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December 27, 1999
I'd rather be writing about the hijacking. For instance, what's this "crisis management group"? A means to spread the responsibility for a bad decision...? Why isn't there a single army officer in the CMG? Are babus expert at armed ops...? What's this about Minister Jaswant Singh expressing his "gratitude" to Pakistan? For sending the hijackers to Kathmandu in a PIA flight...? Was there a delayed response by the government and mismanagement by the Anti-Hijack Squad? For, how did the Free Press Journal state that "in a well-planned operation, the NSG commandos were air-dropped by IAF planes" and later "got into the refuelling tank and proceeded towards the aircraft"...? What is the truth??
Instead, I'm forced to address the Sikhs, again. You see, like them, I'm caught in a trap of my own making -- The Incredible Heaviness of Being Macho. If I ignore their hate mail, it'll be taken as my inability to refute their rank garbage; and if I begin explaining, it'll be perceived as a chicken-hearted retreat in face of the malevolent campaign aimed at this column. Therefore, let me begin by saying: I do NOT retract a single word of my previous article. So why am I still on the damn topic? Well, mainly because my Sardar, for once, used a good argument:
Singh: If my normally placid brother-in-law used the word "rancour," it means there's noise in your article.
Bhosle: ALL my articles have noise! Even if the topic is cell phones! I can't change for some nuts!
S: I've told you the two drawbacks in your article. You can clarify those...?
B: I'll write as it flows. If there's a clarification in it -- great. If there isn't -- too bad.
S: If it's worth the trouble, do it. Otherwise they'll just see it as a further justification of your "motives."
B: If that's how it's taken, at least you'll have known Shaheed Varsha.
S: Chup, badtameez. A lot of people out there are as passionate about their cause. The tone of your articles is what sets the reaction. Sweetheart, you need to decide if you can make people understand what you're saying, or just rankle them more. You're addressing the public to put across a point. If they get the opposite message, then YOU are doing something wrong.
B: Hmm... You may be right... Point taken.
So that's one reason. The second reason is mails such as this one, from a Hardip Rai at AOL:
"the fact that she has said such things.....does not bother me....but that fact that what she has said has been read by so many people.....makes me angry........ on april in the year of the completion.......she will be killed..... as will start the begining of the awakening.....make this aware......to her and to your readers...... do not affiliare this to revenge...... or hatred... or the commonly used tag of sikhs being militant or terrorists.......this has nothing to do with khalistan.....it has got to do with the truth that the world will know!"
Ah! April, eh? That's when the 300th year of the birth of the Khalsa will be completed... Well, take your best shot, buddy. But I've a question for you: Have you considered eliminating the men involved in the Delhi riots? Or does your sort specialise in blowing away women...? I've a pile of letters describing kirpans in my belly or blood oozing from my smashed head. The more temperate regret not having "a license to ****". I welcome it all. What to do, a Maratha can be no less daft. The Panj Pyare weren't all from Punjab.
The third reason is the perception that I detest Sikhs and don't believe what they underwent in 1984. As one reader put it: "Coz what you wrote in your article implied 'there was NO holocaust'." No point in my saying, You're as batty as you're wrong. The following extracts -- all present on Rediff -- speak for me:
* Mera Congress Mahan: In September '96, a Delhi court sentenced 89 people to five years RI for their role in the 1984 riots when 3,000 Sikhs were slaughtered. And what, pray, is the lot of Congressman H K L Bhagat who led the rioters? He sits safe and pretty, out on bail. Does the press (which is anyway very busy hounding Bal Thackeray) remember him at all? Compare that to the fates of the two former presidents of South Korea, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo, whose ordering of troops to crush an uprising led to the massacre of 200 civilians. The former was sentenced to death and the latter was given a 22-year imprisonment. I should have advised them to join the Indian National Congress!
* Soniamev Jayate: On being queried, [S S Ahluwalia] explained that since Sonia Gandhi was a foreigner who had little or no knowledge of English and Hindi, she hadn't understood his missives and thus hadn't responded. Therefore, all further correspondence would be conducted in her native language. Hehehehe... trust a Sardar to know how to slowly turn the knife -- and do it with humour. He had me in splits for a week; it's not for nothing that Sikhs happen to be my favourite folk.
* House of the Rising Son: [Sonia's] apology towards the anti-Sikh riots of 1984: "I feel that this kind of an incident should not have happened, and my husband Rajiv Gandhi felt the same." Yes, the same guy who'd said, "Jab koyi bada peyd girta hai to zameen hilti hai." Strangely, Rajiv had personally cleared Arun Nanda's campaign targeting the Sikh community: One ad asked if people felt uneasy when travelling by taxi -- alluding to the fact that a lot of cabbies are Sikhs. Not to forget the 1984-election graffiti in Amethi, informing voters that the contesting Maneka "sardar ki beti hai."
