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India is regarded as the world's biggest democracy, but it has one of the worlds worst records for human rights violations. It is a country that has part of its constitution religious, cultural and racial intolerance and prejudice.

Until the mid-nineteenth century (1839) the Sikhs had a large sovereign kingdom stretching from Delhi to the Afghanistan border. Which the British gained control over after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh due to the division of control of the kingdom. Treaties between the British & Punjab were formed directly with the former Sikh Kingdom and not part of India - and Punjab was treated as an independent entity.

Before post-independence the British government had envisaged a division of Inida dominated by the three distinct religious segments of India (namely the Hindus, Muslims and the Sikhs).

Assurances and promises were give to the Sikhs during a 30 year independence struggle leading up to Indian Independence by M. K. Gandhi, J. Nehru and other Congress leaders, that the Sikhs were in a common struggle for independence, and the Sikhs were persuaded to join Congress in this struggle. In 1929 Nehru had formally stated the following commitment to the Sikhs of Punjab:

"The brave Sikhs of Punjab are entitled to special consideration. I
see nothing wrong in an area and a set-up in the North of India where
the Sikhs can experience the growth of freedom"

Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 reiterated the following promise to the Sikhs of their struggle at Gudwara Sisgang in Delhi:

"I ask you to accept my word & resolution of the Congress that
it will not betray a single individual, much less a community (the
if it ever thinks of doing so, it will not only hasten its own doom,
but also of the country too".

After India Independence these promises given by Congress evaporated. A secret circular was sent by the Home Minister V. B. Patel stating that all Sikhs should be treated like "criminal tribes" especially those migrating from west-Punjab into East-Punjab, as these people need to recrognise "who are the masters and who are the Slaves".

In 1950 the Indian Constitution Article 25 regarded the Sikhs as being categorised Hindus, which deeply offended the Sikhs. As a result the Sikhs refused to accept the Inidian Constitution in its intended form and refused to agree and sign it. The Indian Constitution was signed and agreed without the participation and recognition of the Sikh laws and community.

Congress later refused to recognise the boundaries of the former East-Punjab and Punjab was further divided into Haryana, extension of Himacheal Pardesh and later the separation of Chandigarhe (which was the capital city of East-Punjab).

Punjab was being forced to adopt Hindi as its formal language and the rejection of Punjabi as its state language and also the adoption of Tamil (from South India - which had not significant cultural links with the Punjabi people) as a alternative language in Punjab was proposed - which went against the former pre-independence promises given to the Sikhs of Punjab by Congress leaders. The rejection of the Punjabi language was further encouraged and agitated the Sikhs by extreme-Hindu movements like the RSS. These groups created a lot of anti-Sikh hysteria in Punjab against the Sikhs in the 1950's.

When Nehru was reminded of his pre-independence promises, Nehru replied "the circumstance have now changed" as the Hindus were now in power and the Sikhs were a minority.

In addtion to this the farmers of Punjab were required to pay more for there farming input and were given lower prices for their output than their neighbouring states - which was controlled by the state central government. Similar situations were also applied to the electricity that was generated and supplied in Punjab, which was then denied its fair share of supply of its generated electricity. Further the water that was flowing through the state of Punjab was artificially channelled (through concrete rivers) to other non- farming states, which will have a devastating effect on the ecological natural wealth of the faming potential of Punjab in the coming 20 years. Punjab is the only state in India that has its rivers controlled by the central government - all other states control and manages its own natural resources including their rivers.

Very little has been invested in Punjab since independence, and the central government stated that Punjab should support and share its health in the prosperity of the remainder of India that is not as wealthy as Punjab. Things have changed in today's Punjab, where other states are now allot wealthier than Punjab. The political leaders of other states in India are encouraged to bring foreign economical wealth into its states, whereas the Punjabi leaders are going to other states to bring the remaining and rejected wealth to Punjab.

Punjab today is a state that has many wounds that are still healing; these are from the time of independence and from the suffering and damage caused during the many military operations against Sikhs such as Bluestar in 1984 an attack on the thrown of the Sikh kingdom (Hamandar Sahib - Golden Temple) and dozens of other Sikh temples throughout Punjab by the Army under orders of the Indian government. Life has certainly been extremely difficult for the Punjabi people (both Sikhs and Hindus) but the consequences of the damage done to Punjab and its people runs far deeper. Today in Punjab people are happy to see some degree of harmony being bought to the state but the long-term consequences will be far worse than any other state of India. In addition to this the damage that is being inflicted on the Sikh religion goes far further than a request for independence, but rather the destruction of the Sikh religion by cults such as the Radaswamis, Namdharis and Nirankaris who are destroying the true scripts of our true Guru ji's.

Article by: Parminder Singh, with thanks