Patrons of Sikh Caucus Request U.S. Congress To Speak For Surat Singh Khalsa

As patrons of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, and members of the community the caucus represents, we urge the 42 U.S. representatives who belong to the caucus to recognize and represent the interests of the Sikh-American community by acknowledging the democratic protest of Californian Sikh Surat Singh Khalsa, a permanent resident of the United States who is on hunger-strike in Punjab, India to demand release of political prisoners.

Khalsa, like many Sikhs in the United States, came here as a refugee from political and religious persecution by the Indian State. He quit his job as a government teacher in June 1984 after the government launched an invasion of the Sikh Golden Temple that resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims. After the state-sponsored genocide against Sikhs expanded in November 1984, when the ruling party armed, funded, and guided the systematic slaughter of thousands of Sikh men, women, and children in the streets of India’s capital city, Khalsa began participating in peaceful protests against the government’s policy of genocide. He was wounded when police opened fire on a demonstration outside the Punjab Legislative Assembly in 1986 and subsequently decided to flee India for the United States. He came here legally, and his children and grandchildren became citizens, but he never forgot the atrocities committed against his fellow Sikhs.

In January, Khalsa traveled to Punjab to begin a hunger-strike. His demand is for release of political prisoners who are mostly dissidents arrested for protesting the Sikh Genocide and related events. The prisoners have completed their sentences but are being denied release because of the political nature of their charges.

Since January 16, Khalsa has refused all food. He was arrested and force-fed for 74 days (February 8 to April 23), but after pressure from seven California congressional representatives, he was released without charges and has now been without sustenance for the past month. His family reports from India that he has lost the ability to walk or even talk. In his democratic protest by abstention, Khalsa joins the ranks of other human rights activists in India like Irom Sharmila and Bhagat Singh. His struggle was undertaken as a method of expressing peaceful dissent and exercising the natural human liberty to free expression and consequently we urge you to recognize his honorable choice.

Considering a caucus exists to pursue common legislative goals in service to a specific community, we insist that the most urgent priority of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus must be to speak for Surat Singh Khalsa. His struggle is mobilizing and inspiring the Sikh community all around the world and if the Sikh Caucus claims to represent the interests of the Sikh people, then it cannot continue to ignore this issue. We want the Sikh Caucus to stand up for their constituents who have brothers and sisters that are suffering in India and who are deeply concerned for the welfare of their global community, especially including U.S. permanent resident Surat Singh Khalsa. A number of Sikh Caucus members joined the bipartisan House Resolution 417 introduced in 2013 by Reps. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Keith Ellison (D-MI), but the caucus unfortunately missed the opportunity to make the resolution part of its agenda despite broad national support for it from the Sikh-American community. We hope you can redeem this opportunity to speak for Surat Singh Khalsa.

We appeal to you speak out so that Khalsa’s self-sacrifice for the sake of the human rights of Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, and the oppressed classes of India will not go unrecognized. Please contact U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry immediately to request he appeal for the release of Indian political prisoners. We suggest that no other issue should take precedence for the Sikh Caucus since, after all, the name only fits if the caucus represents the interests of the community by whose name it calls itself.

Patrons of the Sikh Caucus is a nonpartisan group who want their congressional representatives to boldly speak out about Sikh issues of true interest to the Sikh-American community, both domestic and international and specifically including human rights issues in India, and who urge the Sikh Caucus to request these issues be adopted into the agendas of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Affirmed by the following:

Organization for Minorities of India (minoritiesofindia.org | arvin.v@ofmi.org)
Sikh Information Centre (CA)
Fateh Sports Club (CA)
Gurdwara Sahib West Sacramento (CA)
Gurdwara Sahib Stockton (CA)
Turlock Sikh Gurdwara (CA)
Gurdwara Sahib Roseville (CA)
Sikh Temple Riverside (CA)
Gurdwara Dasmesh Darbar Tracy (CA)
Capital Sikh Center Sacramento (CA)
The membership of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus consist of (and we encourage you to call them and ask them to “Speak for Surat Singh Khalsa”):

Democrats:
Judy Chu (co-chair)
John Garamendi (co-chair)
Karen Bass
Ami Bera
Robert Brady
Gerry Connolly
John Conyers
Jim Costa
Sam Farr
Al Green
Raúl Grijalva
Janice Hahn
Rush Holt
Mike Honda
Hank Johnson
Barbara Lee
Zoe Lofgren
Carolyn Maloney
Doris Matsui
Jerry McNerney
Grace Meng
George Miller
Frank Pallone
Bill Pascrell
Gary Peters
Jan Schakowsky
Brad Sherman
Adam Smith
Jackie Speier
Eric Swalwell
Mark Takano
Mike Thompson
Henry Waxman
Chris Van Hollen

Republicans:
David Valadao (co-chair)
Patrick L Meehan (co-chair)
Jeff Denham
Joe Heck
Doug LaMalfa
Devin Nunes
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Tom McClintock

[If you would like to add your organization to the list affirming this statement, please contact us at 1-888-551-SIKH or pieter@sikhinformationcentre.org.]

100th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide Illustrates Vulnerability of Minorities

 Impunity for state-sponsored ethnic cleansing began with the 20th-century’s first major genocide

 

“Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.” — Arundhati Roy

 

The month of April 2015 marks one hundred years since the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, a multi-year, state-sponsored ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims, especially the 3,000-year-old Armenian community, from the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

As the 20th century’s first systematic and targeted slaughter of a specific people group, the atrocity inspired the coining of the term “genocide.” Blanket impunity for the Armenian Genocide, which left a calculated 1.5 million or more Armenian Christians (as well as members of other minority communities living in the Ottoman Empire), dead at the hands of state actors, set the stage for modern struggles to hold the powerful accountable for their oppression of the weak. Many communities have since suffered similarly horrifying genocides at the hands of the State, most notably the Jewish people subjugated and eliminated by the Nazi regime in Europe.

While the Nazis were punished and are today excoriated for their crimes, more modern genocides perpetrated against minority religious communities in South Asia, especially against Sikhs in 1984 and Muslims in 2002, bear striking similarities to the Armenian Genocide as the perpetrators have received not only impunity but actual reward, promotion, and increased power as a result of dipping their hands in the blood of innocents.

 

“Preventing future genocides requires acknowledging past genocides,” remarked Sikh Information Centre Founder Bhajan Singh, who has spent over 30 years working to secure liberty for South Asian minorities. “The first step to achieving justice is recognizing a crime was committed, and so, 100 years after the terror of the Armenian Genocide began, we must cry out for justice by refusing to forget the blood that was spilled. Like the Jewish Holocaust and the Sikh Genocide, the Armenian Genocide has its own deniers, and the one attribute they all share is a lust for power, control, and supremacy. Although the victims of these genocides come from diverse and distinct communities, one thing that unites us all is our suffering. As we pursue healing through justice and reconciliation, we need to link arms and work together collaboratively to achieve our common goal.”

