Kabul Gurdwara Attack: Vile propaganda to create Sikh-Hindu rift
by Jaibans Singh on 09 Apr 2020 4 Comments

There are a large number of multi-media resources functioning across the world with the singular agenda of creating a rift between the Hindu and Sikh communities by resorting to despicable propaganda based on blatant lies and misinformation. One such organisation is 5K Broadcasting, a UK-based so-called media house that has its office at 29 Saxon Grove, Leeds, LS175DY. Actually, it is a one man entity run by one Swaran Bir Singh. An analysis of the content of its website makes it clear that his agenda is to target the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a manner that creates ill-will and mistrust within the Sikh community towards the socio-political ideology of the country’s majority party. He spouts venom and resorts to yellow journalism in the most obnoxious manner.


A terrorist attack on a Gurdwara in Kabul on March 25, 2020, left 27 Sikhs, including women and children dead, and many wounded. In an intolerable twist to the monumental tragedy, Swaran Bir Singh released on Facebook a video named, “ISIS or RAW - Who killed Afghan Sikhs?” from the platform of 5K Broadcasting, in which he makes bizarre allegations of the attack having been carried out by the terrorist organisation Islamic State-Khorashan (IS-K) at the behest of the Indian Intelligence Agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Singh further says that the RAW acted on orders from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).


The weird logic put forward by Swaran Singh suggests: “ISIS is funded by RAW; hence, ISIS attacks on Sikhs is supported by RAW; RAW is supported by the Indian Government and the Government is supported by RSS, hence, RSS is behind the attack on Sikhs in the Kabul Gurdwara.” Swaran Singh offers no proof for this absurd logic and naturally has no documentary or any other form of evidence to substantiate his claims. 


Anti-India propaganda on similar lines has been conducted by Gopal Singh Chawla, a Pakistani Sikh who has links with Khalistani organisations and was earlier President of the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. Chawla chose a news report about one of the terrorists involved in the Gurdwara attack being from Kerala as the primary tool for his vicious propaganda


On March 26, the ISIS posted in its propaganda magazine Al Naba, the photograph of a terrorist whom they call ‘Abu Khalid Al-Hindi’. He has been identified as a radicalised Muslim youth from Kerala, whose real name is Muhammad Muhsin. He left the country to join the ISIS and was believed to have been killed in a drone attack in Afghanistan last year.


In a You Tube video titled, “Who is Master Mind Suicide Attack of Gurdwara Sahib Kabul?” upload on the Shahid Shabbar Official portal, Chawla describes this terrorist as the mastermind of the attack and postulates the disgusting theory that the person was trained as a terrorist in Kerala by the Indian Government and sent to Afghanistan to target Sikhs. He also openly alleged that RSS was the perpetrator of the attack. He went on to emphasise that Sikhs are the biggest well-wishers of Muslims, who reciprocate the sentiment in equal measure.


It is not difficult to identify a well laid out propaganda campaign behind the two similar messages emanating around the same time from two different parts of the world. While the first objective was to drive a wedge in the relationship between Sikhs and Hindus, the second was to move the focus away from the fact that the planning and execution of the terror attack was being traced back to Pakistan.


Statements by the Afghanistan Government suggest the hand of the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) in the attack. The leader of the IS-K in Afghanistan is 43-year-old Mawlawi Aslam Farooqi, a Pakistani Pashtun who was recruited into the LeT in 2004. He was sent to Afghanistan in 2007 and ultimately transferred permanently to the ISIS. Hundreds of others from Pakistani terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan were also similarly delegated to the ISIS. Farooqi became head of the IS-K due to his roots in the LeT and the influence of Pakistan's ISI on the ISIS.


It is quite apparent that Pakistan maintains links with all terrorist organisations operating in the Muslim world and provides them trained manpower, shelter and strategic advice. Seen in this context, the choice of a terror attack on a Sikh Gurdwara or a Hindu Temple in Afghanistan to further personal interests becomes understandable.


Hindus revere the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, indeed all Gurus and the holy Guru Granth Sahib. The RSS, in particular, derives ideological perceptions from the teachings of the Gurus and the Holy Granth. The organisation held countless seminars, talks and discussions on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji all through the celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of the Guru; it published many books, brochures and other literature that was widely circulated among its worldwide cadre.


The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor for pilgrimage was undertaken by the BJP government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has particular respect for the Sikh community and they are well represented in his government. Recently, he cleared the names of 312 Sikh foreign nationals that previous governments had blacklisted for anti-India activities.


The recent Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) is designed to ease the citizenship process for the minority communities - Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Jains residing in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh - where they are being subjected to extreme persecution on religious lines. The persecuted Sikh community of Afghanistan and Pakistan is likely to derive maximum benefit from this legislation; they will be able to stay in India as proud citizens. Surprisingly, such political parties that wish to position themselves as the well-wishers of the Sikhs are opposing the legislation tooth and nail.


Among those killed in the Kabul Gurdwara attack on 25 March was an Indian Sikh national, Tian Singh. Two others, Shankar Singh and Jiwan Singh, killed in the carnage had stayed in India, but only Tian Singh has been identified as a citizen of India. Perhaps the other two are among the many hapless persons who have migrated to India but are still awaiting citizenship.


To the credit of the Union Government, it managed to have all three bodies brought back within a week. Their families have done the cremation ceremonies. Tian Singh’s cremation was attended by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardip Puri. “These unfortunate deaths and the impunity of these attacks are a grim reminder of the persecution which religious minorities face in some countries in our neighbourhood... the world needs to act now. The perpetrators of this heinous attack have to be brought to justice,” Puri tweeted after the cremation.


The actions of some fringe elements will not dent the strong and deep relations that all communities maintain in India, especially Sikhs and Hindus. While there is no reason to be overly concerned, it is necessary to remain vigilant and take timely action to stop the spread of vile, untruthful, false and evil propaganda that is designed to sow seeds of distrust between Sikhs and Hindus. The allegation of RAW is the controller of a terrorist organisation like ISIS cannot be allowed to go uncontested by the Government of India. The matter should be raised at appropriate international levels.


(Jaibans Singh is an analyst, columnist and author) 

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