Discover more from The Real Story
The Myths That Sustain Khalistan To This Day
"The extremists have support from the Sikhs in Canada." True all those years ago. True still. Final instalment in a series. No paywall.
"Khalistan already exists. Punjab is not a part of India anymore. The terrorists are in control now.”
My problem is I know where the bodies are buried
Full disclosure: The Khalistanis don’t like me one bit. They don’t like me because I was a kid reporter filing to the Globe and Mail from Delhi and Amritsar back when Khalistan, for all intents and purposes, was a reality. An entire generation of Sikhs has grown up in the milieu of obscene lies in the place of the true story of the horrible events that unfolded back then.
That’s one reason why this story matters. It’s not just about what happened in the 1980s. It’s about what’s happening right now.
It matters because the Trudeau government’s refusal to give the cause a name and its quiet accommodation of the Khalistanis’ historical revisionism is putting Canada’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy at risk. That strategy was supposed to encompass a tectonic shift away from the catastrophic folly of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s root-and-branch embrace of Xi Jinping’s China. It would not be a stretch to say that within the Trudeau government there is a lingering sentiment that would be quite content to have the Indo-Pacific Strategy fall to pieces.
It matters for a whole bunch of reasons that I’ve gone into in previous instalments of this series, Is India Interfering In Canada's Affairs? Or is it the other way around? The series began as a detailing of the backstory to my column in the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen, 'Killers' poster points to Canada's failure to crack down on Khalistani extremism.
The backstory involves the persistence, to this day, of the same political, intelligence and law-enforcement failure that led to the worst act of terrorism in civil-aviation history prior to 9/11, and the worst mass murder in Canadian history: the Air India atrocity of 1985.
This last entry will provide first-hand, eyewitness evidence that I have been quite rudely discouraged, you might say, from remembering. The Sikh ethnostate the Khalistanis want to revive, and which the Sikhs of India want nothing to do with, is what this edition of the Real Story is about. It’s what the Air India bomb plotter Talwinder Singh Parmar was about and what the Khalistanis’ revered “saint,” Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, was about.
No paywall today, but if you support this kind of in-depth journalism, and you want to get inside all the previous instalments in this series, you know what to do. Just click here.
Part 1: To the extent that the Indian government is “interfering” in Canada, its verified activity is not entirely unwarranted. Ottawa has proven time and time again that it can’t be trusted to keep a lid on threats to India’s national security. Part 2: Did Ottawa Sabotage Modi's Peace Talks? Bonus content on how conspiracy theories end up in the news media. Part 3: How the most fantastical conspiracy theory about Indian spies was put in play by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s own national security adviser. Bonus content: How the Trudeau government has rewritten intelligence reports on terrorist financing and terror threats in Canada to expunge all references to Sikh extremism and to Khalistan.
Khalistani myths about a Sikh “freedom struggle” in India
Revisionism redux: Sikhs in India are slaves. They are oppressed by Hindus. They live in constant threat of another genocide of the kind that occurred in 1984 after Indira Gandhi was assassinated for carrying out a bloody desecration of the Golden Temple Complex in Amristar. Operation Bluestar was the Indian government’s cruel response to the Sikhs’ demands for political and religious autonomy.
This is fiction. Operation Bluestar was a bloody debacle. The revenge riots against Sikhs after the assassination of Gandhi were horrific. But India had been brought to its knees well before Operation Bluestar, and the Khalistanis were openly agitating for Gandhi’s assassination well before Operation Bluestar. It’s true that there had been a political movement for greater autonomy in Punjab. But the Khalistanis put it to the sword.
The Khalistani terror could not go on. By the time of Operation Bluestar, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Talwinder Singh Parmar and their theocratic-fascist militias had butchered hundreds of innocent Sikhs and Hindus.
It was the Khalistanis themselves who had desecrated the Golden Temple Complex by turning it into an armed camp of assassins and throat-slitters, safe in the sacred redoubt owing to Gandhi’s refusal to violate the sanctity of the Harimandir Sahib by sending troops in to roust them. This went on for two long and gory years, and the Khalistanis were offering a reward for Gandhi’s assassination all along.
