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

Super User

Selfies labore, leggings cupidatat sunt taxidermy umami fanny pack typewriter hoodie art party voluptate. Listicle meditation paleo, drinking vinegar sint direct trade.

 

Gurpreet Singh  

Zain Haq, a 21-year-old international student at Simon Fraser University, has gone into hiding to avoid Canada Border Services agents.  

His "fault" is standing up for humanity, which is under constant danger due to the climate emergency.  

Haq is one of the organizers of Save Old Growth, a civil disobedience movement for climate justice.  

Arrested a few times for being part of protests, he was sentenced to two weeks in jail for criminal contempt of court after violating an injunction against demonstrations at the site of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Now, the Border Service agents want Haq to present himself before them.  

Fearing arrest and deportation, he has made himself inaccessible, while his supporters are working hard to find ways to prevent that. After all, he is here on a study permit. A native of Karachi, Pakistan, he apprehends even more hardships if he is sent back to a much more intolerant political environment that is hostile to activism for change.  

It’s a shame that in a country which claims to be a global human rights leader, someone like him has to go underground, just for raising his voice against something that puts each one of us at risk.  

We shouldn’t need to remind our government that it’s a global problem. Not only is Haq’s home country of Pakistan facing severe drought, Canada too is burning. Last year alone, we lost more than 600 human lives in BC due to the heat wave. What crime has Haq done by joining a climate justice action movement? If Canadian citizens can raise their voices for such a noble cause, without fear of being uprooted or exiled, why treat Haq like a criminal or an alien? Decency demands that Haq should instead be treated with respect. He is our hero, and history will prove him right. It’s up to Canada - either do the right thing, or earn disrepute.  

 

 

 

Gurpreet Singh  

June 23 marks the 37th anniversary of the worst incident in history of aviation terrorism before 9/11.  

On the ill-fated date in 1985, 331 people were killed in the Air India bombings, which were widely blamed on Sikh separatists in Canada seeking revenge for repression of Sikhs in India during 1984. The investigation and trial of the case culminated in one lone conviction of alleged bomb maker Inderjit Singh Reyat, who pleaded guilty of manslaughter. 

Two other suspects, Greater Vancouver Sikh millionaire Ripudaman Singh Malik, and Kamloops sawmill worker Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted in 2005 for lack of evidence. 

Bagri was associated with the now-banned Babbar Khalsa, a Sikh extremist group whose leader, the late Talwinder Singh Parmar, was said to be the mastermind of the conspiracy. He died at the hands of Indian police in 1992 under mysterious circumstances. Other potential suspects were never charged. 

India has been consistently raising this issue with Canada for years. The present Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the memorial site in Ontario during his 2015 official tour of Canada. When Malik and Bagri were acquitted, the Indian government had expressed its outrage.   

However, recent developments suggest that India has lost any moral right to talk about Air India in particular and terrorism in general. 

Firstly, the Indian government gave visa to Malik to visit his birthplace in 2019. This is despite the fact that until then, India had accused him of being a financier of the conspirators. In fact, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Bruce Josephson declared that Malik's acquittal “was not a declaration of innocence”, while rejecting his claim for compensation for losses incurred by him on his legal defence. If that was not enough, Malik’s brother revealed in a TV interview that they had an opportunity to meet the head of India's spy agency RA&W. Malik even wrote a letter of praise for Modi recently.  

Secondly, Indian agents continue to attack certain Sikh temples that glorify Parmar as a martyr of their cause. Canadian politicians who visit these temples are frequently blasted by pro-India lobby groups. If Malik’s acquittal is a yardstick for getting Indian visa, there is no point going after the supporters of Parmar, who never got a fair trial to prove his innocence. He was instead killed in an extra-judicial manner.   

Considering what India is going through under a right wing Hindu nationalist government led by Modi, what right has India to talk tough on terrorism?  

Modi himself nominated a controversial female Hindu ascetic to run for office in the 2019 general election. Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a Member of Parliament from Modi’s own Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), was involved in a bombing targeted at the Muslim community in 2008. Close to 10 people died and many were injured. Thakur, who was cooling her heels in jail, was given bail to run for Parliament. 

Also, the BJP government helped in the acquittal of Swami Aseemanand, another Hindu ascetic, involved in a 2007 rail bombing that left close to 70 people dead. Most victims were Pakistani Muslims. His proximity with Modi is well documented. 

