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Bharati Mukherjee’s Comments about Sikhs, Terrorism


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Has anyone seen the interview done by Bill Moyers with Bharati Mukherji? If not, here is an excerpt of her interview. She has set back Sikh relations across the world by about 15 years:

Bill Moyers: "You and your husband spent over a year investigating that tragedy, and produced this book: The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy. I think of you, of course, as the novelist you are. And I've read some of your essays. I don't think of you, or Clark, your husband, as a investigative journalist. Why did you spend so much time on this?"

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Bharati Mukherjee: "I had no idea that the book would turn out to be a detective book about who actually financed the bombing and who were members of the five-member terrorist cell that actually pulled it off. But it was meant to be simply about the bereaved."

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Moyers: "The victims were mostly women, weren't they? I mean, you interviewed a lot of the widowers, and the survivors?"

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Mukherjee: "The widowers. Yes. This was the first plane that left for India after school closings for the summer. So, the plane was packed with women and children. The good immigrants, the good Canadians, who wanted to keep up relationship with their grandparents back in India, who wanted to, you know, take dance lessons with special teachers in Indian cities. And I might have been on that plane if I had not moved to the U.S. in 1980. I would very definitely have been on that plane. And a good friend of mine, a woman that I'd gone to college with in Calcutta, died on that plane. So, it was a very personal kind of grief for me."

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Moyers: "Who were these terrorists?"

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Mukherjee: "These were people of Sikh religion, who used militant tactics, terrorist tactics, in order to establish in Punjab, the state of Punjab in India, a religious theocratic state for the pure Sikhs, the re-baptized Sikhs. They didn't want anyone who was impure even within their religion. And they were very, very anti-Hindu, and anti-everyone else. They were called Khalistanis, called themselves Khalistanis. And they were able to, in temples, Gurdwaras, or later on with 9/11, I realized, in mosques, do fundraising at an enormous scale. Terrifying scale."

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Moyers: "It's uncanny how you wrote, even then, in the mid-1980's of airport security failures. Of political extremists, plotting under the guise of religion. I mean, this should have been a wake-up call for us."

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Mukherjee: "This should have been. But I think that the white establishment, at that time, in the late 1980's in Canada, after this happened in 1985, and throughout the 1990's in the United States, always assumed, quite wrongly, that these dark peoples with their homeland feuds will maybe raise funds here, but will take their terrorist activities back to their own countries and get their enemies back in their own countries. It never occurred to them that maybe every American, every Canadian, could also be caught up in these conspiracies."

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Moyers: "You and your husband, Clark Blaise, burrowed yourself into this world that created this act of terrorism. And you were threatened, weren't you? Several times? Didn't you receive death threats?"

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Mukherjee: "Yes. We were denounced from the Sikh temples in big cities in North America, and put under death threat. And I really thought for at least two years that I was going to die a violent death at the hands of these cells."

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Moyers: "These were sleeper cells in Canada?"

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Mukherjee: "Yes. We didn't even know the phrase . . ."

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Moyers: "No."

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Mukherjee: ". . . sleeper cells in those days. And actually, they had been in places like New York and New Jersey, and California, too. But . . ."

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Moyers: "Sikh cells?"

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Mukherjee: "Yes. Doing The Sorrow and the Terror, I discovered very rich ophthalmologists, for example, in American cities who would say, 'Six days of the week, I give to the U.S. government, and I earn a lot of money, and I pay my taxes if I have to. But one day a week I give to Khalistan.' We tracked the money and we zeroed in on the man who financed the bombing. And after, it's taken 15 years for that man to have been detained in a Canadian, a Vancouver jail. And I don't know when the lawsuit will actually be heard in court."

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Moyers: "What did you learn about the mentality of the terrorist?"

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Mukherjee: "Most importantly, I think it was about the fear of the religion in Diaspora. Modernization is what the group of terrorists and fundamentalists, religious fundamentalists, were afraid of. They were afraid that girls, Canadian Sikhs, American Sikhs girls in tight sweaters and boys in fast cars, would somehow not follow the rules that the religion had set, or the society, religious society had set. And that therefore, the religious leaders would lose control."

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Moyers: "That is . . . seems to be such a parallel between what we've learned about the terrorists who . . . the Muslim terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon, that it was the modernizing of their religion that they most despised the United States for encouraging."

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Mukherjee: "Right. I mean, I sat there in 9/11 watching the two planes hit . . . the second plane hit the World Trade Center buildings, and I said, 'My goodness, this is on a mega-scale, a replication of what we had witnessed, experienced, discovered in the Jun. 1985 terrorist bombing of Air India jet.' And it seems to me, though, that a lot of people don't understand that we have a very different kind of enemy with the fundamentalists than we did during the Cold War. That when the U.S. or the West was fighting the Soviet Union and it's buffer states, satellite states. They were talking the same kind of language. And that the culture of battle between opposition, battle between the West and the Soviet was on a very different plane than what we have with the Islamic fundamentalists, where in addition to this being a great marketing opportunity for the Islamic bosses, the people who believe in Jihad. It's a wholly different language."

