Sunday, 13 January 2013

An Open Letter to the Citizens of New Dehli - Must Read


My heart bleeds over the brutalities suffered by Jyoti Pandey and her friend, and the suffering that their families are going through.

I also feel the pain of the women in your city and of their families: the terror of having to negotiate the world every time you step out of your home to go to work or school, to step out in your neighbourhood, or to move from one to another to shop or visit or play or merely enjoy the amenities of life in a city.

Your leaders, both political and religious, have already played their cards. They’re not about to let you change anything around you, because if they did, they’d be the first ones to be locked behind bars.

Your media has no interest in helping you change things for the better, because they represent corporate interests first and foremost. And those interests are now commingled with the interests of the political and religious hierarchy. Maintaining the status quo is seen to be best for them, even though it may not be for you.

But, unfortunately, you have an even bigger elephant in the room.

Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Yes, yes, I know. You want us Sikhs to move on and stop harping on 1984.

Well, we have moved on. We are forever in chardi kala — it’s in our DNA. We have forgiven, though not forgotten. We’ll pursue the culprits as long as they are alive, but we will never be their victims. Don’t forget, for better or worse, your country is being led by a Sardar who has dragged you all, kicking and screaming, into the 20th century. [No, this is not a typo … you have another century to go before you can lay claim to the 21st, I’m afraid.]

As I was saying, we’ve gotten over it.

But you haven’t.

You never will.


You can deny it, ignore it, pretend it never happened, whatever … but it will follow you wherever you go. It will haunt you in your sleep. It will be your nightmare day and night. And it will sit on your head, monkey-like, on the heads of your children, and the children of your children …


Given the thousands of innocent men, women and children killed in your streets and our homes in 1984 — in your city alone, without even getting into what happened in the villages, towns, cities, even moving trains, of your land — and the thousands of women who were raped then, it requires no complicated arithmetic to figure out that a hundred thousand and more of your city were involved — directly! — in the rape, murder and mayhem.

Remember the mobs, some in hundreds, some in thousands, that roamed the city for three days, unfettered, unchecked?

Well, they are all alive, free still, never charged, never tried, never punished, and they live amongst you. They are your fathers, your brothers, your husbands, your sons, your lovers. A hundred thousand of them.

One of your own religious leaders said the other day that your men need to have sex every 15 to 20 days, no matter where or how they get it. He must know his flock.

That’s why, isn’t it, that a rape occurs every 20 minutes in your land? That’s the official figure! Three every hour, 36 every day, 252 every week, 1080 every month, 12,960 every year … give or take a few. Now, please keep in mind that these figures, being ‘official’, are but the tip of the iceberg.

The terrible tragedy of December 16, 2012 will not change anything. Simply because those who are now raping you have nowhere else to go.

You are the true inheritors of 1984. And your inheritance is that your children and the children of your children will hound you. And stalk each other.

Because it is the law of nature.

As revealed by Krishna, and by Jesus. By Mohammed, Buddha, Moses, Mahavir. And Nanak.

As you sow, so shall you reap.

That’s the law.

And the law applies to individuals and it applies to communities, societies, and nations.

In case you think I’m making this up, here are a few reminders.

Pakistan was created through murder and mayhem. In the name of religion. Tens of millions of innocents suffered gravely because their leaders had no patience to try peaceful means.

Today: their own mullahs murder them. Every day. The country is a pariah of the world.

Israel. Walked roughshod over the lives of millions of innocent Palestinians, because it was able to buy the military might it needed to do it. To establish a state in the name of religion.

Today: missiles of modern fire and brimstone rain on them at regular intervals with biblical fury. Almost seven decades later, and there’s no peace to be had. Even in sleep.

Britain. And Europe. They raped and plundered the world for five centuries, each pretending to spread the word of God, but in reality pillaging the wealth of others and murdering their true owners.

Today: they are surprised to see that people of all the lands they brutalized have arrived in their homelands. There are no ifs and buts. Britain’s demographics is changing to make way for a new majority. And it won’t be Anglo-Saxon. The rest of Europe is not far behind. The colonies are knocking on the gates.

America. It has rained death on other nations, and has built its wealth on the corpses of countless children wherever they’ve gone to plunder.

Today: they simply don’t know how to prevent their own children from murdering them in their own homes. Every day, new barricades have to be raised … to defend against themselves. A nation … at war with itself.

There’s a reason why there’s no hope for peace on earth. Because we’ve all committed atrocities, we’ve outdone each other.

What you sow is what you reap.

So, remember 1984, as you lock yourselves up in your homes in New Delhi and get accustomed to moving around in human convoys.

I was at a party the other day. My hosts were Indian. And so were all the other guests.

I was the only Sikh-Canadian.

At one point, emboldened by liquor and the fact that he saw I was alone in a sea of desis, one of them cleared his throat and, in a raised voice, confronted me:

“So, Sher Singh ji,” he said, in feigned politeness, ”where are all the Sikhs and their kirpans now when we need them again to protect our daughters in India? Where were the saviour Sardars when the girl was being raped on a bus in Delhi the other day?”

He stood across the room, glowering at me, waiting for my response. The room turned quiet suddenly. They were all waiting for my answer.

I stood there, facing him. Seconds ticked by.

He stared at me. Others stared at me.

I stared at him.

Finally, I said: “Where do you think the Sikhs of Delhi have gone, and why do you think they are unable to save your women?”

I continued looking at him.

Gradually, ever so gradually, his eyelids fell. He looked at the floor. His shoulders slumped. His head sank, as if he was checking the polish on his shoes.

Quietly, ever so quietly, he shrugged his shoulders. Didn’t peep a word. Then slowly, ever so slowly, he turned around and staggered towards the bar.

In a room of almost 40 people, I swear I have never heard a louder silence than I did that night.

January 10, 2013

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