After several postponements, the Punjab Referendum Commission announced that the Punjab independence referendum would be held on October 31, 2021. The Commission was appointed by the US-based Khalistani separatist group Sikhs for Justice. The Commission ”consists of“ non-aligned direct democracy experts ”who are to organize and hold a referendum on the independence of the Punjab. The referendum will begin in London on Oct. 31 and will then take place in other countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and the Punjab region, the commission said.
The president of the commission, Mr. Dane Waters, based at the University of Southern California, specified that the role of the commission is “to help the SFJ to organize a referendum as conforms as possible to the international standards”. He added: “Although this is a non-governmental and non-binding referendum, the result will serve as the basis for the Sikh community to demand an official United Nations binding vote on the establishment of the Punjab region, ruled by India, as an independent homeland for the indigenous peoples of which the Sikhs are the most important group. Sikhs, following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by his bodyguards, broke out, killing 3,000 to 17,000 Sikhs.
India fought tooth and nail to prevent the planned referendum. He sent a dossier to the British government accusing Pakistan and Paramjit Singh Pamma, “an ordinary criminal”, of sponsoring the event. The UK rejected the request.
SFJ has promised help and assistance to those applying for visas to come to London to attend the rally. The organization has booked rooms in a hotel in the south, all for participants coming from outside the UK. From the British Green Party, which has only one MP in Westminster, Caroline Lucas and George Galloway, former MP and former broadcaster respectively, have expressed support for the rally. Lucas said: “The Sikhs have the right to determine for themselves whether they want to establish an independent Punjabi state.”
Why is India afraid of the non-binding referendum?
The Indian High Commission has planned a counter-demonstration at the same place a few hours before the “Referendum 2020” rally. India fears the referendum may open the wounds of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The riots resulted in the genocide of thousands of Sikhs. Not only Congress Party leaders like Sajan Kumar and Jagadish Tytler, but also the police colluded with the killers. Then Indian Foreign Minister and later Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “If Home Secretary Narisamha Rao had paid off IK Gujarat’s suggestion to call in the army, the Sikh riots in 1984 could have been avoided “.1984 Sikh riots could have been avoided if Narrasimha Rao had listened to IK Gujaral: Manmohan Singh, India Today December 5, 2019).
Desire for autonomy
Guru Gobind Singh called on Sikhs to adopt the Khalsa way of life. At the rally of 1699, Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa Vani – “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh“. He named all of his disciples with the title Singh, which means lion. He also founded the principles of Khalsa or the Five ‘K’, kara, kirpan, kachha, kais and kanga (a bracelet, underwear, long hair and a comb). The five K’s have a spiritual connotation.
Sikhs have long struggled against repression. In 1973, Akali Dal introduced the Anandpur Sahib resolution to demand more autonomy in the Punjab. He demanded that power generally devolve from central government to state governments. The Congressional government viewed the resolution as a secessionist document and rejected it.
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a prominent Sikh leader of Damdami Taksal, then joined Akali Dal to initiate Dharam Yudh Morcha in 1982 to implement the Anandpur Sahib resolution. Bhindranwale had gained prominence in the Sikh political circle with his policy of pushing through the Anandpur resolution. Others called for an autonomous state in India, on the basis of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution.
India has used iron fist tactics to stifle demand. The authoritarian police treated the protesters (Dharam Yudh Morcha) like ordinary criminals. Young Sikhs retaliated by launching an insurgency. In 1983, the situation in the Punjab was unstable.
Operation Blue Star
He was launched (June 1) “to remove him and the armed militants from the Golden Temple complex.” On June 6, Bhindranwale died in the operation. The operation in the temple sparked outrage among Sikhs and increased support for the Khalistan movement.
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi killed
Four months after the operation, on October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was murdered by her two Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. Public outcry over Gandhi’s death led to the murder of Sikhs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that followed.
Very few people have been punished. In Delhi, 442 rioters were convicted. Forty-nine were sentenced to life imprisonment and three others to more than 10 years in prison. Six Delhi police officers were punished for negligence during the riots. That month, the Karkardooma District Court in Delhi sentenced five people – Balwan Khokkar (former counselor), Mahender Yadav (former MP), Kishan Khokkar, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal – for inciting a mob against the Sikhs in Delhi cantonment. The court acquitted the leader of Congress, Sajjan Kumar. But, after revision, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In the first death sentence in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, Yashpal Singh was sentenced to death for the murder of two people, Hardev Singh, 24, and Avtar Singh, 26, in the neighborhood of Mahipal Pur, Delhi on November 1, 1984. Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey delivered judgment on November 20, 34 years after the crime was committed.
