The Indian government may now be on to Sikh voices, having suppressed many official Pakistani accounts in recent weeks.
On July 2, Twitter withheld Khalsa Aid founder Ravinder Singh’s Twitter account at the behest of the Indian government.
“This is the real face of democracy under the BJP!!,” the UK-based leader of the non-profit and relief organisation responded on Facebook. “Banning Sikh social media accounts won’t stop us (from) raising our voices! We will only get louder!”
While condemning the government’s decision in a Facebook live session, Singh spoke out against calls for langar (the Sikh community kitchen) to be stopped in India in retaliation. The Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who launched Khalsa Aid in 1999, reminded people that langars serve the poor and hungry and must not be politicised.
The Indian government, meanwhile, continues to punish dissent.
Singh is only the latest victim of the Indian government’s targeting of Sikhs on social media.
Kisan Ekta Morcha and Tractor2Twitter, two Twitter accounts with a cumulative half-a-million followers and which diligently covered the massive farmer agitation of 2021-22, were recently withheld in response to complaints filed by the union government.
The account of another key figure at the forefront of the farmers’ movement, Sikh Kashmiri activist Amaan Bali, was also banned. Bali is considering teaming up with others blocked to jointly approach the court.
Meanwhile, it isn’t Twitter alone that the Indian authorities have been sweeping.
Weeks after Punjabi singing sensation Sidhu Moosewala was shot dead, his team released his song SYL on his official Youtube channel. It talks about Punjab’s water-sharing disputes with neighbouring states and the central government, the disputed Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, how Sikh political prisoners are referred to as terrorists, and the 1984 anti-Sikh Riots among other things.
The song’s video also features scenes of the Sikh flag being hoisted at the Red Fort during last year’s farmer agitation.
All these did not sit well with prime minister Narendra Modi’s government which made YouTube pull the video down in India.