Saturday, September 20, 2008

Amu the Film

Finished watching Amu - The Film last night. Its a very slow movie, but conveys strongly what it sets out to convey. I could not sleep for most part of last night.

I was 7 years old in 1984. I am a Sikh. It was 13 years(in 1997) before I would recount, even to myself, what happened in that year.(I am yet to speak to anyone else)

The memory was followed by hatred, and hatred by that inevitable question - Why?

So why is this, the most personal fact about me, on this public blog? Because now, another 11 years later, I think there is an answer to that "Why?" That answer is relevant to all children of riots, and to chidren who are just getting to know about 1984, Godhra or Orissa.

1984 was not about Sikhism. Godhra was not about Islam, and Orissa is not about Christianity. It is about power. 1984 happened because Indira Gandhi could not tolerate the growing power of the Akalis in Punjab, and created a parallel force called Bhindrawale. What she had not anticipated or planned for, was the evolution of Bhindrawale into a strong force. Bhindrawale became her Frankenstein. Operation Blue Star was necessary - both to consolidate her power, and to end the internal security nightmare that she had created in Punjab.
With that operation, many believe(incl. me) , she signed her death warrant, and the death warrant of all the Sikhs in her country.
It was not about Sikhism. It was about the Akali Dal and the Congress.

It is about power. Religion is only used because it is the master key to the passions of the millions. Everyone responds strongly to religion. It is our fault. The fault of the stupid common man.

It was an organised pogrom. A very organised pogrom. How quickly things could get organised often leave me wondering whether the Congress set up was preparing for this carnage anyway, and the Indira Gandhi murder was just a convenient excuse.

It has taken a long time to sift out the emotional from the historical and to arrive at a theory.
Take it or leave it, That is my theory of Indian Riots. What's yours?


soulbrush said...

you hit the nail on the head! the hard part is trying to sort out the emotional from the can we? your posts are always so thought provoking.

Ni said...

Couldn't agree more. Of whatever little I understand, I have often come to the same conclusion, and it just makes me want to throw up.
I was 10-11 when mandal happenned and I remember having nightmares of being burnt alive for months after that.

~Hemanth~ said...

Exactly! Couldn't agree more with your theory.

Mampi said...

Agree with you. Coming from the same generation AND growing up in Punjab post-1984, I ended up thinking on these very lines. Yes, they were ready with the carnage, the murder was only what history books label as 'immediate cause'. Same for the other riots on religious grounds.
Thanks for sharing.

Devaki said...

Your theory is bang-on! I agree totally.

I recently saw Amu myself and was horrified, saddened and simply shocked! The Sikh community is doing so well today and is so completely integrated into the so-called mainstream, that it is difficult to believe something so horrific happened just two decades ago.

Incidentally, I wonder how this came to be? I mean how did the Sikh community move on from the horrors of 84 and... I am not sure how to put it but I hope you get my meaning.

I hope I am not offending you here. Please accept my apologies and ignore my question if you don't feel comfortable answering it. I am simply wondering if there is a lesson to be learned here?

Artnavy said...

been wanting to see amu
and i would have to agree that the common man is the one who ends up hurt

Pinku said...

u are so right all that it is all about is power and politics...and we the common people get taken in by the rhetorics.

I remember 84 as well...our neighbour a sikh family had been so terrified... their men hid in our store room for three days... while the women padlocked themselves in.

they were gruesome times. They still are ....lets pray for a better world...

vibhav said...

Balanced opinion you've given here.

How do we know said...

Hi soulbrush: Thanks! :-) I could say the same about your posts too.. esp. the oneword series.

Hi ni: OMG!! And this, when with Mandal, the burning was voluntary... or was it??

Hi hemanth: Thanks.

Hi mampi: I was waiting for ur comment, bcs i know u come from the same time and share the experience that i m talking abt. Will wait for ur comment on the next post too.

Hi Devaki: No, i m not offended at all. On the contrary, this is a very good question. I dont have a very good answer though. The 1947 carnage was much worse. This community - the Punjabi community rose like Phoenix after that too. The same principles of thrift, self reliance and enterprise helped, methinks, to rise like the Phoenix again.
You will be surprised to know that this is not the first carnage that the Sikhs faced in their brief history. As i read Khushwant Singh's A history of the Sikhs, i realise that the entire 400 years, has been a series of genocides. And the answer to what makes people still stick to Sikhi and how they manage to rise time and again, lies, I think, in that book too. Khushwant Singh does a good job of explaining. You may want to read that if you have the time.
Re. if there is a lesson to be learnt there, my guess is that one cannot learn resilience. It is there to see, but emulating it is not exactly ... easy to learn. What do you think?

How do we know said...

Hi Artnavy: Do see Amu. It is relevant to all riots, though it uses only the Sikh riots.. the treatment is quite nice.

Hi Pinku: I like that line.. still are... so true.

Hi vibhav: Thanks.

Devaki said...

Sure, I agree. Resilience is something that comes from within. It's either there or it's not not. Thanks for the book tip, I'll check the local library - I am curious.

Interesting to see your next post too, where you say you'll never vote Congress. I was wondering about that too - Manmohan Singh and other Sikhs supporting the Congress - I was wondering how that's possible too. Most common people would think like you in my opinion, I know I definitely would in those circumstances.

How do we know said...

Hi Devaki: In the last post, i stopped short of talking about "Sikhs" who are still in the Congress, but since I am biased, I deleted that part of the post.
Am glad you brought this up.

Last night, I was thinking about this. Personally, I experience deep hatred for people who collude with the Congress, and still profess to follow the faith of Sikhism. But that is personal hatred - the hatred of a riot victim for the riot creator.

On a more rational level, I believe that these people put personal power over ethics of Sikhism or even ethics of humanity. A Modi is as guilty as a Jagdish Tytler. But the BJP has Muslim members too. Perhaps they have a perspective that I do not know. I just think that they are not doing the right thing.

Ye manzilen !! said...

Awesome! Its all about power...right said!

Does it matter said...

Agree with you.
We are swayed so by religion, but are equally by caste, language, etc.

But since the opium of the masses provides a larger mass base to work on (read: vote-bank), and a larger 'enemy' base as the "we versus them", it probably gets used the most.

But, this has been happening for years now. Is what is happening, for example, in Mumbai now (Raj T.), not an offshoot of the violent Samyukta Maharashtra agitation?

The then Bombay state had more Gujarati speakers than Marathi. And if it were made a Union Territory then, we might not have had the militant approach of today.

We as a country ignore what does not affect us personally, and when we do protest (when it affects us), we are alone or in an isolated group.

We deserve the leaders, the politicians and the society we live in.

Anonymous said...

Thts wht I want to say...u hve really written d truth of the matter!The crux is exactly as u have mentioned...a very very brave attempt at speaking out!

How do we know said...

Hi ye manzilein: :-)

Hi does it matter: I always thot that linguistic reorganisation of states was a DUMB thing to do. But if it isnt language, it will be something else.. in Bihar it is caste! The crux of the matter is that there is some divisive force that is created, marketed like a product and then exploited.

Hi kiran: Thanks.

J P Joshi said...

Agree with you 100%. It is all about political power. In South Asia it is religion; in the US it was about colour - this will change though after the historic win of Barack Obama yesterday.

I, and the majority of people like me, have always felt ashamed after events like 1984, 1992, 1993, 2002 but have no control on the frankenstein's of our political system. How can we exercise control over people we elect to govern us? How can we elect the right people, because in a democracy we get the government we deserve.

Lately I have started urging all teachers to teach all their students that joining politics for common good is as noble a profession as joining the military. Can we extend this to other professions that can influence the younger generation in our country?