Amaan Bali: Censored For Supporting The Sikh Nation & Questioning The Indian State
"I refuse to believe that electoral politics can be a solution to any Sikh or Punjab issue in India."
June 30, 2022 | 2.5 min. read | Opinion
On June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in India which led to the silencing of political voices, dissent, activists, and media. It was thus a surprisingly symbolic “coincidence” when I received an email from Twitter, at the behest of the Modi government, censoring my account on June 25 some 47 years later. I would also learn that in and around the same time many other Sikh accounts would be withheld in India as well.
Social media is generally accessible here and India claims to provide freedom of expression to each and every citizen. The internet is full of truths, as well as lies. Which begs the question, what is it that now triggers the government so much that they take to crackdown the way they have on certain Sikh accounts, including mine?
I believe I differ from many of the regular critics of the government. You may be shocked to hear from me that the Indian government does not necessarily fear criticism in of itself, no matter how critical it may be.
The government wants us to be engaged in trivial criticisms, oppositions, protests and debates, within the confine of the state structure as it exists. I have time and again said that the Government of India wants to keep Punjab and Punjabis engaged in useless politics.
However, I refuse to believe that electoral politics can be a solution to any Sikh or Punjab issue in India. This line of thought is what does not sit right with the government. They are comfortable with people opposing the BJP, Congress, Akali Dal or AAP, but the moment you tell them that you do not believe in the entire system, the sham that it is, they know where to put you and that’s where I am.
Am I seditious by demanding more rights for Punjab? Am I asking for anything more than what was at one time promised? No.
Another reason I find myself restricted today is for supporting the ideology of the Sikh Nation. I have often confronted liberal and non-liberal Indian thinkers who have written piles of articles and books on how Sikhs in India are moderate, patriotic, and nationalists while the ones from Canada or the UK are radicals who hurt the peace.
It is no surprise that the entire so-called intellectual and academic lobby in India wants you to believe that the idea of the Sikh homeland is an imported one and not an organic one. I have challenged that notion and continuously aim for Panthic unity under one Nishan Sahib. A Sikh living in the US is as rightfully concerned about the rights of Punjab as the one living in Moosa. That is an idea that will never sit right with India.
As of today multiple Sikh accounts like @sikhpa, @everything13, @tractor2twitter, and others have experienced restrictions in India. I am not hopeful that the Indian system, which sleeps on the files of Sikh prisoners and victims of genocide, has the fortitude to look Delhi in the eyes and ask questions.
Amaan Bali is born and raised in Kashmir. He is an entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book, “Growing up on the right side of Kashmir History”. You can find him on Twitter at @amaanbali.
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Sikhism is based on egalitarian principles and nationalism. The Gurus worked very hard at integrating the entire country through travels, engaging with people in all corners of the country and spreading the message of unity / integrity and truthful living throughout the country. 4 of the 5 ‘panj pyaras’ were not from Punjab but other far off areas such as Orissa, Gujarat and Karnataka. Having a Punjab-centric mindset is a problem in itself when there are Sikh communities thriving outside. (I dare say, maybe this is a strategy to contain the influence of Sikhism within a tiny state) If at all, try focusing on Pakistan occupied Punjab : the original / historical homeland of the erstwhile Sikh empire . 2nd , the very few vocal Sikhs outside india need to redirect their focus on their new country / new homes.