Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.
All Sikhs, in India and around the globe, feel that Article 25 of the Constitution of India, which deals with Freedom of Religion, is unfair and discriminatory towards the Sikhs because it considers Sikhs as Hindus. I have often questioned about the history behind Explanation II and why it was articulated as it was. It seems to bar caste discrimination in places of religious worship and creates misunderstanding of Sikh identity. The ‘Article 25’ as it stands now in the Indian Constitution is unjust, unethical and illogical since Sikh religion is an independent religion and not an offspring or branch of any other religion. Everyone is aware that the Sikh Dharma was established as a separate religion with its own code of conduct by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Guru Nanak gave the Sikh concept of God, with its emphasis on unity, equality of all human beings regardless of caste, creed, gender and color and service to mankind which are distinct virtues and cannot be confused with any other religion, much less with Hinduism. Sikhism is a major departure from Hinduism and from its rituals and superstitions.
The unique character of Sikhs is obvious not only from their philosophy and their way of life (Rehat Maryada), but also, and even more so, from their history. It was the Sikhs who faced the ire of the Mughal rulers in India and their order to kill “the followers of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh wherever and whenever seen”. Hindus were not covered by this policy of genocide and in fact the Sikhs saved the Hindu religion from the wrath of the Muslim invaders. It was the Sikhs who stood up to the invaders who came to loot India and convert the citizens to Islam and because of the Sikhs and their sacrifices, India today is a not an Islamic state. Sikhs fought against tyranny and injustice perpetrated by the alien rulers who had entered India as hordes of marauders for loot, destruction and conversion of Indian citizens to Islam religion. Due to the sacrifices and struggles of the Sikhs, India experienced liberation from foreign rulers after almost a thousand years of slavery. This history should be enough to establish the distinctive and independent status of the Sikh religion
Constitutions are framed to prescribe parameters for law makers for safe guarding the interests of minorities and providing security to them. But Indian Constitution eradicates a minority, particularly the Sikhs. It is in the interest of India that an immediate amendment of Article 25 is adopted; otherwise India would lose its secular credentials and become a communal state. Sikhism is a separate religion and is acknowledged as such throughout the world, except in Indian legal system. The demand of separate status for Sikhism under the Constitution has been supported by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) headed by the former Chief Justice of India, Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah which in its report has recommended amendment to Article 25 of the Constitution to restore the status of Sikhism as separate religion. The Sikhs have been recognized as a separate minority under the National Minority Commission Act.
Sardar Tarlochan Singh, ex MP and Chairman of National Commission for Minorities was the first Sikh MP to introduce a bill in 2008 in Parliament to amend Section 25. Three times this bill was on the agenda but never discussed due to various political reasons. Sikhs are opposing and protesting against this controversial piece of legislation right from 1950 when Indian Constitution was adopted. Sardar Tarlochan Singh was also instrumental is getting the Anand Marriage Act Bill passed, which is a great victory for the Sikhs.
In my opinion Sikhs deserve to be having their own personal law and not covered under the Hindu law and termed as Hindus. Constitution grants us rights of freedom to religion and this should be granted to Sikhs. Although many demands and recommendations have been made to the Indian law makers and to the Prime Minister’s Office, there has been no discussion in Parliament about amending Article 25 with respect to Sikhs.
Sikhs shall and should continue to protest against this non-secular and unjust law and I appeal to all Sikh bodies and organizations in India and around the world to continue their demands for an amendment to Article 25 of the Indian Constitution as it relates to Sikhs.