history had ever seen before- The fall of a Sikhs whose roots have decayed and whose organs have become disjointed.

The post may stir some thinking about the state of our leadership that has suffered degradation and moral depravity. Its a common lesson from history that the servile and complacent is soon deprived of its identity. Let the Sikhs, whose life spring has dried up, stop taking solace in narcotics and demand the Government to follow the rational principles of running the state.

But one must speak out.!
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Oct 29, 2013
"Secularism" Nehru-dynasty-style, as a foundational myth for the modern Indian state seems like a catastrophic failure for religious minorities but particularly for Sikhs. What are some good English language analyses of this phenomenon?


Dec 3, 2021
"Secularism" Nehru-dynasty-style, as a foundational myth for the modern Indian state seems like a catastrophic failure for religious minorities but particularly for Sikhs. What are some good English language analyses of this phenomenon?
Thanks Mr. gjSingh for the query.! Given below is my understanding of Secularism qua India.

Religion is an indispensable part of human existence. Freedom of religion is considered as the most important civil liberty after the right to life and personal liberty and the freedom of speech and expression. The Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and acknowledges the individual’s autonomy in his or her relationship with God.

The word Secularism is shrouded with mystery. There is no agreed 'one standard' definition of the term. In the modern state it has been reduced to a political philosophy that encompasses the important principle of 'Separation of Church' from the state as enunciated by Jefferson. However, it has also no universal application. The one point agreed formula acceptable in Secular state is the 'neutrality of state' in the matters of religion. The reverse of it would be ' equal treatment' to all the religions. The former defines the secularism in negative manner and the latter in positive.

Nehru is said to have invented the substratum of Secularism for the modern India to suit his style of body politic. The original constitution of India didn't contain the term even in its preamble. This was crafted subsequently by Indira Gandhi in 1976 who included it in the preamble of the constitution. 'Nehruvian' Secularism introduced the concept of minorities and made it obligatory on the state to finance the educational institutions set up by the minorities. The classification the minorities is not done on the basis of ethnicity or the language. Its done on the basis of Religion. In effect, the minority benefits are granted on the basis of religion. How can the state that favors a particular religion, while granting minority benefits, be called as observing 'state neutrality'? Its shamelessly farcical !! Muslims should be beholden to Chacha. There is great warmth of secularism for the Muslims only. For the majority, as it turned out to be, Secularism is a bad word. The fears of Hindus are not exaggerated and unfounded.!

The articles 25 to 30 of the Constitution of India deal with the religious freedom. The article Article 29 protects the interests of the minorities by making a provision that any citizen / section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same. Article 30 provides an absolute right to the minorities that they can establish their own linguistic and religious institutions and at the same time can also claim for grant-in-aid without any discrimination. Madarssas enjoy this right in India.

In effect, It was Nehru who was responsible for the making it incumbent on every citizen to pay for the Madrasas. And we all know what a Madrassa is!!. Nehru gave the madrassas to the Muslims that were to be funded by the majority class. The subsequent Governments of Congress further ensured that Muslims got all the privileges under the sun. Indra Gandhi introduced Muslim Personal Law Board for the Muslims thus ensured the introduction of Sharia for the Muslims. This is against all the ethical principles of constitution that deals with equality and similar treatment to all. The next in line was Feroz Khan akka Feroz Gandhi. He reversed the Landmark judgement of 'Shah Banoo' thus ensuring that the Indian secularism was only a 'one way traffic' and the only beneficiary was Muslim. The next in line was the grant of Haz Subsidy to the Mohammedans. The next in line is the recent announcement of Congress that declared Malerkotla as a Muslim district and that also in the state of Punjab. It is a calamity that the sikhs have preferred to overlook.

Its high time that the Uniform Civil Code is introduced in India ensuring the uniformity in applicability of the Laws thus making the 'equal treatment' clause is not a myth. The equality clause will ensure Secularism in true sense.

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