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    Trouble in Ludhiana


    by Rumbold on 13th December, 2009 at 6:48 PM    

    For much of December, the city of Ludhiana in the Punjab has been racked by religious and state conflict. It began with an event by Ashutosh Maharaj, a self-proclaimed ‘perfect master’ who held a samagam (a gathering), just after one had been held by Sant Baba Jaswant Singh, a notable Sikh religious figure. Mr. Maharaj claims to be a reincarnation of various religious leaders (such as Jesus and Guru Gobind Singh), and had offended Sikhs by telling them they should consider him as their guru, rather than the Guru Granth Sahib. Sadly, a number of people took this individual seriously, and some Sikhs began to protest in the streets.

    The police were called out in order to keep the demonstrators away from the samagam, but instead the situation descended into violence. The police allegedly fired on the protestors with live ammunition (they certainly fired into the air). Official reports claim that one protestor was killed and over a dozen injured, whilst others report at least seven dead and dozens injured. The Sikh Channel showed footage of police brutally beating protestors, while police claim they were forced to fight back. Regional politics also seems to be playing a part, with the BJP (an ally of the Akali Dal party, which rules the state) backing Ashutosh Maharaj.

    Ludhiana has also been suffering from unrelated violence due to tensions between migrant workers and the police, who torched police cars after complaining that not enough had been done to protect them from robbers who were targeting them.


         
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    Filed in: Current affairs, India, Sikh






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    1. Raja Sahib — on 13th December, 2009 at 1:33 PM  

      What would the Sikh gurus have done about it?

    2. curious — on 18th December, 2009 at 4:51 AM  

      When the bihari migrant workers protested a day before, set fire to cars and buses and ransacked ludhiana, then the police stood by and did nothing.

      When the singhs when to protest against a self proclaimed 'guru',' who attacks sikh ideology and has kept up to 300 young girls at his dera, then the police open fire on the sikh protestors.

      there is one law for sikhs and another for everyone else.

    3. Fojee_Punjabi — on 18th December, 2009 at 8:31 AM  

      How dare you pass judgement on the protests as if the Sikhs were wrong to protest against a man who's blatantly committing outright blasphemy?

      Would you look down on protests against blaspheming Christians or Jews or Muslims or just appease them and say they have the right to protest?

      The Sikhs are the subject of continued and concentrated persecution by the Indian government and it certainly doesn't help when people with little by way of understanding on the matter stick their noses into our business.

      Stay out of Sikh affairs if you don't know what you're talking about, please.

    4. Rumbold — on 18th December, 2009 at 9:11 AM  

      Everyone has the right to protest. But I reserve the right to voice my opinion on what people are protesting about. I think any blasphemy protest is silly- what are the people actually aiming to achieve? Why should a particular point of view be immune from mockery or blasphemy? Why would Guru Nanak or Guru Gobind Singh care if someone blasphemed?

    5. Dalbir — on 18th December, 2009 at 10:02 AM  

      I'm proud to be Sikh, but if the brothers in Punjab haven't learned what Punjab Police are like by now, then they must be retarded.

      Storming up to those twisted bastards, armed with guns with only your kirpans is only going to end in one way. And even if they did get f**ked, you know they'd start their usual attacks on Singh's families and people would get start to get found in dodgy 'encounters' in remote fields.

      The point about heavy handedness in comparison to similar Bihari protests is valid, but Sikhs should know exactly what to expect by now. Besides look at those panchoday, they are apnay too. How do you explain this?

    6. Fojee_Punjabi — on 19th December, 2009 at 2:08 AM  

      The next time there's a protest by Shias in Iraq I expect to see an article on the idiocy of the sectarian divides in Islam since you're all about equality which I assume also concerns mockery of religious sensitivities.

    7. Rumbold — on 19th December, 2009 at 2:27 AM  

      Fojee_Punjabi:

      I support the right of people to mock religions, yes. People mock my own views all the time and I don't feel the need to go and protest on the streets.

    8. nobodys hero — on 1st January, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

      mohammed married a nine year old girl lets have some jokes about that.or is that too sensitive

    9. Ravi — on 27th January, 2010 at 3:59 PM  

      Sikhs are always having problems. They should move to a different place. Perhaps goa. Its peaceful there

    10. comrade.. — on 27th January, 2010 at 4:28 PM  

      Ravi 9. have you been in hibernation from the 01-01-10 to 27-01-10

    11. Deep Singh — on 27th January, 2010 at 4:29 PM  

      Raja Sahib:

      “What would the Sikh gurus have done about it?”

      Nothing, ignored it and moved on. There are plenty of examples from Guru-history where family members or “outsiders” attempted to lay claim to divine rights for their own political ends and the Gurus simply moved on and continued with their message and work.

      These splinter groups which operated as large cults in their own day gradually dwindled into non-existence today. By comparison, groups like the Sant Nirankaris and Ashutosh are growing by the day thanks to the free publicity given to them by hot heads.

    12. Dalbir — on 27th January, 2010 at 4:50 PM  

      #9

      Isn’t that just running away from a problem? Plus Goa is a shitty place that is selling its soul to cater for white tourists. Fuck that.

