"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.
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Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi

It’s you who needs to repent, Mr. Amit Shah

 

Hello Mr. Shah,

I was amused to see your video the other day, in which you were telling an Akali Dal MP from Punjab that Balwant Singh Rajoana, a jailed Sikh militant, does not deserve amnesty.

You were apparently outraged at her statement asking to free him and other Sikh political prisoners who have already served their time. Your anger might be also because Akali Dal once used to be the alliance partner of your party in power, before they fell apart when your own government brought a bill that was anti-farmer. Only you would know the real source of your annoyance.

Your piece of advice, that Rajoana should not expect any compassion or leniency, as he doesn’t regret his action of being involved in terrorism and the assassination of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, left me laughing.

First of all, you have no moral right to make that kind of suggestion to any political extremist, considering that your party has itself been involved in terrorism.

We can begin with the murder of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. His killer was a part of RSS, the mother organization of Hindu supremacy to which you and your Prime Minister belong. The story does not end there. You have MPs who glorify his murderer, one of whom, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, had been involved in bombings in a Muslim locality. You yourself had once mocked Gandhi by calling him a cunning Baania.

Let’s fast forward to December 6, 1992 when your party folks razed an ancient mosque in Ayodhya, after which you targeted Muslims for years through mob violence, including the one in Gujarat in 2002. Modi and you were the leaders of Gujarat back then, and we all know about your complicity. Then you both allowed Muslims to be killed in staged police shootouts in the name of war on terror.

Ever since you both formed a majority government in New Delhi, Hindu extremism has become a new norm and attacks on religious minorities have grown. All those self-styled cow vigilantes going after beef-eating Muslims are no less than Taliban.

Even a child can make out that the Supreme Court under your government humiliated Muslims by allowing the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Modi, who has inaugurated the temple just now, has marked another black day in our history. Until now you have been claiming that the Muslim rulers destroyed the birthplace of Lord Ram to build the mosque in Ayodhya. For the sake  of argument, if one believes what you have been saying, your party in power is a mirror image of those Muslim emperors who have already gone down in history as tyrants.

With so much baggage of your own, how can you single out Rajoana and others like him?

Rajoana was responsible for the death of a controversial political figure who had given a free hand to the Punjab police to crush an insurgency for Khalistan, as a result of which many innocent Sikhs were also abducted and killed in state violence. This is not to defend the wrongdoings of the supporters of Khalistan, but to be fair, most of them were killed through extra-judicial means, even while your party people continued to indulge in terrorism with impunity. Unfortunately, the majoritarian media did not even dare to call you terrorists, and neither were your men tried and convicted under anti terror laws.

Just because you are in power does not make you a lesser evil. If asking for Khalistan is a crime, so is turning India into a Hindu state which you have already done.

Lastly, today is the 25th anniversary of the gruesome murders of Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, who were burnt to death in 1999 by the right-wing Hindu goons who have been getting their oxygen from hate-mongers like you.

It’s time that you repent your actions and do some penance, instead of lecturing others.

May Lord Ram bless you.

 

Gurpreet Singh

An independent Canadian journalist of Indian heritage

January 23, 2024.    

 

An online magazine that covers alternative politics wants another probe into the role of Indian agencies behind the worst incident of aviation terrorism before 9/11.

On Thursday, January 11, Radical Desi cofounder Gurpreet Singh launched a signature campaign on a petition from the spot where Surrey-Delta Gurdwara President Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed in June, 2023.

According to Singh, the events leading up to Nijjar's assassination demand a fresh and focused investigation into the role of Indian spies in the Air Indian episode.  

It is pertinent to mention Mewa Singh was executed on January 11, 1915 for murdering controversial immigration inspector William Hopkinson.

Hopkinson was instrumental behind the killings of two community leaders, Bhaag Singh and Badan Singh, at the Vancouver gurdwara in September, 1914. Bhaag Singh led a campaign against racism and colonialism, and was targeted by the agents of Hopkinson.

