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Survivors of 1984:
The Chic Sikhs Of The Year 2014





It gives us great pleasure to announce the selection of the Survivors of 1984, collectively, as The Chic Sikhs of the Year 2014.

Nominations received from our readers from around the world have helped a panel of three judges to select them from a long list of worthy men, women, youths, groups and organizations based in a multitude of countries around the world.

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Chic Sikhs? Survivors? Of 1984?

Undaunted by threats and repeated disappointments at the hands of the very people mandated to protect them, they are the only beautiful souls standing in an ugly sea of those who have surrendered their humanity to untrammelled greed, corruption and monstrous behaviour.   

They have looked brutal power in the eye and not blinked for a moment, defying it in broad daylight in the very streets of the land where they have been oppressed, in the halls of abused power, in the courts where justice has lain hidden under the mantle of the majority. 

This group of Survivors of 1984, originally widows and orphans of the state-sponsored genocide, has become the very embodiment of chardi kala in that its members have, in the face of grievous tragedy and extreme adversity over the course of 30 long and difficult years, become representative of the deeply entrenched strengths of the Sikh community and symbolic of its invincibility.
Like the mothers who watched their infants slaughtered  before their very eyes by the soldiers of Mir Mannu in the 18th century, the Sikh women of 1984 watched their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers massacred by mobs before their very eyes. And they saw their sisters, mothers and daughters brutalized by the same murderers, before they themselves suffered at their hands.

It happened in June 1984 in Amritsar and in dozens of other Sikh places of worship across Punjab.

And again, in November 1984 in India’s capital, New Delhi, and in cities, town and villages across the length and breath of god-forsaken India.

And again and again through the decade that followed.

The politicians that orchestrated, aided and abetted in the genocide have finally this year, 30 years later, been ousted from office. Those that have replaced them this year, sadly, have merely continued the onslaught on the community, albeit the outrages have taken on new forms and excuses.

The perpetrators of the mass crimes of 1984 -- police, judicial and administrative personnel, the pliant and accessory media, and the immoral and cowardly populace -- continue to enjoy state-protected impunity under the new rulers.

Through all of this, the Survivors of India’s Great Genocide of 1984 -- the third such Ghallughara/Holocaust in Sikh History -- have stood tall, heads held high, fearless, defiant, undaunted, and continue relentlessly, even in this year, the 30th since the pogroms, to pursue justice and due process in a land which remains ’secular’ and a ’democracy’ in name only and little else.

The resilience of the ‘survivors,’ their commitment to Sikhi, their unwavering spirit and resolve, have not only shamed those who have perpetrated the crimes and those who have through their silent and cowardice endorsed or condoned the massacres, but also those within our community who, insulated by their affluence or complacence, failed to step up to the plate.

In their resolve and commitment, the ’Survivors’ have held the Khanda Standard high and given notice to one and all, both within and without the community, that we are the same people who withstood and grew taller against the successive assaults of first, the Afghans, then the Mughals, then the British, and will undoubtedly do so once again, in the face of the latest challenges.

They remind us that the spiritual and physical mettle we have shown through the Holocausts, and thereafter through the loss of The Sikh Kingdom, and then the wounds of the Partition in 1947, followed by the further loss of sections of the Land of The Five Rivers, and yet remain on top of the world, is not mere history or past glory.

These brave souls have reminded us this year that the Spirit Born are still the bulwark of the Sikh Nation and that the future is ours for the taking.       

