Thursday, 7 June 2007

Never Forget 1984 Rally - Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square 2007

I attended the ‘Never Forget 84’ demo/rally for the very first time this week – I know it’s shameful that I’ve left it 23 years before attending. I wouldn’t quite say that I was wearing blinkers, or ignorant for that matter for the past 23 years, but I do feel that the true extent of the plight of my brothers and sisters in Panjab was never really explained to me in great detail. I was quite content in thinking that the worst of the trouble was over and we could all get on with our lives. Having visited back home a few times, I felt no one really mentions Khalistan, and therefore nobody wants it anymore. What I failed to realise is that people are too scared to mention the word, and those that do often end up disappearing without trace.

As this was my first time at the rally, I think it’s appropriate for me to share this experience. Firstly I’m not a great believer in the march itself. I think if we are doing this to raise the awareness in non Sikhs, then this is the wrong idea. People end up getting stuck in traffic jams, and see all these Sikhs with anti India slogans, posters, etc, they immediately loose any sympathy they have for us. Whereas if a few folk were to approach all the drivers stuck in the jam with literature, and some food to appease them for the delay etc, maybe we would gain some of their support. Secondly I also do not like the idea of burning or hanging effigies, to me this seems a cowardly way of venting your anger, and it also a ‘ritual’ used back on the subcontinent, something we could do without importing to these shores.

Those were my negatives about the day. The positives far out weigh these though. The inspirational speeches by young Sikhs moved everyone in the crowd. There was Paramjit Singh’s daughter, who told us about her father’s plight in a jail in Panjab, charged with carrying explosives, even though there’s no real proof. The UK government refuses to get involved with the judicial process of another country, which is a real shame, as a British citizen I’d certainly expect the UK government to help. A young Sikh lad from Leicester shared his experience of becoming a Gursikh; this guy was really impressive, at such a young age too. Some other speakers also brought up some really interesting points that I was not aware of – like the fact that a Sikh can’t buy land in some neighbouring states, and yet a non Sikh can buy as much land as they like in Panjab – how bizarre you may say, but it’s true. The water situation in Panjab is ridiculous; our water is being distributed to other parts. It wouldn’t be so bad if this water was spare, but the fact that our streams are empty and our water keeps getting diverted elsewhere, really must be annoying. No wonder so many farmers are committing suicide in Panjab. He Sikhs wanted a holy city status for Amritsar, so that we could have a perimeter of a certain distance within which alcohol and drugs would have been prohibited. Instead Amritsar probably has the highest alcohol intake in Panjab.

Some of the speakers were asking for help from the UK government. But I doubt that will ever happen. The two nations are very close, and with India’s economy booming, a cheap workforce to compete against China, the UK will want to keep India on its side. Some may argue that the UK has never helped in cases such as Rwanda, or even more recently Zimbabwe, and so why should they help the Sikhs.

Some of the images displayed on the big screen were horrific. I’ve seen many images before on the net, but one that will stay with me for along time from this rally will be a picture of a mutilated torso of a Sikh being eaten by a dog – really shocking. Pictures of a Sikh woman being chased by 4 men, as she tries to save her honour, again images that will remain etched in the mind for a long time.

The thing that really annoys me is that some of the real culprits (General Brar, KPS Gill, Jagdish Tyler, Sajjan Kumar) are still walking around almost with impunity. The corrupt judicial process in India has failed to give the Sikhs any justice. Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji said “when all other means fail, it is only right to pick up the sword”. If the courts fail to punish these people, should the Sikhs sit back and let them get away with it…

On a lighter note, I thought the guy from America was quite funny. He mentioned that he was a close friend of George Bush. I don’t think he realised that Bush is not exactly Mr. popular on these shores. He also managed to plug his new book which is releasing soon. I’m sure he’s a really good chap, but I just found some of speech full of “I did this, and I did that…”

I would definitely go again, even if it is only to the presentation in the square and miss the march. I recommend that everyone should go at least once. I hear that the numbers have been dwindling over the past few years. It’s a shame really that people seem to be forgetting this episode and don’t want to remember the events. In think that the reason we do this is to highlight the human rights abuses, and also ensure that it never happens anyone.

1 comment:

Conqueror of the world said...

Get involved and change what you think is wrong...