Since the history of those killings has been repeated by the Indian state, Singh said that it was appropriate to launch the petition on Mewa Singh’s martyrdom day.  

331 people died in two bombings on June 23, 1985. This included a mid-air blast of Air India Flight 182 that left all 329 people aboard dead. While the incidents were blamed on Sikh separatists seeking revenge from the Indian government, community activists continue to believe that this was the handiwork of the Indian intelligence to discredit the movement for a Sikh homeland of Khalistan. They have pointed to a flawed investigation, destruction of surveillance tapes, and facts such as last minute cancellation of travel plans by some people known to be close to the Indian consulate and the proximity of some of the suspects to Indian officials.

Two of the persons charged were acquitted, while Inderjit Singh Reyat was the only person to be convicted for manslaughter.

Among the acquitted was Sikh millionaire Ripudaman Singh Malik who was not only given visa to visit India in 2019, he was allowed to meet the head of the Indian spy agency R&AW. Malik was shot to death under mysterious circumstances in July 2022. A section of the Indian media speculated that he was assassinated by the supporters of Khalistan.

Nijjar was portrayed as a potential suspect, raising apprehensions of retaliation within the community. He has been facing threats to his life since then, and he has been on the radar of the Indian government that was seeking his extradition. Also, the Indian government was outraged over his support for a referendum on Khalistan and for glorification of the late Talwinder Singh Parmar, a militant leader who is widely accused as a mastermind behind Air India. Notably, while Parmar was never convicted for the crime, he was killed by the Indian police in cold blood in 1992, giving credence to the conspiracy theories. Many believe that his killing was a part of the cover up.  

In June, 2023, Nijjar was murdered near the gurdwara parking lot, despite the fact that he was repeatedly cautioned by Canadian authorities about the danger to his life. The Canadian Prime Minister acknowledged in the House of Commons that the Indian government could be behind the murder. Later, US authorities unearthed a plot to kill Nijjar’s colleague Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, and indicted Nikhil Gupta, who hired an undercover police officer for the job on behalf of an unidentified Indian government official.

The series of events has made the demand for another Air India inquiry even more relevant than before. Previous investigations mainly looked into the hand of Sikh separatists into the bombings and have remained unresolved.

Protecting the human rights of LGBTQ+ people: Why Canada does not need homophobic and transphobic immigrants!

 

Canada prioritizes inclusivity and diversity, fostering an environment where all individuals can thrive regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Allowing homophobic and transphobic individuals to immigrate can undermine this commitment and potentially threaten the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ communities. Here are ten compelling reasons why such attitudes shouldn't be welcomed in Canada:

 

Violates Human Rights: Homophobic and transphobic beliefs directly contravene the fundamental human rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, creating an unsafe environment for them.

 

Undermines Equality Laws: Canada's laws protect LGBTQ+ rights; allowing those opposed to these rights can lead to social regression and undermine hard-won equality.

 

Threatens Mental Health: Intolerance fuels discrimination, leading to increased mental health risks among LGBTQ+ individuals, contradicting Canada's commitment to mental well-being.

 

Promotes Exclusion: Homophobic and transphobic views propagate exclusion, harming the social fabric and diversity that Canada values.

 

Increases Hate Crimes: Importing such attitudes can contribute to a rise in hate crimes, compromising the safety of LGBTQ+ communities.

 

Hampers Workplace Diversity: Tolerance and acceptance are crucial in workplaces; importing intolerance can create hostile environments for LGBTQ+ employees.

 

Contradicts Education Principles: Canada prioritizes inclusive education; importing intolerance conflicts with the goal of providing safe learning spaces for LGBTQ+ youth.

 

Lack of Cultural Competence: Healthcare professionals with intolerant views may lack understanding or sensitivity towards the specific healthcare needs of LGBTQ+ individuals, leading to subpar or inappropriate care.