 

The Armenian Genocide officially began on April 24, 1915 (known today as “Red Sunday”) with the arrest of approximately 250 of the most prominent Armenian public figures — clergy, journalists, poets, teachers, attorneys, businessmen, and statesmen — from their homes in Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Those arrested were imprisoned, held without charges or trial, and most killed in custody. Red Sunday resulted in the decapitation of the community leadership of the Armenian people.

Some of the Armenian community leaders killed after “Red Sunday” of April 24, 1915.
Subsequently, the ruling party passed the “Temporary Law of Deportation,” using national security as an excuse to label non-Turks as enemies of the state and organize their liquidation. The State began rounding up all Armenians and forcing them to death march hundreds of miles across the desert, usually without food or water, to a network of 25 concentration camps. There they were starved to death or simply slaughtered and then buried, tens of thousands at a time, in mass graves. Armenians who were not deported were murdered by death squads who, according to History.com, “drowned people in rivers, threw them off cliffs, crucified them and burned them alive.” In many cases, Armenian women were raped and forced into harems or taken as slaves, while children were kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam.

 

The goal of the genocide, which lasted until 1923, was the creation of an artificially homogenous population. That is, the ruling party sought to fabricate the Ottoman Empire as an ethnically-pure land of Turks through the practice of state-sponsored racial and religious supremacy. By the early 1920s, when the killings had mostly ended, the Ottoman Empire’s original population of two million Armenians was reduced to just 388,000. Today, historians, human rights organizations, and governments around the world generally acknowledge the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians. As of the centennial of the tragedy’s genesis, 26 countries have officially recognized the genocide.

 

On Friday, April 24, 2015, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Germany (which was allied with the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and many of whose troops peripherally assisted or at least observed the killing) became the latest country to recognize and condemn the atrocity. As Germany’s Bundestag (lower house of parliament) passed a resolution acknowledging the genocide, Bundestag President Norbert Lammert stated:

 

“Our obligation is to bear accountability. The Germans, from their own familiarity, call upon others to face their own history, even if it is painful; this is the condition for reconciliation between the Armenian and Turkish nations.

 

“The Germans, who placed alliance with the Ottoman Empire above human lives, had their own guilt in this genocide.

 

“History compels to remember historical facts. It is inevitable that there can be no real peace as long as the descendants of the victims demand justice.”

 

To this day and to its great discredit, the government of Turkey refuses to recognize the genocide perpetrated by its predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, Turkish law even criminalizes referring to the events that began in 1915 as “genocide.” While the Armenians of yesteryear were (prior to their elimination) subjected to denials of religious liberty through laws imposing social and political restrictions on non-Muslims, the Turks of today are subjected to denials of free speech.

 

Remarking on genocide denial, Sikh Information Centre Executive Director Pieter Friedrich said, “An attitude that denies the reality of genocide perpetuates the divide between cultures. Social instability is aggravated and even sparked by the sentiments of people who, for their own selfish political or religious purposes, seek to deny the responsibility of the State to answer for atrocities it sponsors. The future of peace on Earth requires a communal mourning over the deaths and injustices inflicted on innocents by the ruling elite. Commemorating the tragic truth of the Armenian Genocide is the first small step towards achieving peace in a tumultuous world.”

 

While the Armenian Genocide has gained wide recognition among the world’s nation-states, Sikh Information Centre has found inspiration in the example of the Armenian diaspora to join a number of Indian diaspora groups, including American Sikh Political Action Committee and Organization for Minorities of India, to secure recognition of the 1984 Sikh Genocide and other atrocities in India by Western municipal and state governments.

On March 10, the Central Californian City of Stockton, home to the oldest permanent settlement of Sikh-Americans, passed a proclamation condemning the 1984 Sikh Genocide, with Mayor Anthony Silva declaring: “We commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1984 genocide as we recognize the ongoing impact of the genocide for the Sikhs around the world and our city.” California’s State Assembly followed suit on April 16, unanimously adopting a resolution to remember the “1984 anti-Sikh pogroms,” making it the first state or national government in the world to formally acknowledge the tragic event.

Sikh Community leaders pose with City Council of Stockon, CA after accepting 1984 Sikh Genocide Proclamation.

U.S. Citizen Jailed in India Beaten at Court as Family in California Pleads for His Release 

“Silence of the U.S. authorities is deafening,” says Sikh community of Ravinderjit Singh’s imprisonment

STOCKTON, CA, USA: April 13, 2013 – Ravinderjit Singh Gogi, a U.S. citizen from Central California, has been jailed in Punjab, India since February 26, but despite repeated appeals from his family, local community leaders, and a human rights group, the U.S. government has so far failed to even acknowledge his detention.

Ravinderjit Singh Gogi in police custody; at left is the police officer accused of beating Gogi.
Harsimran Singh Hundal, a community leader from Turlock Gurdwara, says Sikhs have a duty to bring Gogi’s case to the attention of local congressional representatives. “We are pleading with Sikh-Americans to do their seva by calling their congressperson today, especially Gogi’s representative, Congressman Jerry McNerney. Please appeal for the immediate release of this innocent, suffering, imprisoned American.”

 

Gogi is charged with India’s Criminal Procedure Code sections 107/151, which allow police to arrest a person if they think he is “likely to commit a breach of the peace.” Although Gogi did not actually breach the peace, police used the law to arrest him under suspicion alone after he visited his father, Surat Singh Khalsa, in the hospital. Khalsa was engaged in a hunger-strike for the release of Sikh political prisoners when he was arrested and forcibly admitted to the hospital.

 

On Monday, Gogi’s sister Sarvinder Kaur, also an American citizen, reported from Punjab that she witnessed police beating her brother while he was waiting in a detention cell for a court hearing. Gogi, who was in chains at the time, was reportedly shoved into the cell and beaten on his neck and back with fists. His attorney, Gurjinder Singh Sahni, states Gogi now has severe bruising, is suffering intense pain in his neck, and is seeking medical attention.

 

“The silence of the U.S. authorities is deafening,” says Bhajan Singh, Founding Director of US-based Sikh Information Centre. Singh has been urging Gogi’s representative in U.S. Congress, Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton), to appeal for his constituent. “The poor guy is suffering as we speak, but the Sikh Congressional Caucus, the American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, and all of the several influential Sikh-American civil rights groups have not spoken one word on Gogi’s behalf. The State Department also remains mute.”