Notably, these two individuals did not meet the same fate as Parmar. Apparently, India treats extremists belonging to the Hindu majority differently.  

But terror attacks on Muslims and other religious minorities have grown in India ever since Modi came to power in 2014. All this indicates that India is blatantly patronising terrorism, which takes away its legitimacy to question other countries on this issue. 

To put things in perspective, the Indian government’s decision to give visa to Malik might have something to do with the shrewd politics of Modi to create a wedge between Muslims and Sikhs in places like Canada, where the two communities have come together to challenge ultra-Hindu nationalism. 

Modi’s calculation might be based on the fact that the Sikhs were subjected to state violence in India under a previous Congress government. In spite of its tall claims of being secular, Congress had engineered a Sikh massacre in 1984, following the murder of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Modi repeated that tactic against Muslims in 2002. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, which witnessed a similar pogrom after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, killing more than 50 people. Modi blamed that incident on Muslims, even though one commission of enquiry had established that it was a pure accident.  

Instead of shedding crocodile tears for the Air India victims and playing with their emotions, the Indian state needs to look hard at itself in the mirror. Blaming others all the time isn’t helpful. It’s time for India to change its ways and treat its minorities humanely. Either deal with terrorists of all shades alike, or stop being selective.  

As far as the Air India victims’ families and their self-styled supporters are concerned, such as the leftists and moderate Sikhs or the local Hindu leaders, they need to make Indian officials accountable for using the Air India tragedy to their advantage for all these years. After all, India created the toxic environment for such a tragedy in the first place, and then botched the investigation. This forces one to suspect the involvement of Indian moles within the ranks of Sikh extremists, as complained by those who believe in alternative theories. Until now, all these groups have been mocking the Canadian government and its politicians for being “soft on terrorism”. Why are they not rattling the cage now and asking the Modi government some hard questions? Why hasn't the pandering of people like Malik by the Indian state made them angry? It is better to boycott Indian agents, rather than let them fake tears and make hollow statements to show sympathy with the victims’ families, only to score a political point on behalf of their masters in New Delhi.  

 

Gurpreet Singh   

I have always been fond of books, but never before had I read so many in one single year. I have actually lost the count of those I read one after another, at times two simultaneously, during the pandemic.  

COVID 19 turned me into a book addict, compelling me to keep researching for them online and continue ordering. So much so, I reread some, and pulled out those I have been collecting over the years for my home library but never had time to go through.  

Around this time, I began reading Panchatantra, a collection of fables that many believe were written around 200 BC by a Hindu scholar, Pandit Vishnu Sharma. It is said that a king entrusted his three sons to Sharma, so that they could learn niti (policy making).  

One of the stories that caught my attention deeply was of the crows and owls. I could not resist relating it with some bigger and real events that happened in Canada and continue to affect us even today. Being a journalist by profession, I have a responsibility to look at any issue from different angles. The story gave me one perspective that I wanted to share, but was not sure if anyone would listen.  

The story goes like this: there was a bloody rivalry between two kingdoms, one led by an owl and the other by a crow.  

Crows were enraged over the continued killing of their tribe by owls during nights. Since owls can see in the dark, the crows were always at the receiving end in an event of attack.  

The crows decide to wipe out owls once and for all. They begin chalking out strategy, and eventually agree to infiltrate one of their own among the owls, spying on their activities to find an appropriate moment for their annihilation.  

As part of the plan, they kick out one member of their flock. Once this comes to the attention of the owls, they get carried away and offer him refuge. Despite some opposition by a few owls who remain skeptical, the owl king remains adamant and decides to take the abandoned crow under his wings.  

The crow is brought to the kingdom of owls and given a place to stay. The days pass, as the crow who is perceived to be an estranged tribe member, in reality keeps a watch on the daily routine of the rivals.  

The owls sleep during the day, and remain active at night. Their precise location is revealed, making it easier for the crows to know where and when to strike. After gaining the confidence of the owls, the spy flies back to its kingdom while the owls are asleep, and gives the signal for invasion. As a result, the crows attack the cave and burn all the owls alive.   

If you are Canadian and have been following the case of Air India bombings, you cannot help making connections. This particular story of Panchatantra clearly speaks in the same language with the saga of Air India. 