 

Undermines National Values: Canada prides itself on tolerance and diversity; allowing intolerant views to flourish contradicts these core national values.

 

Stifles Social Progress: Welcoming individuals who hold homophobic and transphobic beliefs impedes social progress and counters efforts to build an inclusive society.

 

Canada's commitment to inclusivity and diversity forms the bedrock of its social fabric. Upholding these values means ensuring that those who oppose them do not threaten the safety, rights, and well-being of LGBTQ+ communities and the broader Canadian society.

 

Alex Sangha is an award-winning social worker, counsellor, documentary film producer, and author.  For more information check out:  https://www.youtube.com/@alex.sangha

 

An online magazine that covers alternative politics has picked the slain President of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Surrey-Delta as this year’s newsmaker.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was a leader of the movement for Khalistan, an independent Sikh homeland to be carved out of northern India, was assassinated on June 18, 2023. The Canadian government believes that Indian agencies could be involved in the high profile murder, as the US authorities uncovered a plot to kill his colleague Gurpatwant Singh Pannu.

Nijjar feared an attempt on his life, as the Indian government tried to get him extradited on charges of terrorism that were never proved in any court of law. The pro-establishment media in New Delhi had slandered him multiple times, though he was known as a soft-spoken and hardworking member of the Sikh community in BC. He had organized special prayers for the Indigenous kids whose remains were discovered on the sites of former residential schools and always spoke out for the human rights of everyone, including non-Sikhs, for which Radical Desi had presented him with a medal.

Nijjar's death became a catalyst for breaking the global silence on growing repression of minorities and political dissidents under the right wing Hindu nationalist government in India, and forced Canada to look into growing foreign interference into its internal affairs by the world’s so-called largest democracy. 

Gurpreet Singh

Let’s make the world’s so-called largest democracy accountable for incarcerating a disabled scholar.

A wheelchair-bound former Delhi University Professor, who is struggling with multiple ailments, is serving a life sentence under trumped up charges, for merely questioning the power and standing up for the poor and marginalized, as well as for the religious minorities who are being persecuted in India.

GN Saibaba was convicted on March 7, 2017,after being branded as a sympathizer of Maoist insurgents.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has asked for his release on humanitarian grounds due to his deteriorating health and brutal  jail conditions. Thousands of people across the world have signed petitions asking for his liberation. But the right wing Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi refuses to let him go.

On the contrary, attacks on political dissidents and minorities have increased ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014.

It is pertinent to mention that when Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation and a towering leader of the passive resistance movement against British rule, was sentenced on March 18, 1922 his followers decided to observe the 18th of every month as “Gandhi Day” until he was released.

It’s a shame that the country that  once fought against foreign occupation and its draconian laws is now being ruled by its own people, who have brought in even more stringent laws to suppress the voices of freedom. Saibaba is just one example of the extreme barbarity, while many continue to suffer the state violence in an independent India. Let’s reclaim the country of Gandhi’s dreams, and make noise for the release of Saibaba and all other political prisoners being jailed unfairly. For now, we can follow in the footsteps of the freedom fighters, and start observing every 7th of the month as “GN Saibaba Day” until he comes back home with dignity and respect. Nothing will be more fitting than to launch this initiative in the month of August, when the double-faced Indian leadership celebrates independence from the British, while continuing to oppress its own citizens to retain power and control by taking the refuge of patriotism.

 

Gurpreet Singh

The brazen murder of the President of Surrey-Delta Gurdwara on Sunday, June 18 has left many of us devastated.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a tireless community activist and a hardworking family man, who earned his livelihood as a plumber.

He was shot to death by at least two unidentified assailants on  Father’s Day, when he was heading home to spend time with his sons after finishing his work at the Gurdwara. 

Even as the authorities are looking into the incident and the motives behind it, there are strong speculations suggesting that Nijjar’s assassination was potentially orchestrated by contract killers hired by the Indian intelligence. 

