Long Live the Revolution – Revolution has always being a part of Human Culture. It has occurred through human history and varies widely in terms of methods, duration, and motivating ideology. Their results include major changes in culture, economy, and socio-political institutions. And there is always a special group of people whose motivating ideologies bring these kind of fundamental changes in various fields of Science, Technology, Politics, Literature, Art etc.
“A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.”
Long Live the Revolution
People like Albert Einstein, Bhagat Singh, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Vladmir Lenin, Sir Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Bill Gates, George Washington and Dalai Lama to name a few were all revolutionaries of their times. Though these are a group of revolutionary people who brought change for the good of the people, there is also a selective group of people who brought a revolutionary change for the bad like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini and Osama Bin Laden to name a few. Each and Every one mentioned above has made changes in the world in one way or another in their respective fields. We all known about the various revolutions like French Revolution, American War of Independence, Berlin Revolution, Egypt Youth Revolution, Russian Revolution, Indian Independence Revolution etc which changed the world history.
“Great revolutionaries inspire others with passionate words and set examples with proper deeds, using their life experience as wisdom to guide others. One doesn’t have to be as well known as Gandhi, or as celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. to have this revolutionary spirit. In fact, anyone who cultivates the state of mind and confidence of action that lights the way of truth for others, wherever one may roam, is a revolutionary. Anyone with the passion to speak openly of the truths they know, then, act righteously in accordance with those truths is a revolutionary. And, so it is, that great revolutionaries can be found anywhere in the world, on any given day. They are the ones in society engaging in behavior that inspires others to think, to question, and to work toward improving themselves and the world.”
Following few paragraphs are based on the life of yet another revolutionary named Balwant Singh Rajoana and his struggle.
Balwant Singh Rajoana, former Punjab police constable is a convict in the assassination of Beant Singh, the former Chief Minister of Punjab, India. Born into a traditional Sikh family in Rajoana Kalan village near Raikot in Ludhiana district of Punjab, he was fond of reading ghazals, novels and poetry. In early 1986, he joined the Punjab Police. According to his elder brother Kulwant Singh, Balwant was a pacifist and was opposed to any kind of violence. The works of Surjit Paatar (Punjabi language writer and poet of East Punjab, India) and Jaswant Singh Kanwal (novelist, short story writer and essayist of the Punjabi language) played an important role in shaping his ideology. So what happened that changed Balwant’s ideology and made him choose the path of Non-Violence. The Answer lies ahead.
Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star (1–6 June 1984) was an extremely violent Indian military operation also termed as the attack on the Akal Takhat and the Golden Temple complex. Golden Temple is the holiest shrine of the Sikhs located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab in the Northern India. It was ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to remove Sikh separatists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. During this time the Khalistan separatist movement (demand for a separate independent state) was active in the state. The separatists, led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, were accused of amassing weapons in the Sikh temple though it is a common practice to keep weapons in the Gurdwaras and can seen everywhere in the world. According to the Indian Government, Bhindranwale was using the shrine as a refuge and had piled up weapons for use in hate crimes against non-Sikhs. In order to curb the rising tension, the Indian Government planned a military operation to wipe out the Khalistan Activists.
Long Live the Revolution
Operation Blue Star
The then Vice-Chief of Indian Army S K Sinha was first asked to lead the operation, but he advised against it saying it this would hurt Sikh sentiments. Indira Gandhi replaced him with Lt Gen A S Vaidya, who along with Lt Gen K Sundarji then planned the operation. The operation kicked-off with a 36-hour curfew on June 3. All communication was suspended in Punjab, cutting off the state from the rest of the world.
Long Live the Revolution
Operation Blue Star
The operation was carried out by Indian Army troops with tanks and armored vehicles including the Vijayanta Tanks. Never before in the history of India, was this kind of violent military operation being carried out in any of the holy places of worship. Militarily successful, the operation aroused immense controversy, and the government’s justification for the timing and style of the attack are highly debated. Operation Blue Star was included in the Top 10 Political Disgraces by India Today magazine.
Official reports put the number of deaths among the Indian army at 83 and the number of civilian deaths at 492, though some independent estimates run as high as 1500. In addition, the CBI is considered responsible for seizing historical artifacts and manuscripts in the Sikh Reference Library before burning it down.
Post Operation Blue Star | Sikh GENOCIDE 1984
The violent military assault led to an uproar amongst Sikhs worldwide and the increased tension following the action led to assaults on members of the Sikh community within India. Some Sikh soldiers in the Indian army mutinied, many Sikhs resigned from armed and civil administrative office and a few returned awards and honors they had received from the Indian government. Four months after the operation, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards in what is viewed as an act of vengeance.
1984 Anti Sikh Pogroms
The so called operation against “Terror in Punjab” was over with the Death of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, but what followed after that was the biggest massacres of Indian History, the biggest political disgrace after the Indo-Pak Partition. Few hours after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the newly made prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi, gave a brutal order to kill all the Sikh’s in the country which led to the most talked about Anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984, killing many innocent lives. Thousands of innocent Sikhs (including women, children’s & elderly) were killed in Anti-Sikh pogroms carried out in Delhi and other major cities of India. According to several independent commissions reports conducted by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, the People’s Union for Democratic Rights and the Citizen’s Justice Committee, the pogroms were government sponsored and was carried out under the direct orders of the Late Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv Gandhi (who was made the new Indian prime minister after Indira’s death) and his party members including Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, R. K. Anand, Darshan Sharstri and H.K.L.Bhagat. Within the Sikh community itself, Operation Blue Star has taken on considerable historical significance and is often compared to what Sikhs call ‘the great massacre’, the 1761 slaughter of Sikhs by the Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Abdali.
