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Attacks on innocent Hindu and Sikh civilians by Khalistani Terrorists

20 Mar

KhalistanisOn Neo-Sikh websites, there is a huge amount of material pointing to attacks and atrocities on Sikhs in 1984, the year of Operation Bluestar, the assasination of Indira Gandhi and the subsequent shameful anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, and in the years following 1984 when it is alleged that the Indian state induldged in a large genocide of Sikhs.

What these Extremist Neo-Sikhs omit to mention, and thus create an unforgivably unbalanced and one-sided version of history is that that the so called freedom fighters / separatists fighting the repression Indian state routinely targetted Hindus on a large number of occasions, killing them indiscriminately, and also killed Sikhs either at random or in more cases killed any Sikhs who dissented their terrorist actions of indiscriminate violence. And these Neo-Sikhs teach impressionable young Sikh youth to rever these terrorists as freedom fighters of a just cause! Even now the Neo-Sikhs campaign to have proscribed organisations which were behind these attacks unbanned in the West.

It was a police force largely consisting of Sikhs who defeated the terrorist Khalistani separatists – and they enjoyed large popularity amongst the Sikh population in Punjab for ending the continuous fear that everyone (Hindu and Sikh) had to live under in the years of terrorism.

Here are some incidents of devastating and brutal terrorist attacks targetting innocent civilians, mostly targetting Hindus, taken from a report by a Human Rights Watch into the situation in Punjab and Kashmir (1994). It should be noted that this is only a small respresentative sample of the atrocities which these terrorists carried out:

  • In October 1992, suspected Sikh militants gunned down five civilians and a law enforcement officer in a heavily wooded area in Uttar Pradesh that has become a refuge for Sikh separatists fleeing a crackdown by Indian authorities in Punjab. The attack followed a massacre two months earlier of twenty-nine villagers in the same area. In that incident, villagers collecting wood in the forest were captured by suspected militants, bound, and killed by automatic gunfire.

  • In March 1992, four Sikh separatists armed with AK47 assault rifles went on a shooting spree in the industrial city of Ludhiana killing twenty civilians and injuring others. The armed gunmen drove a car first through the city=s Vishwakarma residential district, mowing down ten people at a neighborhood market. The gunmen then drove on, shooting people at random along a two-mile route, killing eight more. They ended the rampage at a public square by shooting to death two more civilians, and then escaped.

  • In May 1988, a total of sixty-five people were reported killed by Sikh extremists in hit-and-run attacks in a thirty-six-hour period.98 $ In Kuban village in October 1986, five gunmen sprayed a crowded marketplace with bullets on a Saturday killing eight people and injuring four. Police sources said the attack appeared to be in revenge for the police killing of militants in the area earlier the same month. It was the worst single attack since fourteen bus passengers were shot near Mukhtsar town three months earlier.

  • On May 21, 1986, Sikh gunmen killed nine Hindus and two Sikhs in a shooting spree in an Amritsar market. The attacks came during a twelve-week period of separatist violence during which more than 230 people were killed, many of them Hindu civilians

Targeting the Hindu population It is sometimes difficult to tell whether particular attacks on civilians in public areas are completely randomCto induce terror generallyCor are directed specifically against Hindu civilians to force them to leave. Other instances are more clear. Quite apart from selective attacks on Hindu political and religious leaders, militants carried out a campaign of terror against Hindu civilians simply because of their religious and cultural affiliation. This was in keeping with the stated aim of the Sikh separatist movement to create an independent state, a task considered easier if the Hindu population fled. Militants also attacked Hindu civilians in retaliation for crackdowns by the Indian government. Attacks often occurred in neighborhoods known to be home to large Hindu populations.

