On 18 June 2023, police recovered dead body of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, president of Sikh Gurdawara in Surrey in Canada’s British Columbia province from a car parked in the parking area of said Gurdawara, Nijjar’s body was bearing close range multiple gun shots. He was care-taker of the Gurdawara at its parking area his dead body was found. Nijjar was the head of Khalistan Tiger Force and active in the forum Sikhs for Justice – a collective voice that highlights the injustices against Sikhs in India
Diaspora has been raising its voice over the continuous security forces operation against Sikhs in India. Thus, Modi regime has now started highhandedness against the Sikh Diaspora.
Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the 15th century, emerged as a distinct religion in the Punjab region of South Asia. Sikhism’s core principles include equality, justice, and standing against oppression. Throughout history, Sikhs have faced numerous challenges and conflicts in their pursuit of religious freedom and self-determination.
Hindu supremacist attacks refer to acts of violence, discrimination, and persecution targeting the Sikh community by individuals or groups driven by extremist Hindu ideologies. These attacks aim to marginalize, oppress, and undermine the Sikh community’s identity, rights, and aspirations.
Historical Context of Sikh-Hindu Relations
Sikhism emerged in the context of a religiously diverse South Asia, with influences from Hinduism and Islam. Guru Nanak Dev Ji and subsequent Sikh Gurus sought to create a distinct spiritual path, incorporating elements of both faiths while emphasizing the unique principles of Sikhism.
Sikh-Hindu tensions can be traced back to historical events and ideological differences. Conflicts arose due to varying religious practices, social norms, and political power struggles. Sikh Gurus and their followers faced persecution and violence, particularly during the Mughal Empire’s rule.
Hindu supremacist ideologies promote the dominance of Hindu religious and cultural practices, often at the expense of other religious minorities. These ideologies have had an impact on the Sikh community, leading to discriminatory attitudes, acts of violence, and attempts to undermine Sikh identity and aspirations for self-rule.
Sikhism’s Struggle for Independence
Sikh history is marked by numerous instances of resistance against Mughal and Afghan invasions in the Punjab region. Sikh warriors, known as Khalsa, fought to defend their faith, land, and communities from external aggression. The resistance movements embodied Sikh principles of courage, selfless service, and standing against injustice.
Sikh political and military movements emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, seeking self-rule and sovereignty for the Sikh community. Leaders such as Maharaja Ranjit Singh established a Sikh empire, encompassing significant parts of present-day Punjab.
The Sikh community has expressed aspirations for a sovereign Sikh state, often referred to as Khalistan. These aspirations are rooted in a desire for self-determination, protection of Sikh identity, and the ability to govern their own affairs. However, the pursuit of Khalistan has been a subject of debate and contention within the Sikh community.
Hindu Supremacist Attacks on Sikhs
Sikhs in India have long faced discrimination and marginalization, often due to their distinct religious identity. This discrimination can manifest in various forms, including limited access to resources, educational and employment opportunities, and political representation. Sikh individuals and communities have been treated as second-class citizens, leading to social and economic disparities.
On 15 June 2023, 35 year old Avtar Singh Khanda , a Khalistan movement leader poisoned to death. Khanda suddenly felt unease and was rushed to a hospital in Birmingham (UK) where he mysteriously died. Khanda had developed “excessive blood clots” that caused serious and fatal complications – indicating he has been poisoned or administered something that caused clotting of the blood. He was in the forefront of the protest demonstration (May 2023) staged in front of Indian mission in UK where Indian national flag was brought down and Khalistan flag was hoisted.
Sikhs have been the target of numerous violent attacks and hate crimes perpetrated by individuals or groups influenced by Hindu supremacist ideologies. These attacks may be driven by religious intolerance, prejudice, or a desire to assert Hindu dominance. Sikhs have been subjected to physical assaults, mob violence, arson, and desecration of Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship). One of the most devastating instances of Hindu supremacist attacks on Sikhs is the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India.
Sikhism’s Resilience and Pursuit of Equality
Sikhism is rooted in principles of equality, justice, and compassion. Sikh teachings emphasize the importance of standing against injustice and defending the rights of all individuals, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. Sikhism’s emphasis on selfless service and community support has enabled the Sikh community to navigate challenges with resilience and continue their pursuit of equality.
The Sikh community has established numerous grassroots initiatives and organizations that actively advocate for Sikh rights, justice, and inclusivity. These organizations raise awareness, provide legal assistance to victims of discrimination and violence, and promote Sikh identity and values. They play a vital role in empowering the Sikh community and working towards a more equitable society.
Sikhs have made significant efforts to promote recognition and inclusivity within India and internationally. They strive to educate others about Sikhism, challenge stereotypes, and create platforms for dialogue and understanding. The Sikh community actively engages with governments, organizations, and institutions to advocate for equal rights and representation.
International Perspective and Solidarity
Hindu supremacist attacks on Sikhs have drawn attention and condemnation from the international community. Governments, human rights organizations, and individuals have expressed concern about the targeted violence and discrimination faced by Sikhs. Statements, reports, and diplomatic engagements have highlighted the importance of protecting the rights and safety of the Sikh community.
Solidarity movements have emerged globally, with individuals and organizations standing in support of Sikh rights and justice. These movements raise awareness, mobilize resources, and engage in advocacy to address the challenges faced by Sikhs. Solidarity extends beyond the Sikh community, with diverse groups recognizing the importance of combating hate, discrimination, and violence against Sikhs.
International organizations, such as the United Nations and human rights bodies, play a significant role in addressing Sikh concerns and advocating for their rights. Reports, resolutions, and mechanisms for monitoring and reporting human rights violations contribute to the recognition and protection of Sikh rights at the global level.
Sikhs have endured discrimination, violence, and marginalization due to Hindu supremacist attacks. From historical persecution to recent instances of hate crimes, these challenges have impacted the Sikh community and hindered their pursuit of equality, justice, and religious freedom.
Muhammad Wasama Khalid is a Correspondent and Researcher at Global Affairs. He is pursuing his Bachelors in International Relations at National Defense University (NDU). He has a profound interest in history, politics, current affairs, and international relations. He is an author of Global village space, Global defense insight, Global Affairs, and modern diplomacy. He tweets at @Wasama Khalid and can be reached at Wasamakhalid@gmail.com