Nijjar has been declared a 'martyr' by thousands of individuals who gathered at the Gurdwara on June 25 to pay their final respects to the deceased. Demonstrating their concern, they signed a petition urging the Canadian government to thoroughly investigate the possible involvement of Indian agents in the incident. Nijjar’s body had been brought to the Gurdwara in a casket before the funeral ceremony.   

Nijjar was associated with Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), an advocacy group fighting for an independent Sikh homeland of Khalistan. SFJ is banned in India,  and Nijjar had been branded as a designated terrorist by the government in New Delhi. He was constantly targeted by a section of the Indian media at the behest of Indian intelligence agencies and was relentlessly accused of being involved in violent activities and political murders in the country. This was despite the fact that he had never been convicted or faced any criminal charges in Canada.

The Indian government had been trying to get him extradited. It was  claimed that he was running a terror training camp in Mission, BC - a claim that proved to be a hoax. 

In fact, Nijjar lived under constant fear for his life at the hands of foreign actors active in Canada. More than once, he had confided in me about threatening messages and being cautioned by the Canadian police to remain vigilant.

In May, upon hearing news about the murder of a Pakistan-based prominent Khalistani leader Paramjit Singh Panjwar, Nijjar’s apprehensions about his own life grew.   

India has been asking Pakistan to handover Panjawar and others like him hiding in that country.

Nijjar had made a statement accusing the Indian establishment of killing Panjwar through hired hitmen and later organized special prayers for him at the Surrey-Delta Gurdwara. 

On May 18, I interviewed him for Spice Radio during which he revealed that he too was on the radar of the Indian state and feared he could meet the same fate as Panjwar, here in Canada. In a nutshell, despite foreseeing his death he remained steadfast in his fight for Khalistan through peaceful means. He insisted that all they want was a right to self-determination through ballot and not bullet (read referendum).

Which is why, exactly a month later, when I first heard about his murder on the night of June 18, I was shocked, but not surprised.

While it remains to be seen if the Canadian authorities will seriously look into this possibility of targeted attack on Nijjar and make any progress, his final interview serves as an eye opener for Canada to delve deeper into growing foreign interference in this country by India. Recently, Nijjar’s close associate Moninder Singh, also on radar of the Indian intelligence, had produced a report on Indian government’s interference in Canada. 

In the meantime, the right-wing Indian media commentators and pro Delhi trolls on social media continue to malign Nijjar as a terrorist, with some even celebrating his death. Though it’s all very disheartening and insensitive, Nijjar needs no validation from them.  I never fully agreed with his politics  and nor do I support Khalistan, but I recognize his legacy of standing up for human rights and social justice.  

He was firm, polite and humble. Not only did he advocate for the rights of Sikhs facing persecution in India, but he  also stood up for the rights of Muslims, Christians and Dalits. He had once attended our rally for the jailed Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist and is being incarcerated on fabricated charges. The professor’s only 'crime' was daring to question those in power and  defending the poor and marginalized. 

Nijjar had announced whole-hearted support to the campaign for the freedom of Saibaba on behalf of the Gurdwara.

When Canada was mourning the heartbreaking discoveries of unmarked graves of  indigenous kids at the former residential school sites, Nijjar took the initiative to organize  special prayers. In recognition of this, I presented him with Radical Desi medal, for which I also came under attack on twitter from a former Indian envoy in Vancouver.

Earlier this year, Nijjar held another event in memory of Nirmal Singh Gill, a temple keeper, who has been murdered by white supremacists at the Surrey -Delta Gurdwara 25 years ago. During the pandemic, the gurdwara under Nijjar’s leadership provided free food to the needy and the foreign students They also generously extended support to communities affected by floods and wildfires in British Columbia.  

So let India and its apologists call him whatever, he will always be our hero. It’s rather bizarre that a government run by bigots in the world’s so called largest democracy that has turned the country into an intolerant Hindu theocracy is labeling those asking for a right to self-determination on religious grounds as 'criminals' and 'separatists'. If the Indian government can allow Hindu majoritarianism to do what it likes, it should let people like Nijjar speak their minds. 