We salute these survivors who, though let down by friend and neighbour, their government and their leaders, even by many of their own, have renewed the examples of steadfastness for us:

those steadfast, meditating and devout souls who worshipped the Name, shared their food in companionship with others, ran a free kitchen for the needy, defended the helpless, and overlooked the faults of others …

… those men and women who sacrificed their lives at the altar of duty, who were cut up joint by joint, suffered their scalps to be scraped off, were broken on the wheel, were sawn or flayed alive, and who abjured not their faith and perjured not their soul, but lived their devotion to Sikhi with their hair intact to the last breath of their lives …

… those who underwent innumerable sufferings to maintain and preserve the sanctity of their places of worship, and, with smiling faces, suffered themselves to be ruthlessly beaten or imprisoned or to be shot, cut up or burnt alive and, without a sigh of complaint, accepted the Will of God
…  [excerpts from the invocations from our daily prayer]

We honour them this year, these extraordinary souls who today show us the path to the future, by collectively naming them The Chic Sikhs of The Year 2014, the 30th Anniversary of India’s 1984 Genocide.

It is their hope and ours that they will somehow also inspire the newly elected rulers of the country to give an enlightened and civilized direction to their country where still the majority of the world’s Sikhs reside, and honour the original commitment to democracy and secularism which had, in 1947, lured the Sikhs of the day to opt to be part of a newly created India. 

It is from the qualities which these Survivors have displayed that the community world-wide has drawn inspiration during the twelve eventful months of 2014, and standing on their shoulders, looks to the times to come ... with undiluted chardi kalaa.

And it is those qualities that have led our selection panel to name the Survivors of 1984, collectively, as the CHIC SIKHS OF THE YEAR 2014.      

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This annual honour, announced every New Year’s Day by, is the result of a two-month long poll from its readers worldwide and a final whetting by the three-judge panel.

The criteria for the honour of being selected ‘Chic Sikh of The Year’ stipulate that a candidate’s actions should constitute public service above and beyond the call of duty; selfless, consistent, ongoing and meticulous service; have a ground-breaking and far-reaching impact; commensurate with the highest Sikh ideals of working towards the welfare of all people; of benefit to people of all faiths and races; have made a mark on society in the year 2014; of a nation-building nature; and deserving wide recognition, encouragement and support.

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This is the seventh year in a row that we have asked our world-wide readers to propose the names of those men, women, children, groups, institutions or corporations - Sikh or non-Sikh - who they feel deserve to be named THE CHIC SIKH(S) OF THE YEAR.

As always, the response from across the diaspora over the course of the last two months has been thoughtful, spirited and enthusiastic. Our judges have struggled during the last few days with the excellent list (see below) of possible awardees, and have now selected a group which has reminded us of our duty, as citizens no matter where we live, to devote our lives in serving and protecting those who are in need … thus exemplifying the highest of Sikh ideals and values.

We at join Sikhs from around the world in congratulating these Survivors of 1984 -- wherever they are today, spread out across the diaspora or in Punjab --  and wish them all power and strength, success and grace, in their continuing endeavours.

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The list of past winners includes Wisconsin Gurdwara hero Lt. Brian Murphy, British Marathoner Fauja Singh, Human Rights Activist Gurbaksh Singh, Harvinder Singh Phoolka (Human Rights Advocate), Jarnail Singh ('The Lion of Delhi'), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, SALDEF, Saran Singh (Editor, The Sikh Review), Waris Singh Ahluwalia, The Sikh Coalition and United Sikhs.

The following 54 individuals, institutions or groups were nominated by our readers this year for the honour:

Baba Nanak Educational Society
All Working for Chardi Kalaa of Sikhi
Amrit Kaur Singh, Artist
Harpreet Kaur
J Mehr Kaur
Pammi Kaur Baweja
Paramjit Kaur, Oak Creek
Rabindra Kaur Singh, Artist
Khalsa Aid

Cast & Crew, ‘Kultar’s Mime’
The Living History Project
Manoj Mitta
Mothers, Wives, Daughters, Sons, of 1984 Victims
Brian Murphy, Lt
Partners, ‘Anti-Sikh Pogrom Remembered’
Sikh-Briton Volunteers
Sikh Naujawan Sabha, Malaysia
Sikh Sevaks, Unsung & Unheralded