The whole Khalistani cause is based on ludicrous historical revisionism. It also demands the dismissal of every savagery carried out in the Khalistani cause as either a propaganda “narrative” of the Indian government or an action undertaken by the Indian government itself in order to blame it on Sikhs. The gangland hit last month of Surrey’s Hardeep Singh Najjar is just the most recent example. We’re supposed to believe it was arranged by India’s Narendra Modi.
Just to illustrate how deep the rot of this myth-making goes in Canada, it’s useful to remember the newly-elected NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s 2017 interview with the CBC’s Terry Milewski.
Singh had constructed his political persona around his Sikh identity. He’d burnished his credentials by championing Sikh grievances and at one point had argued for clemency in the case of a Babbar Khalsa slaughterer of Punjab’s chief minister and 17 bystanders. So it was hardly offside for Milewski to ask Singh’s opinion of the fact that in certain major Sikh temples in Canada, it was commonplace to encounter the glorification of Babbar Khalsa’s Air India atrocity mastermind, Talwinder Singh Parmar. After all, Milewski had quizzed several non-Sikh politicians along similar lines.
Singh dodged the question several times, at one point suggesting that there was no evidence that Parmar was behind the mass murder, despite voluminous testimony and the findings of the Air India trials and the conclusions of Justice John Major’s Air India Inquiry. Khalistani propaganda routinely casts the Air India bombing as a false-flag plot carried out by the Indian government itself to discredit Sikhs.
Singh said to Milewski: “I don’t know who was responsible, but I think we need to find out who’s truly responsible.” This was like dismissing all the evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy. It took his own caucus in open revolt for Singh to finally allow that no, Milewski’s question wasn’t racist and yes, it looks like the bomb-plot mastermind was Parmar, after all.
A lot of work goes into The Real Story. Consider becoming a paid subscriber. You’ll do your conscience a world of good.
Talwinder and Me.
Babbar Khalsa was perhaps the most notorious of the theocratic fascist terror militias active in Punjab in the 1980s. I’d first interviewed Parmar years before Air India when he was passing himself off to Canadian journalists as a humble Canadian sawmill worker and a “simple Sikh preacher” who was being persecuted by India, even while he was wanted in India on several murder charges going back to the 1970s.
From the safe distance of his mansion in Burnaby, B.C., Parmar commanded a small army of assassins holed up in a heavily-fortified four-story bunker inside Amritsar’s Golden Temple Complex. A full year before the Air India atrocity, at that bunker, I spent an afternoon with Sukhdev Singh, Parmar’s hand-picked lieutenant.
Commander Singh boasted to me about the many assassinations his thugs had carried out on Parmar’s instructions. Meanwhile, Parmar came and went, to and from Pakistan, and to and from Germany, without any bother from the Canadian government.
Back then, Khalistan was real, and it was a horror show.
Don’t believe me? Fine.
From my clippings file, from a few days in April, 1984:
AMRITSAR, India (AP): Police found the dismembered bodies of two women and a man near this Sikh city yesterday, the latest victims of a vendetta within the ranks of Punjabi Sikhs. Authorities also said Sikh gunmen killed a Hindu politician and two guardsmen as a new wave of terrorism swept Punjab state. . . A Sikh lawyer, Gurbachan Singh Sandhu, and his wife were also killed by Sikh rivals in Billa village outside Amritsar. Their bodies were found hacked to pieces. . .
NEW DELHI (Reuter) Nearly 50 policemen were injured yesterday as law enforcement officials clashed with rioting Hindus in Chandigarh, the state capital of Punjab, in an unsuccessful attempt to break up protests against Sikh extremist attacks. . .
NEW DELHI (Reuter) In a spate of bloody revenge, Sikh extremists in India’s Punjab state yesterday hacked to pieces the alleged assassin of one of their leaders, and shot dead two other men. . . Police said the mutilated body of Surinder Singh Sodhi’s suspected killer, Surinder Singh Chinda, was found decapitated and cut into several pieces by sword, a traditional form of execution for Sikh traitors. His head was crushed and found lying some distance from his dismembered body. . .