Instead of listening to the falsehoods propagated by a prejudiced government under which repression of religious minorities and political dissidents have surged, let’s listen to our hearts and give Nijjar his due. 

 

Gurpreet Singh

It’s good to know that the City of Surrey has been prompt in responding to calls by Ukrainian groups for pulling out the Russian pavilion from this year’s Surrey Fusion Festival.

After all, the Canadian government is sympathetic to Ukraine, which is under constant attack from Moscow.  It makes sense that the City of Surrey decides to do so, but not surprising considering the widespread anti-Russian sentiments across Canada.

What is really upsetting is that nobody questioned the inclusion of the Indian pavilion in the event. This is despite the fact that people of Indian origin not only have a sizeable population in Surrey, they have huge political representation at three levels of government from the city. It’s rather depressing to note that Indian democracy and diversity is being taken for granted. Information given on the Fusion Festival website about India is misleading, especially under the current political environment.

Attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have grown under a right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If Putin is bad, Modi is even worse. He belongs to a Hindu supremacist organization called RSS that is determined to transform India from an open and tolerant society to an oppressive Hindu state.

The Fusion Festival website gives an impression that India celebrates its diverse landscape, including the iconic Taj Mahal, the gift of the Mughal culture, but in reality the BJP and RSS are at work to erase Muslim history. They have already demolished an ancient mosque in the province of UP, the home of Taj Mahal. A section within this political combine also claims that Taj Mahal belongs to the Hindus, and Muslims are systematically targeted by the UP police with impunity. 

Do we have to remind the City of Surrey how Indians, particularly the Sikhs, campaigned for almost a year in the city against the Modi government’s controversial farming laws that were aimed to marginalize the farmers and cultivators, resulting in protests all over the world? The City of Surrey also showed its solidarity with the protesters who were intimidated and demonized by the Modi government, which is well documented. Will it be too much to ask the City of Surrey to pull out the Indian pavilion to send a strong message to Modi? Will the City of Surrey dare to bell the cat, or will it remain selective and unconcerned about India’s war against its own people?                 

Forgive us Father, your nation has gone to Godse’s children

 

Dear Bapu,

Happy Father’s Day to you.

Today, I miss you even more than the years when I first came to know about you, growing up as a kid in India.   

I don’t mind calling you Bapu, even though many of my friends might be outraged for ideological reasons. So be it. After all, I have been taught in school that you are the father of the nation, and brought freedom to the country without shedding blood. In our culture, that’s how we treat elders.

Although I do not agree with everything you said and did, that also applies to my late biological father, whom I loved in spite of many differences.

I still remember how we used to stand up in the classrooms at the sound of a distant siren, to mark your martyrdom for a moment of silence in your memory every January 30th, the day of your murder at the hands of Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse.

Since then I became curious to understand why someone would kill a saintly figure like you, who had led a passive resistance movement against British occupation of our country. This helped generate in me an interest for reading. I even got a copy of Godse’s confession and read it.

I was convinced that you were a voice of reason, crucified for merely standing up for Hindu-Muslim unity, keeping India united and opposing the religious partition of the nation that led to the formation of a separate Muslim Pakistan. That Godse was a bigot became clear to me. 

I continued to read more about your assassination, going into depth of the issue which I found wasn’t discussed much in school or in public spaces. I mostly came across two kinds of people: those who loved you for being a messiah of peace or those who hated you. The fact that you laid down your life for the sake of secularism and diversity was hardly discussed passionately, except in a very limited circle of friends who care.

What pained me more was that you were killed by a self proclaimed defender of Hinduism. Godse believed in Hindu supremacy, but he could not digest your brand of tolerant Hinduism. It was unacceptable that a practicing Hindu like yourself fell to the bullets of Godse.

