ਐਸਾ ਕੰਮੁ ਮੂਲੇ ਨ ਕੀਚੈ ਜਿਤੁ ਅੰਤਿ ਪਛੋਤਾਈਐ
The year (2021) just gone by has been a year of profuse goodness and service to humanity as well as downright acts of human depravity for The Sikhs. During the raging corona pandemic where as majority of countrymen shuddered to assist others for fear of getting infected, Sikh volunteers could be seen taking the infected to the hospitals, converting their spacious congregational halls of Gurdwaras into isolation wards, distributing medicines, food free of cost to the patients and their attendants, providing scarce oxygen to the needy at homes and on the roadside outside their gurdwaras from the multiple improvised outlets created for the emergency and arraging transport and flights for those stranded with their deceased kith and kin, and cremating and burrying the unclaimed dead bodies at considerable risk of getting inflected themselves and their families. Similar acts of selfless service of running free community kitchens during the year-long farmers agitation at all the borders of Delhi further consolidated the Sikh image of a community of god-fearing, stable, cool headed, humble servants of society, capable of keeping their nerve and love of humanity even in extreme moments of human suffering.
But towards the end of this year, two incidents of sacrilege, desecration and vandalism took place which not only revived the bitter memories of the most heinous acts of sacrilege committed in 2015 but also smeared the fair name and image of Sikh society of being a community of compassionate justice loving, protecting the defenseless and making every conscious effort of avoiding to commit sin at any cost. The Sikh killing of two malcontents caught red handed by the Gurdwara task force at Darbar Sahib at Amritsar and the caretaker at a Gurdwara at Kapurthala and then leaving them before the already incensed mass of Sikh devotees to be lynched alive inside the holiest of Sikh shrines is no less a heinous an act of sacrilege and profanity than the two prior acts of desecration by the intruders. Never in the history and rich heritage of the Sikhs, have they killed the defenseless and the fleeing. Let us not forget our legacy of Bhai Kanaihya offering water and first aid even to the enemy soldiers and the fallen. Lynching of a defenseless person, howsoever depraved, and doing vigilants justice runs against the grain and essence of every of tenet of Sikh religion and every other Sikh sanskar which made us Sikhs of the Sikh Gurus. These two mindless acts of brutality under the omniscient gaze of our Guru whom we consider eternal and omnipresent is an unpardonable sin which no amount of argument and counter claims can expiate and condone. In one senseless stroke of lynching of two defenseless accused, all the Sikh investment made in selfless service of humanity and their distinctive image of being spontaneous do-gooders has been brought down and compromised. This most reprehensible incident seems to have divided the Sikh society vertically. While most of opportunist Sikh politicians and religious figures and common masses have endorsed this act of instant justice without batting an eyelid, those who are sensitive, civilized and enlightened feel highly upset, agonized and helpless to reconcile with this kind of primitive justice. Well-known columnist Tavleen Singh’s comments, “they shamed me and I did not recognize my religion. It should shame our political leaders that they fulminated against sacrilege but were too cowardly to admit that the real desecration was that two men were lynched in places of worship,” (Indian Express, 2021) is a candid admission and an echo of our collective guilt.
This kind of mental and psychic fragmentation among the numerically very small religious community bodes ill for the Sikh society and creates hurdles in their upward civilization journey.