 

Sikh Information Centre has coordinated with Organization for Minorities of India and the leadership of Turlock, Stockton, and West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwaras to sponsor two press conferences calling for Gogi’s release.

 

On March 6, Gogi’s 16-year-old son, Sahib, spoke at a press conference in Lathrop, his father’s hometown. McNerney’s office was informed of the event but said they were unable to attend. At the event, Sahib stated:

 

“The freedom and the liberties that we have here aren’t exactly the same in other countries. That’s kind of what we’re worried about…. I have to stay up at night time for extra, till a long period of time, trying to talk to the embassy, trying to get them to free my dad.”

 

On March 12, West Sacramento Gurdwara and Stockton Gurdwara hosted a joint press conference in West Sacramento to call for Gogi’s release. Balbir Singh Dhillon, president of West Sacramento Gurdwara, explained how he was similarly unjustly detained in Punjab in 1996, saying: “I went to visit all the holy places in India and Pakistan. Police were looking for me. I was sent to jail for three months, in prison, in Punjab. There was no bail.” Balbir was released only after over 50 US congressional representatives signed a letter to the US State Department that pressured India to admit it had no proof he committed any crime.

 

Steve Macías asks: “Why is this American citizen abandoned by his government?” A community activist who helped organize the March press conferences, Macías added: “Mr. Ravinderjit Singh Gogi has been jailed for nearly two months, he is being beaten by police, and his family reports the conditions of his detention are utterly inhumane, with rancid food and 200 prisoners packed into cells designed for fifty.”

 

The State Department must intervene immediately, warns Bhajan Singh, who says: “I fear for Gogi’s safety and even his life if the government continues to ignore the desperate plight of this unjustly imprisoned American citizen. Congress already missed the chance to act against the severe persecution of minorities in India by failing to pass House Resolution 417 in 2014 despite broad bipartisan support for the resolution.” House Resolution 417 proposed the U.S. Congress “denounce harassment and violence against religious minorities” in India, but even with 51 cosponsors it was denied a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mother of Lodi Sikh Killed by Police Called 911 to Help Get Her Son to Hospital 

Police accounts of shooting of U.S. Army veteran suffering PTSD conflict with eyewitness testimony

Lodi: Jan. 31, 2014 – Based on conflicting reports of the events leading up to Lodi, CA police officers shooting to death US Army veteran Parminder Singh Shergill, 43, on Saturday morning, the San Joaquin County Sikh community is demanding a comprehensive investigation to uncover any possible misconduct.

Shergill, who served in the first Gulf War, was reportedly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His mother, concerned for her son and seeking his admission into a Veterans’ Affairs hospital, called police early Saturday morning to request their assistance. Police claim Shergill was holding a knife and standing outside his family home when they arrived on scene. Lt. Sierra Brucia, a spokesperson for Lodi Police Department, says, “The man charged at the officers, and they had no choice but to shoot.” An eyewitness to the scene, however, tells a very different story, claiming Shergill did not charge officers and may have even been moving away from them when they opened fire.

The Sikh community will hold a candlelight vigil for Shergill at Deshmesh Darbar Gurdwara Sahib, Lodi on Friday evening. The family has hired an attorney, Jack Johal of Sacramento, to press for an investigation. “Instead of a doctor, Shergill got a dozen bullets,” said Jasbir S. Sohal, president of the Lodi Gurdwara. “It is disturbing that police accounts of the incident differ from the objective accounts of eyewitnesses, who state that Shergill did not charge police, as they say, but was actually walking away from them. We demand an immediate investigation of the conduct of the officers involved in this tragic killing. Is this another situation like the killing of Keith Vidal in North Carolina, whose parents called police to help their son, who came and shot him instead?”

Vidal was an 18-year-old from Boiling Spring Lake, NC, who suffered from schizophrenia. On January 5, when Vidal experience a schizophrenic episode, his parents called police, hoping they would help subdue the boy to get him to the hospital. When police arrived, they found Vidal holding a screwdriver; like with Shergill, however, he did not threaten anyone with the object. Police demanded he drop the screwdriver, Vidal retreated, and police joined the boy’s step-father, Mark Wilsey, in successfully subduing him. However, once Vidal was subdued, one newly-arrived officer said, “We don’t have time for this,” drew his gun and opened fire, killing the 90-pound, mentally ill boy.

Wilsey, in news reports, stated: “Everything was fine.  There was no escalation.  Nobody threatened anybody….. There was no reason for deadly force.  There was two cops on top of my son.  I was there to assist the cops.  This guy, from behind me, shot this young little boy for no reason.  There was no danger…. [The officer] reached right up and shot this kid point blank, with all intent to kill him.  He just murdered him, flat out.”

Shergill graduated from Lodi High School in 1989 and joined the Army, assigned to the infantry division. After spending two years in Germany, he served in Iraq during the Gulf War. He served in the Army until 1995, when he was dishonorably discharged. A graduate of California Statue University, Sacramento, where he studied biochemistry and electrical engineering, at the time of his death Shergill worked at Pacific Coast Producers as a control room operator.

Neighbors reported seeing Shergill taking frequent walks in the local park and described him as friendly and easy to talk to. Johal, the family’s attorney, says Shergill devoted himself to his Sikh faith after returning from the war in Iraq. “Everybody in the neighborhood knew him,” said Johal. “Not a single neighbor said he was angry or mean in any way. All in all, he was a very honest, quiet and nice person,” Johal said. “After serving his country, it’s just shocking all this has come down.”

Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Ji smiles on the 41st day of his fast unto death.

In the gift of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Ji, we are assured that someone will yet call for justice, plead for truth, and lay down his life to take up the cause of the oppressed. In a land of midnight where politicians are thieves and murderers who conspire with priests to control and destroy so they may satisfy their greed and lust, Gurbaksh Singh is a spark of hope that oppressors may yet be overthrown by the fervent supplication of the oppressed. As the offspring of evildoers, Delhi’s dictators conceive evil continually, their feet make haste to shed innocent blood, their joy is in fashioning the fatherless, their delight is in creating widows, and their highest ambition is to see India remain heavy laden with iniquity. Because the tongues of India’s tyrants mutter perversities, because their hands know only violence, and because hatred alone springs forth from their hearts, so their days are numbered.
Though the peaceful and patient resistance to tyranny chosen by Gurbaksh Singh shall bring us to mourn as we may soon see him pass into the presence of God, the gift of such a divine oracle as this pious man brings hope that the sun may yet still rise upon a land of darkness. Though today the hands of Indian rulers are defiled with blood and their lips speak lies, Gurbaksh Singh reminds us that deliverance does not stand far off. We remember through his decision to make his life a prayer for the whole of humanity that there is a light shining in the darkness. Time alone will tell when the rulers of India will cease to do evil, relieve the oppressed, and choose to love the darkness after having seen the light of love in the willing sacrifice of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Ji. Until such a day arrives, however, we rest in the firm conviction that the sons of those that afflicted the oppressed shall one day come to them on bended knee.
Affirmed by Bhajan Singh and Pieter Singh, Sikh Information Centre

US Congress Must Pass H.R. 417 to Censure Modi

A UN Human Rights Day statement from Sikh Information Centre Founding Director Bhajan Singh Bhinder. After speaking to approximately 200 protesters at Tuesday’s “Rally for H.R. 417″ outside the San Francisco Consulate, Bhinder gave the following statement.