The Air India Flight 182 was bombed mid-air above the Irish Sea on June 23, 1985, killing all 329 people aboard. Around the same time, two baggage handlers were killed in a separate blast on the ground at Narita Airport in Japan. The explosions were caused by two suitcase bombs checked in at the Vancouver airport on flights headed to India. The incident is widely blamed on Babbar Khalsa, a banned terror group seeking separate a Sikh state of Khalistan. The authorities in both India and Canada continue to claim that this was done to avenge the repression of Sikhs in India.  

A year before the bombings, the Indian military had invaded the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar, to deal with a handful of insurgents holed up inside the holiest shrine of the Sikhs. The ill conceived army operation left many innocent pilgrims dead. This had outraged Sikhs across the world, culminating in the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Her murder was followed by state sponsored massacres of Sikhs all over India.  

To make sure that I read everything right in Panchatantra, I was forced to scan once again Soft Target, a book that challenged the official theory of Air India. 

Its author, Zuhair Kashmeri, goes into many details of the conspiracy, concluding that this might have been the handiwork of the Indian spy agency RA&W, which wanted to discredit Sikh separatists in the eyes of the international community. RA&W had infiltrated agents among the Sikh activists in Canada, and had them target Air India, so that supporters of Khalistan lost all their sympathy and support generated because of the ugly incidents of 1984.  

As the years went by this alternative viewpoint gained more credence with some of the characters named in the Air India case, either turning away from the cause of Khalistan, or some starting to show inclination towards the Indian state. A few have already passed away. These include Talwinder Singh Parmar of Babbar Khalsa.  

Parmar was the alleged mastermind had died at the hands of the Indian police under mysterious circumstances in 1992. With his death, an important link to the investigation was broken, raising even more questions about the involvement of the Indian establishment.  

Ripudaman Singh Malik, a BC-based Sikh billionaire, was accused of being a financier, but acquitted in 2005. He recently expressed his outright support for the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Hindu supremacist party BJP is determined to turn India into a Hindu theocracy. Before that, Malik was given Indian visa to visit the country of his birth. His brother even acknowledged during a TV interview that they had a cordial meeting with RA&W chief Samant Goel. This is despite the fact that the judge who acquitted Malik - due to lack of evidence - had said that his “not guilty” verdict wasn’t a pronouncement of innocence.  

The word that strongly binds the two stories together is niti, which has become relevant today under a Hindu nationalist government. For BJP, this is like a mantra, a tenet which is more sacred than the relatively advanced and progressive constitution of India.  

Whatever was done to the Sikhs in 1984 under a different regime was clearly aimed at pleasing the Hindu majority for short term electoral gains, but benefited the BJP in the long run.  If the so called secular Congress government under Indira and her son-the late Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded her as the next Prime Minister, could behave in a sectarian manner to target the Sikh minority, what can stop Modi from pursuing a divisive agenda far more aggressively? Thanks to Modi's use of niti by the think tanks sitting in New Delhi, the capital of crows stands exposed.  

 

*** 

 

Gurpreet Singh 

It was the summer of 2018 when I was visiting Berlin with my family. My curiosity for the history of the Holocaust was one of the reasons that took me there. 

Once we drove to the city from Frankfurt, where we landed for the first leg of our vacation to Europe, I began searching for any landmark associated with Martin Niemöller. Luckily, his house wasn’t far from the place we had rented for our stay. After locating it through internet, I went there, but to my disappointment the building which is now turned into a museum was shut for some kind of construction. All the signs  were in German, a language that is alien to me. There was no response to the phone number given on the website with information about it. 

Niemöller’s story had always fascinated me. A theologian and pastor, he is famous for his poetic quotation; “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”.

Being a critic of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, he spent several years in concentration camps, including one in Sachsenhausen near Berlin, where we went for a day trip. 

Previously a supporter, he fell out with Hitler after Nazis began taking control of the churches. His opposition to the Nazification of churches turned him into an enemy of the state. 

Niemöller never looked back after that, and became an icon for human rights defenders across the globe. His transformation truly reflects his sentiments expressed in his popular verses which are frequently appropriated by civil rights activists even today.  

Incidentally, he passed away in 1984, the watershed year for the Sikhs in India. 

