"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

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.   



Gurpreet Singh  

The passing away of the former Chief Minister of Punjab is being seen as the end of an era, and rightfully so.  

Parkash Singh Badal, who died at the age of 95, leaves behind the legacy of one of the longest serving CMs in India. He was the towering leader of the Akali Dal, a regional Sikh party of Punjab, which has been in the forefront of many struggles, including the freedom movement in British India. 

Not only is he credited for leading many pro-people agitations, he will always be known as someone who made bridges between Punjab and the central government of India, especially under the regimes of  the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP, which currently governs India with a brute majority. Badal was therefore despised by Sikh hardliners, who believe in religious and political autonomy, rather than living under the shackles of Hindu supremacy.  

Making compromises in electoral politics isn’t unusual. But in Badal’s case, he went to the extent of giving up on the core values of Akali Dal to share power with the BJP, which aspires to turn India into a Hindu theocracy. So much so, he let down everyone on the contentious issue of human rights.  

Badal and his party got aligned with the BJP following the bloody events of the 1980s.  

Back then, Akali Dal was fighting peacefully for extra territorial and religious rights for the Sikh minority, while the then-ruling Congress party (which claims to be a secular alternative to the BJP) adamantly used high-handed means to suppress their movement and polarize the Hindu majority.  

This culminated in the launching of a parallel armed struggle by Sikh militants, and the subsequent invasion  in June, 1984, of the Golden Temple complex, the holiest Sikh shrine in Amritsar. The ill-conceived military operation, aimed at garnering Hindu votes in the impending general election, left many innocent worshippers dead. This galvanized the demand for an independent Sikh homeland of Khalistan. If this was not enough, the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, who were seeking revenge for the army attack on their spiritual center, was followed by the state sponsored massacre of Sikhs across India. 

These circumstances brought Akali Dal closer to the BJP, which was seen by many as an ally to challenge the Congress party. The fact that the BJP was a far more divisive and outright Hindu nationalist force was conveniently overlooked for the sake of short term gains, which the Akali Dal eventually made both in Punjab and in New Delhi by sharing power with them.  

For the record, BJP folks believe in  a Hindu India where all other minorities will be treated as second class citizens and cannot expect special rights. While they consider Islam and Christianity as foreign religions, they treat Sikhism and Buddhism, which were created to counter the discriminatory caste system within Hinduism, as part of the Hindu fold. This doctrine has been long opposed by the Sikh scholars. For them, Sikhism is not a branch of Hinduism but an independent faith.  

The undercurrent remained also because of the BJP’s doublespeak on the events of 1984. They had not only justified the attack on the Golden Temple Complex, but had been complicit in the anti-Sikh massacre that paid rich dividends to the Congress party in the election after Indira Gandhi’s death.  

Yet Badal and company looked away. So much so, they backtracked on the promise to punish the Punjab police officers, who had been instrumental behind crushing Sikh militancy by using extra judicial means and allowing large scale abuse of human rights, under pressure from the BJP that represented the interest of Hindu majority all over the country. In fact, Badal openly patronized several controversial police officers who were known for their ruthlessness.  

As a reporter with Indian Express during late 1990s, I had an opportunity to ask Badal when he was the Chief Minister about the growing demand for a people’s commission to look into the allegations of police barbarity. He curtly replied that no such commission was needed. The next day, the Indian Express displayed a front page headline quoting Badal saying exactly that.  

It was very disheartening, but not surprising, considering his previous record. 

During the late 1970s, when Badal was the Chief Minister, his government gave police a free hand to eliminate those associated with the revolutionary communist movement. Among them was 82-year-old Bujha Singh, who had previously participated in the freedom struggle. Badal had on his hand the blood of someone who deserved to be treated respectfully.  

In 2017, when a protester hurled a shoe at Badal, I was baffled to see many showing their solidarity with him and criticizing the demonstrator, rather than calling out Badal for his political opportunism. Even some moderate leftists called Badal a “gentleman”. I then took to Facebook to question, why does a leader who was responsible for the cold blooded murder of a senior like Bujha Singh remain unpunished and get undue attention and sympathy, and what’s the big deal if a protester hurled a shoe at a tyrant? I was severely criticized by many. Some people even tried to make a complaint against me to senior members of BC’s NDP, as my wife Rachna Singh was running as a party candidate in the provincial election that year. The incident only shows how far the apologists of the Indian state can go, to try to interfere in Canadian elections. Fortunately, the NDP folks ignored this, citing that those were my views and have nothing to do with the party.  

People who have a great respect for Badal for whatever reasons have every right to their opinion, but history will always judge him for his misdeeds.  


Gurpreet Singh  

As the world’s so-called largest democracy heads for a general election in May, 2024, overseas Indians need to mobilize to rid their home country of a Hindu supremacist leader.  