Bhinder pleads:

“To help H.R. 417, please visit the website — www.OFMI.org. Please read the resolution. Contact your congressman immediately. Contact members of the House Judiciary Committee (click to view and contact members). Contact the Foreign Affairs Committee (click to view and contact members). Tell them to bring this bill to a success.”

Click the image below to watch Bhinder’s statement on YouTube:

Excerpt of Bhinder’s Statement:
“The most emphasis Gurbaksh Singh wanted to draw of the world’s human populace was to the fact that there are many prisoners in India. Many. Not only Sikhs. There are Christians, Muslims, even low-caste Hindus, and many, many Moolnivasis. So Gurbaksh Singh wanted to bring the plight of those who have not been heard, those who have been mistreated, to the Western Free World, to other free worlds, to other free societies, to prick the conscience of his fellow Indians about the plight of their fellow Indians.”

“There is always a ray of hope. Humanity survives on hope. If there is no ounce of humanity, there is no ounce of hope, then there will be total despair and chaos, which the vast majority of the world gets caught in…. House Resolution 417 is one of the most strategic, most important, landmark resolutions. It simply wants to remind U.S. and India that, in their quest for a better relationship, they should not ignore the plight of the minorities of India.

“They specifically mention the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque, the killings and rapes and tortures of the Muslims, the killings of the Christians, and many other minorities (such as Sikhs) who have been oppressed by the Indian State. H. R. 417 wants India and U.S. relationship to have as its cornerstone the just treatment of minorities and religious minorities of India.”

It specifically calls for the Indian State to initiate teachings, lessons, a dialogue, and institutionalized respect for minorities of India. It applauds the United States’ effort in blacklisting Modi, who is the Butcher of Gujarat for killing so many Muslims, initiating violence against minorities — Muslims, initially, and recently the Sikhs…. This is all election-time politics. That’s what the 417 addresses, that the election-time politics must be exposed…. 417 is a must.”

“The other way we can promote and have a very peaceful society in the free world is to take the lead of the United States Congress’ House Resolution 417. The House is a powerful institution in the world. It’s got might…. Those with power are coming to help those without power.”

Rajmohan Gandhi Perpetuates Propaganda in Grandfather’s Footsteps

Bhajan Singh Bhinder, Founding Director of Sikh Information Centre, issued the following statement about Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten (2013), a new book by Rajmohan Gandhi: 

In his purported history of the Punjab, Mohandas Gandhi’s grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi, has invented history in much the same way as his grandfather used to imaginatively retell facts. In the book, Rajmohan libels an Indian cultural treasure, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, by describing him as a mansabdar (a mercenary, essentially) for Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah during his occupation of India, a fabricated detail which has never before been included in any biographical sketch of the guru.

 

At a time when an iron-fisted conqueror ruled India from Delhi, Guru Gobind Singh empowered the common man to be a sovereign individual. When he founded the order of “Khalsa,” meaning “Pure” or “Sovereign,” he launched a life philosophy which intends each man as a king who alone rules himself and who rules himself alone.

 

When he founded the Khalsa in 1699, Guru Gobind initiated the first five people who voluntarily offered their lives in service of truth. He christened them each a “Singh” so they would share the same name of nobility to erase social divisions. After this baptism, Guru Gobind bowed before the five and asked them to initiate him also as a Singh.

 

Then Guru Gobind Singh taught a doctrine of universal human equality in the eyes of one true God. Man, he taught, is subservient to God, and to God alone belongs the victory — “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji Ki Fateh” (Khalsa belongs to God; victory belongs to God). He condemned rituals as hollow; instead, he taught a life of self-sacrifice and respect for other human creatures as the best way to worship God. He particularly emphasized honorable treatment of women as of equal value to men, remarking:

 

From now on, you have become casteless. No ritual, either Hindu or Muslim, will you perform nor will you believe in superstition of any kind, but only in one God who is the master and protector of all, the only creator and destroyer. In your new order, the lowest will rank with the highest and each will be to the other a brother. No pilgrimages for you any more, nor austerities but the pure life of the household, which you should be ready to sacrifice at the call of Dharma. Women shall be equal of men in every way. No veil for them anymore, nor the burning alive of a widow on the pyre of her spouse. He who kills his daughter, the Khalsa shall not deal with him.

 

After he founded the Khalsa in 1699, he faced down the heaviest of odds to preserve the spark of liberty in South Asia by resisting the oppression of invading Muslim hordes. For years, he defended against the control of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb before finally making peace with his son, Bahadur Shah, who then betrayed the peace agreement by sending assassins against Guru Gobind Singh. Perverting history by interpreting the Guru’s dissent against oppression as hiring his sword to a tyrant is outlandish and insults a man who gave his life to liberate others.

 

Rajmohan Gandhi’s baseless assertions are best understood in context of the ancient historical conflict between the two dominant ideologies of India — of the Moolnivasi, or indigenous people, and of the Aryans, who invaded India from the northwest.

 

Aryanism crafted the caste system and its foundational texts like Manusmriti (The Laws of Manu) to institutionalize the rule of a few over the many. This self-perpetuating system of social tyranny is kept in place by the ignorant cooperation with their subjugation of the approximately 85% of India’s population who constitute Moolnivasi, many of whom have never been educated about the evils of the caste system or of their right not to cooperate with it. Gandhism’s chief contribution to this system has been to further manipulate people into seeing evil as good.

 

Gandhi hid himself in broad daylight by painting his public image as messianic. Meanwhile, the devilish truth behind the smoke and mirrors was Gandhi’s life, from his early days as an attorney in South Africa to his death in his 70s, involved promoting racial segregation and social division, enthusiastic participating in aggressive colonial warfare, sexually molesting his teenage relatives, and playing political games that resulted in India’s partition and the deaths of millions.