It was around this time that the Sikhs in Punjab were struggling for  extra-territorial rights and safeguards for their religious freedom and political autonomy. Their agitation largely remained peaceful, and the Sikhs make up only two percent of Hindu-dominated India, but they were unfairly targeted by the self-proclaimed secularist Congress government in the name of national unity, to win the upcoming general election by polarizing Hindus. Any campaign by the moderate Sikh leadership was either ignored or maligned in the mainstream media as separatist. The allegations are that the government secretly patronised a parallel militant leadership to both weaken the Sikh movement, and create suitable circumstances to go after the community to please the majority. Both the state controlled media and embedded journalists of that time attributed a spate of death squad killings of Hindus and political critics of the militants, to those inside the shrine. 

Exactly 38 years ago in June, 1984 the Indian army attacked the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, to deal with a handful of insurgents holed up inside the place of worship. The ill-fated military operation left many innocent pilgrims dead and important historical buildings heavily destroyed. 

All other alternatives to make the militants surrender, through negotiation, siege or cutting water and power supplies, were avoided to make it appear like a spectacular victory over one group of people. On October 31, 1984, the bloodshed culminated into the murder of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, who were outraged by the events of Amritsar. Following her assassination, the Congress party orchestrated a massacre of Sikhs all over India. In New Delhi alone nearly 3,000 Sikhs were slaughtered by the mobs with the help of police.

Riding an anti-Sikh wave, Indira’s son Rajiv Gandhi, who was complicit in the pogroms, won the next election with a huge mandate. He became Prime Minister, leaving little doubt about the real intentions behind the government targeting a particular community. The privileged majority remained indifferent to such blatant repression. Even the so-called liberals looked away, as they considered and still see Congress as a sacred cow. They very conveniently overlooked the grievances of the Sikhs. Rather than standing up for an aggrieved minority or doing anything meaningful to assuage their hurt, they were carried away by the one sided propaganda of the Congress party.  

It has been well documented that supporters of the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) that currently governs India also relished the sufferings of the Sikh community. Some of them openly justified the actions of the Congress government, while others joined in the massacre. That explains why the Congress won a brute majority, leaving the BJP with only two seats in the parliament, while Congress bagged more than 400.  

Fast forward to February, 2002 when Gujarat witnessed its worst Muslim massacre on the watch of then-Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Thousands of Muslims were killed by mobs led by BJP activists in the state, after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire leaving more than 50 passengers dead. Modi, who is now the Prime Minister and leads the BJP government in New Delhi with a comfortable majority, had blamed the incident on Islamic fundamentalists, inciting Hindus to go after Muslims. 

Though he was never charged, the survivors continue to allege his involvement. The pattern of violence was similar to the one observed in 1984. Modi was re-elected with more seats in the assembly election that followed, and he was able to sustain his rule in Gujarat. This gave him an edge over other leaders of the BJP, gradually turning him into a potential candidate for the post of Prime Minister in the 2014 parliamentary election. 

In the meantime, the BJP continued to do its spade work by indulging in divisive politics to ensure his ascendance. In 2008, an anti-Christian massacre rocked the state of Odisha, where a controversial Hindu preacher was killed by Maoist insurgents. Looking for an opportunity to teach Christian missionaries a lesson for their work in the tribal community, the BJP supporters blamed them. The BJP has always accused missionaries of converting Hindus through fraudulent means, although India’s traditional secular conventions allowed people to change their religion. The fact remains that most poor and marginalized sections of India, especially Dalits or the so-called untouchables, and Adivasis or the indigenous peoples, often become Christians by choice to avoid caste-based persecution within the Hindu society. 

Emboldened by the majoritarian support for all these years, the  BJP knew exactly what they were doing. They were able to muster enough numbers to ensure outstanding wins for Modi, first in 2014 and then in 2019.  Notably, Modi did not lose the second election even though attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents grew under him. 

Back in Berlin, I was wondering where Indian society has gone since 1984. Here we could hardly see any residue of the Nazi era being celebrated, whereas India has gone backward in spite of tall claims of diversity. The Nazis actually have become the mainstream in India and live among its citizens. This should not surprise anyone, as the founders of the Hindu supremacist cultural organization Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), of which the BJP is a part, had glorified Hitler and justified the Jewish holocaust. Inspired by Nazism, they have spent years to transform India into a Hindu theocracy through social engineering; today, not just the Sikhs, but everyone is in danger. Had others stood up for the Sikhs in 1984, the fate of contemporary India would have been different. I wish Niemöller was alive to see this and relate it with his own experiences, to guide us all. 