  • On November 20, 1990, for example, Sikh militants rampaged through Islamabad, a predominantly Hindu neighborhood in Amritsar, shooting into shops along the street. Twelve civilians were killed.101 Asia Watch representatives spoke to a number of witnesses who described the attack. They explained that at about 7:30 P.M., four men wearing shawls over the faces, armed with AK47 rifles, began to shoot on the main street of Islamabad=s busy commercial center. They moved down the street, firing into shops, killing merchants, customers, and passersby. When Asia Watch visited Islamabad in early December 1990, bullet holes were visible in the walls and floor boards inside the shops and in the outside walls. According to a local journalist, the Khalistan Commando Force claimed responsibility for the killings.

Militants sometimes claim that particular attacks against the Hindu population are carried out in revenge for security force crackdowns on militant activity. In the villages of Bhikhiwind and Patti in Amritsar district, for example, militants undertook a series of kidnappings and murders in late 1990, apparently in retaliation for the killing of a large number of militants by the security forces in the area over the previous month, as well as to terrorize local Hindus into leaving and to extort ransom payments from wealthy families. Shortly before the attacks, the Khalistan Commando Force had issued an order to all Hindus to leave the area within three days. The attacks, which also occurred in several neighboring villages, caused many Hindus to flee to Amritsar and New Delhi. At least some of the attacks were carried out with automatic rifles, including AK47s. More recently, on March 25, 1993, Sikh separatists armed with automatic weapons opened fire on Hindus in a market in Jagraon, killing seven Hindu civilians and seriously wounding two more. Indian officials claimed that the attack was part of a continued campaign by militants to force Hindus out of Punjab. Reports of attacks near Hindu temples, in conjunction with Hindu festivals, and even on Hindus praying at religious sites were also common; such attacks often involved use of deadly automatic weapons.

  • On July 14, 1992, four militants riding motorscooters opened fire at a busy shopping district in Bhatinda town in Punjab, killing seven civilians and injuring five more seriously. The incident took place outside a Hindu temple, and may have been in retaliation for a security operation aimed at flushing out militants in the area.

  • In April 1990, thirty-five people were killed when a bomb exploded during a Hindu religious procession; Sikh separatists were suspected. The bombing set off dozens of Hindu-Sikh clashes throughout the state, resulting in another sixteen deaths.

  • In October 1987, gunmen on a motorscooter killed at least eight people in the Indian capital, spraying submachine gun bullets in a residential neighborhood and at fairs heralding the Hindu New Year. The gunmen then abandoned their scooter and boarded a public bus which was halted at a police roadblock about six miles from the shootings. The gunmen opened fire, wounding a sub-inspector and a passenger.

  • In May 1986, Sikh extremists reportedly opened fire with automatic weapons on Hindus praying outside a small-town shrine in Punjab state, killing two and wounding seven. The shooting occurred as the Hindus were reading from the Hindu epic Ramayana in what was to have been a night-long prayer vigil. It was the second major attack in a month in Jandiala Gur, a town fifteen miles east of Amritsar.

Hindu farm laborers were frequent targets. Some observers have speculated that militants were seeking to destroy the state’s economy by driving away farm labor. Others believed that the militants wanted only Sikhs to work in the state. The following incidents were typical:

  • In May 1988, six Sikhs armed with automatic rifles opened fire on sleeping workers in the village of Gujarpura, about eighteen miles northwest of Amritsar. Nine workers were killed, and three wounded. Two days earlier, at a labor camp in Amritsar, Sikh militants ordered Hindu migrants to line up against a wall and then shot five to death. Two days before that, thirty workers were slain as they slept at a Hindu migrant workers camp near Chandigarh. The attacks prompted an exodus of hundreds of Hindu laborers who traditionally migrate from the northern states of Bihar and Orissa to work on farms in Punjab.