* Election khichadi, II: But how does one explain Dr Manmohan Singh's "To say that Congress as a party was involved in the riots is not correct"? To add insult to injury, he also lamented that the media never published these "facts." Eh? What it did publish were photographs of Congressman H K L Bhagat leading Congress hoodlums against Sikhs in East Delhi. It published details from reports of various human rights orgs, the Ranganath Misra Report, and findings of several committees -- all directly condemning a large number of senior Congress leaders like Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar.
Just three days ago, the Delhi high court began hearing a petition for registration of an FIR filed by Rajwant Kaur, whose husband, son and nephew were killed by a mob in Tytler's constituency of North Delhi in November 1984. The court has ordered the police to provide protection to Kaur's brother-in-law, ex-serviceman Dilbagh Singh, who filed a writ petition challenging the CBI report that gave a clean chit to Tytler.
The Sikh Forum, presided over by Lt Gen (retd) Jagjit Singh Aurora, states, "No doubt, unscrupulous politicians take such shelter of falsehood and unprincipled stand to win elections, but no one expected Dr Singh to play such a nefarious game to achieve his motive." How soon has Manmohan Singh forgotten Rajiv's "Jab koi bada peyd girta hai to zameen hilti hai." How soon has he forgotten the over 5,000 Sikhs -- men, women and children -- massacred by Congress mobs across the country. Lads set ablaze with burning tyres around their necks, the arson, the looting... Yech. This is no Sikh. This is a barnacle.
I hope at least some of you are feeling suitably silly now.
The fourth reason is the separate-religion thing. Most of the hate mail was filled with cusswords for Hinduism, a la "monkey god," "cow-worshippers," etc -- stuff Hindus normally associate with Pakis on Usenet. The ones which weren't, still made points about how different Sikhism is in terms of monotheism and caste. Obviously, none has the wherewithal to grasp the passage on Niraakaar Parmeshwar, so I'll let it pass. But, don't talk to me of any casteless society in India -- where even Muslims and Christians demand reservations for their OBCs. Why didn't anyone challenge Tara Singh's demand vis-a-vis Harijan Sikhs? What's a Khatri, Jat, Shimbae, Kumiar...? What's written in scriptures, isn't what Indian society follows -- so cut the crap.
Then there were the 10 kb-heavy mails screaming that all my quotes of the Gurus were fictitious. Well, all I've learnt is that one, Guru Gobind Singh's, was incomplete: Vedahun vidit dharma pracharyun / Gohat kalamka vishva nivaryun Sakal jagat mein Khalsa Panth gaajey / Jagey dharm Hindu sakal bhand bhajey (May I preach the Vedas to the whole mankind / May I remove the blot of cow-slaughter from the whole world / May the Khalsa Panth reign supreme / Long live Hinduism and falsehood perish)
I'm happy to note that, before the loony tunes brigade (looniest of all were the Kaurs, btw) got into the concerted act, I received measured responses from Sikhs. Whether they agreed with me or not, they were civil and didn't doubt my intentions. One even wrote: "Times have changed. I could write a piece on 'Psycho Sikhs' living outside of India. Religion minus Culture = Distortion." To these, I'm eternally grateful. For they bolster my faith in Sikhs and in myself. For the whole plaint of my article was: If I like you enough to embrace you, why do you push me away?
Apparently, the answer to that is: "At one time almost all of India was Budhhist BUT Hindus destroyed them. History says within two years millions of Budhhists were massacred. Now only 2% Budhhists are left. Come to my house said the spider to the fly... By the way, Tara Singh was a Hindu convert snuck into Sikh leadership so they wont ask for HOMELAND." This, from a Dr K Singh. It's so ludicrous that I can't possibly dignify it with a comment. Time to wake up and smell the coffee, "Doctor." And, btw, the spelling is "Buddhist."
Sikhs who observed the 5 Kakkars and took on "Singh" came to be known as Keshadharis, right? Isn't it true that those who revered the Gurus but didn't adopt the 5 Ks -- ie, Punjabi Hindus -- were known as Sahejdharis? Did there exist a feeling of belonging to "different" religions among these followers of the Gurus -- till recent times? Are the differences among these more common than the similarities?? Whether Punjabi or not, all Hindus are Sahejdharis. And come what may, I cannot think of you as a "minority." Those who don't like that can start honing their swords for all I care. Because there *are* those who could discern what I meant and weren't offended by it. But, what the whole experience has taught me is that some Sikhs do hate Hindus with a rage unparalleled. And that's the fountainhead of Khalistan...
Which brings me to the mail, from the looniest Kaur of all, which floored me like nothing else did: "MY sardar? YOUR sardar? who gave you the bloody right ?" Uhh? Now I gotta expand on the man-woman thing? Oh god...
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