Dark Age of Punjab
In Punjab between 1992 and 1995, at a time when the Khalistan separatist movement was active in the state and the Indian government was aggressively seeking to control the movement. It is alleged that, during Beant Singh’s tenure, thousands of Sikhs were killed and their bodies cremated by the police in extrajudicial executions. Various Independent sources reveal that Beant Singh was responsible for overseeing the mass genocide of Sikhs and was responsible for giving police officers such as KPS Gill, SSP Sumedh Saini, SSP Mohammad Izhar Alam (leader of the infamous Black Cats) and others a free reign to run operations that deliberately targeted the civilian population of Punjab. This lead to a period of forced disappearances, fake ‘encounter’ killings, brutal torture, illegal detention, mass rapes, illegal seizure of property and widespread intimidation of the Sikh population.
During the mid 1990’s Punjab was burning with all forms of government sponsored tortures, and as it is said wisely, “When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.” – A group of people took a stand against tyranny. Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was a police constable at that time, conspired with Dilawar Singh Babbar, a police officer, to kill Beant Singh. Based on a coin toss, Babbar was chosen to be the suicide bomber with Rajoana as a backup. The attack was successfully carried out on 31 August 1995 and, on 25 December 1997, Rajoana confessed his involvement. Rajoana was sentenced to death by a special CBI court in India.
According to Balwant Singh Rajoana the motive behind the assassination of Beant Singh was to stop the mass killing of innocent Sikhs for which Beant Singh was responsible. He said Beant Singh was also responsible for giving police officers a free reign to run operations that targeted the civilian population of Punjab.
Currently, Bhai Rajoana is in patiala jail is serving the sentence for the execution of Beant Singh outside the Punjab secretariat in 1995. Rajoana have accepted his death sentence without asking for any mercy from the Indian Judiciary. In his will, Rojoana express no desire to live any more. He expressed that he wishes to have sight of Shri Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple), Amritsar, Punjab.
He writes that, “It is my wish that, my eyes may kindly be given to Hazuri Ragi of Darbar Sahib and if it is not possible in any case then my eyes can be donated to any needy person.”
I certainly wouldn’t be any one to comment about what he did was actually right or wrong, but I know this that after the Execution of Bean Singh, the killing of innocent Sikhs in Punjab went down & within a few years Punjab became a peaceful state and a better place to live.
“Most of us don’t consider ourselves to be revolutionaries, but we probably already are. If we’re tired of seeing the earth exploited, its creatures exterminated and its peoples poisoned, bombed and enslaved, then we certainly are. If we recognize that certain social structures and cultural paradigms are laying waste to our potential to live naturally healthy lives with abundant futures, then we are in revolt. If we feel, believe and know that mankind can do better, that humans deserve to be fronted by institutions of peace rather than of warfare, of justice rather than of greed, then we are indeed revolutionaries in this seemingly wicked time. This revolutionary spirit is critically important today because it is through the process of revolution that evolution takes seed. Evolution is the idea that an organism can change its structure and capacities in order to regain balance and prosper in a changing and perhaps threatening environment. Which is exactly what mankind must do? We must evolve, overcoming the inertia of our violent, selfish past, inviting a new era of trust, compassion and creativity. So, I ask. What does it take for an individual to move from awareness of these problems to participating in the solution? What does it take to harness this revolutionary spirit, channeling it towards our mutually beneficial evolution?
In case of Punjab, I think Punjab’s situations could have being more worse. There was a need to stop the Genocide of Sikhs which was being carried out for nearly more than a decade. Balwant Singh Rajoana’s action might have brought an end to this Dark Age of Punjab, but the question still arises – Wouldn’t there be a better way to bring a stop to all this. The answers can be many.
Balwant Singh Rajoana was arrested in 1995 and has never denied involvement in the assassination plot. He has refused to make any appeals for mercy and has not recognized the authority of the courts in what has been called a matter of Sikh National Security and Sovereignty. Balwant Singh Rajoana has openly called for the death penalty recognizing it as the only form of justice available to him under the Indian legal system. This may seem strange, but Balwant Singh Rajoana is inspired by the rich history of the Sikhs and their Gurus who have laid down their lives in opposition to tyranny.
The case of Balwant Singh Rajoana once again highlights the lack of justice and the failing of the legal process in India faced by all Sikh political prisoners and the victims of state oppression and their surviving family members. Having taken responsibility for his actions, it has still taken 17 years for the courts to fix a date for his execution. This failing of the legal processes is evident in nearly all cases involving Sikh political prisoners. Though Balwant’s execution date which was suppose to be on 31st March 2012 has been postponed, the question still arises – Wouldn’t 17 Years in Jail plus a Death penalty a way too much punishment for a human. Isn’t it a Human Right violation? The answer is yet to be found.
Protest against the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana in different places of the world