I’d slipped into Punjab on a night train from the old Delhi train station while migrant Bihari farmworkers were rioting and railway police were subjecting the crowds to “lathi charges” as the Biharis tried to make their way in the chaos to their usual work in Punjab’s rabi harvest. Distracted, the police didn’t notice me on the train. This is a brief article from that day:
AMRITSAR (Associated Press and Reuter) Sikh extremists operating in commando-style bands set fire to 31 rural train stations bombed four others and sabotaged rail lines and communication facilities in Punjab yesterday. The Indian government sent 2,000 railway police reinforcements to the nothern state.
It was an interesting journey to Amritsar, passing by all those smouldering train stations along the way. Here’s one of the stories I filed to the Globe and Mail. It’s mostly about my encounter with the sainted Bhindranwale. He was always coy about whether his demands included a separate Sikh state, but he was also perfectly honest about what Punjab should like like: Sikhs ruling like lions, and everyone else doing what they were bloody well told.
The implacable heart of Punjab's agony: Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale presides over death and terror from Sikhism's holy shrine
Terry Glavin, Special to The Globe and Mail, 30 April 1984, Page One.
AMRITSAR - A tall, gaunt, bearded figure, dressed in a flowing white tunic and a bright orange turban, moves between the marble pillars of a balcony overlooking the ancient Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhism. A sword hangs in its sheath from one shoulder, a cartridge belt and a revolver from the other.
He is surrounded by young men with sten guns and bolt-action rifles. About 250 of his followers sit cross-legged on the floor.
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, 37, the most powerful Sikh religious leader in India, takes a spear from one of his guards, holds it above his head and begins his sermon.
"For every right or demand to be won, the Sikhs will have to go to jail by the thousands, to fly through the air with our swords. The Government is killing the Sikhs, but not the Hindus. I will chop off my head and hand it to you if any Hindu has been arrested or imprisoned by the Government."
What began two years ago in the state of Punjab as a campaign of civil disobedience for economic and religious concessions from the Indian Government has turned into a holy war, with Mr. Bhindranwale as its messiah. The Golden Temple complex in this ancient city has become a sandbagged fortress, where heavily armed warriors take refuge from pursuing police.
The Morcha, the campaign of civil disobedience, continues in spirit only under the leadership of Harchand Singh Longowal, president of the Akali Dal party, the Sikhs' main political voice in Punjab. Mr. Longowal sits in a modest office in the Golden Temple complex, an almost forgotten figure, appealing for an end to the sectarian killings and forming committees to lessen the tensions among Sikh leaders.
From the Akal Takhat, a magnificent edifice overlooking the shimmering pool that surrounds the Golden Temple, Mr. Bhindranwale continues his sermon. Hindus are raping Sikh women, he tells the silent crowd. Hindus loot Sikh shops in the bazaars and go free. Hindus desecrate Sikh temples. Hindu officers are killing and torturing Sikh soldiers in the Indian Army . . .
Until two years ago, Mr. Bhindranwale, a poorly educated preacher from the villages, was revered only by the Nihangs, the remnants of a seventeenth-century religious militia whose members patrol the Golden Temple buildings in medieval warrior attire. Now, villagers travel to Amritsar from miles around to seek his guidance in everything from minor family quarrels to major property disputes.
During the course of an interview, his followers were ushered into his chamber in a steady parade. They knelt before him and slipped rolls of rupee notes on to a growing pile of money behind his cot.
Few political leaders in Punjab dare to criticize Mr. Bhindranwale. He regularly curses his detractors in his fiery sermons, and they often end up on a "hit list" compiled by his followers. The victims have included legislators, newspaper editors and poets.
In Punjab's villages and towns, paramilitary police file in columns through the dusty streets with their automatic rifles trained on the rooftops, wary of sniper fire. In Amritsar district, the local police force has been bolstered in recent weeks by about 12,500 additional police and border security force members.
