Kids Corner

Above: Jagjeet Singh. Below: Indian Paramilitary sharp-shooters moments before they shot Jagjeet Singh, a bystander, dead.


Indian Authorities Manufacture Crisis In Jammu
To Overshadow June 84 Anniversary …
Right On Cue







"jammu shehar naa daeen meri maa …"
O My Mother, Don’t Send me to Jammu
[Punjabi wedding song]

What it means to be a Sikh woman in 2015 has a lot to do with what it meant to be a Sikh woman in 1984.

I have an odd memory from right about that year: as a young girl at a Punjabi wedding, clapping happily to a funny song where a to-be bride pleads with her mother against being married and sent to live with her in-laws in the faraway city of Jammu. (I was too young to balk at arranged marriages then; all I knew is the song had some funny puns).

And I also remember giggling a little the first time I met a Sikh from Jammu, then stopping abruptly on receiving a cold stare from my mother who had first led me in the clap-alongs that made me associate Jammu with funny jibes.

Years later, I would finally visit the city that has been home to a sizable and proud Sikh population for generations, where Guru Hargobind, the Sixth Master, holds particular relevance after his travels there in the early 1600s.

Today, June 5, 2015, Jammu is under strict curfew and internet and cellular services have been suspended.

“In view of the tense situation in Jammu district … you are requested to immediately stop the internet services provided by you, both on landline and mobile network” -- June 5, 2015 letter from District Magistrate Jammu to Airtel, Aircel, BSNL, Vodafone and IDEA providers, circulating on social media.

Jagjeet Singh, the 25-year-old killed by a paramilitary bullet to his head on June 4, 2015, happened to work for IDEA Network.

By eyewitness accounts, he had parked his car to observe the commotion erupted on the night of June 4 when the CRPF paramilitary forces began their action in Jammu at 3-4 am.

Earlier that day, reports from Jammu included scuffles between local Sikh youth and the police. Indian media reported that a police officer removed “objectionable posters,” which included the photo of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala (the Sikh leader who was neither a proclaimed offender nor in hiding in June 1984, but was propagated as a ‘holed-in terrorist at Darbar Sahib’ by the Indian Government after his murder by Indian troops).

Sikh youth had protested against the police excesses and had even fought back in anger.

On Thursday, June 4, 2015, as some social media started sharing photographs of a sub-Inspector being hit by angered Sikh men, I recoiled. As a woman -- who grew up clapping to songs that took for granted a Punjabi woman’s destiny to leave her parental home and move away, but also who came of age with the unacknowledged (much less punished) state-sponsored violence of the 1980s -- I couldn’t help feeling a familiar heaviness.

Were our men, many hot-headed, often proud of their machismo, going to remain in the limelight as violent, easily provokable? Were several men ganging up on one cop who was seemingly responsible for a non-violent, even if offensive act?  Once again, was June going to be a battle between those feeling pride at angry Sikhs and those feeling fear at what such anger begets us?

Soon, more photos and a larger story began to surface, making the entire episode reminiscent of last year.

In June 2014, large media stories appeared on the anniversary of the attack on Darbar Sahib, reporting "clashes" between a bunch of bearded and turbaned men amongst themselves inside the Darbar Sahib complex -- all these men were aligned with political parties with age-old and manufactured rivalries. Somehow this story of scuffling Sikhs overtook the story of the siege Sikhs had united to remember on its 30th anniversary.

Might Jammu be similar?

The local Jammu population reports the entire incident was orchestrated under the increasingly right-wing political regime, aiming to provoking Sikh youth: the same hoarding had been used every year, commemorating June 1984 (and the deaths of thousands of pilgrims as well as Bhindranwale and his armed men).

On June 4, 2015, the local Sikh population was in fact readying to celebrate their beloved Guru Hargobind’s gurpurab, when this hoarding was reportedly removed, trampled on, and videos of this were circulated by the offenders on social media.

Locals further report that in the arguments and scuffle that followed with local goons and supporting police officers, no policeman was stabbed, but the media reported this and focused on the ‘violent Sikhs’ in another attempt to malign.

After the June 4 scuffle, Deputy Commissioner Simranjit Singh negotiated with the local Sikh population and agreed the hoarding may go back up and the brouhaha end.

