As we delve into the historical pages of 1947, a crucial period marked by the tumultuous partition of India, a press conference in Delhi on September 19, 1947 involving Master Tara Singh and Sardar Harnam Singh sheds light on the unfolding events and the narrative surrounding the responsibility for the riots. The Hindu, on September 20, 1947, reported the denial of charges by these Sikh leaders, addressing accusations that Sikhs were attempting to establish a separate state, igniting the unrest in Punjab. Master Tara Singh said that Muslim League Leaders made similar attempts before the partition, and termed them as ‘Pakistan propagandists’.
Master Tara Singh, a prominent Sikh leader, refuted the claims, asserting that the Sikhs and Hindus were inextricably linked in their destiny. Drawing parallels to pre-partition attempts by Muslim League leaders, he emphasized, “It is not possible that the Hindus live and the Sikhs die. It is also not possible that the Sikhs live while the Hindus die.”
The leaders highlighted the discriminatory actions taken by the West Punjab Government upon coming into power. They revealed that license holders of arms from the minority communities, particularly Sikhs, were dispossessed of their weapons. This disarming process, conducted by the police and military, was carried out discreetly, escaping public attention. The deprivation of Kirpans from the Sikhs was one aspect that had been suppressed.
Sardar Harnam Singh shed light on discriminatory practices post the West Punjab Government coming to power. He stated that while the Pakistan Radio claimed to issue liberal arms licenses under the Indian Arms Act, such liberality was selectively exercised in favor of the Muslim population, leaving Sikhs at a disadvantage amidst the violent riots.
Furthermore, the Sikh leaders emphasized that Hindu communities faced similar atrocities, including killings, looting, and the abduction and rape of women, refuting the notion of any discrimination shown by looters and gangsters in West Punjab between Sikhs and Hindus.