About 400 people have been killed in clashes between Sikhs and Hindus, in skirmishes between Sikh extremists and police, in riots and in bomb attacks during the past two years. The situation has deteriorated further in the past two weeks. Terrorists destroyed 37 train stations in concerted arson attacks, and about 25 people have died in various incidents.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's ruling Congress Party faces growing pressure to deal with the violence but the Government has refused to move in on terrorist strongholds in the Golden Temple complex, fearing this would be seen as a desecration of the shrine and would touch off sectarian killings throughout the country.
Punjab is home to about half of India's 12 million Sikhs, who form a slight majority over the state's Hindu population, but a small minority of India's 680 million people.
Mr. Bhindranwale denies he wants a separate state for the Sikhs, the goal many of his followers say they are fighting for.
"The Hindus are a majority but the lion is king of the forest," he said. "Sheep and other inferior animals are in great number, but the lion is king."
He scoffed at warnings by moderate Sikh leaders in New Delhi that Canadian Sikhs who send money for the maintenance of religious shrines in Amritsar may be unwittingly financing terrorists.
"These are the words of anti-Sikh elements who do not want to see the unity of the Sikh nation. The reports being published in your newspapers can be compared to the words of a prostitute who says she is true to her husband."
One of the extremist groups whose members have taken refuge in the Golden Temple complex is Babar Khalsa, an organization dedicated to the revival of an ancient Sikh kingdom. Babar Khalsa has claimed responsibility for 40 murders.
Another is the All-India Sikh Students' Federation, banned by the Government last month after reports that it was raising an army of terrorists dedicated to the creation of a separate Sikh state, Khalistan.
Federation president Bhai Amrik Singh, a 30-year-old graduate student, is responsible for many of the killings. "These are not murders," he said. "This is taking justice."
The AISSF is closely linked with the Tenth (Dashmesh) Regiment, an organization which has carried out a series of assassinations in recent weeks and claims Mr. Bhindranwale as its leader.
"We have no formal connection with the Tenth Regiment," Bhai Amrik Singh said. "They are finding justice in their own way."
Mr. Bhindranwale denies he is behind the violence, but he refuses to dissociate himself from the Tenth Regiment's assassination campaign.
"I am silent," he said. "I do not condemn these actions. I condemn only the killing of innocent people. I do not say these people were innocent."
He laughed when told Canadian Sikhs are concerned about the safety of their relatives in Punjab. "The grace of God is the best assurance to the Sikhs here," he said.
Here’s another story I filed from Amritsar. It should give you a sense of what it was like for decent people trying to get along and live their lives in peace.
Sikh terrorism wrecks dreams of peacemakers
Terry Glavin, Special to The Globe and Mail, 1 May 1984, P16
AMRITSAR - "What kind of land am I living in? The Punjab is full of murders now, every day. The killings have overshadowed everything. The terrorists have the run of the place."
Gursharan Singh, a 55-year-old dramatist and magazine editor, walks through the dusty backstreets of Amritsar, the holy city of Sikhism, and points out each house along the way. "This family is Hindu. So is this one. This is a Sikh family. That house is a Sikh family."
Columns of paramilitary police weave through the bazaars, and troop carriers rumble down alleys where Hindu and Sikh children play together, running under horsecarts and chasing water buffalo down the winding, narrow lanes.
Gursharan Singh toured Canada last year with his drama troupe, performing his plays at colleges and universities in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. This year, he has taken the troupe to the villages and towns of Punjab, performing plays about religious unity and co-operation between the Sikhs and Hindus.
He has emerged as a key figure in a growing peace movement that is uniting Sikhs and Hindus against a backdrop of pitched gun battles, bombings, riots and assassinations.
"The ordinary people of the Punjab do not support the terrorists," he says. "They are becoming fed up with the religious fanatics. Hindus and Sikhs have always been brothers, and we have started to do something about it."
Punjab is in a state of siege. Thousands of paramilitary police patrol the streets, with sweeping powers to shoot suspected saboteurs on sight, arrest without warrant and imprison without trial.
What began two years ago as a campaign by moderate Sikhs for religious and economic concessions from the Indian Government has become a bloody holy war, led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
His opponents are shot or hacked to pieces by gangs who proclaim him as their leader and an independent Sikh state as their goal. Leaders of the emerging peace movement are favorite targets of the hit squads.