Then, in the middle of the night, CRPF entered the scene, removed the same hoarding, and responded to the gathering Sikh protesters with bullets.

By-stander Jagjeet Singh was shot dead in the head.

Sikh social media is abuzz with the killing in Jammu, flashing back to the killings of 1984.

Meanwhile, in Canada, a significant number of Sikhs are vociferously protesting the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, that has been designated for June 6, one of the bloodiest days in Sikh history in the twentieth century. And in the United States, some Sikhs are rallying against “India Day 2015" being held in San Francisco on June 6. 

To them, it’s incomprehensible that the first week of June can be about anything but the massacres of June 1984, especially when June 2015 continues with clear evidence of oppression.

Are Sikhs over-reacting?

After killing Jagjeet Singh and wounding several others -- internet-blocking makes news of their well-being difficult to come by currently -- the Indian Army conducted a flag march in Jammu, to display its control. Such flag marches are notorious across Jammu and Kashmir, the state bloodied by anti-Muslim violence since much before Jagjeet Singh was even born.

In Amritsar, the police today took out a flag march through the heart of the the city, set up check-posts, and began surveilling the sarais in Darbar Sahib for any “antisocial elements” (the resthouses where ironically the maximum murders of pilgrims at the hands of the Army had taken place in 1984.)

Two hours ago, claiming wariness due to Jammu, the Punjab government has “sought 20 companies of paramilitary forces from the Centre besides deploying maximum force on the roads to avoid any untoward incident on the anniversary of Operation Bluestar amid fears of spillover of the Jammu violence to the state.”

Who is over-reacting?

To have to hold all beliefs deep within our hearts, with no peaceful outlet, beliefs we have inherited from our mothers and transmitted from our wombs to our children; to have to bow our heads even as we are poked to be reminded we are the survivors of an ethnic cleansing; to have to leave the mind clouded with fear even while we are the children of Nirbhau [fearless Almightly].

Such unacceptable enslavement is what Sikhs in Canada, US, and Jammu are resisting.

In Jammu they have resisted at much higher stakes.

Tonight and forever, my heart sings a very different song for Jammu.

[The author is an activist, accountant, mother, and an avid reader who spends her time between Punjab and Canada.]

June 5, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Kaala Singh (Punjab), June 05, 2015, 11:55 PM.

With the BJP coming to power in J&K (Jammu & Kashmir), the Dogras and Kashmiri Brahmins are at mischief again!

2: SS Singh (New York, USA), June 06, 2015, 12:21 AM.

The news reports from India say that Jitendra Singh (who belongs to "RSS cadre" from Jammu) today briefed Home Minister Rajnath Singh about the situation in Jammu where protests are going on over the removal of posters of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office said the Home Minister has offered all possible support to the J&K government for "dealing" with the situation. Rajnath Singh has also spoken with JK Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and offered him sufficient number of armed forces personnel- in case more Sikh blood has to be spilled. Not too long ago it was another RSS Government ruled by Vajpayee and Advani which killed 36 Sikhs in Chattisingpura during the visit of President Bill Clinton to India ... to artificially create a crisis and give the visiting US President the impression that the Pakistanis were behind the massacre. This latest episode has been engineered by Indian agencies to create an atmosphere of fear and terror. Large number of of Indian forces are being deployed in Amritsar so that Sikhs can not assemble at The Akal Takht peacefully to pay homage to thousands of innocent Sikhs who were butchered by the Hindu army at the Golden Temple in 1984.

3: Brig (Ret.) Nawab Singh Heer (New York, USA), June 06, 2015, 2:30 AM.

Dear Simran: We appreciate your views on this unfortunate incident. We as a community need to sit back and read the writing on the wall, and understand what is in the offing. The state Government has systematically ensured all institutes in the state become defunct and failed education, failed medical, drugs for youth, land-sand-media-transport Mafia are ensuring that youth will be forced to take to arms. Union Government which is sharing power with the State Government has done nothing to help calm the situation. Both governments are ensuring that the distressed youth of Punjab should all pick up arms once again. We all must get alarmed that both State Government and union Government are pushing Punjab to precipitate another 1984 so that they can win the next elections through chaos and anarchy.

4: Sunny Grewal  (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), June 06, 2015, 2:33 AM.