Narendra Modi first got elected as the Prime Minister of India in May, 2014. He has completed almost ten years in power.  

A diehard member of the RSS, a right wing and intolerant cultural organization that wants to transform India into an official Hindu state through social engineering, Modi is the leader of the ruling BJP, which is known for its anti-minority stance.   

Previously the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi was complicit in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms. Though he was never charged or convicted, he was denied visa by foreign governments until he got elected to the highest office. His nine years of rule coincides with the release of a BBC documentary that exposes his involvement in the Gujarat episode. Not surprisingly, Modi's government not only banned the documentary, but tried to browbeat the BBC office in India.  

However, that is not the only crime committed against humanity by Modi. Attacks on all religious minorities, including Muslims, have increased under his rule. As if this was not enough, Modi and his supporters have intensified their assaults on political critics and the opposition. The police and surveillance agencies are being used to terrorize dissidents. Independent media voices are being trampled with impunity.  

In short, Modi has turned the entire India into Gujarat, where political polarization made him the hero of majoritarianism. After all, Gujarat was the laboratory where his experiment with bigotry paid rich dividends, enabling him to sustain power for a very long time. Even today, his party continues to reap the benefits of the 2002 bloodshed. The last assembly election gave them another victory, after the BJP leaders shamelessly invoked the ghosts of the anti-Muslim massacre.   

Let’s face it that the RSS and the BJP never hid their designs, and yet the majority has voted them to power twice with huge mandates. Emboldened by such support, Modi has become more ruthless and arrogant.  

This is not to say that previous governments were perfect and never indulged in wrongdoings. What is unique about a BJP government is that it is being run by the mandate of the RSS that started its journey in 1925.  

Through public drills and assemblies across the country from the time of British India, RSS has been able to poison the minds of thousands of people to create an exclusionary Hindu nation. Ironically, they never participated in the freedom struggle, and rather remained disinterested in it. So much so, one of their supporters assassinated Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a towering leader of the passive resistance movement. Gandhi was murdered for advocating secularism and Hindu-Muslim unity, and for opposing the idea of a Hindu nation. The RSS was briefly banned after this incident.  

Modi hypocritically reveres Gandhi, while some of his party colleagues openly admire his killers. Nothing can be more contradictory than Modi’s admiration for a controversial figure, V.D. Savarkar, who was the instigator but acquitted for the lack of evidence.  

In spite of such baggage, the RSS and the BJP continue to challenge the patriotism of anyone who questions them for the ongoing repression in India. Whoever dares to criticise them can be easily branded as anti-national and thrown behind bars.  

The world largely remains ignorant to the ugly reality of the RSS, which drew inspiration from tyrants like Hitler. Its founders also justified the Jewish holocaust. But global leaders, especially in the western world, are obsessed with China and Russia. They are trying to pander to Modi against their traditional enemies by conveniently overlooking his misdeeds that actually call for sanctions. They need to be called out by the Indian Diaspora for being selective when it comes to the human rights situation in India.  

Indians abroad who are concerned with these developments have a time window of one year to work hard to rid India of Modi and the RSS.       

The 2024 election is not going to be an ordinary affair. A year later, the RSS will celebrate its birth centenary on a grand scale, and is likely to redefine India as "Hindu Rashtra" where non-Hindus are to be treated as second class citizens. It’s time that the global citizens of Indian heritage get organized and reclaim the country of the dreams of our freedom fighters, who had envisioned an egalitarian and humane society. Particularly for those living in North America - where the Ghadar Party was formed in 1913 - this should be a great cause of worry.  

The Ghadar movement was started by Indian immigrants to launch an armed uprising against British occupation and establish a secular republic. Let’s follow their example. Today, the ballot has replaced the bullet, and we can think of travelling back to India to strengthen the hands of those who are already fighting against the RSS at personal risk, and encourage our loved ones to defeat the BJP in the May 2024 election. Alternatively, you can remain here and do canvassing either online or through phone calls. Holding public rallies to raise awareness worldwide is another option to sensitize the western media and politicians about what’s happening in India, and to build international pressure to ensure that Modi does not precipitate another 2002-like violence to win the next election. Notably, Modi's government has failed to deliver on its promises of making India economically self-sufficient and strong. The lack of opportunities is one reason why most migrants are forced to come to Canada from India. This has given Modi a reason to indulge in the politics of religion even more aggressively. So far, he has kept his support base intact by delivering on the BJP's core promises to the Hindu voters over the years.  

We need to urge everyone vote strategically, to kick out Modi and bring in another alternative that is secular and tolerant. Nevertheless, we must not give a blank cheque to any non-BJP party. Make them accountable as well, for their past mistakes of either hobnobbing with the RSS, or playing majoritarian politics for short term gains that laid the ground work for Modi to ascend to power.  

