LAHORE, Pakistan: Hundreds of Sikhs participated in a peaceful protest here last week on June 6 in front of the Punjab Assembly to commemorate the 1984 Indian Army’s attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar. They came from across Pakistan: Nankana Sahib, Narowal, Peshawar, and from the Sindh province. Gopal Singh Chawla, Chairman of the Punjabi Sikh Sangat, organized the protest to unite Sikhs in Pakistan in condemning and educating on what happened to Sikhs in June 1984.
Ramesh Singh Arora, first Sikh MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) of Punjab, also attended and took time to reflect on what happened to Sikhs in June 1984. He told me that this peaceful protest is important for Sikhs and also shows how Pakistan has created a space for sharing this chapter of history.
Veer-G from Kartarpur Sahib, who also participated in the protest, told me: “The sixth of June is that time when images and pictures clearly show what happened to Sikhs in 1984. These photographs along Mall Road move me and evoke pain when I see in front of my eyes how the Indian government’s regime killed our innocent brothers, sisters and kids. Those killed come in our dreams and ask us if ever we will get justice.”
Sardar Bhai Sham Singh, past president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), remembered the time when he stood alone 30 years ago on Mall Road. At the time, he was the first and sole person protesting and chanting slogans against India, exposing how “our brothers and sisters have been massacred.”
He was joyful to see such a large number of Sikh youth in attendance, saying it was good that there was more realization about their history and a greater understanding of what has happened to Sikhs.
All along Government Road near the Punjab Assembly, posters and banners with images of Operation Blue Star were put up. One poster read: “We have not forgotten the pain. Thirty years later, it is still in the present.”
Sikh youth from Nankana Sahib and Peshawar performed short skits re-enacting historical facts of Operation Blue Star. On another stage, red rose petals were spread across a white cloth, symbolizing the blood that was shed, and there were white bags, symbolizing the bodies of the “shaheeds” (martyrs) of 1984.
The Sikhs then walked to the Punjab Assembly to present a memorandum commemorating the 30th anniversary of the attack on the Golden Temple and stating the human rights violations carried out by Indian government to Rana Mohammad Iqbal, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, to be forwarded to the authorities concerned.
I met and spoke with Mr. Iqbal at the Punjab Assembly and he was very open to listening to issues involving Sikhs including Sikh Shrines, Sikh citizens of Pakistan and Sikh history.
Standing in solidarity with Sikhs in Pakistan to remember 1984, I too have felt and learned that when you stand firm about historical wrongs against a people and are serious about it, it engenders a strong spirit for the greater good of humanity.
BY INDIRA PRAHST