One of those targets was Professor Vishva Nath Tiwari of Punjab University, a renowned poet and leading spokesman for Sikh-Hindu unity. He was shot dead in his home on April 3. Prof. Tiwari's death followed closely on the assassination of Sumit Singh, editor of the Punjabi literary magazine Prett Lari, and an outspoken critic of Mr. Bhindranwale. Sukhraj Singh, a close friend of Gursharan Singh who campaigned for an end to sectarian animosity in his magazine, Chinghari, was shot dead on April 11.
Mubarak Singh, 67-year-old editor of a literary magazine and former mayor of Amritsar, was at the forefront of the peace movement when it began early this year. He served as chairman of an all-party committee established to diffuse the tensions between Sikhs and Hindus.
"We had processions and parades and public meetings," he said. "I thought it was the beginning of something."
Rallies and demonstrations of unity continued in Punjab's cities and towns until April 2, when a gang assassinated Harbans Lal Khanna, a key Hindu leader of Mubarak Singh's committee, at the counter of his drugstore in Amritsar.
A funeral procession of 20,000 Hindus erupted into a riot that left 10 dead and 50 seriously injured. The riot spread fear among the state's Hindus, and Hindu families in remote villages began to abandon their homes and head for the cities.
"It was quite a blow to our committee," Mubarak Singh said. "We are still trying to have unity, but it is not like it was."
Suwan Singh Parmar, a 42-year-old Sikh chemist, peers cautiously from behind an iron grate before he invites a visitor into his courtyard. He sits down, takes off his turban and hangs it on a peg.
"So now, who am I? A Sikh or a Hindu? Sikhs wear turbans, but when I take this off, who can tell?"
Until last month, Suran Singh did not wear a beard or turban to distinguish himself as a Sikh. But clean-shaven Sikhs are often the targets of sword-wielding fanatics, so he returned to the custom of his forefathers.
His sister married a Hindu, his wife is the child of a mixed marriage, and his children play in the streets with Hindu children.
"There are soldiers everywhere now, but there is no law in the Punjab any more. Only the assassins rule here."
Pramparkesh Sehgan is a frail, 58-year-old retired construction technician. For 22 years, he has shared these winding alleys with Sikh neighbors and welcomed Sikh friends into his tiny living room, decorated with statues of a dancing Hindu goddess.
Until last month, he strolled the grounds of Khalsa College in the cool evenings. Now he is afraid of being attacked, so he stays home. Until last month, he and his wife Pushpa regularly visited the Golden Temple, the Sikhs' holiest shrine.
"We are at a loss to understand this narrow-heartedness," he says. "The criminals find refuge inside the Golden Temple complex because the soldiers are forbidden to go in. It would be a desecration of the shrine. But where do the common people find refuge?"
Mr. Sehgan says he is afraid for his friend Gursharan Singh because he is so outspoken in his writing, but the dramatist says there is no point in worrying.
"They may harm me now, I suppose, so I am very cautious now when I perform my plays in the villages. I don't like to perform them when there are fanatics in the village. But I have faith in the ordinary people here. The killing will get worse, but if we keep trying, things will be all right."
And this one, a direct appeal to Canadian Sikhs to give their heads a shake and disabuse themselves of Khalistani propaganda.
Donations to extremists harmful, Indian MP warns Canadian Sikhs
Terry Glavin Special to The Globe and Mail 19 April 1984, P14
NEW DELHI - Canadian Sikhs who send money to extremist religious leaders in the troubled state of Punjab are causing grave damage to the Sikh community in India, a leading Sikh politician says.
Khushwant Singh, an independent member of Parliament in the Upper House, said financial aid from Canada is being used to foster the growth of fanaticism and in some cases probably is being diverted for the purchase of arms.
"The extremists have support from the Sikhs in Canada," Khushwant Singh said on Tuesday. "A dollar goes a long way here and some Canadian Sikhs seem to have a foolish notion that they are helping people here, but they are being very destructive and foolish."
