Discrimination of minorities in India
India’s four-fold caste system which tears apart its social fabric and divides people into warring groups is a unique case in world history. Brahmans insist that castes are divinely sanctioned and cannot be changed or abrogated. The system devised by the Brahmans gives them the divine right to rule, to plunder wealth of lower castes. Latter are destined to remain subservient to higher caste Hindus. A Dalit will die as a Dalit. They are denied entry in temples, cremation grounds, river bathing points, wells and are supposed to have haircut from specified barbers. Violators are severely punished. How can there be democracy in India where people are declared as untouchables and treated worst than dogs.
Although Indian constitution has abolished caste system, but caste based discrimination continue unabated. The system suits 2.6% Brahmans since it allows them total hold over great majority of hapless Indians. Of 1.2 billion population of India, 800 millions (over 60%) are poor and 70% are illiterate. The Hindus cannot tolerate other religious minorities in India. Worst affected minority is Muslims constituting 13.4% of total population. They are constantly hounded and harassed and treated worse than Dalits. In reaction to oppressive policies and injustices of the ruling Brahmans and Hindu extremists patronized by BJP, 37 insurgencies are raging in large number of Indian states. Separatist movements are going on in Assam, Meghalaya, Arunchal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, and Kashmir for the last many decades. Maoist movement has posed an existential threat to India’s integrity.
Of all the post partition Hindu-Muslims riots, Ayodhya mosque riots in 1992 and Gujarat riots in 2002 were the most horrible. Hindu bigots instigated by BJP in their frenzy to demolish centuries old mosque and build a Hindu temple in its place brutally targeted Muslims. Gujarat pogrom was in reaction to Gojra incident in which Muslims were alleged to have lit fire in a moving train resulting in death of Hindu passengers. It was later proved by the investigating agencies that fire was accidental and accused Muslims had no hand in it. However, by the time truth surfaced, nearly 3000 innocent Muslims had been hacked to death by Hindu zealots, many among them burnt alive, women raped, their houses and shops gutted. Gujarat chief minister Nirendra Modi watched the carnage with sadistic delight while the Congress government remained passive throughout the slaughter spree spread over several days. Not a single culprit has been punished. The chief architect Modi has been tipped as the next PM by BJP.
Between 2002 and 2008, all acts of terrorism which took place in India were pasted on Indian Muslims and Pakistan. In 2007, Samjhota Express train carrying 50 Pakistani passengers coming from New Delhi to Lahore lost their lives as a result of bomb blast. Pakistan was blamed for the incident but later on Indian investigative agencies found out that a Hindu terrorist group patronized by Indian Army officer Lt Col Prohit was involved. This group was also involved in all other acts in which Pakistan and Indian Muslims were accused. It is widely suspected that attack on Indian Parliament in December 2001 and Mumbai attacks in November 2008 were also the handiwork of Hindu terrorist group to get Pakistan declared a terrorist state.
Hindu violence has not been confined to Muslims only but all other minorities in India including low caste Hindus named as Dalits. 2.8% Sikhs suffered a great deal. Their slaughter began in 1984 on orders of hawkish Indira Gandhi. After besieging the Sikh’s shrine for four days starting 31 May 1984, a military operation codenamed ‘Blue Star’ was launched on 3 June 1984 which continued till 6 June. The operation was undertaken against the Sikhs holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar by Indian military with tanks, APCs and heavy artillery. Under the pretext of controlling law and order, the operation was aimed at destroying Sikhism at its roots and to merge it in Hinduism. Unlike Hindu religion, Sikhism doesn’t believe in caste system and teaches equality for all. Ill-equipped Sikhs holed up in the temple had kept the huge force at bay for one week. Once the attacking troops managed to overpower the temple, to their utter frustration they found all the 291 inmates dead including wanted Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale.
In frustration, the enraged troops started killing innocent Sikhs residing in Amritsar and those who had come there from other places to worship at the holy shrine. On 6 June, 50,000 Sikhs were slaughtered, their shops looted and houses gutted. Priceless Sikh artifices were burnt. Large numbers of Sikhs were burnt alive and women dishonored. Even pregnant women were not spared. To justify their horrific action it was claimed that the Golden Temple had been converted into an arms dump and had become a sanctuary for the anti-state terrorists. It was also alleged that some ammunition crates had marking of POF Wah. 150 Sikh temples all over India were also attacked by Indian Army.
In revenge, Indira Gandhi was murdered by her two Sikh bodyguards. It triggered wholesale massacre of Sikhs on October 31, 1984. The government under Indira’s son Rajiv Gandhi gave full liberty to the hackers to hack the unarmed Sikh men, women and children. The butchery continued for three days till November 2, flooding the roads and streets of Delhi with blood of Sikhs. Most disgusting and shameless part of the grisly episode was the conduct of Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Titlar and Harkishan Lal Bhagat. They instigated the mob to drag out Sikh women and children from their houses and burn them alive. Hindus ignored the fact that Sikhs were the backbone of Indian armed forces. All told, 260,000 Sikhs were killed in 1984.
Wanton genocide completely alienated the Sikh community and led to Khalistan movement demanding a separate Sikh state. It then dawned upon the Sikhs that Master Tara Singh was a fool to get duped by sweet talk of Mahatma Gandhi and Pundit Nehru. He had not listened to the sincere advice of Jinnah to join Pakistan and keep Punjab a single entity. Not a single perpetrator of Sikh genocide was punished. To rub salt on Sikhs wounds, the three Congress leaders who had incited the mobsters were inducted in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet last year.
The list provided by Benazir Bhutto to Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 gave a death blow to Sikh movement which had reached a dangerous stage. It enabled Indian security forces to kill Sikh leaders and disable Khalistan movement. On June 6, 2013, Sikhs living in all parts of the world took out protest rallies all over the world and all cities of India to mark the completion of 29th anniversary of Operation Blue Star. Indian government’s duplicitous and oppressive policies were censored. The worldwide protests were a stern reminder to India that Khalistan movement was still active and vibrant.
On learning that the Sikhs were organizing a worldwide protest, Indian Home Minister Suchil Kumar Schinde in his address to all the chief ministers of Indian States on June 5, 2013 alleged that Pakistan is not only supporting Naxal rebels, but also reorganizing Khalistan movement. This nasty accusation has been made at a time when Manmohan Singh is singing peace mantra and wooing PM Nawaz to visit India. India has the audacity to make such accusations when its favorite hobby is to not only support insurgencies in all its neighboring countries but also to foment insurgency. RAW has been involved in militancy in FATA led by TTP, in Baloch insurgency for a decade and has a hand in Karachi unrest. Pakistan must come out of its apologetic and defensive policy of appeasement, adopt a proactive foreign policy and reinvigorate Kashmir policy which has been made dormant.
The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. Email:email@example.com