Bicky Singh
Dya Singh
Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa
Gurmukh Singh, UK
Harbinder Singh Rana
Harinder Singh, SikhRI
Harjit Singh Sajjan, Lt Col
Harnoor Singh Gill
Harry Singh Baweja
Harvinder Singh Phoolka

Jagmeet Singh, MPP
Jaspreet Singh. Novelist
Jot Singh Baaz (Aanajot Singh)
Jujhar Singh, ‘Basics of Sikhi’
Khushwant Singh, Late
Mota Singh. Sir
Pardeep Singh Bahra
Pardeep Singh Nagra
Parvinder Singh
Prakash Singh, Oak Creek

Punjab Singh, Oak Creek
Ranjit Singh, Oak Creek
Ravinder Singh, Khalsa Aid
Sandeep Singh Brar
Sarbpreet Singh
Satwant Singh Kaleka, Oak Creek
Sita Singh, Oak Creek
Soram Singh Khalsa
Sukhman Singh
Suveg Singh, Oak Creek

Vishavjit Singh, SikhToons
The Survivors of 1984
Universal Sikh Mother
Widows of 1984

Once again, we congratulate the Survivors of 1984, and wish them and their loved ones every blessing and happiness in the New Year and in the years to come. And pray that their strength will become ours, their inspiration our guiding light, their sacrifices the brick and mortar on which we will build a strong and secure future.

January 1, 2015 

Conversation about this article

1: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), January 01, 2015, 6:57 AM.

The "Survivors of 1984: The Chic Sikhs of The Year 2014" bring us one step closer in our quest for a Sikh definition of a true martyr: the one who conquers self to defeat the aggressor. To survive against all odds. I thank the selection panel for their excellent choice; and of course, the Survivors of 1984 who continue to teach us yet another lesson in the Sikh martyrdom tradition: how to confront and shame the aggressor before the whole world, by living on with dignity.

2: Kaala Singh (Punjab), January 01, 2015, 10:24 AM.

Great choice indeed. The Survivors of 1984 are true heroes and true Sikhs. Many of us cannot comprehend the pain they have been through but they never lost their faith in Sikhi. They personify the Sikh values of courage and perseverance, especially if they continue to live in the hostile environment where society, instead of sympathizing with them and helping them, mocks them everyday by protecting and promoting the criminals who destroyed their lives. Let us all resolve to help them in whatever way we can as they rebuild their lives. Let us also understand that this will happen to people who surrender their sovereignty and the means to defend themselves for false promises. This happened because we were perceived as weak and unable to defend ourselves, the perpetrators knew that there would be no price to this as they would be protected by a criminal state which massacres its own citizens!

3: Harpreet Singh (USA), January 03, 2015, 12:13 AM.

Please, please, please consider contributing to the UK based charity named 'seva84'. They are actively working for the rehabilitation of affected families in Tilak Vihar, Delhi. I can confirm that American (and probably Canadian) credit cards work for donating to this charity. A few US$, C$, A$, pounds, rupees a month from each of us who are more fortunate could change the course of the life of an affected family.

4: Kaala Singh (Punjab), January 03, 2015, 12:25 AM.

Further to my post above: It is extremely important for Sikhs to understand why the Hindus claim Sikhs as their own and when they massacre us they treat us worse than enemies. Is it so that they love our faith and culture or they want to bolster their numbers to face the numerous threats they have created for themselves by acting dirty with everyone? I don't think so. They never loved us and they already have a population of more than a billion. So, what is the real reason when, on the one hand they treat us like enemies and on the other proclaim that Sikhs are their "own"? The reason is the land of Punjab. Yes, we sit on a piece of land that is geographically and strategically so situated that it is crucial for the very survival of India. It is OUR land that they want and not us. Losing Punjab means losing the entire north including Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh and bringing the borders of India to the outskirts of Delhi! Such a situation is unsustainable and unsurvivable for India with China and Pakistan knocking on the doors of Delhi. It also means losing the water resources in the mountains of Kashmir and Himachal which can cripple its economy. Punjab is the only physical link that they have to J&K and Himachal. It was not for nothing that both India and Pakistan wanted the Sikhs to join them in 1947 and the British wanted us to be independent. Sadly, everyone understood the importance of the land we possessed except the incompetent Sikh leadership. The genocide of 1984 was no random "riots" as the Indian state would like the world to believe, this was a well planned attempt to crush our spirit and to terrorize us into submission and break our aspirations to find our true place in the world!

