Monday, December 01, 2008

A Fresh Perspective On Attack By Militants In Mumbai

The massacre by militants in Mumbai is deplorale and has rightly been widely condemned. The Sikh community has lost many in the Mumbai carnage and have been taking their role in the efforts to help deal with the tragedy. SikhSangat News reported on the work of one group of volunteer Sikhs who seeing the carnage on television, sprang into action and set up food shelters and soup kitchens so that the security forces and the needy had food. Several Gurdwaras made food day and night which was served to the needy at the Taj and Oberoi.

However, for Sikhs this tragedy is made worse by the historic context in which it takes place. The Indian Government, military as well as western and indian media such as Associated Press, Telegraph, Asia Times, have been quick to label the militants as being part of Islamic groups based in Pakistan. But in 2000 a similar massacre took place in Kashmir, this time it was the Sikh community that was massacred. The BBC reported:

The Indian army and security forces maintain that it was carried out by militants as a means of highlighting world attention to the Kashmir conflict during President Clinton's visit to India.
Many separatist groups, meanwhile, say that the killings were carried out by the security forces to create negative propaganda against Pakistan.


However by 2007 the truth began to surface. The Indian Army was blamed repeatedly for human rights abuses here, most recently by a 156-page report released last October by Human Rights Watch, which detailed dozens of cases in which, it said, the state had failed to hold its security forces accountable for suspected abductions, killings and detentions. The New York Times reported on how the Indian Army and Central Reserve Police Force were tied to the massacre. Even President Clinton publicly criticised the Indian Government for their role in the massacre.


Similarly in November 1984, the western and indian media did little whilst the Indian Government conducted State-Sponsored Terrorism in Delhi. Due to media blackout the minimal media coverage described the situation as "communal riots" whilst huge gangs massacred tens of thousands of Sikhs as they slept in their homes. Police ordered any gathered Sikhs to disperse and return home whilst they allowed armed gangs to conduct a large-scale Pogrom. In many instances, survivors stated the Police took a very active role in the Pogrom.

So in seeking to understand the complexity of the situation in Mumbai one must understand that the Indian Government too has taken part in State-Sponsored Terrorism of the worst kind in many recent events. Human rights abuses by the Police, Army and Paramilitary are rife throughout India and the Ethnic minority communities such as Christians, Sikhs and Muslims have consistently been the targets.

If India truly wishes to emerge as a "democracy" then it must provide justice, liberty and freedom to its people. Justice to those killed in November 1984, Liberty to the Ethnic minorities that live in India and Freedom in terms of amending the consitution to recognise the religious freedom of Sikhism as a distinct faith as western countries do and stopping the abuse of emergency powers and TADA laws by the State to sanction mass killings.

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