I’m 24, and this is the first time in my life that I’ve seen the whole Sikh community come together and act as one. It makes me feel very proud, and connected to my roots. We are united in supporting one man whom we all feel did what was right at the time.
I agree that he committed a crime – as does he – but he’s already been punished for 17 years. Most murderers in India only get a ‘life’ sentence of 14 years. [However, ‘life’ sentences have recently started getting longer
]. You also have to consider his crime: he killed a mass murderer. The chief minister let the police kill
hundreds and hundreds of Sikhs and loot their property. Nearly all Sikh families were affected by the anti-Sikh riots of 1984
, as well as the police violence that followed for years. That’s why the youth have been out in force to support Rajoana – many young Sikhs in Punjab have grown up fatherless or motherless. I believe Rajoana and his colleagues saved even more kids from being orphaned.
“We won’t stop until he’s freed”
Nobody in my family was killed, but we were displaced by the 1984 riots, like many other Sikhs. We lost the family business and had to start over from scratch. We received no help whatsoever from the government. Situations like these turned many Sikhs, like Rajoana, into militants.
Today, we’re still ignored by the government. We have a Sikh prime minister, but he does nothing for us Sikhs – as a minority, we need protections, and we’re not getting them. Meanwhile, we’re portrayed negatively in the news, as well as in the film industry. Sikhs are always drunks, criminals, or both. This prejudice is very deeply ingrained. Recently, I was travelling by train, and the woman sitting in front of me told her small child, “Eat your food or the Sikh will take you away!”
I hope that by saving Rajoana, we will show India that we may be a minority, but we have a voice, too. It’s heart-warming to see that it’s not just Sikhs who are working for this cause – we’ve got people of all sorts, both here and abroad, helping us spread the word
. I think things are looking up. In any case, we won’t stop until Rajoana is freed.