Ten commissions or committees were formed to investigate the riots. But, most of the defendants have either been acquitted or have never been formally charged. Commissions or committees include Marwah Commission, Misra Commission, Kapur Mittal Committee, Jain Banerjee Committee, Potti Rosha Committee, Jain Aggarwal Committee, Ahuja Committee, Dhillon Committee,
The Narula Committee and the most recent Nanavati Commission, headed by Judge GT Nanavati, submitted its 185-page report to Interior Minister Shivraj Patil on February 9, 2005; the report was tabled in Parliament on August 8 of the same year.
The Marwah Commission was appointed in November 1984. As Marwah finished his investigation in mid-1985, the Home Office abruptly ordered him not to go any further. The records of the Marwah Commission were appropriated by the government, and most (with the exception of Marwah’s handwritten notes) were subsequently turned over to the Misra Commission.
The Misra Commission was appointed in May 1985; Judge Rangnath Misra submitted his report in August 1986 and the report was released in February 1987. In his report he stated that it was not part of his mandate to identify one person and recommended the formation of three committees.
While the commission noted that there had been “widespread misconduct” on the part of the police, it concluded that “the allegations brought before the commission concerning the conduct of the police are more a matter of indifference and disregard. negligence during riots than any manifest wrongful act. “
The Kapur Mittal committee was appointed in February 1987 on the recommendation of the Misra commission to investigate the role of the police; the Marwah Commission had nearly completed a police investigation in 1985 when the government asked this committee not to continue. Although the committee recommended the dismissal of 30 of the 72 agents, none were sanctioned.
The Potti Rosha committee was appointed in March 1990 by the government VP Singh to succeed the Jain Banerjee committee. In August 1990, the committee issued recommendations for the classification of cases on the basis of affidavits submitted by victims of violence; there was one against Sajjan Kumar.
The Jain Aggarwal Committee was appointed in December 1990 to succeed the Potti Rosha Committee. The committee recommended that the cases against HKL Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Dharamdas Shastri and Jagdish Tytler be registered.
The Ahuja committee was the third committee recommended by the Misra commission to determine the total number of deaths in Delhi. According to the committee, which submitted its report in August 1987, 2,733 Sikhs were killed in the city.
The Dhillon Committee, headed by Gurdial Singh Dhillon, was appointed in 1985 to recommend measures to rehabilitate victims. Although the committee recommended ordering (nationalized) insurance companies to pay the indemnities, the government did not accept its recommendation and the indemnities were not paid.
The Narula Committee was appointed in December 1993 by the BJP government headed by Madan Lal Khurana in Delhi. One of the committee’s recommendations was to convince the central government to impose sanctions.
Khurana took up the matter with the central government, which in mid-1994 decided the matter was outside its jurisdiction and referred the matter to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. It took two years for the PV Narasimha Rao government to decide that this was outside its purview.
Narasimha Rao’s government has further delayed the case. The committee submitted its report in January 1994, recommending the registration of cases against HKL Bhagat and Sajjan Kumar. Despite the delay from the central government, the CBI filed the indictment in December 1994.
The Nanavati Commission was established in 2000 after some dissatisfaction was expressed with previous reports. The commission reported that the recorded accounts of victims and witnesses “indicate that local congressional leaders and workers either incited or aided the mobs to attack Sikhs.” His report also found evidence against Jagdish Tytler “to the effect that he had most likely participated in the organization of attacks against the Sikhs”. The commission’s report also cleared Rajiv Gandhi and other high-ranking members of the Congress (I) party of any involvement in the organization of riots against the Sikhs.
Role of Jagdish Tytler
In March 2009, the CBI cleared Tytler amid protests from Sikhs and opposition parties.
Right now, Sikhs are upset by the protracted protests by farmers and the mockery of political leaders. Ex-Punjabi chief minister Amarinder Singh’s rivals remind him that Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam, his sweetheart, is a Pakistani agent. Nevertheless, the referendum could gain momentum in the future.