In recent months, a campaign by moderate Sikh leader Harchand Singh Longowal for the settlement of long-standing Punjabi grievances with the Indian Government has deteriorated into a series of murders, sectarian riots and bombings. More than 130 people have been killed since January.
The troubles in Punjab have revived separatist sentiments among the Sikhs and produced a resurgence in fundamentalism led by a powerful Sikh holy man, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
The Indian Government has sent thousands of troops to Punjabi cities and towns and imposed martial law. This gives the police the right to shoot saboteurs on sight, to arrest without warrant and to detain without trial.
Terrorist acts occur every day. Early on Sunday, 38 railway stations were destroyed in a well-orchestrated commando operation and Mr. Bhindranwale's followers, and a group called the Dashmesh (tenth) Regiment, killed seven of his opponents.
Mr. Bhindranwale remains within the walls of Amritsar's Golden Temple complex, urging Sikhs to buy rifles and grenades and naming enemies who become the targets of the Dashmesh regiment's death squads.
Khushwant Singh, a prominent historian and author, is one of the few Sikh political figures in India openly to condemn Mr. Bhindranwale's activities.
He said Canadian Sikhs should be warned that money sent to Punjab, even for the maintenance of religious shrines, can easily be diverted to buy arms.
Goinder Singh, India's consul-general in Vancouver, said he is aware of sums of money sent from Sikhs in British Columbia to Amritsar by Canadian Sikhs who are sympathetic to Mr. Bhindranwale. About 250,000 Sikhs live in Canada.
Officials at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi say they have no direct evidence that money sent from Canada is ending up in the hands of terrorists, but the Indian Government has expressed concern about the use of Canada as a base for Sikh separatists.
Dr. Gopal Singh, chairman of a national commission on India's ethnic minorities that backed many of the moderate Sikhs' original demands, said military action will not solve the troubles in Punjab.
The Government will not move in on the 400-strong band of armed Sikhs within the Golden Temple for fear that India's 12 million Sikhs would regard such an action as a desecration of the most sacred Sikh shrine.
Dr. Gopal Singh said that without a negotiated settlement to the crisis and agreement on disputed boundaries, the redistribution of hydroelctric power and water for irrigation, the entire country could be convulsed by sectarian killings.
Dr. Gopal Singh was the leader of a delegation of Sikhs who presented the Sikhs' plea for a united India to a British cabinet mission in 1945, two years before the independence and partition of India and the creation of Pakistan.
"It hurts very much to see this happening again," he said. "It hurts. Yes, some can say the Hindus have mistreated the Sikhs for a century before this erupted. But I want to see the country stay together."
Dr. Gopal Singh urged Canadian Sikhs not to send money to extremists in the Punjab. "They should pray for a settlement instead."
When I wrote that story after getting back to Delhi from Punjab, the mayhem had spread to the capital. During a week-long campaign of street rallies opposing Gandhi’s reluctance to send troops into the Golden Temple complex to end the Khalistani terror, at least 5,000 people were arrested.
India was facing the gravest threat to national unity in the 36 years since independence. The Khalistanis had emboldened separatist groups as far afield as Kashmir, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu. Fearing to be identified by name, a leading Punjabi Hindu industrialist put it to me this way: "Khalistan already exists. Punjab is not a part of India any more. The terrorists are in control now."
The central government had suspended Punjab’s assembly and sent 30,000 paramilitary troops to the state with sweeping powers to arrest without warrant and shoot suspected saboteurs. It made little difference. Bhindranwale was safe within the Golden Temple Complex. That’s why the army had to be sent in.
Sorry, but I’m not going to shut up about this
I appreciate Real Story subscribers who have stuck with this newsletter through this series. I have my reasons: as I mentioned in an earlier instalment, it’s like a strange and horrible dream that comes back to haunt me now and again. Like when the convicted Khalistani would-be assassin Jaspal Singh Atwal showed up in the Team Trudeau posse in India in 2018.
Back then I wrote this for the Post and the Citizen: A Short History of Khalistani Terror. Something like all hell broke loose.
