The bloodshed in Punjab in the eighties is still fresh in public memory. The death of Hindus at the hands of Khalistani propagandists has left deep scars in Punjab’s history.
Punjab’s unsung agony is revealed in the book – “Red Card”, authored by Ranju Aery Dadhiwal. The book brings into perspective the politicization of Hindus in Punjab to the fore, especially in the aftermath of the Khalistan movement during the 1980s.
A book in Hindi, Red Card discusses at length the painful chapter of Punjab conveniently forgotten for political correctness. The roots of this lay of course in the politics of the state before independence. The politics of Sikh separatism ran on full course with patronage from British rule in India. The foundation of politics in free India was made on the ignorance of the interests of the Hindus.
The red card was a mechanism for the distribution of relief among the persecuted Hindus of Punjab. The Hindus who formed the minority in Punjab were ignored so as to pander to the Sikh separatist interests, which were violent in nature.
The economics of drugs linked to terrorism was left on its own in the name of giving ‘autonomy’ to the separatists. The festered wounds of the Hindus were left too, and a travesty of justice was made out in doling out the red cards to the latter.
The 144-page book tries to cover the various aspects of the violence in Punjab which engulfed the lives of around 17,000 Hindus. This is important for the reason that it was the genius of the author to collect the data from various credible sources and put it into a picture in front of her readers.
The picture becomes grim with the introduction of the various trivial incidents which happened with the victims at the height of the violence after Operation Bluestar. The operation has become eschatological for the Sikh separatists around the world where it is used as a tool to legitimize their violent actions against innocents.
The Kanishka bombings of 1986 also gain a new color when the roots of the brutality against the Hindus came into the picture. The involvement of ISI, Babbar Khalsa, and other separatist organizations in the dastardly attack gains context when the violence in cities like Amritsar comes into the picture.
No lobbying groups or organizations of the Hindus in Punjab were involved to create policies for them, and the usual state corruption took over the scheme.
The book has done justice in terms of its footwork in the states of Punjab, Haryana, parts of Himachal Pradesh, and the Union territory of New Delhi.
The testimonials are a harrowing read, to begin with. We go through the accounts of the victim families whose sons, fathers, and husbands were sacrificed at the altar of ‘minoritarianism’ in the State.
This book assumes significance in the light of the recent activation of separatist elements within the farmer protests in Delhi.
Forget about justice, the red card scheme presents itself as a prime example of what it means to be truly mocked for what victim communities looked like.
The entire fiasco of forced settlement of the Hindu minorities within Punjab and hushed up cases of brutality due to the fear of retaliation from the radical groups in Punjab finds a specific mention in this book.
The book captures the thematic perspectives of the forgotten violence in the state, which deserves attention on par with the exodus of the Hindus from Kashmir in the next decade.
It is time to tell whether we learn from our mistakes and make amends for them. That is the somber parting message from the book by a senior journalist, and perhaps for that matter, this book needs a read from those who are new to the subject and want to know more.
The book was published by Bluerose publications and was released in October 2021.