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Stand Up against Governance by Force, the Path of Guru Tegh Bahadhur Ji

By: Dr. Jagmohan Singh Raju, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu

400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, this year, has once again drawn the world’s attention to the genocidal violence inflicted on Hindus by the Indian Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, and the Sikh Guru being publicly beheaded for standing up against the genocide. Guru Tegh Bahadur’s resistance to the genocide of Hindus escalated the Mughal empire’s retribution against Sikhs. Several thousands of them were savagely butchered, including bricking alive of the two grandsons of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. History has no other parallel of such a gruesome genocide. Therefore, there is a clamour for the United Nations to acknowledge the Hindu and Sikh Genocide in the Mughal regime. Same sentiment has also been echoed by India at the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Genocide is a man-made disaster, a deliberate, planned, pre-meditated destruction of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Genocide usually occurs in societies governed by force. When bigotry and fundamentalism overtake knowledge, governance by force replaces governance informed by justice. Hate crimes, identity related conflicts; labelling of a certain group of people as spiteful and dangerous; selective curtailment of rights and freedoms; concentration of power; passing laws that discriminate against people based on their identity; and exclusion are emblematic of governance by force.

Genocide, can be prevented if governance by force is challenged by the leadership, as was done by Guru Tegh Bahadur. Institutionally, governance by force can be thwarted by ensuring access to justice; establishing accountable and inclusive institutions; encouraging rule of law; reduction in corruption in all forms; fostering responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels; ensuring public access to information; protecting fundamental freedoms; checking of violence and hate speech; and legislating non-discriminatory laws. Early detection and prevention of genocide, therefore, is essentially a challenge of good governance entailing elimination of inequalities and promoting a common sense of belonging and dignity.

Genocide is religion, ideology and geography neutral. No society is firewalled against it. Genocide, in any part of the planet, in modern times or in antiquity, is a crime against human race. It is a collective global responsibility of all societies that no genocide is lost to history, as lessons learnt from each genocide are of equal international importance in preventing its repetition in any other corner of the earth. Thus, it is imperative that genocide of Sikhs in the seventeenth and eighteenth century are recognised by the United Nations for the larger good of the humanity and information regarding this genocide is disseminated among all member states of the United Nations.

An international campaign needs to be launched to canvass support and endorsement from people belonging to all societies, nationalities, religions, identities and ideologies for a representation to the UN to recognise the genocide of Hindus and Sikhs in India during the Mughal period and to declare birth day of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji as the International Human Rights Day.

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