 

As a scholar and even a biographer of his grandfather, Rajmohan has failed to bring these facts to light, which is hardly surprising considering the Gandhi family’s denigration of Guru Gobind Singh, as well as of Sikh traditions, is an old habit. In 1925, Mohandas called the guru a “misguided patriot.” [1] On another occasion, he declared: “So far as the Sikh kitchen is concerned, it is a menace.” [2]

 

It is decades past time the Gandhi family ended its tired tirade against the Moolnivasi people of India and their emancipatory heroes. India remains a land of oppression in need of defenders. For instance, we now see Narendra Modi, CM of Gandhi’s home-state of Gujarat and orchestrator of the 2002 Gujarat Genocide in which thousands of Muslims were massacred, poised to become Prime Minister.

 

While the world still sees Mohandas Gandhi as a virtual deity, he is worshipped in India, his picture is on the wall of every government office in India and even in the U.S. President’s office, and his philosophy is being taught even to primary school children, the sad reality is the fruits of his legacy are visible in an India where architects of genocide presently reign.

 

Although Gandhi boasted about spending his life “experimenting with truth” instead of simply searching for it, at least one statement of his was true: “An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.” Indeed, no matter how frequently or for how long the Gandhi family propagates errors, their lies will never become the truth. The truth is that the Gandhi family has served as chief apologists for the Indian State since before its founding in 1947.

 

Propagandists like Gandhi, often cloaked as religious icons, are invaluable to tyrannies, as explained by political theorist Murray Rothbard:

 

Throughout history, as we shall see further below, despots and ruling elites of States have had far more need of the services of intellectuals than have peaceful citizens in a free society. For States have always needed opinion-moulding intellectuals to con the public into believing that its rule is wise, good, and inevitable; into believing that the “emperor has clothes. Until the modern world, such intellectuals were inevitably churchmen (or witch doctors), the guardians of religion. It was a cozy alliance, this age-old partnership between Church and State; the Church informed its deluded charges that the king ruled by divine command and therefore must be obeyed; in return, the king funneled numerous tax revenues into the coffers of the Church. [3]

 

Instead of speaking out to demand justice for the innocent and prevent oppressors from terrorizing the land, Rajmohan Gandhi is publishing a book with false facts which injure the sterling reputation of one of India’s greatest defenders, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.  Like his grandfather before him, Rajmohan appears to be demonizing a pioneer of liberty to cloak his own support for the social division of caste. Rather than addressing real and pressing social issues which daily result in discrimination and even death, the Gandhi family has spent the past century spreading an ambiguous philosophy which openly enshrines the caste system as a supposed social good.

 

This was obvious in 1933, when Mohandas Gandhi declared: “The caste system, in my opinion, has a scientific basis. Reason does not revolt against it. It has disadvantages. Caste creates a social and moral restraint — I can find no reason for their abolition. To abolish caste is to demolish Hinduism. There is nothing to fight against the Varnasharma. I don’t believe the caste system to be an odious and vicious dogma.” [4]

 

This was preceded in 1920 by Gandhi’s attempt to turn logic on its head in arguing that caste (a system which is by its very definition founded on inequality because it breaks society into four increasingly-degraded categories) does not create inequality. He stated: “I am certainly against any attempt at destroying the fundamental divisions. The caste system is not based on inequality.” [5]

 

Logically, of course, as well as morally, social division is irreconcilable with social equality. As a contrast in philosophies, Guru Gobind Singh Ji declared centuries before Gandhi: “All human beings are the reflection of one and the same Lord. Recognise ye the whole human race as one.” The absence of this attitude in Gandhism, as illustrated both in Gandhi’s philosophizing and his personal relations, is leading to its intense critical analysis.

 

George Orwell said: “He who controls the present, controls the past.” Reclaiming the truth of history and preserving it for perpetuity is the most important task an intellectual may undertake. Theirs is a greater responsibility, though, for they are tasked with telling truth.

 

Anything less than the truth is a lie, and lies are useful only for propaganda. Experimenting with the truth produces the results we see in India today, which is why the Hollywood Gandhi remains so useful to the Indian State as propaganda.

 

The truth is that the Indian State spots the globe with Gandhi statues as a deliberate propaganda strategy. On November 10, 2010, Indian MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy placed a formal question to India’s Ministry of External Affairs: “Does the Indian state assist in placing statues of Gandhi around the world?” Their response: “Yes.”The state bureaucracy in charge of this is the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, which placed 65 state-funded statues and busts of Gandhi around the world between 2001 and 2010.

 

As Rajmohan Gandhi continues to spread the myth of his grandfather while fabricating lies about Guru Gobind Singh Ji, intellectuals like women’s rights activist Nannette Ricaforte are awakening to the truth of Gandhi’s history and recognizing just how many people were harmed by his legacy. In October 2013, Ricaforte wrote:

 

Spiritual leaders like Gandhi procure a mass following whose reverence for him blinded them to the truth. He was a sexual predator while he espoused non-violence in fighting for the independence of India. Yet his ideology was enough for the majority of his supporters to disregard his immoral acts.

 

In my work as an abolitionist, fighting for the rights of sexually exploited victims, I can’t minimize the facts I’ve learned about Gandhi. It’s unsettling, to say the least.

 

I’ve met young victims of human trafficking, child labor, and the sex trade, stripped of their dignity by men in positions of power. Their degradation meant nothing, marginalized because the community revered the perpetrators. There are no words to express the depth of rage and helplessness I’ve felt when confronted with these reactions. [6]

 

South Asian women’s rights activist Rita Banerji, founder of the 50 Million Missing Campaign to expose female foeticide and infanticide, drew similar conclusions in another October 2013 article about Gandhi’s “dark side,” where she wrote:

 

Compared to our reactions and responses today, the people in Gandhi’s time seemed to be far more progressive! They not only recognized that he was abusing his position and power in a way that was unethical and depraved, but they outright condemned it, confronted it, and eventually forced him to stop!

 

On 16th March, 1947, Nirmal Kumar Bose, one of Gandhi’s closest associates wrote a letter to Kishorlal G. Mashruwala, another of Gandhi’s close colleagues, saying, “When I first learnt about Gandhi’s experiment in which a girl took off her clothes and lay under the same cover with him and he tried to find out if any sexual feeling was evoked in him or his companion, I felt genuinely surprised. Personally, I would not tempt myself like that and more than that, my respect for [women] would prevent me from treating her as an instrument in my experiment…” [7]

 

Rajmohan Gandhi, who has made his career on the coattails of his grandfather’s fame, seems blinded to the truth. His 2007 biography, Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire, is nothing but a stale, melodramatic retread of the typical Gandhi myth — Mohandas as a messianic figure who not only led the country to independence but the people to enlightenment. Objective modern biographers are telling a completely different story, as I mentioned earlier: Gandhi was racist, sexist, and casteist.

