30 years after one of the most horrific attacks on the people of the Sikh faith, the Army attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the deep anger among our people at this indignity persists. To condemn the Indian state for this terrible crime, and to further develop the unity of our people against state terrorism and state organized communal massacres, Lok Raj Sangathan organized a public meeting in New Delhi on June 8, 2014. The response from the people to this meeting was overwhelming.
All those who spoke in this meeting were unanimous in their condemnation of the barbaric assault on the Golden Temple by the Indian state. They pointed out that Operation Blue Star was similar to the massacre carried out by the British colonial army at Jallianwala Bagh. Just like the British rulers encircled the place and killed those trapped inside, the Indian government dealt mercilessly with those trapped inside the Golden Temple. With numerous facts, the speakers showed that the attack on the Golden Temple was planned over a year in advance, and the Indian state was closely coordinating with the British imperialists in planning this attack.
The speakers unanimously rejected the justification of the Indian state for its attack on the Golden Temple, that it had “No choice”. They pointed out that the then government of India had decided that a military attack on the Golden Temple and the widespread targeting of the people of the Sikh faith was a political necessity for the ruling class. The government was not interested in a negotiated settlement on the issues raised by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, or the Akali Dal.
Addressing the gathering, the President of Lok Raj Sangathan Shri S Raghavan pointed out that it is the duty of the State to defend every citizen’s right to conscience, that is, the right to follow one’s own beliefs. When the State unleashes force against people of a particular religious faith, it is a communal act and a monstrous crime against the people.
In his speech, Shri Raghavan emphasized on the following important points, amongst others.
Operation Blue Star was aimed at further communalizing the climate in Punjab and the rest of the country, rousing passions and setting people against each other on the basis of their religious beliefs. It was the beginning of an entire period of open state terror to suppress the voice of the people. A political movement of Punjabis, for national rights and for workers’ and peasants’ rights, was turned into a “law and order” problem.
The Central Government headed by Indira Gandhi deliberately lied that the country was under threat from Sikh terrorism and fundamentalism and that there was no alternative to an army attack on the Golden Temple.
The repeated occurrence of communal violence and state terror in independent India, sometimes targeted at one community and sometimes at another, shows that the colonial method of divide and rule continues to this day. Even the laws and criminal procedure code remain what they were in colonial times, treating the vast majority of Indians as criminals. Parties that rule in the people’s name wield the State against the people and get away with every kind of crime.
Establishing the truth about Operation Blue Star is an important step towards punishing the guilty and preventing the recurrence of such horrendous crimes. However, we cannot rely on the ruling party or any other agency of the existing State to establish the truth. This is because the existing State is based on colonial and communal foundations. It treats our people as enemies, just the way the colonial raj treated us.
The people cannot rely on any international agency to deliver justice. This is because the most criminal imperialist states that practice racism, communalism and disinformation to justify trampling on people’s rights, are dominating world affairs today.
It is only the united struggle of our people that can unravel the truth and open the path to a solution to the problem, he said. We need to defend the rights of all, considering an attack on one to be an attack on all.
Shri Raghavan concluded his speech calling on all democratic and progressive organisations and individuals to unite around the program for the democratic renewal of India, for the creation of a State that will defend the rights of all Indians without exception, including the right to conscience and all other human, democratic and national rights.
Shri N.D. Pancholi narrated how the various investigations he had headed and participated in brought to light that the just demands of the people of Punjab were manipulated by the Indian state and its agencies and portrayed as a problem of ‘Sikh terrorism’, to justify Operation Blue Star and the reign of state terror all over Punjab, with the aim of driving a wedge between Hindus and Sikhs. The principle demand of the Akalis was for restructuring the center-state relations to give more powers to states. This was the content of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. The Central Government deliberately turned truth on its head and portrayed that the Akalis and the Sikhs were a threat to “national unity and territorial integrity”. On this basis, chauvinist anti Sikh hysteria was whipped up amongst the rest of the people of the country. The massacre of Sikhs in November 1984 in Delhi, as well as the killing of thousands of Sikh youth in fake encounters were all part of deliberate policy, he pointed out.
Shri Rajvinder Singh Bains elaborated on how the imperialists and reactionary ruling classes routinely use ‘false flag operations’ to militarily crush the opposition of the peoples, blaming the victims themselves as the alleged cause. Pointing to the examples of the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, he showed how the attack on the Golden Temple 30 years ago was precisely such an operation, which the government claimed it was forced to undertake to allegedly save Hindus from massacre by Sikh terrorists.
