A very thought provoking speech at the 1984 remembrance event in London organized by the Federation of Sikh Organizations. The event saw a record attendance in an effort to educate and remember the events of June 1984.
After 31 years, the community still seeks justice for the innocent lives lost and desecration of the most holiest Sikh site.
Here is the narration and video of one of the must watch speeches of the event:
There is a great African saying :
“If the Lions fail to tell their story then history will be written by the hunters.”
The hunt will always be glorified and the mainstream will recognise the hunter. The fight of the lion will slowly become a fable
Until the Lions point of view is a part of history, the hunter’s point of view will be the one that is counted as accurate.
If no one understands what it was like to be the hunted, then only the hunters feelings about what happened will be considered.
If no one sees through the eyes of the lions, only the hunter will be thought of as right. Only the hunter will be heard.
But those lions are the symbols of strength and courage and have been celebrated throughout history for these characteristics.
Those lions are the symbols for leadership and authority. Those lions represent strength, power and ferocity. They represent wisdom, dignity, justice, honour and dominion.
Those lions have courage and have faith
Those lions stand tall and remember their birth right
Those lions hold their heads high conducting themselves with dignity and grace
Those lions defend what is dear to their heart and they defend it fiercely
The hunter will keep hunting. They will slaughter the lions but those lions will come back again and again. Those lions will come back to protect their space and protect what is precious to them.
I am humbled to be standing on this stage and in remembrance of those lions.
I am not a an expert nor am I any type of leader. I stand and speak to you today as an ordinary Sikh, born and raised in the UK. As a sevadar, a volunteer, from here in London. An individual who has been inspired over the last 11 years of attending the very remembrance rally.
I was a child in 1984 but I remember vividly the inspirational images of that great Sant and other Sikhs on mainstream TV. I remember as a family watching every single news report on the BBC and ITV about the events of Punjab, listening to what we were expected to hear. But deep down inside knowing that these mahan Gursikhs activists were those great lions that would stand for the morals and ethics taught to us by our great Gurus.
The principles of fairness and justice. The ethics of freedom and sovereignty. The ideologies of spirituality and faith.
It took another 20 years before I started to revist the events of 1984. I first came here to his rally with my 2 year old daughter and 3 month old son in 2004 and encountered the huge emotion and truth behind 1984. I began to appreciate the real mass community feel towards the history before a 1984 and after 1984. An emotion that even today we struggle to articulate properly, not just in the mainstream but within our close circles too.
I came back again over the years and I prayed to Akal Purakh to help me translate this emotion, to understand this emotion and to understand what to do with this emotion? Were we meant to see 1984 through the lens of the victim or were we meant to recognise a transition? What were we meant to learn from the stand of the Sant and the Gursikhs? How does a community recuperate from a genocide, from a period of insurgency?
The Shaheeds gave their lives up, to protect and honour the beautiful gem of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Sikhi. A gem that promotes spirituality, social mobility and a political thought that the so called worlds largest democracy dreaded. The gem that promotes welfare, education, cohesion, fairness and advancement. The gem that generations before them gave their lives to portect and generations after them will no doubt give their lives to protect.
We can spend a lifetime standing on the side lines, waiting for others to lead or waiting for others to do the right thing. But when those Sikhs stood for the sanctity of the Harminder Sahib Complex in 1984, they stood for the sanctity of every single Gurdwara in the world and now that responsibility lies with every single one of us here.
When those Gursikhs re-laid a foundation of Khalistan, they replanted the idea of strong governance and political independence laid down by the 6th Guru. A responsibility that also lies with us today in the form of Gurdwara administration and Gurdwara governance.
They showed us how to develop partnerships to fix the frameworks and systems that already existed. The Sant worked in partnership to implement the Anandpur Resolution not just for the social betterment of Punjab but for India as a whole.
And now the responsibility lies with all of us. Sikhs have excelled in commerce, education and the medical field. We have superb examples of humanitarian, welfare and other charity work but we fallen behind developing out Political arm. The Sikh Manifesto was developed by like-minded Sikhs to engage assertively with political institutions and to reinvigorate that activist ethos of our predecessors.
We can point fingers at others to mask our individual lack of commitment, we can blame a leadership but ultimately if it was not for the work of the Jathebhandis during the last 31 years, we would have accepted the story of the hunter and not that of the lion.
If we really want this remembrance rally to change our lives then we need to understand that our Gurdwaras, our sevas, our institutes and our organisations need our commitment.
1984 was not just meant to remain a slogan on a T-shirt. Thousands of lives were lost, let’s not forget how horrific it was. But the sacrifices were made for our future which we must be an active part of.
No longer should we remain spectators and Facebook critics, we owe that huge sacrifice our commitment. We owe the victims of Genocide our commitment to justice. We owe our Gurdwaras stronger governance. We owe the political prisoners the glow of freedom. We owe our community better representation in Political institutes. We owe those are yearning for peace the right to spirituality. We owe the oppressed the right to sovereignty and self-governance. We are to become those dignified lions who can show authority and can lead the way for others
So now…I ask you who really cares about the hunt or the hunter…when the roar of the lion will narrate such a powerful story!
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!