 

Unlike what history has shown us in the Sikh tradition, where individuals are liberated and mass emancipation is taught as the key to social progress, Gandhism preaches evil cloaked as good — war as peace, hate as love, segregation as unity, subjugation as equality, and tyranny as liberty. Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed his family, his wealth, and eventually his life to free India, and Rajmohan Gandhi’s decision to build on the false legacy of his grandfather by besmirching one who sacrificed himself for others is truly disgraceful.

 

Real heroes of human unity like Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, who began studies at Columba University in the United States of America in 1913, worked to erase caste barriers through the simple act of encouraging people from separate castes to eat together, drink together, marry one another, and in spirit to recognize the same universal human equality and casteless society taught by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

 

It has been said the victors write the history books. Brahmins, the ruling elite of India, never stopped being the victors because the system of social division established by caste has placed them at the top of the ivory tower for eons. Brahmanism has no interest in transmitting true history detailing the heroics of Guru Gobind Singh Ji or those, like Dr. Ambedkar, who worked peacefully for real social uplift.

 

No doubt Dr. Ambedkar receives no hearing from the ruling elite because he took the risk of warning the world that Gandhism was just a cynical political ploy for control:

 

I am sure many have felt that if there was any class which deserved to be given special political rights in order to protect itself against the tyranny of the majority under the Swaraj constitution it was the depressed classes. Here is a class which is undoubtedly not in a position to sustain itself in the struggle for existence. The religion to which they are tied, instead of providing for them an honourable place, brands them as lepers, not fit for ordinary intercourse. Economically, it is a class entirely dependent upon the high-caste Hindus for earning its daily bread with no independent way of living open to it….

 

There have been many Mahatmas in India whose sole object was to remove Untouchability and to elevate and absorb the depressed classes, but everyone has failed in their mission. Mahatmas have come, Mahatmas have gone but the Untouchables have remained as Untouchables. [8]

 

As for Gandhi’s use of untouchability as a political issue, Dr. Ambedkar stated in 1955:

 

All this talk about Untouchability was just for the purpose of making the Untouchables drawn into the Congress. That was one thing. Secondly, he wanted to make sure that Untouchables would not oppose his movement of Swaraj. I don’t think beyond that he had any real motive of uplift. He wasn’t like Garrison in the United States, who fought for the Negroes. [9]

 

We must be cautious. Whatever history we have is being systematically chipped away, stripped away, and twisted into lies accepted as truth. Rajmohan Gandhi is but the latest member of his family to play a part in this assault on truth. India’s history, therefore, proves the tragic tale of the sufferings of many minorities at the hands of powerful proponents of falsehood.

 

Rajmohan’s work continues to spread lies. If he is to find redemption, we insist he begin by penning a letter of apology to the world regarding his grandfather’s behavior towards women, blacks, Sikhs, Dalits, and the many others he victimized and subjugated. Rajmohan ought to surrender himself in servitude to the downtrodden of India to atone for the damages caused by his family to the people of South Asia.

 

Finally, we appeal to universities and booksellers to ignore Rajmohan Gandhi’s book, Punjab, especially as long as he refuses to speak the truth about his family deliberately hidden dark secrets. The world no longer has any excuse to remain gullible about Gandhi’s past in the face of so much information exposing his exploitation of the vulnerable. The myth is Gandhi as savior but the truth is Gandhi as predator and so, it seems, Gandhism must be rejected completely.
NOTES:

1 Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG). Vol. 31, p. 142.

2 CWMG. Vol. 28, p. 11.

3 Rothbard, Murray. For A New Liberty. Ludwig Von Mises Institute (2006). pp. 12-13.

4 Harijan, 1933.

5 CWMG. Volume 22, p. 67.

6 Ricaforte, Nannette. “Shattered Heroes: Gandhi’s Dark Side?” GoodMenProject.com. October 18, 2013.

7 Banerji, Rita. “Gandhi Used His Position To Sexually Exploit Young Women: The Way WE React To This Matters Even Today.” Youth Ki Awaaz. October 15, 2013.

8 Statement by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on Gandhi’s “Fast Unto Death” at the London Round Table Conference to oppose separate electorates for Untouchables, September 19, 1932.

9 Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, an interview on BBC Radio, Dec. 31, 1955.

Our Request to President Chugh to Listen to Truth

— A reevaluation of Gandhi & the Sikhs —

Dear President Navneet Singh Chugh Ji,

It comes as a great hurt to the Sikh Sangat of Greater Los Angeles to discover that Navneet Singh Chugh, President of Sikh Temple of Orange County, Santa Ana, California, has donated his property and money to the Art in Public Places Program in Cerritos, California, USA to place a statue of the Hindu religious icon Mohandas Gandhi.

Gandhi’s opinion concerning the Sikhs was obvious. About langar he said, “It is a menace,” he called Guru Gobind Singh “a misguided patriot,” and he insisted on multiple occasions that the Sikhs are Hindus. These remarks are only the tip of the iceberg which separates Gandhi from the Sikhs. His philosophy was incompatible with the Sikh worldview and Gandhi cannot be reconciled with the Sikhs. Mr. Chugh further injures the sentiments of the Sikhs by reiterating the Indian state’s concept that Gandhi, being called a “Mahatma,” is equivalent to God.

Sikhs have traditionally believed defending the rights and liberties of other people is the best way to protect their own rights and liberties. Gandhi preached a different principle. He believed taking away the rights and liberties of other people was the best way to advance caste division. The manner in which he lived severely harmed marginalized people around the world. The impact of his work is seen today in mass death and widespread oppression.

Sikhs were only one of many peoples to suffer from Gandhi’s double-dealings. Perhaps his biggest victims were the Dalits, whose leader Dr. B. R. Ambedkar said, “If a man with God’s name on his tongue and sword under his armpit deserved the appellation of a Mahatma, then Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a Mahatma.” [1] Gandhi has been used by the Indian state to hoodwink the world. On one hand, the state perpetrates genocide against every minority — Sikhs in 1984, Muslims in 2002, Christians in 2008. On the other hand, the state smiles and talks of peace and equality.

Gandhi is professed by many as the founding father of the Indian state. If this is true, then the son he fathered is responsible for an abominable absence of liberty and prosperity. His life, for an authentic student, clearly demonstrates he preached a gospel not of peace, but of division, hatred, and war. As leader of the Congress Party, he spread casteism. The same Congress-controlled Delhi government slaughtered Sikhs in the streets in 1984 and rules India today.

