It is very distressing for the Untouchables living overseas to learn the dispossession of a Sikh temple, which has been used by the Dalits for very many years. Hundreds of our brethren in the Talhan village have been living under curfew for many months without any help from the government or the police. Already one Dalit activist has lost his life for the sake of some dignity for his community.
Looking at the basis of the dispute, I am a little pessimistic about the outcome of this struggle for several reasons. One major reason for this pessimism is the Sikh Gurudwara Act of 25th July 1925, which entitles the Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee, run by the Jat Sikhs, to take control of any place of worship where Guru Garanth is installed. There is also a judicial precedent from the Supreme Court of India reinforcing the validity of this Act. Secondly, the Sikh government of the Punjab state of whatever party political affiliation, is biased in favour of the Jat community. Thirdly the Police and the local administration are all dominated by the Jat Sikhs and are presently working against the Untouchables.
DR. AMBEDKAR had seen through the dominance of the Jat Sikhs and their close liaison with the Hindu customs, and had rejected the Sikh faith as another name for Hinduism. But the Punjabi Untochables were taken in by the selfish slogans of late Jagjivan Ram and his two Punjabi associates, Gurbanta Singh and Sadhu Ram Dameli, who advocated Gandhism and Hinduism. These three Untouchable politicians misguided the Punjabi Untouchables who are the victims of the Sikh atrocities in the Punjab villages. There are two Sikhs of the Chamar community in the present state government who are keeping quite over this atrocity for their own job security.
There is a substantial section of the Untouchables in the Punjab state (and also in the UK) who call themselves Ravidassis, and worship the Sikh Guru Garanth but claim to be Hindus. There are 40 stanzas attributed to Guru Ravidass (An Untouchable) included in the Sikh book, which the Ravidassis claim entitles them to worship this book, while still remaining Hindus. Since Guru Ravidas wrote no book himself in Hindi or the Punjabi script, his autography and the authenticity and attribution of these stanzas in the Sikh holy book still remains to be proved. Meanwhile the Ravidassi selfserving politicians are manipulating these stanzas as a justification for not following Dr. Ambedkar. Consequently, the Punjabi Untouchables are in a state of spiritual confusion and political fragmentation.
THE PUNJABI UNTOUCHABLES MUST GRASP THE TRUTH THAT THE SIKHS HAD OVER 250 YEARS TO GET RID OF THE HINDU CASTE SYSTEM, BUT HAVE MISERABLY FAILED.
The present conflict is the result of these paradoxes. There is no point in pursuing a path, which has already been tested and found to be leading nowhere. The answer still seems clear to me that the Punjabi Untouchables should reassess their position anew and embrace Buddhism like all educated Ambedkarites of India. We should take advantage of the study done by DR. Ambedkar and follow his advice for our own salvation. There is still time to redress our past errors and to reclaim our separate identity and dignity by discarding Hinduism and all its branches by embracing Buddhism.
Dr. Ambedkar Education Committee (UK)