One after another, minorities were assaulted with impunity, paving the way for Modi to take over India. Muslims and Christians have been turned into second class citizens, while the Sikhs face a challenge of assimilation into the Hindu body politic. The RSS has never acknowledged the distinct identity of the Sikhs, whom it vehemently considers part of the Hindu fold, something that triggered anxiety among the Sikhs during the 1980s, forcing some to take up arms in the first place. Dalits and Adivasis, who have endured systemic discrimination for centuries, have become even more vulnerable in Hinduized India. Under these circumstances, a reasonable or liberal Hindu voice from the dominant society isn’t safe either. Those who dare to question Modi or the RSS can end up being eliminated or thrown in jail on trumped up charges. 

It’s time to learn something from the legacy of Niemöller. If there is any take away from that, it is the lesson of getting united to fight back for everyone, and not leaving others in harm’s way, before it is too late. 

 

 

Gurpreet Singh  

As we mark the first anniversary of the discovery of 215 unmarked graves near the site of the former Indian Residential School in Kamloops last year, we need to acknowledge how the so-called system of educating Indigenous kids in the name of assimilation has actually contributed to the climate emergency.  

Indian Residential schools were opened by the colonists and churches to force Indigenous children to give up their culture, and instead adopt Eurocentric ways and Christianity to fit in.   

These laboratories of cultural genocide , as they should actually be called instead of schools, forced the original inhabitants of Turtle Island to alter their world view which was treated as pagan. The self-proclaimed founders of Canada arrogantly rejected many progressive ideas of the First Nations, such as to treat land as a shared space rather than personal property, and to respect the Mother Earth, water and nature, alongside all living creatures. Instead, they thrust their own hierarchal and individualist ethos on First Nations.  

If Europeans, who became a dominant force in Canada as it evolved, had come with humility to learn from the indigenous population, instead of imposing their way of thinking, the world would not have been dealing today with a climate emergency.  

Last year’s discovery of the unmarked graves coincided with the heat dome that left more than 500 deaths in BC. This exposed not only that has capitalism failed to prevent catastrophes, but has created them in the first place, making the survival of humanity more difficult.  

Let’s face it - climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are the result of capitalist greed, which prompted expansionism and imperialism, bringing Europeans to the doors of Canada, which was gifted with abundant forests, clean drinking water and wildlife. An effort was needed to preserve all this for future generations, but the resource-hungry and business-oriented colonists conveniently overlooked any possibility of a sustainable model of development, and exploited everything to fill their chests.    

The church made their task easier, giving the conquerors legitimacy to occupy everything through papal bulls, such as terra nullius - a licence to assume this was nobody’s land - and creating a baseless "Doctrine of Discovery" as if neither the lives or the values of indigenous peoples matter.  

Let’s hold our elected officials accountable for making tokenistic statements on this occasion, while at the same time allowing controversial projects, such as the Site C dam, Coastal Gaslink, and Trans Mountain pipeline, to be pushed through the IIndigenous lands, rendering the environment even more vulnerable.  

It’s time to give leadership into the hands of the First Nations, who alone can bring us out of this crisis. Being closely connected to nature, they can come up with better solutions that can only be found outside the box. That’s the least we can do to undo the damage caused by Indian Residential Schools and those behind this assimilationist strategy.  

***

 

 

South Asian activists came together to mark the 100th birthday of a towering human rights defender of Punjab, at Strawberry Hill Library in Surrey on Sunday, May 22.  

The late Ajit Singh Bains passed away on February 11, leaving a rich legacy of tireless work for social justice.  

He would have turned 100 on May 14.   

Bains, a retired judge, had stood for the people of Punjab who witnessed gross human rights abuse by the police and paramilitary forces during a decade-long insurgency by Sikh militants seeking a separate homeland between 1980s-1990s.  

He had advocated for the release of innocent civilians detained in the name of the so-called war on terror, and investigated and documented cases of extra-judicial killings and other forms of state sponsored violence. For doing so, he was also detained by the authorities, to instil fear in the minds of human rights activists.  

On Sunday, an impressive event was held in Surrey where the speakers gave tributes to Bains. They emphasised how his legacy has become even more relevant today, due to growing attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents under a right wing Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi.  

