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Nobody Is Listening While The Sikh Community Fights To Exist

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

History repeats itself. Nobody cared in 1984 when the Indian government went on a killing spree, murdering over 17,000 Sikhs because of their religion. And today, nobody cares as the Indian government shuts down its Wi-Fi, brutally stops protests, arrests prominent Sikh activists and then feigns uninvolvement when questioned. We can never go back and fight for the innocent people who lost their lives back in 1984 and the many years that followed, but today we have a chance to raise our voices for the Sikh Community. 

For a little background on the severity of this situation, Sikhs are a marginalized minority in India and have continuously faced injustices at the hands of the government. In 1984, the Indian government committed a genocide that is still not recognized to this day. Named “Operation Blue Star,” the Indian government, led by Indira Gandhi, set out to attack the Sikh’s most prominent place of worship, the Harmindir Sahib also known as the Golden Temple. This attack killed nearly 500 people and began the mass persecution of Sikhs for nearly 15 years. At the height of its killing following Operation Blue Star, nearly 3000 Sikhs were brutally murdered in three days. Through stories from my parents, I’ve learned about the thousands who fled the nation, the dead bodies that remained on the streets, the murders that they saw from outside their windows and how even their schools became battlegrounds. 

In recent years, the Indian government has continued to suppress the Sikh people. In 2020, India’s Prime Minister Modi hastily inflicted laws upon India’s agriculture sector, driving the farmers to fear the decline of their prices and economy. The farming sector in India is primarily occupied by Sikhs, and these new laws gravely affect their quality of life. Following the placement of these new laws, Sikhs gathered to peacefully protest in the capital of New Delhi. Police continuously shut down these protests using methods such as high-pressure water and batons. It was not until a year later, after the Sikh people had occupied the capital for months, that the Indian government sat down to negotiate its laws. With all this, the world barely heard a peep and failed to stand with the farmers. 

Today, we face the possibility that the actions of 1984 may be repeated, once again without repercussion or even acknowledgment from the rest of the world. On March 18, Sikh activist Amritpal Singh was arrested from his home for an undisclosed reason, and videos of the military marching the streets surfaced on the Internet. Even with the videos that have surfaced, the Indian government denies this arrest and has gone on to claim that he has fled the nation. Following his arrest, the Wi-Fi from India has been shut down, making it difficult and even impossible for families out of the country to get in contact with those back home.

However, this was not the only arrest to occur. Within hours, nearly 80 more young Sikhs were arrested without reason and their locations have also been withheld. These arrests resulted in protests from the Sikh community, who the police tried to brutally shut down with weapons. Furthermore, to stop news from reaching the world, the many activist and vocal Sikh accounts have been banned from social media platforms, claiming this was done for “public safety.” 

The actions of the Indian government are similar to what occurred before Operation Blue Star. The world ignored the horrendous injustices and persecution that the Sikhs faced in 1984, and now we have to beg not to let history repeat itself only 39 years later. With the Indian government hoping to use the media shutdown as leverage to continue its actions, it’s up to those outside of the country to raise our voices for the people who cannot. Although the Wi-Fi shut down has caused an interruption in the flow of information, organizations such as the Sikh Expo continue to provide updates and avenues to help. I encourage you to use any social platforms to spread awareness in order to hold the Indian government accountable for their continuous misconduct against Sikhs.

Kajal is a second year political science major at UCLA . In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and occasionally crocheting.