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'Terrorist' Labels Don't Tell The Whole Story (Opinion - By Kanwal Jit Gill)

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    During British Empire days there were hundreds of people considered terrorists and killed or sentenced by British government. But since independence those same terrorists are called freedom fighters and martyrs. Their pictures are displayed in Indian Parliament building and all over the country. So what’s wrong with Sikhs’ calling their freedom fighters martyrs?

    We have been reading a lot these days about controversy being raised about pictures of martyrs and protest by Indian government for the display of martyrs pictures and Khalistan slogans etc. I agree with LINK stories that there are many people through out the world who are called martyrs by certain communities and are called terrorists by certain others. Look at Palestinians, Tamils in Sri Lanka, IRA in Ireland, Slovaks in Yugoslovia, Turks in Turky and Iraqis and Afghans fighting against USA forces etc. In all such cases there are people who are seen as martyrs by some and as terrorists by others. In fact it all depends on government in power and media. Look at Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. There was a time when Americans called them great heroes when they fought against Russian army but now the same Taliban are called terrorists because they are fighting against American forces. The fact is the Afghan people want to live independently and don't want to see the foreign forces in their country.

    If we look at our Indian history from time to time there have been some bad rulers and martyrs who fought against such bad rulers. Even in Hindu mythology there have been many Devi, Devtas who fought against or killed bad rulers and are worshipped for such actions by their followers. Even during Mugual empire days, there are many martyrs who fought against the Mogul rulers. Then again during British Empire days there were hundreds of people considered terrorists and killed or sentenced by British government. But since independence those same terrorists are called freedom fighters and martyrs. Their pictures are displayed in Indian Parliament building and all over the country. So what’s wrong with Sikhs’ calling their freedom fighters martyrs?

    The fact is from time to time depending on the government in power and some bad rulers there have been people who raised voice against the bad rulers and gave up their lives to protect others. And such people, who give up their lives not for their own benefit, but to get justice for others, will always be called martyrs by communities for whom they gave up their lives.

    If we look at tragedies of recent years, there were thousands of innocent lives lost in Punjab. The Indian government of the time led by Indira Gandhi was guilty of many wrong decisions. In the 1980's, the Congress government was loosing in popularity and there was good possibility of loosing the next elections. The congress leaders knowingly created the terrorists in Punjab but slowly they lost control of those terrorists. (If you read the statements of present congress leaders Bhattal and Amarinder Singh blaming each other of contacts with the terrorists.) Then in June 1984 Indira Gandhi ordered the army to attack the Golden temple knowing fully that there were thousands of innocent worshipper men, women and children in the temple. Before the attack the Indian government said there were 100 or so terrorists in Golden temple, but that army attack killed thousands of innocent men, women and children. Before the attack the government didn't make any effort to stop worshippers from going in or gave the worshippers inside chance to come out. That was a very wrong decision by the government and the army generals that resulted in thousands of innocent killings. But at the same time if you look at this thing politically. It was not a mistake but a very well planned action by the Congress party, a planned mass murder. Before the attack the Congress party was loosing in popularity and was going to loose next elections but after the Golden Temple attack Indira Gandhi became very popular and was compared to Durga or Chandi Devi. Later on when Beant Singh and Satwant Singh saw the destruction of Golden Temple and heard about thousands of innocent lives lost in that army attack that they decided to punish Indira Gandhi for killing thousands of innocents and destruction of Golden Temple. In Sikh history there have been previous cases during Mogual rule, where Mogual ruler was killed for attacking Golden temple and Bhai Sukha Singh and Bhai Mehtaab Singh are called martyrs in Sikh history. Beant Singh and Satwant Singh gave up their lives for same cause and will be called martyrs. We all may not agree but at the same time we cannot change or ignore the history.

    After Gandhi's death thousands of innocents were killed in Delhi again by congress workers and leaders and so far in more than 23 years not even a single person has been sentenced by the Indian justice system. That just proves that it was the work of main congress leaders and was even justified by Rajiv Gandhi saying when big tree falls, it shakes the earth and causes some destruction. Rajiv Gandhi followed the same wrong policies in Sri Lanka and Tamil dispute. On one side they trained Tamils to fight against Sri Lanka and then they sent the Indian army in Sri Lanka that resulted in many Tamil killings. That is why one martyr Tamil lady killed Rajiv Gandhi for the Tamil cause and his two sided policy that resulted killings on both sides.

    The governments often talk about killing the terrorists. But if they really want to stop terrorism they should look at what wrong policies are creating these terrorists and try to change those wrong policies. Nobody is born a terrorist. Only when people see wrong actions of governments that result in innocent killings that certain people raise voice to get justice for those victims and fight against the wrong policies of the governments. The Indian governement should stop worrying about what is happening in Canada. They should follow fair policies for minorities in India and provide justice to 1984 innocent victims, then they'll automatically see better relations between communities in India and other countries.

    -By Kanwal Jit Gill
    Kanwal jit Singh Gill is a Surrey-based writer who has written on a number of topics in the LINK.
    From the Link Newspaper in Surrey,BC

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