Students gathered at Yuba College for the Jakara Film Festival on Saturday, September 6, to look past controversial issues and grasp a better understanding of Sikh history and why these films were created. The films are devoted to the events of Operation Blue Star, what Sikhs refer to as Ghalughara, a secret holocaust resulting in the deaths of thousands of Sikhs in India (1984).
This is one of the most undocumented tragedies in the history of Sikhs as journalists were ushered out of the Punjab, books burned and outspoken witnesses killed. Films vary from Storming the Temple which shows the desecration of the Sikh’s sacred golden temple to the music video Singh with Me to a preview of the movie The Widow Colony featuring the massacre seen through the eyes of widows to convey their trauma and battle for justice.
Sikhism is based on one God and equality of all people. However, Sikhs were not being equally treated by the government and other citizens of India. The government may have been involved in a twisted plot to discredit the Sikhs, a position the Sikhs still claim today. The Golden Temple was being turned into a fortress for Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his devout Sikh followers. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to remove the militants inside the sacred temple.1,000 soldiers rose against a few hundred militants. “A Sikh can watch his house burn, but not a temple, especially The Golden Temple,” one man said in an interview in the film Storming the Temple. Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, taking revenge for the invasion of their temple. Thousands of Sikhs were then beaten, tortured and murdered in the name of national security. According to Sikhs, approximately 20,000 Sikhs were killed; for survivors, horror without end. The government of India still does not acknowledge fault in this incident.
The Jakara Film Festival, also called Visions of Truth, is a part of the Jakara Movement traveling throughout California. It is directed towards the Sikh Californian youth to inspire activism, raise awareness and remember this horrific event of genocide. Their mission: “A call to the next generation of Sikhs from all places, backgrounds and points of view to reflect on our past and prepare for our future.”
At the festival in Yuba College, Co-leaders Palvinder Dhillon and Sanminder Singh were expecting crowds of over a hundred people, but ultimately only a handful showed up possibly because of labor day weekend. Despite the poor turnout, they still consider it a success. They will attend the next film festivals and encourage all who missed this one to come as well. Dhillon wishes to thank Simran Kaur and Gurjit Singh along with the Jakara staff as a whole. Sikhs in our own community have lost family and friends, martyrs to this massacre. Dhillon asked, “If we as the next generation don’t know our past, how will we prevent something like this from happening in the future?”
The films were also shown at San Jose State University and Fresno State on September 19. It was open to the public and free. For more information and future times, please contact the Jakara Movement through emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 559-677-SIKH or 1-888-JAKARA-1