With the Sikhs of Punjab refusing to sign the constitution of India and not willing to be absorbed into a manufactured ‘Indian’ identity, a process of dehumanizing then began.
Sikhs Labeled as Criminals
In 1947, under the direction of Prime Minister Nehru, Chandu Lal Trivedi had issued a directive to all Commissioners in Punjab to the effect that the ‘Sikhs in general must be treated as a criminal tribe. Harsh treatment must be meted out to them to the extent of shooting them so that they wake up to political realities.’
It has been confirmed that such a directive was issued to all the D.C.s of Punjab by Home Secretary Policy letter on October 10th, 1947.
Similar instructions were sent by the then C.M. of U.P. Mr. Sampurnanand in his letter to the then Speaker of Lok Sabha Mr. Hukam Singh on August 29th, 1959. It says, “Rai Sikhs, Jat Sikhs, Virk Sikhs and Kamboj Sikhs, who were classified as criminal tribes in the earstwhile Punjab.” (Robber Joblemen by Joyce Pettigrew, p. 219, year 1975)
Sikhs Labeled as Traitors
With all schools in Punjab teaching Punjabi children Hindi, parents and community leaders started to become concerned. A civil movement was started to address the language issue and restore Punjabi, the official language of Punjab.
Instantly the Sikhs were portrayed as traitors for rejecting Hindi and the new ‘Indian’ identity. In 1956 all states in South India were realigned according to linguistic identity. For Punjab, it would take another 10 years before they received a Punjabi speaking state. By this time, much of the Indian population was fed propaganda via government newspapers that Sikhs were traitors for not assimilating into Hindi.
Sikhs labeled as Secessionists – Threat to India
Feeling alienated within India, the Sikh community put forward a resolution to address all grievances they had with the nation state of India. In 1972, the Sikhs put forward the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. Within this resolution were issues included both religious and political concerns. From easy issues of recognizing Sikhism as a religion, to stopping the discriminatory policy of not hiring Sikhs into the army, to allowing all states within India to set local state level policies and not be forced to get permission from the central government.
India refused all resolutions and started to portray Sikhs as secessionists who wished to break apart India. The government controlled media propagated to the rest of India how Sikhs would eventually demand independence, which would result in India disintegrating as nation state.
As the Sikhs continued their peaceful demonstrations during the 1970s, an environment of hatred was created by the Indian government to the point where the average Indian believed Sikhs were criminals and traitors who wished to destroy India. The Sikhs were no longer equal human beings; they were a barbaric, subhuman threat to India.