Let us not forget who this young man was. He was the bread winner of his family, the burden of his sisters' marriage was on his shoulders. He was about to immigrate to Australia and had his visa papers ready to begin his new life. They took his life over a poster. They killed our brother.

5: Sunny Grewal  (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), June 06, 2015, 2:48 AM.

Things are getting very bad, very fast in India. The tiny space that existed for minorities has shrunk even further. Even the timid brahmins of Punjab have joined the disgusting chauvinism of their co-religionists in other parts of the country. Sikhs are using this week to remember the lives that were stolen 31 years ago. How do Punjabi Hindus respond? They are holding "counter" ceremonies honoring the soldiers that butchered the innocent Sikhs. The pathetic thing is that it is not being done out of real respect or honor of their "sacrifices", but instead to counter the challenge that they see as provocative actions by the Sikhs. For Hindus, remembering men who had their hands tied and shot in the back of the head is provocative. Remembering children who were shot as they came out of their hiding spots after three days, by soldiers is provocative. But apparently baiting a minority community that was massacred and refuses to forget, is not provocative. We are witnessing the birth of the next Pakistan.

6: Kaala Singh (Punjab), June 06, 2015, 6:02 AM.

When Hindus protest and hold demonstrations, the police will never fire at them. When Sikhs or Muslims do the same, they are fired upon. This tells me that they have orders from the top to be lenient with Hindus and ruthless with minorities without fear of prosecution or punishment.

7: Gurinder Singh (Stockton, California, U.S.A.), June 06, 2015, 8:29 AM.

Best advice from Brigadier Sahib. Sikhs should be very careful and not resort to retaliatory violence as we have lost so many of our young men in 1980s. Sikhs need to remember that the India of 1984 is not the same in 2015. It is much more diverse and regionalism is on the rise. Let events unfold on their own and not give a chance to these people to unleash terror.

8: Kaala Singh (Punjab), June 06, 2015, 10:33 AM.

I agree with #7. The picture here says it all. The Indian police, paramilitary forces and army are equipped with the most modern weapons, and here we see Sikh youngsters with sticks and stones. God forbid, if a nut like Rajiv Gandhi or a wicked guy like Advani was to give an order to fire, one can imagine what will happen. One might recall that Chattisinghpora was probably the brainchild of BJP's Advani!

9: Harsaran Singh (Indonesia), June 06, 2015, 11:03 AM.

As I have mentioned earlier, we have taken our position in a very hostile setup for granted. We are repeating the same mistakes for which we had to pay a very heavy price 31 years ago. As a wise person once told me, Indians love Sikhs as long as they die defending the country, and they love his culture -- song and dance, food and lust for life. The day he stands up and exercises his rights, though -- as a person of power and integrity -- he is seen as their #1 enemy. Let us bear in mind that in India we hardly have any friends in the political and social setup. We have to work as a cohesive force however difficult it may sound, otherwise those who once swore to annihilate us will rise again and start their machinations against us.

10: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), June 06, 2015, 7:40 PM.

The Sikhs can't exist as a nation without throwing out the Hindu baggage of the caste-system, no matter how little of it they may subscribe to. Copying Hindu mob violence isn't the answer either. The answer is a highly intelligent and pragmatic leadership that will mobilize Sikhs worldwide.

11: Jasvir Kaur (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), June 07, 2015, 12:00 AM.

With all the education that's available at our fingertips, even after 31 years since 1984 the Sikhs are a divided nation. It is our weakness and the Indians know this. Let me share an example with you that's not related to this article. Last week I was listening to a debate online from Vancouver by a very popular ethnic radio station. The topic was about the Sikhs doing a PSA in the US on misconceptions about Sikhs. The hosts of the debate, Pro in Punjabi, Con in Hindi. What was surprising and disheartening the most is all the Punjabi Sikh people that called in to the program were against it and were supporting the Hindi speaking agenda. Finally TWO people at the end phoned in to support this campaign and one said just because everyone is walking freely here in Surrey is not how it is in other parts of the world for turban-wearing Sikhs. One person even made the saddening remark that the 82-year old gentleman that got attacked in the US was because it was probably his fault. To make assumptions without facts is irresponsible; to say it on the airwaves is a disservice to the whole community.

12: Kaala Singh (Punjab), June 07, 2015, 12:25 AM.

