Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi Interview with Sanjeev Gore in 1985
Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi Interview with Sanjeev Gore in 1985
In July 1985 the Telegraph newspaper printed the interview of Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi which was done by Sanjiv Gore. Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi was a well-known personality within the Sri Harimandir Sahib complex, he was similar to being the president of All India Sikh Student Federation. After the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib the President of All India Sikh Student Federation, Bhai Manjit Singh and the General Secretary, Harminder Sandhu had been arrested and Bhai Charanjit Singh Channi was filling in their duties.
It is said that Bhai Channi is a born leader and holds all the skills to take the lead, may it be committed to the cause, sharp thinker or speaking to the media without discriminating anyone. Bhai Channi’s hot-minded speeches would hit the hearts of the Sikh youth that listened to them. A top Indian official warned the government by making the following comment on Bhai Channi, “He has the ability to be one more Bhindranwala.”
Question:Come, let’s start from the demands of the All India Sikh Student Federation. What are your demands?
Answer:We have no demands. We want only our rights.
Question:What are your rights?
Answer:Between the years of 1928 to 1948, Mr Gandhi and Pandit Nehru made many promises to have Sikhs share their future with India. I’ll tell you one thing. It was Mr Gandhi and Pandit Nehru who promised the Sikhs that the northern India will establish such rule, where the Sikhs will be able to live with the freedom of religion, politics, cultural and human rights.
Question:At this moment, how many AISSF members are in jail?
Answer:We are still in the process of establishing an accurate number, but it will be close to 10,000.
Question:What is your program?
Answer:Our program is the same as it was before the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib in June last year.
Question:What was that?
Answer:To make Sikh youth become Amritdhari, give them education on Sikh history, to keep them away from drugs and other bad deeds and above all that, make them the soldier of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s elite army.
Question:What is the total number of AISSF memberships?
Answer:Before the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib the AISSF had 80,000 memberships. Now the memberships have opened and in 1985-86 our target is to open units in each 12,485 villages of Punjab.
Question:For the last 3-4 years the AISSF has been labelled as the ‘Organisation of Extremists’. Many of your members have been arrested for serious crimes. What would you like to say about that?
Answer:The AISSF was established in 1944. This organisation is a Sikh youth organisation. For the last 3 years the Indian government has been trying to criminalise AISSF. The AISSF has faced many false accusations. When you want to criminalise someone, you tend to accuse them of false accusations. This is what is happening with the workers of AISSF, they are being accused of false cases.
Question:To reach your targets, do you believe in violence?
Answer: A Sikh can’t commit injustice nor can they accept injustice. A Sikh’s sword has only risen for the poor and weak people.
Question:What are your views on the state of Punjab today?
Answer:I believe that the government daily tries to pressurize the Sikhs. The government does not want to sort out the problem. I will give you a fresh example. Go and see what is happening in Nabha Jail. The BSF and CRPF used false story of inmates rioting to beat up the members of AISSF who are kept in that prison, amongst the AISSF members who were beaten is the Ropar Unit President, Sarabjit Singh. The Punjab police arrests Sikh youths from their homes and after keeping them in custody for 10-12 days, they police says that they made these arrests after an encounter.
Question:What are the main issues in Punjab?
Answer:The Sikhs feel that their religion, their pride, their values are not safe in this country. That is the biggest issue.
Question:Does AISSF believe in talking to the state government about this issue?
Answer:For the rights of people, ASSIF is ready to sit anywhere in the world to talk on the table. But I would like to say one thing, our president, Bhai Manjit Singh who is locked up in Jodhpur Jail made some demands due to the unfulfilled promises of India government from the previous 37 years, they must be met before we are to talk. The demands are as follows: to set free all Sikh prisoners, the soldiers that abandoned their barracks during the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib must have the cases against them withdrawn and they get their positions back, the black laws must be withdrawn and the Indian government should apologise to the Sikhs for the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib.
Question:What do you think state government is doing about the Punjab’s issues?
Answer:The government is not serious. If the government was serious, they would not try to kill the Sikhs, especially after knowing that Sikhs are a majority in this state.
Question:What do you think about the Prime Minister now following the ‘Yes’ policy, which will see the release of Sikh prisoners who aren’t charged with serious cases and have been in jail since 1982?
Answer:Arjan Singh has said that, no doubt. Almost 99% Sikh youth are locked up on false cases such as murder and looting. How will they release them? Just recently close to 500 Sikh youth were arrested and again charged with fake cases of murder and looting. I think instead of making unreal promises, the government should take positive step. The AISSF has scrapped the announcement of Arjan Singh. We want all Sikh youth to be released.
Question:What do you think of Mr Rajiv Gandhi?
Answer: He is one conniving politician and he is really conniving towards the Sikhs.
Question:When did you join the AISSF?
Answer:Since 1977, when I enrolled onto college. But in reality, I only became active after the AISSF convention in September 1983 that took place here at Sri Darbar Sahib.
Question:When did you become the Secretary of AISSF and who made who the Secretary?
Answer:When in April the ban was lifted on AISSF, the Ad Hoc Committee gave me the role of Secretary.
Question:What do you think of Sant Longowal, Jathedar Tohra and Mr Badal?
Answer:My thinking about Longowal and Tohra is same as the thinking of rest of the Sikhs. They were responsible for the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib and Badal is amongst them.
Question:What are your thoughts on Baba Joginder Singh?
Answer:In my heart I have great amount of respect for him. I have no words to describe the amount of respect I have for them. Akali Dal has never had a strong personality like his and the whole world knows the sacrifices his family has made for Sikhi.
Question:Will the AISSF start any protests to achieve their demands?
Answer:That is a political decision and I don’t have the right to make that decision.
Question:What are your views on Khalistan?
Answer:What, have you bought a suggestion for Khalistan? (With a smile) When the government will talk to us about Khalistan, then we will give our views on this topic.