Organized by South Asian Review in partnership with other local organizations, the event was attended by Paramjit Kaur Khalra, the wife of another renowned human rights activist, Jaswant Singh Khalra, who was kidnapped and murdered by the Punjab Police in 1995. 

Paramjit Kaur Khalra continues to fight for justice to the victims of enforced disappearances. She was the keynote speaker at the program, where flyers carrying information about Bains were distributed. She told the gathering how her husband and Bains worked together during those difficult times.  

She also released the mounted copy of the Radical Desi cover declaring Bains as Person of the Year 2022 on the occasion. Radical Desi is an online magazine that covers alternative politics.  

Others who spoke at the event included Bhupinder Singh Malih of South Asian Review, renowned broadcaster and columnist Dr. Gurvinder Sigh Dhaliwal, the editor of Chardikala newspaper Gurpreet Singh Sahota, Donna Anderson from the Hardial Singh Bains Resource Center named after the brother of Ajit Singh Bains and a Vancouver-based communist activist, well-known human rights activist Sunil Kumar and Radical Desi cofounder Gurpreet Singh, besides Dr. Harinder Singh from US. 

Dr. Singh had lost his brother in police violence in 1986. He recalled how Bains tried to get justice to his family and others who lost their loved ones during state repression of Sikhs. 

 

The Vancouver-based online magazine that covers alternative politics has picked a well-known human rights defender as Person of the Year 2022.  

The late Ajit Singh Bains passed away on February 11, leaving behind a rich legacy of tireless work for social justice.  

He would have turned 100 on May 14 this year.  

Close to his birth centenary, Radical Desi announced that he would be its Person of the Year for his dedication to the cause of human rights.  

Bains, a retired judge, had stood for the people of Punjab who witnessed gross human rights abuses by the police and paramilitary forces during a decade-long insurgency by Sikh militants seeking a separate homeland between 1980s-1990s.  

He had advocated for the release of innocent civilians detained in the name of the so-called war on terror. and had investigated and documented cases of extra-judicial killings and other forms of state sponsored violence. For doing so, he was also detained by the authorities to instill fear in the minds of human rights activists.

Gurpreet Singh  

This year’s Mother’s Day must have been the hardest for 92-year-old Anusaya Teltumbde. She has not recovered from the recent loss of her insurgent son, while the other one is locked up in jail for the past two years.  

Milind Teltumbde, a Maoist leader, was gunned down by the police in November 2021, while Anand, his elder brother, a well known columnist and author, continues to be incarcerated under trumped up charges for questioning the power and standing up for the poor and marginalised.  

Anand Teltumbde happens to be the grandson-in-law of an undisputed Dalit icon, the architect of the Indian constitution Dr. B.R.Ambedkar. Ironically, he was arrested on the birthday of Ambedkar in 2020, while the entire nation, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi were paying tokenistic respect to him.  

When Milind died, Anand was not even given bereavement leave to visit his mom.  

Rama, the granddaughter of Ambedkar and the wife of Anand, told this writer on Mother’s Day that she doesn’t even know that her eldest son is in jail. “She believes that he is stuck somewhere abroad where he had gone for a guest lecture because of COVID 19”. In fact, he has travelled abroad in the past and visited Vancouver in 2016.  

In such difficult times, Rama and Anusaya are struggling everyday, with special bonding rooted in the ideology of Ambedkar. According to Rama, even though Anusaya is unlettered, born in a marginalized family of landless labourers belonging to the Dalit or so called untouchable community, she tried to provide the best of education to all her eight children.  

Anusaya was influenced by Ambedkar, who wanted the Dalits to educate themselves and fight against caste-based discrimination within the Hindu society. She attended Ambedkar’s historic congregation in Nagpur in 1956, where he renounced Hinduism to embrace Buddhism. 

As a result, she resolved to educate her kids by spending half of her income from labour on their schooling.   

“Anand credits his mother for what he has earned in terms of fame as an established writer and educator,” says Rama.  

Since Anusaya had lost another son in 2009, losing the second one last year came as a major shock, even as Anand remains out of sight.  

He used to call her from inside the prison once a while to assure that he is fine. Beyond that, everyone in the family keeps consoling her that he would be back soon, once the pandemic is over and travel restrictions are eased.

Members of the Punjabi Press Club of British Columbia (PPCBC) came out to hold a rally against growing repression of journalists in India on Tuesday, May 3.  

