Last week I went to the last Ardas for Sardarani Gurdial Kaur, a native of village Bulara near Ludhiana who was mother to a Sikh who served as a captain in the Indian army. Sahib Satinderpal Singh Gill was on active service when in 1984 he was taken out of a train near Delhi and brutally lynched by a mob. He was just 24 years old. I was a good friend of his first cousin Professor Rajinderpal Singh Gill who was based in my university. Sadly he too was brutally murdered in cold blood after being tortured by the Punjab police in January 1989. His only crime was to expect Sikhs should be able to live with pride and dignity and accordingly supported the Sikh struggle. Later his wife became an MP with the Mann group.
I was asked to say some words about this family after the Ardas before the considerable gathering that had attended. I am sharing with you my words.
“27 long years have gone by and this family have lost two of their sons during this time. One at the hands of a mob that represented India during the genocide of the 1984 riots and the other by Police forces safeguarding Indian interests. I fail to understand: where is someone to protect and heal our wounds of lost respect? The same party who was leading India during 1984 is in power again and despite being led by a Sikh Prime Minister have failed to give us any concrete answers, or attempt to provide healing with assurances that these types of happening will not occur again. The very same party has a good chance of coming back to power in Punjab next year. This is a shame, more so because the people who are being elected to lead us Sikhs and stand up for our rights have deviated from the sacrifices of our Gurus – sacrifices where Guru Ji sacrificed his whole family, even young sons so that we as a nation could stand up and rise. Today, the Sikh leaders imitate the Gandhi-dynasty and are more concerned for their sons to stay in power, regardless of what happens to the welfare of the Sikhs and our lingering wounds.
The learned people who have the option are leaving the confines of the Punjab and seeking a different life in the western world, where they feel and observe a different setup for the value of life. The India of today pronounced as the ‘geek-nation’ by the western media and powers to be, has considerably changed perception from being a nation of naked sadhus, snake charmers and yogis; it has transformed itself into the emerging power of this century. But the people, especially the minorities within India of which Sikhs are also one, still feel very unsafe and uncared for, barring a privileged few. The emergence of civic sensibility in the form of the civil society by Baba Ramdev, a fanatic hindu, and by social reformer Anna Hazare, has generated a new thing in Indian politics and it’s governance. My main interest being the concerns of Sikhs, I find no solace from those campaigns as none within them speaks of justice for the Sikhs and of the wrongs being done to us for too long a time.
We as Sikhs want to move onward despite our pain and the losses of those such as Satinderpal Singh Gill and Professor Rajinderpal Singh Gill. Even though no suitable action or explanation has been provided for there loss and that of the thousands of other Sikhs who just vanished from Punjab as well as other parts of India. Time is a great factor in healing wounds provided good care and treatment is given, but the emotional hurt and degradation of a person’s worth simply because they belong to a minority is no way to move with time. The case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar is a point to observe and deliberate upon. Sending somebody to the gallows despite judicial doubt of their guilt is a rarity in the world today, in fact it practically never happens. The verdict of guilt was not unanimous originally and despite the 2-1 verdict, one for acquittal and two for death, still he is being condemned to the gallows and currently awaits execution.
Sikh history is full of sacrifices for the rights of other people and to maintain human dignity, but once again today our dignity and pride along with our very existence is facing a grave challenge. We are ready to spend 350 crore rupees for the beautification of Rakabganj Sahib Gurdwara, but have no funds for the uplifting of our roots and for the basic well-being of our people. Improving Gurudware buildings will not bring our respect and pride back, but by upholding the free and respectful dignity of Sri Akal Takht Sahib’s authority we will begin to get back on track.”