Before the Genocide

before-genocide

When the British created India, they left behind a multi linguistic / religious nation. With over 1000 different languages and five of world’s major religions calling India their home, still there is a complete lack of ‘Indian’ identity. Some feared these groups would eventually want independence of their own, leading to the disintegration of India as a nation state.

To avoid this potential scenario, the government of India attempted to quickly forge an ‘Indian’ identity. In the south of India, as majority of the population belonged to the Hindu religion, an identity was forged around Hinduism and being Indian. As a result, states in the south were redistributed along linguistic lines, to better reflect the cultural and ‘Indian’ identity.

In the north it was more difficult. Punjab, if divided along linguistic lines would be a Sikh majority state. Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, in the Northeast, are majority Buddhist states. As a result of these unique ‘Indian’ identities, India decided to deny Sikhs and Buddhist their religious identity and proceeded to define them as Hindus in the Indian Constitution.

In the case of Punjab, India also refused to accept Punjabi as a legitimate language. All schools within the state of Punjab taught children Hindi and government offices functioned in Hindi.

Very quickly, the Sikhs rejected these acts of suppression. The Sikh delegation sent to review the Indian constitution refused to be a signatory to it unless Article 25 was amended, this being the article that declares Sikhs must be government by the Hindu religion.