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Moyers: "But you take for granted, don't you, because of your previous work, the presence of continuing sleeper cells in America?"

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Mukherjee: "Oh, absolutely, and I think that these sleeper cells are going to proliferate in number and that the hatred, unexamined hatred against Americans and America is going to increase a hundred-fold."

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Moyers: "What does all this do to the new immigrant experience?"

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Mukherjee: "It certainly makes it much harder for my students from Muslim countries at Berkeley for example to feel as though they belong. This is a tilt time in our culture. And it's, you know . . ."

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Moyers: "A tilt time?"

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Mukherjee: "Well, that we don't know what the rules are anymore. We don't know what is ahead of us. There's no pattern, no tradition that we can fall back comfortably on or to comfort us, that we can seize to comfort us. And so as we are improvising rules on how to behave . . ."

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Here is the link for the transcript for that particular show: http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_mukherjee.html

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http://www.sikhmediawatch.org/press/pressd....asp?pressid=40

SMART Responding to Bharati Mukherjee’s Comments about Sikhs, Terrorism

5/5/2003

Contact: Preetmohan Singh (202-393-2700 / info@sikhmediawatch.org)

Sikhs Equated with Al Qaeda ‘Terrorist Cells’ in Recent Interview on PBS

Washington, DC – In response to this weekend’s episode of a PBS program linking Sikhs to Al Qaeda terrorist cells, the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART) has begun addressing misrepresentations resulting from an interview with prominent Indian American novelist, Bharati Mukherjee.

During this weekend’s broadcast of the program, “NOW with Bill Moyers,†Mukherjee stated that individuals responsible for the June, 1985 Air India bombing were “…people of Sikh religion, who used militant tactics, terrorist tactics, in order to establish in Punjab, the state of Punjab in India, religious theocratic state for the pure Sikhs, the re-baptized Sikhs.†Furthermore, she states, “Khalistanis…were able to, in temples, Gurdwaras, or later on with 9/11, I realized, in mosques, do fundraising at an enormous scale. Terrifying scale.â€

SMART has contacted the producers of “NOW with Bill Moyers†to address these and other potentially damaging statements in a comprehensive and visible manner.

Therefore, at this time, we urge the community to follow this issue through our web site at www.sikhmmediawatch.org. If the program producers fail to meet our request, SMART will engage the community through an action alert in the near future. However, if you do write to the producers of NOW and/or Bharati Mukherjee, please send SMART a copy for our records.

The transcript of Ms. Mukherjee's interview, is available at: http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_mukherjee.html

To view a partial list of SMART’s previous Media Watch efforts, click here: http://www.sikhmediawatch.org/mediawatch/media.asp

### END ###

About SMART:

SMART, founded in 1996, is the oldest national Sikh American advocacy group. Its mission is to protect the rights of Sikh Americans through legislative advocacy, public education, legal assistance and ensuring accurate portrayal of the Sikh religion.

Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART)

1331 H Street, NW, 11th Floor

Washington, DC 20005

Tel : 202-393-2700 / 877-91-SIKHS

Fax : 202-318-4433

Email : info@sikhmediawatch.org

Web : http://www.sikhmediawatch.org

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I wonder whether Bill Moyers is aware of terrorist activities and murders committed by Hindu right wing majority in india. Instead of confronting mukerjee on her interview in which she tried to add spice to the tragedy, people should ask her about why sikhs are being killed till today by india and when will it stop. Tell her about human rights report and confront her with that report and let's see her reaction. It's no doubt 99.999 % of sikhs will agree that air india incident was a disasterous tragedy and most of them truly feel for all that were affected. I have yet to hear from anybody from hindu religion to accept and apologize for sikh holocaust which is still ongoing. PBS is independent television that have limited knowledge of world around them. They bring on somebody who wants to say anything or everything without checking into their intentions. It's very clear why mukerjee said what she said in the interview.

Like I said in my earlier postings , we need people in all spheres especially in political science who can confront these mukerjee and go beyond that to bring human right situation in india to rest of the world. I want to see human rights issues in india on pbs. This is a tragedy that is happening for last 20 years and deserves prime time on pbs so that next time mukerjee opens her mouth, their is a non-sikh like Bill moyers who will confront her with hindu right wing terrorism.

source: http://www.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/discussion....62?OpenDocument

Full discussion is below:

http://www.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/discussion....5F?OpenDocument

Here is a site for Human rights violations.

http://www.punjabjustice.org

Amnesty International reports:

http://www.punjabjustice.org/links.htm

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