Speech delivered on 16th May, 2021, at a webinar to commemorate 400th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Epitome of Resistance against Genocide and Conversion of Hindus and Sikhs under Islamic Rule in India
Honourable Governor, Kerala, Shri Arif Mohammed Khan ji
Honourable Chief Minister, Punjab, Sardar Amarinder Singh ji
Respected Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji,
Sh Harinder Sikka ji,
On behalf of K S Raju legal Trust, and, on my own behalf, allow me the delight of welcoming you all to today’s webinar which has been organised to commemorate the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. I find the topic of the webinar to be of monumental importance as it relates to basic human rights, dignity and liberty.
Friends, for over a year now, Covid is wreaking havoc in every nook and corner of the planet, killing thousands, and crippling millions. I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones and pray for the wellbeing of everyone.
In these dark hours of distress, when people are struggling to take care of themselves and their families, Sikh community has stood out for its selfless service for the good of others. They are running ‘oxygen langars and extending medical aid for one and all. World over, people are curious to know the source of this exceptional Sikh virtue of serving all humans without discrimination. Through this platform, I wish to inform the world that Sikhs have imbibed the spirit of sacrifice and human welfare from Sahib Siri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. In the history of mankind, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji is perhaps the only leader who willingly sacrificed his life and the lives of his family and followers to protect the freedom and dignity of others.
Guru Tegh Bahadur ji encouraged his followers to be fearless in pursuit of a just society. His philosophy of Fear None, Frighten None, posed a direct challenge to Aurangzeb, the Indian Mughal emperor in the 17th century. Aurangzeb, had unleashed genocidal violence on the Hindus. They were coerced to give up their faith and embrace Islam. He ordered implementation of several oppressive programs calculated to bring about genocide of Hindus. Imposition of jazia on Hindus; prohibition on celebration of Hindu festivals; demolition of Hindu Temples and erection of mosques in their place, were some of such repressive programmes. Under Aurangzeb, forced mass conversion of Hindus to Islam had become the principal function of the empire.
According to a historical account, Hindus of Kashmir, unable to withstand the state oppression, approached Guru Tegh Bahadur ji for support. The Guru accepted their prayer and agreed to defend their religious freedom. On his instructions, a communication was sent to Aurangzeb that if the Sikh Guru could be persuaded to accept Islam, the Hindus would convert as well. Hearing this, Aurangzeb summoned Guru sahib to Delhi, and, when he refused to renounce his faith in favour of Islam, he was publicly beheaded on 11th November 1675. He gave his head to prevent forced conversion of Hindus and their genocide.
Friends, I am convinced, and so shall you be, that if anyone in the world can be legitimately called, GREAT, it is, and it is Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. He was embodiment of non-violence. The saviour of freedom. The crusader against injustice and tyranny.
The United Nations recognises that in different phases of history, genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity. Sadly, genocidal violence against Hindus and Sikhs during the Islamic rule in India has escaped the due attention of the world. It is our common responsibility to ensure that horrors of the past are not lost to history. It is our duty to inculcate future generations with the lessons of the past in order to help prevent future acts of religious violence, in all forms, and against all.
I would like to conclude my introductory remarks with an appeal to the dignitaries on the dais to persuade Government to declare Guru Tegh Bahadur ji’s martyrdom day as the ‘Day of Commemoration in memory of the Hindu and Sikh victims of Genocide and Holocaust.’