The Khalistanis don’t like me for remembering this stuff, and they sure don’t like CBC veteran Terry Milewski, author of the book Blood for Blood: Fifty years of the Global Khalistan Project, and the author of this in-depth report for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Khalistan, a Project of Pakistan. The Khalistanis don’t like the amazing and award-winning Kim Bolan, either. I mean seriously. This is how juvenile it gets.
In the opening to this series I began by quoting the Babbar Khalsa crank Ajaib Singh Bagri’s harangue about the need to slaughter 50,000 Hindus - the punchline he delivered from the stage at the founding convention of the World Sikh Organization. The WSO was very angry with me about A short history of Khalistani terror and popped its cork in a furious letter to Paul Godfrey, Postmedia’s big boss at the time:
“Terry Glavin’s column is littered with falsehoods that portray Sikhs as murderous thugs. Glavin refers to Khalistan, a Sikh state sought by some Sikhs as an ‘ethnically cleansed theocracy’. The accusation that Sikhs who believe in Khalistan favour ethnic cleansing is completely false and paints a picture of Sikhs as genocidal maniacs.” Do read that piece and ask yourself whether the WSO’s description of it bears any resemblance to reality.
But here’s the thing that really made them mad: “Glavin specifically accuses Sikh Leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale of possessing a ‘genocidal hatred of Hindus’ without presenting a shred of evidence. Glavin’s suggestion that Pro-Bhindranwale, Khalistan-supporting Sikhs are in favour of ethnic cleansing and genocide is deeply troubling and completely untrue.”
That’s what stuck in their gullets. The bit about Bhindranwale. I have more than just “a shred of evidence,” and that’s what makes them so mad. This is what I wrote in 2018: “From his perch in the Akal Takht, ‘the throne of the timeless one,’ the genocidal hatred of Hindus that Khalistani supreme leader Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale expressed during our interview was helpfully informative. It confirmed everything that so many Sikhs back in Canada had been trying to explain to Canadian politicians.
“Khalistan was the ethnically cleansed theocracy that Bhinderanwale wanted to carve out of Punjab. It was nothing like the cause of a righteous Third World liberation movement that Canada’s Khalistanis were claiming it was.”
The WSO just won’t let up. I showed up last week along with Milewski and Bolan (we’re white racist gatekeepers, apparently) in a recently launched quasi-webzine called Baaz, where I’m traduced again for what I wrote about Bhindranwale in 2018. It seems I made it all up, and also I’m an all-round bad person who worries about Uyghurs in China but not about Muslims in India.
Baaz was co-founded by Jaskaran Sandhu, a public-relations guy from Brampton. Until three years ago, he was the WSO’s executive director.
There has been a tendency in polite company lately to distinguish between “violent” Khalistanis and other Khalistani tossers in the Sikh diaspora who don’t care what the Sikhs of Punjab want. Hey, we’re just organizing a diaspora referendum is all! That’s more or less what you get in the otherwise creditable overview this week by the Globe and Mail’s journeyman Colin Freeze: Canada’s Sikh Khalistani movement mobilizes thousands of diaspora votes against India At least the Globe’s paying attention, I guess.
But you’ll want to think about what Khalistan means to India’s Sikhs and Hindus who are old enough to remember the terror of the 1980s, the hacking into pieces of the Khalistani’s enemies and the rivers of blood in the aftermath that lasted more than a decade.
Some Indians are old enough to remember the terrors of partition in 1947, when the continent was sliced into India and Pakistan. At least 15 million people uprooted and a million or more people slaughtered, mostly in Bengal and Punjab, and tens of thousands of women raped, the holy places defiled, the arsons and the forced conversions.
‘Hey, we’re non-violent’ just won’t do when that “Sikhs for Justice” map keeps popping up in Canada that shows Khalistan partitioned from India as an independent, Pakistan-friendly religious ethnostate carved from India’s Punjab, swallowing up Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and appropriating chunks of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan for good measure.
Prime Minister Trudeau does no one any favours by protesting that India is “wrong” to be worried about this, that his Canada allows for free speech, and that Canada takes terrorism seriously.
India is not wrong. This isn’t about free speech. When it comes to the Khalistan cause, Canada has never taken terrorism seriously.