Shri Bains pointed out that the Central government had deliberately discriminated against Punjabis and Sikhs ever since partition. Thus when the linguistic reorganization of states was carried out in the 1950’s Punjab was left out. The people of Punjab, particularly Sikhs, had to carry out numerous agitations to get a Punjabi language speaking state. However even in this, the Central Government played a treacherous game by asking Punjabis of the Hindu faith to report their mother tongue as Hindi. In this manner, many Punjabi speaking areas were left out of the new state of Punjab. He concluded that the Central Government has never been interested in a just solution to the problems facing the people of Punjab, or the concerns of the Sikhs.
Comrade Prakash Rao of the Communist Ghadar Party of India declared that just because someone has a different political viewpoint is no justification for murdering them. The Indian state had no right to carry out the slaughter of Sikhs in the Golden Temple, and in other places in Punjab and Delhi. Our Party had a different vision of the solution to the problems facing the people of Punjab, and India then the vision of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. But this did not mean we should support the barbarous attack on the Golden Temple and the assassination of Sant Bhindranwale.
Our Party launched a world wide campaign to condemn the assault on the Golden Temple, and expose the disinformation campaign of the Indian state. Immediately following the attack on the Golden Temple, our comrades organized public meetings mobilising the masses against this attack, in London, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and other cities of UK and Canada. In Delhi and Punjab, under conditions of fascist repression, our comrades boldly postered and leafleted condemning the attack. So worried was the Indian state at the mobilization of the Punjabi community in North America and Britain by our Party against the Central State, that on June 23, 2014, the then President of India Giani Zail Singh advised the government to ban the Communist Ghadar Party.
Prakash Rao explained that Operation Blue Star represented a turning point in Indian politics. The Indian bourgeoisie, in its drive to become a world class imperialist power, wanted to crush the opposition of the workers and peasants. In service of their aim, their political parties such as the Congress and the BJP whipped up communal passions, to divide the workers and peasants along communal lines. Anti-Sikh hysteria was spread and the Sikhs were portrayed as anti-national, enemies of national unity and integrity. The political demands of the people of Punjab were treated as a “law and order problem”. In the name of destroying the “enemies of India’s unity and integrity”, the working class was called upon to line up behind the policy of state terrorism.
He pointed out that turning truth on its head, the Sikhs were accused of planning to slaughter Hindus, where in fact, the Indian state was planning to slaughter people of Sikh faith. The Sikhs were portrayed as being communal, whereas in fact it was the Indian state which was deliberately whipping up communal passions against people of the Sikh faith. Further, the state deliberately organized the murder of innocent Hindus, and blamed “Sikh terrorists” for the same.
Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out that we must be very clear that the foundations of this state are communal. For the ruling class, targeting this or that community is a preferred policy, a way to defend its rule by keeping people divided. The ruling bourgeoisie rules through both the ballot and the bullet. This is the experience of our people since independence. The bourgeoisie holds elections periodically so that when a Party in power gets discredited amongst the workers and peasants, then another party of the ruling bourgeoisie can replace it. Whichever party that comes to power in this system, will necessarily implement the program and policy of the ruling bourgeoisie. We must have no illusions about this. The Parties that come to power are mere management teams. It is the bourgeoisie that decides which party to turn from a zero to a hero, and which from a hero to a zero.
Elections do not change the state. They only lead to replacing one government of the bourgeoisie with another government of the bourgeoisie. As long as the bourgeoisie continues to rule, the exploitation and oppression of our people will only intensify. We must not have illusions that some clean party can come to power and actually solve the problems of workers and peasants.
What India needs is that the working class and peasantry and all the exploited and oppressed rise up and overthrow the present state of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and establish the rule of workers and peasants in its place. Our Party is working steadfastedly towards this goal.
Shri Jarnail Singh showed, through various facts, how Operation Blue Star was intended to insult and injure the sentiments of the Sikhs, a community known for its militant service in defence of the country, to crush the growing struggle of the people of Punjab for their rights, to divide the people of Punjab along communal lines and strengthen the domination of the Centre over this important border state.
A large number of youth made important contributions to the discussion.
Summing up the discussion, LRS All India Council member Sucharita raised the immediate and urgent need to end the marginalization of the people in the political system and process today. It is because people have no control over their elected political representatives that parties like the Congress and BJP can get away with all their crimes against us. We have to carry on the struggle for people to have the right to select their own candidates for election, to hold their elected representatives accountable to the electorate and to recall them at any time, to make laws and participate in making important decisions affecting the society.
- to carry forward the struggle to establish the truth about Operation Blue Star;
- to defend the right of every Indian to his or her conscience, and to oppose any attack on anyone’s right to conscience as an attack on all of us and our unity;
- to work together for the creation of a State that will respect and protect the rights of all, including the right to conscience and all other human, democratic and national rights.