5: Kulvinder Jit kaur (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada), January 03, 2015, 1:02 PM.

Great choice! The Survivors of 1984 are the true embodiment of the Sikhi spirit indeed. #4 -- you have given us food for thought. Thanks.

6: Kaala Singh (Punjab), January 04, 2015, 1:43 AM.

I can't stop myself from writing more when I see many of our people living in an imaginary world created by Bollywood and the Indian media. I find a large number of Sikhs completely unaware of the facts of 1984. Many amongst us are enamoured with Bollywood movies like "Singh is King" and "Son of Sardar" and with the daily TV coverage of Indian politicians and celebrities making a beeline for the very same Golden Temple they attacked in 1984. Here is some more food for thought: Did any of these influential people raise their voices when the Golden Temple was attacked or when innocent, unarmed and defenceless Sikhs were done to death in the thousands in Novemeber 1984! We see today a "Sikh-loving" faction in the Indian society and we start thinking that these Indians love us, and I am therefore compelled to write more. It is also very important for us to understand the aim of the Indian State to carry out the criminal actions of June 1984 and November 1984. The real aim was to ethnically cleanse their country of the Sikhs and bundle them in a few places like the "concentration camps" in Nazi Germany and then use extreme force to completely wipe them out. It goes to the credit of those who laid down their lives and defeated the evil designs of the Indian state. It also goes to the credit of devoted Sikh activists in India and abroad who highlighted these atrocities to the world. It is a result of this activism that those who used to proudly say that they did 1984 and threatened us with more, now chicken-out and go mum at the very mention of 1984! Also, while the struggle for justice must go on - the best answer to those who wanted to destroy us - Sikhs should succeed, prosper and grow and excel in every corner of the world and get out of their hell-holes where the Indians wanted to confine us and I believe that is exactly what we are doing!

7: Kanwal Prakash Singh (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA), January 05, 2015, 7:40 AM.

We applaud the choice of the "Survivors of 1984" as the Chic Sikhs of the Year 2014. These survivors have endured what are finally being admitted by a few brave souls in the vast subcontinent of India as among the worst crimes against innocents in the present times at the hands of its country. These survivors have displayed remarkable courage and unshaken commitment to the highest ideals and commandments of faith and to its proud and exemplary tradition of service and sacrifice for others. We remember such "brave martyrs and the soldiers of conscience who faced and accepted unconscionable tyranny with grace and sacrificed their all, but did not abandon their commitment to the righteous stand and their faith" in our ardaas every day. The survivors of 1984 represent a generation of Sikh men, women, and children who have been through indescribable suffering and are awakening the conscience of millions across the continents to a tragic chapter that has been kept from the world, bereft of justice, truth, and in the shadows from seeing the true light of the horror committed in broad day light. The "Survivors of 1984" are not just those who have risen phoenix-like from a horrific nightmare, they are our brothers and sisters, fathers and elders, brothers and neighbors; they are the image of human suffering, conscience of humanity, and symbols of a violated national honor. They are the sevaks of Satguru and our heroes; they personify for us the true meaning of grace, inner strength, and the highest ideals and lessons of a faith that stands for the sacred rights and cherished freedoms of people of all faiths, cultures, and communities across the human universe. For us, the "Survivors of 1984" are the living martyrs, the unheralded and unsung heroes, and the voice and face of human decency, our common humanity. May Satguru bless each and everyone of them as they continue in silent grace lighting a path to an honorable end to their nightmare and a nation's redemption and emancipation from a terrible wrong.

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