There is no question that the Indian state spots the globe with Gandhi statues as an active form of propaganda. On November 10, 2010, Indian MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy placed a formal question to India’s Ministry of External Affairs: “Does the Indian state assist in placing statues of Gandhi around the world?” Their response: “Yes.”

The state bureaucracy in charge of this is the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Between 2001 and 2010, the ICCR placed 65 state-funded statues and busts of Gandhi in countries all around the earth. Meanwhile, killers of Sikhs like Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath and Punjab Police DGP Sumedh Saini gain promotion, killers of Muslims like Gujarati CM Narendra Modi gain reelection, and killers of Christians like Odisha MLA Manoj Pradhan receive suspended sentences. India’s system seems constructed so state officials who participate in ethnic cleansing thrive.

Recent media coverage has brought to the attention of the Sikh Sangat that local Sikhs are requesting the City of Cerritos to remove the Gandhi statue. The local Sangat has detailed five primary reasons why all good people should oppose a Gandhi statue. These reasons are:

 

1) Gandhi sexually abused his grandnieces in a manner which would have led to his arrest and imprisonment if done in Cerritos, CA today;

2) Gandhi psychologically abused his deathly sick wife, denying her access to medicine, which directly resulted in her death;

3) Gandhi is rejected by India’s most marginalized communities as the one responsible for increasing their social and political oppression;

4) Gandhi spread sympathy for Adolf Hitler at the height of the Nazi leader’s bloodiest massacres and suggested Jews should cooperate with Hitler’s Holocaust;

5) Gandhi promoted racial supremacy and racial segregation while living and working in South Africa shortly before Apartheid.

 

Through these actions, Gandhi violated every basic truth held by Sikhs — purity is valuable, women are to be treasured, the weak should be lifted up, oppressors should be rebuked rather than befriended, and all people are equal in the sight of God. For the Sikh people, these five reasons can be summed up in a single reason: Gandhi mocked truth and promoted the caste system of spiritual slavery.

Sikhi was founded to overthrow caste. The Sikh practice of langar is foundational to Sikh teachings. By breaking bread together, people break down barriers. Discrimination is destroyed by association. Yet Gandhi viewed langar with total disdain, saying: “So far as the Sikh kitchen is concerned, it is a menace whether the Sikhs may be regarded as Hindus or non-Hindus.” [2] In fact, he was obsessed with making Sikhs identify as Hindus. In April 1947, he said: “The Sikhs are almost Hindus. I have seen the Granth Sahib. In many parts it is Hinduism to the letter.” [3]

Gandhi believed the truth was that caste is life and taught that caste division is the very substance of Hinduism. In 1933, he plainly stated: “To abolish caste is to demolish Hinduism.” [4] He wanted the whole world to embrace caste practice. In 1932, he said: “Caste is necessary for Christians and Muslims as it has been necessary for Hinduism, and has been its saving grace.” [5]

Gandhi thought Hinduism should be pushed on to all of humanity by redefining them as Hindus. In December 1947, he declared:

 

“One cannot separate Hindus and Sikhs…. The two religions are fundamentally one. Even Guru Nanak never said that he was not a Hindu nor did any other Guru. If we read the Granth Sahib we shall find that it is full of the teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads…. The same is true of the teachings of Guru Govind Singh. What he taught is also to be found in the Hindu scriptures. There is nothing wholly new. He has only emphasized certain things. I claim that they originate from the Vedas. It cannot be said that Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are separate religions. All these four faiths and their offshoots are one. Hinduism is an ocean into which all the rivers run. It can absorb Islam and Christianity and all the other religions and only then can it become an ocean. Otherwise it remains merely a stream along which large ships cannot ply.” [6]

 

These claims cannot possibly be true because the teachings of the Sikh Gurus, like those of Muhammad and Jesus Christ, clearly contradict the division of humanity into separate castes. Gandhi said no Sikh Guru ever denied being a Hindu. This is a blatant lie. Guru Nanak Dev Ji directly separated Sikhs, saying: “There is no Hindu, no Muslim.” Guru Arjan Dev Ji proclaimed Sikhs are separate, saying: I have broken with the Hindu and the Muslim. I won’t go on Hajj to Mecca, nor do I worship at the Hindu places. I shall serve Him alone and no other…. We are neither Hindus nor Muslims.”

We are utterly confused by Mr. Chugh’s decision to sponsor a statue of a person who denied the existence of the Sikh faith and instead insisted Sikhs should embrace the abhorrent system of social tyranny which the Sikh faith was founded to end.

From Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, every teacher of the disciples has taught equality of humanity. All have rejected caste. Gandhi said abolishing caste abolishes Hinduism, but Guru Nanak taught: “Recognize the Lord’s Light (Spirit) within all, and do not consider social class or status; there are no classes or Castes in the world hereafter.” [7] In 1925, Gandhi said, “Had I lived as [Guru Gobind Singh’s] contemporary, I would have called [him] a misguided patriot.” [8] Yet Guru Gobind taught: “All human beings are the reflection of one and the same Lord. Recognise ye the whole human race as one.” [9]

As President of Sikh Temple of Orange County, Santa Ana, California, Mr. Chugh was elected with the expectation he would represent the interests and beliefs of the Sikh people. He swore to uphold the principle of langar. How can he protect the integrity of this practice of human equality while simultaneously promoting Gandhi, who preached social inequality?

How can he protect the principle that the human race is one while simultaneously promoting Gandhi, who preached caste division of humanity?

How can he represent the Sikh people while simultaneously promoting Gandhi, who preached the Sikh people don’t exist?

We must remember Guru Nanak’s teaching: “Lowest of Low Born, Nanak seeks their company. The friendship of great is in vain For where the weak are cared for, there Thy mercy rains.” [10] The weak, the oppressed, the low born are those whom Sikhs are instructed to befriend. Whether in South Africa against black Africans, in India against the Dalits, or during Partition against the Sikhs and Muslims, Gandhi devoted himself to undermining the rights, liberties, and lives of oppressed people.

In this sensitive historical era, when Sikhs in the United States are in a position of fragility due to confusion about the meaning of our turbans while Sikhs in India are in a life-or-death struggle with an oppressive state, advancing Mohandas Gandhi as a hero to Americans is probably the most damaging strategy for the improvement of the Sikh status. How does it help us to assimilate into the USA to promote a man who loved Hitler, hated blacks, and abused his wife and female relatives? It embarrassing for Sikhs to erect an idol of a Hindu deity like Gandhi. In a post-9/11 world, this will only handicap our desire to integrate.

