"Indian constitution denies minorities the right to self-determination..."
...a message to Sikh Diaspora

Tuesday January 24th, 2006
Every year on January 26th celebrations are held to mark India's Republic Day- a day of festivity for the Hindi-speaking people. But for the Sikhs and other minority peoples and ethnic nations this is a day of “betrayal”. It is the day when in 1950 the Indian constitution was forced upon the Sikhs, despite it having been rejected by the Sikh representatives in Parliament who refused to sign it. Since then, the Sikhs have been constitutionally caged in this country.

56 years later, the Sikh Nation still disapprove of the Indian constitution which denies the very existence of the Sikhs as a people with a distinct religious philosophy, identity and culture that is separate from the Hindus. It is a constitution which permits scores of migrants to flock to Punjab yet by the same token allows other states to ban Sikhs and Punjabis from settling and owning land elsewhere in India. The recent eviction of Sikh farmers in Kashipur is a classic example of Indian brutality, discrimination and double-standards faced by Sikhs in this country.

This is a constitution which permits the implementation of draconian laws like the Terrorism & Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Disturbed Areas Act and Prevention of Terrorism Act. All these legislations were used to suppress and silence legitimate political activism and detain thousands of Sikhs, Kashmris, Nagas, Assamese, Mizos and other minorities for long. Under these legislations security forces are given a free hand to run riot with no fear of being held accountable for their criminal actions.

It is regrettable that the present constitution of India denies minorities their right to self-determination as recognized under International Law. It is a constitution, even if amended, can no longer redress our legitimate and genuine problems and provide justice to the Sikh Nation.

Last year on January 26th Dal Khalsa gave the call to Sikh masses to observe Republic Day as "Betrayal Day". The Sikh flag symbolizing sovereign self-rule was hoisted at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj in Amritsar and saluted by Dal Khalsa. But such peaceful political expression was not tolerated by the rulers in New Delhi and Chandigarh who charged the Dal Khalsa with sedition and detained its members behind bars for 50 days without trial.

This is what happens in the self-proclaimed "World's Largest Democracy". Those who do not accept and toe the line of "Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan" are branded as traitors and agents of Pakistan. Yet how can we be stamped as traitors when the Sikh Nation never voluntarily paid any allegiance to India's constitution in the first place? It is the successive governments of India who have betrayed the Sikhs when they failed to honour the promise made by Nehru that the Sikhs too would be allowed to experience the "Glow of Freedom".

It is under the shadow of Indian Tricolour that the state machinery has hanged Satwant Singh, Kehar Singh, Harjinder Singh, Sukhdev Singh and butchered thousands of Sikhs in the past two and a half decades. Another Sikh nationalist activist Prof Devinderpal Singh Bhullar is still on a death row.

The history of the Sikhs with the Republic of India is a book stained with much Sikh blood and tears. We call upon the Sikhs masses to stay away from all Republic Day celebrations across the Punjab and remained at home on January 26th in protest. While the Hindustani masses celebrate on this Day, our appeal to the Sikh masses is to stay home and reflect on the history of the dark shadow which this constitution of India has brought over our Punjab for the past 56 years.

The masses are urged to stay home for a period of 24 hours as it is clear that undemocratic and anti-minority India will not tolerate any legitimate public protest on its Republic Day.

Dal Khalsa also expresses full support and solidarity with the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front and dissenting voices of the 'seven sister' states of the North East who have given the call for boycott on this day to mark their protest.

We express our solidarity with all those engaged in the common struggle to put to end the autocratic and centralized structure of Indian polity as well as hegemony of India's majority community. We reiterate our commitment to carry on with our struggle for independence through legitimate and political means.

(This statement was issued by party president Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib from Chandigarh Office on Jan 24, 2006).

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