Betrayal Of Sikhs

Revelation by late S. Hukum Singh former speaker of Lok Sabha (Parliament), and former Governor of Rajasthan.

“Within a year after the independence, Punjab was to be betrayed and discriminated against, on the linguistic issue, while all the remaining state of India were given their constitutional right to their language within a linguistic state. To quote Pandit Nehru’s remark in 1948 “... whatever the merits of such a proposal might be”. While Nehru was known for his flexibility, on the Punjab issue he remained stubbornly dogmatic and negative. This became the future policy, Nehru stuck to it for 16 years. Shastri continued the same policy and Indira Gandhi has made no departure.

“After denying this fundamental linguistic right for many years. Prime Minister Shastri appointed a Parliamentary Committee, in October 1965, under my chairmanship, to prepare a report on the Punjabi Suba issue. This was done in accordance with the fresh promises made to Sikhs during the September 1965 war with Pakistan. The intention of the Government then was to use me against my community, secure an adverse report, and then reject the demand, even after 18 long years of deliberate frustrating delays. When my report was nearly ready Mrs, Indira Gandhi went to Mr, Chavan and said she had heard that Sardar Hukam Singh was going to give a report in favour of Punjabi Suba, and that he should be stopped.... Lal Bahadur Shastri continued the policy of Jawallarlal Nehru and was dead against the demand of Punjabi Suba, as was Nehru. So when he was urged by Mrs. Gandhi to stop Hukam Singh he did not waste any time. Mr. Shastri called Mr. Gulzari Lal Nanda, then Horne Minister, to his residence, and conveyed to him the concern about the feared report. Every effort was made by Mrs. Gandhi, Mr. Shastri and Mr. Nanda to stop me from making my report. But when nothing succeeded, the Congress forestalled the Parliamentary Committee Report by agreeing to reorganise Punjabi by a vague resolution dated March 9, while the committee report was signed on March 15, 1966, a week later. It was a deliberate attempt to by-pass this Committee, and undermine its importance.

The Parliamentary Committee had come to these conclusions.

  1. The present State of Punjab be reorganised on a linguistic basis.

  2. The Punjabi region specified in the First Schedule to the Punjab Regional Committee Order, 1957 should form an unilingual Punjabi State.

The Government by-passed the Committee and forestalled its report. The subsequent reference to the Shah Commission was loaded heavily against Punjab. Making the 1961 Census as the basis and the tehsil (instead of village) as the unit was a deliberate design to punish the Sikhs. The language returns in the 1961 Census were on communal lines when Punjabi speaking Hindus falsely declared Hindi as their language. Therefore, the demarcation had to be on communal rather than on a linguistic basis. Consequently merit was again ignored and justice denied. Naturally tensions between the two communities increased. If Punjabi Suba had been demarcated simply on a linguistic basis, and not on false returns of 1961, there would not have been any extremist movement. Tension between Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab is bound to continue unless the communal section of Hindus see wisdom and retrace their steps by acknowledging Punjabi as their mother-tongue. If the Punjabi Hindus had not disowned their Punjabi and isolated the Sikhs, then a sense of Punjabi identity would have grown and suppressed Hindu and Sikh communalism. The Hindus who lied in the census, betrayed their Sikh brothers betrayed their language and culture and betrayed their own ancient land of Punjab and were responsible for its division on Hindu-Sikh basis.

The present agitation was started by one section of the Akalis, but the coercive and repressive policies of the Punjab Government has united all the different groups of Sikhs behind the morcha. The indiscriminate murders of innocent young Sikhs under the false pretext of encounters, and harassment of women, children and relatives, of the hunted person wanted by the police under real or cooked up charges, pushed all these families into a mass satyagraha which so far has fortunately remained peaceful, despite many political and communal provocations.

Gandhi and Nehru had made personal promises to the Sikhs before freedom, but soon after independence they embarked on the long term programme of anti-Sikh politics and policies. 35 years later, there is no end to it in sight. The Government bas never seen merit in any Sikh demand. The government has always felt encouraged in this direction by some extremist Punjabi Hindus who have always betrayed their Sikh brothers by opposing their constitutional demands however fair and justifiable they may be. If the facts of the Punjab problem were to be truly understood by the Hindus from outside the Hindi belt, they will feel ashamed of the action of their fellow Punjabi (now supposedly Hindi-speaking) Hindus and perhaps even disown them. I pray for the day when Hindus and Sikhs will again be united as one force”.

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