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Sikhs Demand Intl. Inquiry Charisinghpura Massacre

Sikhs Demand International Inquiry of Charisinghpura Massacre

By Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, President Council of Khalistan

There was a horrific raid on Sikh village of Charisinghpura in Kashmir in which thirty-nine Sikhs were brutally murdered. The massacre occurred in early hours of 20 March on the day President Clinton arrived in New Delhi on an official visit. The Indian Government and Press were quick to blame Muslim militants for the raid. But that is something hard to believe. The massacre took place in a village 50 miles south of Srinagar where seven units of the Indian Army are billeted and there is an ammunition depot a mile and a half away. The area is very secure where night-time curfew has been in force for eleven years. In any case, civilians have not been the targets of freedom fighters in Kashmir for many years. Mujahideen take particular care to avoid causing damage to Sikhs because they are sympathetic to their cause.

India, on the other hand, has been eager to portray the freedom fighters as wanton murderers. It is not surprising that Indian officials and the press have put the blame on Mujahideen. But the question arises why should they have spared the military targets in the area, carried out the massacre of Sikhs they never targeted in the past, right under the nose of seven army units, at a time when they were sure to get the worst possible publicity? It does not make sense. Clearly, the massacre was stage-managed by the Indian forces in Kashmir to draw attention of the world media gathered in large numbers to cover the Presidential visit to India. The aim is to demonise Pakistan and the freedom fighters in Kashmir. But there are other reasons.

Like the Muslims, the Sikhs are an oppressed minority in India. They have experienced youth cleansing of their villages that the Muslim villages in Kashmir are experiencing now. Following the attack on Durbar Sahib in 1984 and the revenge murder of Indira Gandhi, the police killed 25,000 Sikh youth in the Punjab. This is not an anecdote; this is the figure in the case filed before the Supreme Court of India by Jaswant Singh Khalra who has also since been murdered. The CBI, on the orders of the Supreme Court, investigated the "dis-appearance" of Sikh youth and confirmed extra judicial killing of 5000 youth. It came to light that after being taken from their villages by the police, the youth did not just disappear, they were lined up along canals and mowed down with machine guns. The corpses floated downstream and piled up against sluice gates where they were taken out and cremated as unidentified dead bodies. A Sikh delegation led by Simranjit Singh Mann, a member of Lok Sabha, was to meet President Clinton to highlight the gross violation of human rights in the Punjab and Sikh aspirations for autonomy. The massacre was stage-managed to sabotage that meeting. It was also synchronised with Hola Mohalla - annual Sikh festival - in the hope that Sikhs would direct and demonstrate their anger against Muslim militants in Kashmir. India has been frantic in its efforts to demonise Muslims. It now appears that it is even more eager to suppress Sikh demand for Khalistan and wants to undermine the growing warmth between Sikhs and Muslims.

India had been successful in keeping TV cameras out of the Punjab, Kashmir and Assam. What the TV cameras do not show the world does not see, the politicians can deny and the world can ignore. But India wanted this particular atrocity to be called to world attention. They wanted to use the large presence of the world press in India for their propaganda. The world press has often accepted the Indian spin on events in South Asia. India hopes that this massacre would help it discredit freedom movements in India.

This is typical of the way Official India thinks and acts. India must be stopped from its diabolical games that have cost thousands of lives of minority religions and low castes. If the governments do not have the guts to censure India, let the TV cameras expose the plight of the oppressed in India. The Government of India lies and bullies its way into being given a role on the world scene whereas it is a country that resorts to massacre and employs genocide against peoples that do not want to be a part of Hindu India. It needs to be reiterated that India is union of states like the Soviet Union was. The units have a right to leave the Union if they do not find proper place in the polity of India. But the polity of tolerance in India has atrophied and has been replaced by hatred, violence and repression. Sikhs in Punjab, Kashmiris and Assamese have struggled for leaving the Union for decades. It is time India understood that Union is not more important than the units. That wanton use of state violence does cement the Union, it is evidence that unity has started to rot and atrophy. India would have to allow its states the right to secede peacefully. That alone could validate the Union. The world can help if it did not ignore internal repression in India while it is offered carrots of international or regional role. India does not need to be appeased, it deserves to be shunned and punished.

The Sikhs want Pakistan and Kashmiri Mujahideen to solemnly affirm that they have not and will never hurt or damage the Sikhs. We request President Clinton to impress upon India that its treatment of freedom movements, of minorities and of low castes is reprehensible; genocidal operations by the armed forces of India against those who want to leave the Union are unacceptable. The Sikhs demand that denying of permission to TV cameras should be considered indicative of state committing crimes against its people. There should be international sanctions and outcry when world media is refused permission to enter a country or an area. Lastly, we demand an international inquiry to identify and expose those responsible for the massacre of Sikhs in Charisinghpura.


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