Held at Holland Park in Surrey on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the rally was attended by Mayor Dough McCallum and City Councillor Mandeep Nagra, besides BC Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Sussanne Skidmore. The three all addressed the gathering and strongly condemned the attack on press freedom.   

Special messages of solidarity with the media from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and MPs Sukh Dhaliwal and Parm Bains, were also read out by the organizers.  

The event started with the Canadian national anthem and a moment of silence for journalists who laid down their lives in the line of their duty globally.  

The speakers were unanimous in their demand for the release of jailed journalists in India, and halting physical and mental harassment of media persons by the people in power and their supporters.  

They agreed that female journalists remain more vulnerable under a right wing government in New Delhi.  

Slogans in support of press freedom were also raised by the participants.   

Those who spoke on the occasion were PPCBC President Baljinder Kaur, the group's former Presidents Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal and Jarnail Singh Artist, the cofounder of the club, Gurpreet Singh Sahota, the secretary Khuspal Gill, and veteran member Kuldeep Singh. Gurpreet Singh, the publisher of Radical Desi, an online magazine, also said a few words.

 

Gurpreet Singh 

Pawan Guru, Paani Pita, Mata Dharat Mahatt (Air is the guide, Water is the father, the earth is a mother)”.             

That’s the message of Guru Nanak, the founder of one of the most progressive and modern religions of the world.  

While everyone across the globe celebrated Earth Day recently, the idea of respecting nature was never alien to the followers of Sikhism, the faith that was started by Nanak. 

Born in 1469, Nanak travelled widely to different parts of the world. He said those verses more than 500 years ago, and they continue to be chanted by Sikhs in their daily prayer. For a practising Sikh, every day is the Earth Day, not just April 22.   

Considering the growing threat to our livelihood and future because of climate change and environmental emergencies, his message has become even more relevant, not only for the Sikhs, but the entire human race. However, the Punjab, which is the homeland of Sikhs in India, is losing forest cover rapidly. This reflects that we are all paying lip service by celebrating such occasions, including the birth anniversary of Nanak, instead of putting such meaningful and sacred words into action.  It is a separate matter that some well-read Sikh preachers in Punjab continue to remind people of their spiritual duty towards the environment. 

In 1999, a historical Gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib began the tradition of giving free saplings to devotees, to encourage them to grow trees in their homes or fields.  

Interestingly, our Canadian politicians, who do not forget to congratulate Sikhs on Guru Nanak’s birthday (which actually falls in April, but traditionally celebrated in November), will be at pains to explain - what have they done to fix the problem faced by Mother Earth? They have turned these moments into mere rituals. Earth Day too is just another photo opportunity for them to score a point, with nothing concrete to show on their report card.  

It’s a shame that they are not even listening to the Indigenous peoples, who are the true adherents of the philosophy of Nanak and the stewards of the land. Much like Sikhs, they consider Earth as Mother, and not a means of production.  

It’s time that the Sikhs, the Indigenous communities, and environmentalists come together to make people in power accountable for melting glaciers, rising sea levels and climbing temperatures. That they are forced to take to the streets to oppose controversial projects, such as the Trans-Mountain pipeline or the logging of old growth forests, which have long term consequences for our already vulnerable environment, says a lot about our leaders and their true intentions.   

Nanak’s message is a reminder that Earth Day isn’t just a one day event. We have an obligation to stand up for her every time a challenge arises in the name of development for the benefit of a few.  

 

Page 1 of 36

Latest Tweets

if you've ever stolen a Tweet say sorry
RT @camerobradford: When two people who are dating both like one of my tweets, i like to picture them both laughing at it together while ho…
@Arkunir non, toujours pas
we would know
Follow Twitter on Twitter

Post Gallery

Indigenous activist Cecilia Point and former Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Niki Sharma honoured at annual anti racism event in Surrey

Chuck Puchmayr honoured for bringing a motion against CAA

The Black Prince brings out last Sikh emperor's resistance to British occupation

Historical heroes and robot dinosaurs: New games on our radar in April

TG G6 will have dual 13-megapixel cameras on the back

Asia's best restaurant has a frustratingly confusing menu of only 17 emojis

Here's how to make Kevin's famous fish cutlet from 'The Office'

Hynopedia helps female travelers find health care in Maldivs

KJerry's will sell food cream that tastes like your favorite video