They have been shocked out of their usual love for peace-by the brutal massacre of 36 Sikhs at Chitsinghpura village in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir. Eminent Sikh personalities, particularly retired defence officers, chant in unison: "The government must perform its duty or quit. Since killer mercenaries from across the Line of Control have been operating for a long time, we must put an end to these brutalities. India must strike back at the bases from where these murderers operate and destroy them irrespective of the consequences."
Retired defence officers such as Air-Vice Marshal G.S. Punia, Lt Gen B.S. Randhawa and Col Harsharan Singh Randhawa-who all belong to Rashtriya Raksha Dal, a new political outfit of ex-servicemen-maintain that "India has been taken for granted as a soft target, leading to hijacking of its aircraft and killing of innocent people. The government of India has failed to perform its duty. We must act now."
Gurpartap Singh Riar, president of the Chandigarh unit of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), maintains that the "massacre is not only an act of cowardice, but is also an attempt to create a wedge between two prominent minority communities of the country. The government must compensate the bereaved families by paying Rs 10 lakh each of them. We are organising a protest march here on Sunday and would do our best to share the grief of our brethren."
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee, the premier Sikh religious organisation, has said, "The Sikhs have always been in the forefront of protecting the unity and integrity of the country. Besides, they have made numerous sacrifices for protecting the weak and in service of humanity. The massacre at Chitsinghpura has shocked the Sikhs."
Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Baljeet Kaur and Inderjit Singh Jaijee, eminent members of prominent human rights organisations, want the Chitsinghpura incident probed "independently by the international media accompanying US President Bill Clinton on his India visit". They suspect that this massacre could well be a ploy to pit one minority community against the other.