    13. Deep Singh — on 27th January, 2010 at 4:56 PM  

      Dalbir:

      “Besides look at those panchoday, they are apnay too. How do you explain this?”

      I shall ignore your questionable use of the term ‘panchoday’ (lit. sister-f***ers) which does nothing for your argument, insofar as the seeming Sikh on Sikh violence, there are various ways of looking at this:

      1. The Police are doing their job / following orders, the fact that they are also Sikh is as irrelevant to the matter as a White Anglo Saxon Police Officer in the UK arresting / controlling members of the EDL.

      Similarly, a white officer instructed to police a prospective Islam4UK march is doing his job, not letting his race / community down by say cracking down on any riot action taken out by a group of white males against the opinions of Islam4UK, however offensive the latter maybe.

      2. Some commentators (such as Joyce Pettigrew and Cynthia Keppley Mahmood in their analysis of Jat Sikhs and human rights abuses faced by Punjabi Sikhs at the hands of the Central Government) highlight that whereas rural Punjabis are typically of Jatt origin, the Police force has a strong ‘mazbhi’element and urban centres a ‘mercentile’ population. Both the ‘mercentile’ and ‘mazbhis’ are described by these authors as the ‘traditional rivals of the Jatts’.

      I am not sure how much emphasis can be placed on (2) over (1), but imagine it is a mix of the two elements.

    14. Dalbir — on 27th January, 2010 at 6:56 PM  

      I shall ignore your questionable use of the term ‘panchoday’ (lit. sister-f***ers) which does nothing for your argument

      @13

      Dude, if you mixed with everyday Panjabi men for even a short length of time, you’d hear those words quite frequently. No offence, but you sound a bit sheltered with the above? I’m just giving you a heads up. Don’t be so sensitive.

      Your explanations are okay by the way, but totally ignore the reputation Punjab Police has (and earned!). Your comments are bordering on extreme naivity. A more generally corrupt, fat bunch of fuckers you will struggle to find (bhangra classes for drastic weight loss anyone?) Not to mention that whole legacy of sadism from the post 84 period. From taking bribes, to extra judicary executions. These guys know all the tricks. In any case, I don’t think those brothers who were protesting had a clue, as I thought I made clear in post 5?! Our lot seems to have lost the plot when it comes to protestinf effectively.

      Forget Pettigrew and Mahmud. Punjab police is Jatt dominated. Go back home and see for yourself.

      Don’t get all of your info from books brother, have your ears and eyes on the ground too.

    15. comrade.. — on 27th January, 2010 at 8:35 PM  

      Dalbir,
      The police in other states of India are angels compered to the Punjab Police, watch this video.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0pc8IjmXaI&feature=related

    16. Deep Singh — on 28th January, 2010 at 9:10 AM  

      Dalbir wrote:

      “Dude, if you mixed with everyday Panjabi men for even a short length of time, you’d hear those words quite frequently. No offence, but you sound a bit sheltered with the above?”

      No offence taken, but please refrain from making too many assumptions - I have frequent dealings with Punjabis on a daily basis and am familiar with the terminology used by those of an uncultured disposition, nonetheless, as I said, I fail to see what the use of the phrase “Sister****ers” does for your argument.

      “Your explanations are okay by the way, but totally ignore the reputation Punjab Police has (and earned!)”

      Dalbir, I am very aware of this ‘reputation’ and have had the unfortunate experience of witnessing it first hand and in no way am I ‘ignoring’ this item - I was responding to your comments around the visible case of Sikhs in the Punjab Police attacking/controlling/policing (depending on one’s view) Sikh protestors.

      “Your comments are bordering on extreme naivity. A more generally corrupt, fat bunch of fuckers you will struggle to find (bhangra classes for drastic weight loss anyone?)”

      Again, I cannot see what any of the above does to further your argument (likewise for your ad hominem comments with respect to me) - I have explained the context of my statements above.

      “Not to mention that whole legacy of sadism from the post 84 period. From taking bribes, to extra judicary executions. These guys know all the tricks”.

      Dalbir, for the record, I am not defending the actions of the Punjab Police and am very cognisant of their human rights abuses, in particular during the 1980s and 1990s.

      “Our lot seems to have lost the plot when it comes to protestinf effectively”.

      Rumbold has a fair point in this respect as well.

      “Forget Pettigrew and Mahmud. Punjab police is Jatt dominated. Go back home and see for yourself. Don’t get all of your info from books brother, have your ears and eyes on the ground too”

      I have been back to Punjab several times (FYI, Home for me is the UK) and am aware that the Punjab Police is not solely composed of ‘Mazbhis’, nonetheless the information available from Pettigrew and Mahmood provides a possible source of explanation, I have not suggested that it is the only source.

      Dalbir, I feel we are essentially on the same side of the equation here, you will note that I have not negated any of the comments from previous posters (I have not repeated any as it adds nothing new to the available discussion, simply highlighted some additional factors).