I gradually learnt from several books I read over the years that you had been a target of constant hate from the Hindu Right, which was bothered by your opposition against anything promoted by ultra Hindu nationalists, including untouchability to bar Dalits from entering temples.

There had been several attempts on your life much before 1948, the year of your murder. So it’s all lies that they punished you on the spur of the moment for asking for peace with Pakistan following the partition.

You survived the very first attack in 1934, followed by a few more before the fatal one in 1948, showing that they were always after your life. It’s rather sad that this story has largely remained untold. Only a superficial version of the saga of your murder has been popularized, especially by supporters of the right wing Hindu groups. So much so, Godse’s followers continue to glorify him and celebrate your death until today.

The argument given by them in defence has blinded many Hindus, who actually think that you were soft on Muslims and pro-Pakistan, and that was the reason behind your death. They conveniently overlook the fact that during the partition, you were also fasting for peace in the Muslim-dominated areas where the Hindu minority became the target of violence.

I have come to the conclusion that Godse alone wasn’t responsible for your demise. He represented an ideology that still lives and is thriving, particularly under the current BJP government in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been trying to fool the world by paying tributes to you, reveres VD Savarkar, the man who was also involved in your murder. Though he was acquitted by the mortal courts, he remains guilty in the eyes of those who follow Indian history. If this is not enough, some of his party colleagues have shamelessly praised Godse. Among them is Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, who has been involved in terrorism and bombings targeting Muslims. Due to Modi’s blessings, she sits in the parliament, while others like her remain off the hook, in spite of being involved in activities, such as the one Godse and his gang were responsible for.  

In 2002, Modi's government allowed anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat, your home state, bringing disrepute to the place known for your legacy of love and brotherhood.

Attacks on religious minorities have grown across India ever since Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014. The India that you envisioned is lost, and we are dealing with an oppressive Hindu nation in the making. Anyone who questions this is made to face imprisonments and sedition laws, which you had to endure during the British rule.

But let’s face it, Bapu, the party that was closer to you must also take the blame for Modi’s ascendance to power.

The Congress claims to be secular, but also indulged in divisive politics in the past, emboldening Modi and the BJP. Following your murder, there was no orchestrated violence against Maharashtrian Brahmins, the community Godse belonged to, but the Sikh minority became the victim of a state sponsored massacre by Congress-led goons in the aftermath of the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

This encouraged Modi to repeat history in Gujarat against Muslims in 2002 to polarize the Hindu majority.

You could not be naïve, Bapu. The Congress was never sincere to the cause that was so close to your heart. They abandoned you when you were opposing the partition. The police lapse which led to your murder, despite previous attempts, only reveals the truth of anti-Muslim prejudices within the police force under Congress administrations. Similar prejudices against Sikhs and Muslims within the police ranks showed up in 1984 and 2002 respectively. Not only did the police incite the mobs, they looked away when they came after the unarmed members of these communities.

Hindu majoritarianism took your life, and its continued growth shows that this country has gone to Godse’s Children. If more is needed to prove this point, films rationalising Godse’s crime are being produced and distributed brazenly in the current environment. It’s not just fringe Hindu groups who consider him a hero.

The last time I visited the Birla House where you were shot to death I was shocked to see very few people coming in to pay homage, while Indira Gandhi’s official residence has been turned into a museum which attracts bus loads of tourists from all over India. That explains why global leaders who often praise your commitment to non-violence remain indifferent to the case of your dastardly murder and its relationship with the present government. If the Indian state itself honestly acknowledged and addressed majoritarian terrorism, that wouldn’t have been the case. 

With due respect, Bapu, you could have also prevented this from happening had you avoided mixing religion and politics. By advocating for cow protection and Hindu spiritualism, and by not questioning the caste-system and only challenging untouchability, you gave people like Modi an excuse to use religion in more extreme manners. While your intentions were good, the consequences are before us.

