Propaganda Against Sikhs

BJP has been desperately trying to create a bogey of Khalistan for the last one year, and by implication alienating the Sikh community. 

by Tanvir Ur Rehman

Sikhs face a harsh combination of political, religious, economic, and social persecution in India. Anti-Sikh sentiments and Hindu nationalism have been part of the landscape for decades, yet, as USCIRF recently observed, conditions have deteriorated in recent years. Sikhs, like other religious minorities in India, now “face challenges ranging from acts of violence or intimidation, to the loss of political power, increasing feelings of disenfranchisement, and limits on access to education, housing, and employment.”

Sikhs have history of purge/ subjugation in India & have never been trusted after 1984, when thousands of Sikhs were burnt to death, their properties were looted and their women had been raped by Hindus. 8 days long Operation Blue Star (OBS) still haunts Sikh community.

OBS was an official beginning of a systematic purge of the Sikhs community in India. Over 100,000 Sikhs (mostly youth) were killed in the next four years (till 1988) while over 25,000 victims were left crippled for the whole of their lives. Over 20,000 Sikh families migrated out of India (mostly in Canada, USA and UK) after this event as they felt India does not own them and they were alien in their land.

One of the most important events related to OBS is “Mutiny of 9th battalion of the Sikh Regiment” that started from Bihar and spread as far as Rajasthan and over 2600 Sikh soldiers were killed by Indian Police and Army; their bodies were not handed over to their relatives. Sikh Soldiers are under constant surveillance in the Indian Air Force, Army, and Indian Navy for years to come after this incident. Sikh community strongly believes that assassination of PM Indira Gandhi after OBS was planned to provide a justification to purge the Sikh community all over India.

In 2020, this persecution was most visible in the crackdown against Sikh farmers who protested the government’s policy of agricultural deregulation. State-sponsored media distorted economic & social struggle attached to the bills, labeling Sikh farmers “terrorists” and spreading false narratives about Sikhs in India and abroad. Winning over Farm laws has actually created unseen problems for Sikh community. Having failed to pacify farmers’ protests, despite use of excessive force, the BJP government was forced to repeal controversial farm laws. The repealing of laws seriously affected ‘invincibility’ of PM Modi thus increasing challenges for BJP.

BJP’s submission to farmers has not been liked by Sanghis. Therefore, they are using extra-constitutional means to cause sacrilege of their sacred religious places to hurt the sentiment of Sikhs. BJP considers Sikhs as main proponent of their failure, hence Sikhs are facing wrath of BJP which is likely to intensify until they are marginalized. Reputational hurt to PM Modi due to protracted farmers’ movement is non- digestible, hence Modi will take revenge using multi-pronged strategy to politically engineer elections, discredit Sikhs in information domain, use judicial lever for forging cases against prominent Sikhs and farmer’s movement leaders. On the pretext of Khalistan separatism, Modi is planning to use security forces to break the will of those having dissenting views with the center.

He is also mobilizing Godi Media for the political advantage of BJP. Concerted political efforts and a TV media campaign is launched to name, shame, blame and demonize the entire Sikh community, holding it responsible for allegedly targeting the PM. Neo-nationalist members/ supporters of BJP launched vicious no–holds–barred campaign labelling entire Sikh community as “Khalistani terrorists” and threatening a repeat of the 1984 riots. Not only veiled handles on Twitter have been used for posting hate messages against Sikh community, but even genuine Facebook and a few verified Twitter accounts were also actively participating.

The breach of PM’s security created an opportunity for BJP that could not be missed; a new political theme — Khalistani plot to target a strong PM — has been created for the upcoming elections. While knowing clear defeat in Punjab assembly polls, BJP has also requested the Election Commission to postpone the date of Punjab elections. BJP is trying to mess up the law and order situation in Punjab to delay state elections because political turmoil in Punjab will give BJP time to manipulate / forge alliances, thereby undermining farmers and Sikhs.

BJP’s highhandedness would not restrict to Punjab; it will target Sikh’s diaspora abroad. Modi is also trying to influence foreign governments against prominent NGOs working for the cause of Sikhs and minorities. Indian Intelligence agencies also desire to create fear in minds of Sikhs inland & abroad to suppress their voices on Human Rights & Khalistan issue. The Indian government is trying to create chaos in Punjab to marginalize Sikhs; creating space for their Hindutva policies. Sikh youth is of the view that the repealing of farm laws was an eyewash for electoral gains. Sikhs understand the intent of the Modi government and the Hindutva mindset.

BJP has been desperately trying to create a bogey of Khalistan for the last one year, and by implication alienating the Sikh community. BJP govt made an attempt to connect Sikh Community at large with security lapses of Modi in Punjab. Sikh community should remain vigilant to the evil designs of Modi and RSS as they are trying to build traps around them.

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