Because Gandhi’s efforts were so offensive to the Sikh nation and all other minorities of Indian origin, because he propagated casteism, because he denied freedom and rejected purity, we are convinced that a statue of Gandhi is intolerable to the Khalsa, a violation of the Sikh Panth, and has no place amidst the Sikh Sangat. Consequently, we prayerfully ask Navneet Chugh to remove the Gandhi statue he has placed outside his office building in Cerritos, California, USA.

 

Signed:

 

Bhajan Singh Bhinder

September 13, 2013

 

 

1 Gandhi and Gandhism by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

2 Collected Works of Mohandas Gandhi, Vol. 28, 11.

3 Collected Works of Mohandas Gandhi, Vol. 94, 225.

4 Harijan, 1933.

5 Gandhi’s 1932 speech at Trivandrum, cited in “The Bleeding Wound: Being a most up-to-date collection of Gandhiji’s speeches, writings and statements on untouchability by Ramnath Suman.

6 Collected Works of Mohandas Gandhi, Vol. 97, 465.

7 Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 349.

8 Collected Works of Mohandas Gandhi, Vol. 31, p. 142.

9 Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 51.

10 Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 15.

Riverside Students Hear “Genocide in India Has Not Stopped” While Gathering to Honor Murdered Activist

Jaswant Singh Khalra’s work to expose genocide commemorated on 18th anniversary of his disappearance

 

RIVERSIDE, September 9, 2013 – Over the weekend, students and families gathered at Gurdwara Sahib Riverside to hear Navkiran Kaur Khalra commemorate her father’s legacy alongside three more speakers at “Remembrance of the Disappeared” seminar. An emerging theme was genocide against minorities by the Indian state continues and the way to honor murdered human rights activist Jaswant Singh is to speak the truth louder.

 

The program began Saturday evening. About 75 percent of the audience were youth who listened intently as Navkiran Kaur detailed her father’s work. They were horrified as she told how Jaswant Singh Khalra was disappeared and killed by Indian police in September 1995 after he exposed India’s secret genocide of Sikh youth in Punjab. She challenged young women in particular to speak out by documenting and reporting human rights abuses.

 

Jaskaran Kaur, co-founder of Ensaaf, began with a short video of the group’s work in Punjab to fully document the Sikh genocide by going village-to-village to create an accurate count of the dead and disappeared. She emphasized to the generations of the future that proper education is key to effecting change in international forums and media.

 

Pieter Singh transfixed the young Sikhs present in a talk about two martyrs — Jalil Andrabi of Kashmir and Jaswant Singh Khalra of Punjab. He pled with his audience to understand that Khalra and Andrabi both died for reporting the truth, saying: “Genocide in India has not stopped — the architects of genocide have been promoted to the highest halls of state, where they remain, and disappearances continue.” The best way to honor the legacies of Andrabi and Khalra is, he concluded, to: “Do what they did. Speak the truth.”

 

After three speakers, the students broke into separate groups to rotate through three separate classrooms for an interactive workshop about human rights and how Sikh youth should be involved. Students were especially encouraged to remember Khalra’s words: “The Khalsa was inaugurated to protect human rights — the human rights of the world.”

 

M. R. Paul of Organization for Minorities of India wrapped up the evening by stressing the importance of minorities uniting to face their common oppressor — the Indian state.

 

On Sunday, Devinder Singh of Ujjal Didar Singh Memorial Foundation commenced proceedings with an eloquent presentation of a poem dedicated to Khalra’s sacrifice. The Sangat then watched, with rapt attention, a recording of Khalra’s last public speech, in which he said: “And that special gift, which the Guru possesses, is the gift of martyrdom.”

 

Next, Navkiran Kaur spoke about her father’s legacy and the history of the Khalra family, from her great-grandfather Harnam Singh’s involvement in the Ghadar Movement all the way to her father Jaswant Singh’s last speech, given in Canada in an attempt to interest an international audience in the genocide happening in Punjab. She spoke powerfully about his subsequent kidnapping and murder by police in Punjab.

 

M. R. Paul spoke next, explaining the importance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to the whole sub-continent of India. He detailed incidents throughout Sikh history where Sikhs stood up against oppression of themselves and others, emphasizing that Sikhi is founded on bringing freedom to the “lowest of low born.” He reminded the Sangat that Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, champion of the lowest of India, desired to become a Sikh and built Guru Nanak Khalsa College (Mumai) to instill Sikh principles in young people.

 

Jeewan Kaur, a fiery orator of just seven years, gave a rousing recital of “Kavita,” a poem about the importance of Kesh and Dastaar. The Sangat responded with jakaras of bole so nihaal. After that, Jaskaran Kaur showed a short video about Ensaaf’s work in Punjab to document the victims of genocide. She then spoke about how the work is presently going full swing.

 

Finally, Pieter Singh spoke briefly about what Sikhs in the USA can do to take action to stop human rights abuses. He stressed the importance of visiting congressional offices to tell them the truth about oppression in India, which he said includes not just Punjab, but also Kashmir, Odisha, Gujarat, Manipur, and other regions where state terrorism flourishes. He said Sikhs should tell their representative in Congress two things: “First, genocide is happening in India. Second, because of it, the USA should end foreign aid to India.”

 

The Riverside Sikh Sangat and Gurdwara Sahib Riverside Committee all participated enthusiastically, giving generously of their time and resources. Bhajan Singh Bhinder of SIC smoothly coordinated the event. Jatinder Singh and the Riverside Khalsa Academy were instrumental to making the seminar a success. Sponsoring groups included Ensaaf, Jakara Movement, Sikh Information Centre, and Organization for Minorities of India, who all expressed gratitude to Gurdwara Sahib Riverside for its hospitality.

 

About SIC: Sikh Information Centre is a think tank founded in 1988 to educate humanity about the rights of the individual so as to pursue liberty, peace, and prosperity.

 

Media Inquiries:

Pieter Singh, SIC Executive Director

1-916-245-0337 | pieter@sikhinformationcentre.org

 

###

Video of Navkiran Kaur Khalra “How to Honor My Father’s Legacy”

“They knew everything…. Jaswant Singh Khalra and the team (like, he had other people who were working with him as human rights activists), so they were like, this is huge! The age range for killing of Sikhs in the cremation grounds — the dead bodies that were found — it was 15 years old to 35 years old.

 

“So they were random people who went to work, who went to school, who went to colleges, never came back! Nobody knows, like, where their kids went. Their parents were still trying to find out where their kids were, but they were actually killed and they were never returned.”

 

— Navkiran Kaur Khalra, September 7, 2013, Riverside, CA