For those who believe history moves in a straight line, and what’s past is past, some signs can set you thinking. Like you’re being awakened to a bad dream—a strangely familiar one—and bits and pieces of memory flash by, brought back to life. Words that recall a time of great tumult—Khalistan, Sikh radicals, Bluestar, 1984 pogrom—are abuzz again. If your attention has been focused elsewhere, little pieces of news are recalling an epoch filled with thousands of unknown victims, marking out new stirrings full of old forebodings.
‘The foreign hand’…rings a bell? It was one of the oft-heard phrases of the 1970s—both bogey and shadowy reality. Is it making a comeback of sorts, in a new avatar? Why are overseas gurudwaras banning Indian authorities—not just politicians, even diplomatic functionaries? Is there a new mistrust on all sides? What exactly is going on in Canada and the UK, two countries that host the Sikh community’s busiest hubs outside India?