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Location: Home arrow Library of Articles arrow Articles arrow The Memories and A Memorial

The Memories and A Memorial   E-mail 

June 2008. A score and four years ago, the Sikh community saw the face of the official Indian nation state establishment. An establishment represented by the hegemonic forces of Congress, BJP and their many avatars. It also saw the bankruptcy of its own leadership, just as it saw the sterling stuff of some of its brightest sons and daughters.

A score and four years thence, we know very well that the end of history shall never be. But lessons we must learn from history. Every anniversary of Operation Bluestar we hear the deafening silence of what is not heard, and it shocks any disinterested student of history. The ruling Akali Dal led by Parkash Singh Badal is busy making a transition into the mould of Sukhbir Singh Badal. Missing from the idiom of politics are any references, debate points, thought-markers to those years of politics in Punjab that singed its finest, scarred the socio-cultural milieu and psyche and saw the rise of the brahamanical hold over even the party formed for the welfare of the Khalsa panth. 

Operation Bluestar

Over the years, we have seen even the better men and women dissipating their energies in little turf wars or mistimed squabbles over theological issues. As the panth witnesses internecine wars over Dasam Granth, the RSS is making inroads and dear Sardar Badal is chanting Hare Krishna Hare Rama and educating the community about preserving heritage. His visits to Lord Parshuram temples are not even commented upon anymore. 

Jab lag Khalsa rahe nayara… Any quom that disowns its legacy is condemned to live in a denial mode. And it is a dangerous luxury. The Jews know they cannot afford that luxury. Rendered homeless for two millennia, history became their defining feature in the absence of a geography. For the Jews, the exodus and re-entry into the "Promised Land" are imbued with sacral meaning.

Sikhs not only have a history; they had a geography too. But even Maharaja Ranjit Singh's reign made little effort to preserve the collective memory, a well-known but rarely recalled fact. Shias indulge in collective remembrance by annually mourning the martyrdom of Hussain at the battle of Karbala. The Sikhs recall their troubled history in their ardas. But we need to keep moving. Our children must learn our history. 

Just as the Jews are transmitting their experiences in exile. Despite the fact of the Holocaust, Europe has been having some revisionist history-writing which seeks to diminish or deny it. Obviously there are political reasons for such a denial. Denials are already being thrust on us. Now through silence, soon through revisionist history. It is to counter such denials that we needed the memorial to the martyrs of Operation Bluestar. We were promised one, and we have been denied one. By our own. Those who claim to represent us. Today, 24 years after Operation Bluestar, we will not see a Parkash Singh Badal paying tributes before the portrait of the Sant installed by the SGPC at the Sikh museum. We will not see Sukhbir Singh Badal exhorting the youth to spread the message of those who went down fighting during the blistering days of June in 1984 inside the Darbar Sahib. The ruling Akali Dal will not discuss in its PAC how to deploy its newly learnt corporate skills in spreading the message of independent identity markers among the Sikhs.

That is the assassination of memory. The silence about memorial to Operation Bluestar's martyrs is an attempt at assassination of memory. Soon, a generation that lived through the Saka Akal Takht will also pass away into nothingness. The community needs to pass on the memories, or it will be condemned to live with the corpses of memories. Carrying remembrance into the future is like nurturing the seed. As we have always held, the alternative is too scary: Holocausts are not only denied, denials also bring holocausts.

Source: World Sikh News

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