The following was authored by a concerned Canadian Sikh academic, who wrote under the condition of anonymity, in rebuttal to Jonathan Kay’s piece, entitled “Why are some Canadian Sikhs expressing solidarity with an unrepentant terrorist?“
There are many questions surrounding the stay of execution of of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was sentenced for his involvement in the 1995 assassination of Beant Singh — the former chief minister of Punjab who spear headed the genocide against Sikhs in the region. But Rajoana’s sentence has since been stayed.
Beant Singh gave police officers the authority to carry-out extrajudicial executions, targeting and killing civilian Sikhs on the spot. This led to fake “encounter” killings, illegal detention, torture and rape. Beginning in 1984, and continuing until his assassination, an estimated 9,000-30,000 Sikhs were murdered in Punjab. During Beant Singh’s reign, thousands of Sikhs were killed for being “suspicious,” despite claims that there were only approximately 300 armed Nationalist Sikhs. After the death of Beant Singh in 1995, the senseless murders of Sikhs stopped.
Why is the Sikh population displaying insurmountable support and rallying to stop the execution of Rajoana, who many consider a terrorist? The fact of the matter is that Sikhs do not support terrorists or terrorism, but are looking for equal treatment and justice in the so-called secular democracy known as India.
Sikhs and Muslims are minorities in India and are often jailed without a court hearing, not allowed to fight their cases, given more severe penalties than their non-Sikh inmates, and given longer jail terms and intentionally delayed sentences.
In 1984, tens of thousands of Sikhs were killed in riots in Delhi that were believed to be led by accused Indian politicians Kumar and Tytler, but due to “technicalities,” their cases have been stayed. These riots happened almost 30 years ago, but these people are allowed to walk free. In 2003, accused politician Modi, started riots that led to the killings of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat. To this day, he walks free.
The minority Sikhs have long been oppressed by the Indian government. Corruption and discrimination have plagued Rajoana’s case and, as a result, there has been an outcry for justice. It is often said that there is no justice for Sikh prisoners in India. By displaying their support for Rajoana, Sikhs are expressing their desire that a single standard be applied to all people in India. Rajoana has always accepted responsibility for his crime and refused an appeal. He accepts the death penalty. People are simply arguing that the government should not hang Rajoana, until they hang other people who have committed similar crimes — to show the same commitment to human rights and the rule of law when the Indian state, its forces, its bureaucrats and its politicians commit heinous crimes against humanity.
The inconsistencies are too harsh to ignore. Kishori Lal, the “Butcher of Trilokpuri,” was released following three death sentences for going on a Sikh murdering spree in 1984. Today, many police officers and politicians who committed human rights violations and were involved in the Sikh genocide live freely and have worked their way up the political ladder. It appears the only fate for a Sikh political prisoner is the hangman’s noose.
There are numerous other legitimate reasons why Rajoana should not be executed:
- There are 2 other Sikh men who were involved in the killing, their trials are still pending (conveniently still in jail and awaiting fair trial for 17 years). So how can one man be hung when the other cases are not officially over.
- There is an ongoing explosives case on Rajoana in Patiala Court; the Advocate General can issue a writ to the court to suspend the hanging until the pending case is solved.
- Rajoana was not the actual murderer of Beant Singh (the murderer died in the bombing); he was a conspirator. So why is he being executed after spending 17 years in jail?
You must ask yourself, are these these actions consistent with the values of a liberal democracy? Would you not be upset? This is precisely why the Sikh population around the world is joining hands and supporting Rajoana. To us, Rajoana is a freedom fighter whose intent was not to kill innocents, but rather criminals, and to bring justice to Punjab. If someone had successfully killed Hitler, would that man be considered a terrorist? Maybe by Hitler supporters.
When All Hopes of addressing a wrong had failed, Rajoana was left with no alternative. He did what the Indian government failed, or chose not, to do: He stopped the violence in Punjab! Rajoana and others took matters into their own hands, took down a tyrant and allowed the state of Punjab to live in peace. If you wish to try Rajoana and hang him, you must hand down the same sentence to the many other men who murdered Sikhs in cold blood. I am a Sikh and we do not support terrorism.The Sikhs of Canada and around the world support Rajoana for ridding the world of an evil man. The population would not be opposed to the death penalty handed out to Rajoana, had the others been tried just as equally.