Another campaign for Sikh homeland- now not by Sikhs in Punjab
Chandigarh, August 11: With forthcoming August 12 rally in London by supporters of Referendun2020 overseas, the issue of homeland for the Sikhs is again under focus. India has expressed concern that has been overruled by UK on the legal argument of right to free speech in that country. Free speech is the fundamental right that the people enjoy in every mature democracy.
There is, however, a difference. Unlike the earlier struggles since partition in 1947, this campaign is not based in Indian Punjab, the native land of the Sikhs that used to be known as the ‘country of the Sikhs’ going by the earlier references in history books. Sikhs are a community whose birth place is in Pakistani Punjab.
The fiercest campaign for Khalistan was witnessed during the period beginning 1980 lasting for about a decade and a half in which more than 30,000 people were killed but there is no exact count.
US based Sikhs for Justice leading this campaign that is not a political body and was virtually a non-entity, has succeeded in creating hype for this referendum that otherwise would end into nothingness. It would be nothing more than an opinion poll in which the Sikhs in Punjab won’t participate. Gurpatwant Singh Pannuan who has been spearheading this idea has not visited his native land that is Punjab ever since he launched this campaign. This body has no designated and known representative in Punjab.
It is pertinent to mention that the issue of self-determination was raised way back in 1965 by the Sikh organisations in Punjab at what is known as the Nalwa Conference organised on July 4, 1965 at Ludhiana. Among the main organisers was Akali Dal (Master Tara Singh).
The resolution moved by Justice Gurnam Singh, retired Judge of the High Court, and then the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and seconded by Giani Bhupinder Singh, the then President of the Master Akali Dal, stated: “This conference in commemoration of Hari Singh Nalua of historic fame reminds all concerned that the Sikh people are makers of history and are conscious of their political destiny in a free India. This conference recalls that the Sikh people agreed to merge into common Indian nationality on the explicit understanding of being accorded the constitutional status of co-sharers in the Indian sovereignty along with the majority community, which solemn understanding now stands totally repudiated by the present rulers of India. Further, the Sikhs have been systematically reduced to sub-political status in their homeland, and to an insignificant position in their motherland, India.
“This conference, however, resolves after careful thought, that there is left no alternative for the Sikhs in the interest of self-preservation than to frame their political demand for securing a self-determined political status within the republic of the Union of India.”
The UN was formally approached to intervene for the creation of Khalistan by the Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee through a memorandum submitted to the UN Secretary General Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali during his visit to New Delhi on April 22, 1992.
Here goes the relevant portion: “All people have the right to self-determination and by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delayed independence. All armed actions or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent people shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence and the integrity of the national territories shall be respected….
“Like all free people of the world, the Sikh Nation, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples seek an independent and sovereign state to break the shackles of apartheid, slavery, colonialism and a retrograde political system and structure.”
The signatories included Akali leaders Simranjit Singh Mann and Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra.
Refrendum2020 is nowhere even near this demand made on the UN and that too by the main leaders of the Sikhs.
The conference in London is being organised to mobilise Sikhs on this demand that has not been raised by the people for whom the Sikh Homeland is supposed to be created.
The organisers should at least explain to the participants at London conclave as to what is the meaning of referendum and how it is carried out.
Plebiscite under UN was to be exercised by the people in Kashmir to which India had agreed at that time. Kashmir continues to be turbulent.
People in Punjab or those who left Punjab and are now carrying on the campaign can’t exercise this referendum at their own. There is mechanism for that subject to conditions.
New countries are not created so easily and the recent struggle that was fought in Punjab is the grim reminder.
Of course, people have every right to cherish the ambition to rule.