Rest in Peace

 

Gurpreet Singh

Concerned Canadian of Indian origin

 

Gurpreet Singh

The former BC Premier, who is known for his outspokenness against bigotry and religious fanaticism of every shade, chose to write his first novel about one of the most condemned social orders of Indian society.

The Past is Never Dead reveals the ugliness of the brutal caste system practiced by the Hindus, which has also plagued the progressive Sikh community in Punjab.

Published by Speaking Tiger, the first novel by Ujjal Dosanjh, who has publicly condemned discrimination against Dalits or so-called untouchables, not only in India, but in the diaspora ever since he entered public life.

In a phone interview from India with this writer, Dosanjh, who comes from the privileged Jat Sikh community of landowning farmers who otherwise dominate Dalits in Punjab, credited his forward-thinking elders for bringing him up with a humanist value system, and not to treat anyone with contempt on the basis of caste or creed.

Currently touring India to promote his novel, Dosanjh recalled his childhood days when he spent a lot of time with a Dalit friend without any restrictions from his parents. Although he was aware of caste prejudices against Dalits in Punjab, he never encountered it directly while living in a liberal environment. He was rather shocked to notice how Dalits were discriminated against more blatantly as far as England, where he moved from India before making Canada home.

His novel is based on all those experiences. The setting is in England, where some real-life incidents had frozen Dosanjh to the core. "A Dalit man was slapped and insulted by the self-proclaimed upper caste people. I had only recently migrated to England and was completely traumatized." 

The story starts in the 1930s, when India was struggling for freedom from the British occupation. The Dalit character of the novel leaves behind his wife and kids in Punjab to begin a new life in the UK, where he faces many challenges from his compatriots. 

“I feel Indians are hypocrites. Both the Hindus and the Sikhs claim to be compassionate and kind and often tell the world about great things about their religions, whereas in reality they spew venom against Dalits,” said Dosanjh. He added that while the Indian diaspora asks for equal rights in places like Canada, they do not want to treat Dalits as equal.

Welcoming the recent law passed by the City of Seattle against caste-based discrimination, he called for amendments to human rights codes in Canada to check the growing anti-Dalit hate in this part of the world. He pointed out that the BC Human Rights Tribunal had only in March awarded a Dalit $9,000 for being subjected to caste-based abuse by two of his colleagues, which makes this kind of legislation even more important. Dalit activists have already started gathering signatures on a petition seeking a similar law in BC.  

Dosanjh has survived physical attacks for criticizing Sikh fundamentalism in the past, and has been constantly writing and speaking out against the ultra-Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi.

 

A Metro Vancouver-based online magazine organized a demonstration to draw global attention to the ongoing suppression of press freedom in the world’s so-called largest democracy, in Surrey on Wednesday, May 3.  

Radical Desi had given the call for a protest rally outside the Indian Visa and Passport Application Center on World Press Freedom Day.  

The event was started with homage to the slain Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was allegedly assassinated in 2017 by supporters of the ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.  

A prominent progressive Punjabi writer, Amrit Diwana, recited a poem dedicated to her. Slogans asking for justice to Lankesh were also raised on the occasion.  

Attacks on religious minorities and political critics, including journalists and activists, have grown under the BJP rule since 2014.  

The speakers unanimously held that the constant assaults on independent media in India cannot be delinked from the broader issue of human rights which are being trampled with impunity. They agreed that the space for free expression continues to shrink under Modi, which should alarm the international community.  

Among those who addressed the gathering were BC Federation of Labour Secretary Treasurer Hermender Singh Kailley, prominent Sikh activists Barjinder Singh and Kesar Singh Baghi, Dalit activist Rashpal Bhardawaj, renowned media personality Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal and Radical Desi cofounder Gurpreet Singh.   

The participants included another BC Federation of Labour member, Kassandra Felicia Martinez Cordero, Sikh activist Kuljinder Singh Gill and Ambedkarite activist Joginder Banger.