It is this year 25 years since the June invasion of Harmandr Sahib and later in the year the killing of Indira Gandhi followed by the organised pogroms against Sikhs in Delhi and in other states ruled by Congress.
In India people like Pradhan Mantri Manmohan Singh are telling us that it is time to forget. I strongly disagree with him. I think we should remember, but we should not look back in anger.
I am a Sikh but I am not from Panjab. My family members were not killed during the invasion of Harmandr Sahib, my family members were not killed during the Delhi pogrom, my family members were not abused by the security services in Panjab. That makes it is easier for me not to be angry.
Guru teaches that ‘Krodh’ (anger) is one of the ‘panj chor’ (five thieves). Anger does more damage to you than to the person you are angry with. Anger eats up your soul. I do get angry at times, which is bad enough, but I calm down fairly quickly. It is far more damaging when you keep feeding that anger. It is a sure way of losing your connection with God.
Why should we not forget ? No group should forget its history, not the good parts, not the bad parts. The past shapes the future, the past made us who we are. The issue is not forgetting or remembering, the issue is dealing with the violence and human rights abuses of the eighties and early nineties.
I think that India and the Sikhs need a reconciliation process, which is not about punishing people, but about looking at what went wrong and why it went wrong. In that process both parties should be willing to admit to acts of violence and injustices committed.
Sikhs should admit that it was not just the security services who abused Human Rights, we should recognise that people who claimed to be Khalsas also committed injustices. Equally we know that ‘Sikhs’ in the security services were amongst the worst Human Rights abusers.
We should be realistic and admit that shouting Khalistan Zindabad and having pictures of Jarnail Singh and other ‘shahíds’ is not going to solve anything. Peaceful, patient and persistent campaigning on human rights for all, including the right to campaign for an autonomous or independent Sikh homeland, is the way forward.
We have to keep the pressure on MPs and Human Rights organisations, we have to raise a ‘stink’ every time a tainted politician or police man visits this country. We should clean up are act and stop the infighting in our Gurdwaré. And we should publicly admit that Sikhs in the UK or the USA cannot determine the future of the Panjab.