Absolutely agree with #10, the "Human-wave" mob tactics do not suit us as we are small in numbers, for us every life is important. Sikhs need to build capabilities like the Jews. The small state of Israel, half the size of Punjab, is able to defend itself from the entire Islamic world. If 12 million Jews can defend themselves from more than a billion Muslims, 30 million Sikhs can surely defend themselves from a billion Hindu cowards who don't even hesitate to attack small children, women and the elderly. Aren't these the same people who could not even defend their women from the Islamic invaders who tormented them for a thousand years? They have had power only for 60 years which they got not due to their own efforts but by other events that happened in the world, and they use this power to attack our places of worship and our people utilizing their huge numbers. They do not realize that they are the same miserable people, the only difference today -- they have imported a bunch of hi-tech weaponry which gives them illusions of invincibility. They do not realize that the software that controls these weapons can betray them anytime and then they will have to run to other countries to help them fix it!

13: Harinder Singh (Punjab), June 07, 2015, 3:02 PM.

Purpose of Jammu incident: Get Sikhs into open conflict with the Indian State and then prepare the ground for another genocide.

14: Gurinder Singh (Stockton, California, U.S.A.), June 07, 2015, 9:34 PM.

Jasvir Kaur ji: you said it right. I do visit Victoria, BC, almost every year. I have seen some so called moderate Sikhs going into the Darbar Hall of the gurdwara bare-headed. They do not bow to Guru Granth Sahib and do not take parshad. I was shocked when I first saw this 15 years ago. There were many then; now you say there are only a few. They were early arrivals. Their behaviour goes a step further in that they taunt Keshadhari Sikhs as being 'extremists'. Communists visiting from Punjab are their guests of honour.

15: Ajay Singh (Rockville, Maryland, USA), June 08, 2015, 7:10 AM.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Simran. You are the first writer to actually mention a very important fact that is the corner stone of a democracy: "The Sikh leader who was neither a proclaimed offender nor in hiding in June 1984, but was propagated as a 'holed-in terrorist at Darbar Sahib' by the Indian Government after his murder by Indian troops." They murdered him in cold blood along with thousands of pilgrims, all innocent and then they get offended every time we put up his picture.

16: Jasbeer Singh (India), June 08, 2015, 2:05 PM.

Why aren't these posters and banners installed in each gurdwara thoughout the world? Why Can't we use the digital media to remember/celebrate the Ghallughara? From now on, let's have them in every Sikh home and in each gurdwara. Let's see then who dares to touch them there. That's the only way (as I can see) to stop such excesses and infringements on our freedoms by the government.

17: Amandeep Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 09, 2015, 10:01 PM.

At the time of June 1984, the Indian media was under the control of state. It is now coming to light that the Indian army killed thousands of innocent Sikhs during Blue Star. The State media created an atmosphere that every Sikh is criminal. Wrong motives were assigned to the resistance fighters to justify an army attack and the wide spread killings and lootings of precious manuscripts and artefacts from The Golden Temple complex. The way Sikhs were targeted was carefully strategized. Congress won 400 parliament seats after the massacre of November 1984. In Gujrat, the BJP similarly consolidated its power after the mass murder of innocent Muslims. The formula: create false issues to target minorities, vitiate the environment and then win elections.

18: Anjum (Chicago, Illinois, USA), June 17, 2015, 5:51 PM.

Greetings to my Punjabi brothers and sisters! I am not from your part of the world, therefore I am not sure if it matters what I say here but I just want to give a message to all those who share our beautiful land we call Punjab. My maternal grandfather was from Gurdaspur and migrated to Sialkot (now in Pakistan) before the Partition of Punjab. I was born in the UK and have always wanted to visit my roots in Gurdaspur but unfortunately I am not able to because my parents are from Pakistani Punjab. It breaks my heart. I have so much respect for our Punjabi culture and I am a proud Punjabi. Always have been and always will be. I wished we Punjabis lived in harmony and were allowed to travel across borders without all the bureaucracy both governments have created. InshAllah and with Guru Sahib's will, one day we Punjabis will unite and become one nation. The one and only, my PUNJAB!

Comment on "Indian Authorities Manufacture Crisis In Jammu
To Overshadow June 84 Anniversary …
Right On Cue"

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.