    17. Dalbir — on 28th January, 2010 at 1:07 PM  

      Okay, but side shifting to Mazbhis was a cheap shot. I don’t know what Pettigrew and Mahmud were playing at with that one. I don’t understand what deep routed issues the Jatt community have with Mazhbis (everyday conversations with Jatt friends confirm some SERIOUS hatred existing there).

      Besides, there is no need to focus on delivery style in my posts. If I use earthy language you can ignore it and just focus on the underlying point.

      Anyway…

      I see the Ludhianan thing seems to have disappeared into oblivion now.

    18. Deep Singh — on 28th January, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

      Dalbir:

      “I don’t know what Pettigrew and Mahmud were playing at with that one. I don’t understand what deep routed issues the Jatt community have with Mazhbis (everyday conversations with Jatt friends confirm some SERIOUS hatred existing there)”

      I cannot comment upon Pettigrew or Mahmoods motive / agenda (if indeed they have one other than academic assessment of their assignments), however they have written much of their texts based on interviews with Jatts in Punjab, in particular Khalistani Jatts.

      The implication of their view is clear, and your confirmation of the rivalry between Jatts and ‘mazbhis’ (“some SERIOUS hatred existing there”) supports their rationale that the experiences of rural Jatts at the hands of the Police include a caste factor.

    19. Dalbir — on 28th January, 2010 at 3:21 PM  

      Is it more realistic to view this as an inter-Jatt conflict than what you are suggesting? In fact KPS Gill (a Jatt himself), views the conflict as one between pro government Jatts (i.e Punjab Police) and Khalistani Jatts (kharkus). You’re mistaken if you think the rural Jatt masses are not heavily represented in the Punjab Police. That being said KPS Gill is probably simplifying the matter a bit but to suggest the police is not heavily made up and influenced by the majority community in Punjab is plain wrong.

      I think blaming Mazbhis is probably just scapegoating. Much like certain neo-nazi groups blame immigrants for all their woes here in the UK without just cause. If anything Pettigrew and Mahmud have probably just aired common prejudiced perceptions in their works from reflecting their rural sources?

      I have a feeling we are dealing with animosity that long predates Sikhi myself. This has nothing to do with Punjab Police experiences as even people raised here who have no experince of ‘back home’ frequentlyshare such views. I would say it is a deeply encultured hatred myself?

    20. Deep Singh — on 28th January, 2010 at 4:13 PM  

      “KPS Gill (a Jatt himself), views the conflict as one between pro government Jatts (i.e Punjab Police) and Khalistani Jatts (kharkus)”

      I think you are correct in suggesting that this is over simplified, as it implies that a Jatt (or any person) who is not pro-Khalistani is automatically pro-government. This forum is evidence enough to show the contrary.

      “I think blaming Mazbhis is probably just scapegoating”

      Understand where you are coming from, but for the record, I am not ‘blaming Mazbhis’ at all. Simply highlighting what academic research has mentioned.

      “If anything Pettigrew and Mahmud have probably just aired common prejudiced perceptions in their works from reflecting their rural sources?”

      I cannot speak on behalf of these scholars, however I do oppose any classification of them as Nazis! They have not said that the Punjab Police is composed solely of Mazbhis, simply that caste issues which, as you also concede, pre-date any Sikh-specific matters, are also borne out in clashes that occur, albeit these are of secondary notion.

    21. Dalbir — on 28th January, 2010 at 9:17 PM  

      I’m not suggesting those scholars are nazis! I appreciate Mahmud’s work and am familiar with it. Could you post a reference to her comments about the Mazhbi-Jatt theory please, I haven’t noticed it before?

      Anyway, the only thing the above posts highlight is the failure of Jatt society to get over caste despite centuries of being exposed to Sikh thought. How much longer will this go on?

    22. comrade.. — on 28th January, 2010 at 9:41 PM  

      Dalbir/Deepa all the bad things that happen in the Punjab, it is the police who are to be blamed, what about those that employ the them, the ‘State’

    23. Deep Singh — on 29th January, 2010 at 9:56 AM  

      Dalbir:

      “the only thing the above posts highlight is the failure of Jatt society to get over caste despite centuries of being exposed to Sikh thought. How much longer will this go on?”

      This is a tad simplified, although pro-Jatt nepotism does exist within all Sikh institutions (be it the Akali Dal, Taksal, Nirmal Akharas, Nihang Deras etc).

      The reality unfortunately is not as simple as blaming Jatts or scapegoating non-Jatts (be they so-called ’scheduled’ classes or the upper echelons of Punjabi society), there are several political incentives on part of all groups (including those described as ’scheduled’ classes) to retain their class identity and this plays into the hands of the state quite nicely.

    24. Deep Singh — on 29th January, 2010 at 9:58 AM  

      Comrade:

      “Dalbir/Deepa all the bad things that happen in the Punjab, it is the police who are to be blamed, what about those that employ the them, the ‘State’”

      Mr Johal, nice to hear from you again. I believe critiques of the State have been highlighted several times on this site. The Police are simply one arm of the State, there are several other State bodies and institutions which perpertuate the corruption rife at the centre.



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