  • Some attacks on Hindu civilians were thought to be aimed at instigating violence between Hindus and Sikhs to help revive waning support among Sikh moderates for the militant cause. In June 1988, for example, more than sixty people, mainly Hindu civilians, were killed and at least one hundred injured in bombings that took place over three days. The attacks were carried out in shopping centers, cinemas, markets, and temples. The bombings came in the wake of the Sikh surrender to Indian security forces during the May 1988 siege of the Golden Temple shrine. Many Sikhs were angered, claiming that the militants should have fought to the death or not have begun the fight at all. In addition, a number of Sikhs had recently turned against militants who had waged a campaign of extortion and blackmail of rich Sikh farmers, reportedly conducted by leaders inside the temple. Commentators speculated that the attacks on Hindu civilians were probably part of an attempt to provoke a Hindu backlash against Sikhs, which in turn could help recoup support for the separatist platform.

  • One of the results of sustained violence and threats of violence by militants against the Hindu population and arguably an intentional result was the creation of a large internally displaced Hindu population.

Bus and Train Attacks Sikh militants frequently attacked civilian passengers on public buses and trains in Punjab and neighboring states. While the majority of these attacks did not seem to target particular individuals, many of them were apparently directed against Hindus; frequently, Hindu passengers were singled out for execution, and in some cases, militants stopped vehicles likely to being carrying Hindus buses traveling to Hindu religious sites, for example. The basic pattern of assaults on buses and trains was that militants forced a vehicle to a halt, removed Hindu passengers, and shot them to death, usually with automatic rifles. On occasion, the militants firebombed the vehicle, apparently intending to kill all on board. The Arms Project identified dozens of reports of attacks on buses and trains carried out by militants. The following accounts are representative examples:

  • In December 1992, a state-run bus traveling to Chandigarh was ambushed by six militants, believed to be members of the Khalistan Liberation Front, who ordered Hindu passengers to stand apart from the Sikhs. The gunmen reportedly then raked the Hindus with hundreds of rounds of AK47 rifle fire, killing sixteen and wounding nine. Five weeks earlier, twenty-five Hindu migrant laborers were killed in a similar bus attack.

  • On November 4, 1992, militants placed road blocks and stopped vehicles on the Gurdaspur-Tibri road near Amritsar. Seventeen persons identified as Hindu were shot. According to a report published in the Punjab English daily, Tribune, the police claimed to have recovered a note on Bhindranwale Tiger Force (BTF) letterhead stating that the killings were in retaliation for the killing of a BTF leader.

  • In an October 1992 attack marking the fourth anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Sikh gunmen bombed an intercity bus near the border between Punjab and Kashmir, killing eighteen civilians and seriously injuring twenty-eight. The attack, along with two separate attacks against Hindu laborers, triggered anti-Sikh rioting.

  • At about 9:30 P.M. on June 15, 1991, gunmen opened fire inside two passenger trains stopped outside Ludhiana, killing at least 75 passengers. The attacks reportedly were coordinated, as both trains were stopped about a mile from the station by having their emergency cords pulled. Survivors stated that on one of the trains, Hindu passengers were identified before being shot. On the second train, the firing was indiscriminate, and many Sikhs as well as Hindus were killed. Although no group claimed responsibility for the attacks, they were believed to have been carried out by groups opposed to the elections scheduled for June 22.

  • On July 7, 1987, Sikh separatists attacked two buses in northern Haryana state, killing thirty-four. Most of the victims were Hindu. The militants used a car and a jeep to create a roadblock. On one bus, they singled out particular passengers, dragged them off, and shot them to death. Militants then boarded the second bus and opened fire, killing all the passengers. Chinese-made AK47s were used in both attacks. The incidents occurred the day after militants opened fire on a bus in Punjab, killing forty passengers, and wounding twentyseven. The victims were all Hindus bound for a pilgrimage center in Uttar Pradesh.

  • In June 1987, militants hauled seventy-two Hindus off two rural buses and shot them dead.

Source of all incidents reported herein: India: Arms & Abuses in Indian Punjab & Kashmir (Human Rights Watch Report, 1994)

Image credit: CBC News (Canada)

 

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