Barring a few parties which have consistently opposed the RSS ideology, others have tried to outdo them by using the Hindu nationalism card out of sheer opportunism. We must identify honest candidates and grassroots level activists who can bring real change. People may not realize that the RSS has already done great harm to Indian society, through penetration in the administration, judiciary, the armed forces, the cinema, the media and the academia; any attempt to dismantle the power structures they have created might take years. Even if Modi and the RSS are ousted, it will still be a long way to go to wipe out the residue of their legacy of hatred.


Gurpreet Singh  

Kshama Sawant, who was declared as Radical Desi Person of the Year 2023 for being instrumental behind the historic ordinance to outlaw caste-based discrimination in Seattle, making it the first city outside India to do so, has carried forward the legacy of two great men.   

April being the birthday month of the Ghadar movement - cofounded by Sohan Singh Bhakna and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar - it is important to recognize the Seattle City Councillor’s work as a continuation of what those giant leaders stood for.  

It might be a coincidence that Sawant was honoured in Surrey on the first day of Dalit History Month in April, but her activism and alternative politics cannot be delinked from the mission of Bhakna and Amebdkar. In fact, there are many striking similarities between her and those two icons of social justice.  

Like Bhakna, who first came to Seattle in 1909, Sawant made this city her home after migrating from India.  

Bhakna, who started his career as a sawmill worker in Portland, was the first President of the Ghadar Party which was created in the US on April 21, 1913, by those seeking to liberate India from British occupation through armed revolution to establish a casteless and classless society. Later, he returned to India and spent many years in jails during the freedom struggle. At one point he went on a hunger strike against the practice of serving separate meals to the so-called untouchable or Dalit prisoners as part of the brutal caste system within Hindu society. Early this year, Sawant did something significant to bring an end to similar discrimination against Dalits abroad. 

Sawant, who grew up in Maharashtra before coming to the US, had learnt a lot from the inspiring story of Ambedkar, an undisputed Dalit leader and thinker.  After all, Amebdkar was from Maharashtra, where the Dalit emancipation movement has always been very strong.   

Born on April 14, 1891, Amebdkar had to face caste-based discrimination from a very early age. In spite of many challenges, he grew up as a scholar and also came to the US for studies. He was the architect of the Indian constitution. But he never gave up on his crusade against the caste system, which he challenged until his last breath. Sawant’s anti-caste initiative was the culmination of his battle.   

It is equally important to see that Sawant has an intersectional lens, much as Bhakna and Ambedkar had. Neither Bhakna nor Ambedkar limited themselves to the fight against  the caste system; both also raised their voices for the women, the toiling masses and other minority groups. Likewise, Sawant has been in the forefront of the campaign for raising the minimum wage, and is known for her advocacy for gender equality and the rights of the underprivileged and marginalized.  

It is not surprising to see Sawant under constant attack from groups owing allegiance to the ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP in New Delhi. Instead of seeing her as  an enemy of India, she should rather be seen as a daughter of the soil who has done India proud by upholding true secularism that was deeply cherished by Bhakna and Ambedkar.  



Gurpreet Singh   

Often portrayed as a trigger happy radical, the towering Indian revolutionary should be remembered as a book lover, who continues to inspire many to read even today.  

Bhagat Singh was executed for waging war against the British occupation of India in 1931. He believed in an armed resistance for not only a liberated homeland, but to establish a classless and egalitarian society free of human exploitation.  

Born in 1907 into a family of dedicated nationalists who were in the forefront of the freedom movement, he was fond of books from a very early age, and gradually acquired knowledge on many issues, such as Communism, atheism and social justice. As one thing leads to another, his reading habit turned him into a sharp essayist. 

Moments before being taken to the scaffold to hang for assassinating a police officer, he was reading Reminiscences of Lenin, a memoir of Clara Zetkin, a German political activist, based on her interactions with an icon of the Bolshevik revolution.   

Lenin had greatly inspired many other activists who died fighting for India’s freedom. Bhagat Singh therefore wasn’t an exception. What was exceptional in this story though was that he was reading a book before embracing death with conviction and courage. That should be considered as his true legacy.  

We have seen enough imaginary paintings with a gun in his hand, but there is a need to show more of his pictures with books. Several attempts have been made by a few artists, but a lot needs to be done to make people see that he was a thinker, and encourage them to read his written work, besides the books he read during his struggle to truly understand his philosophy.  

Testimonies from his contemporaries suggest that he spent hours reading, and maintained a library with his comrades. So much so, they fought for the right to be given books and newspapers in jails, setting a stage for the international convention for such services for political prisoners.  

This is also necessary to encourage a reading habit among the masses, to defeat ignorance which is the mother of many ills, such as racism and hate. Bhagat Singh has shown us that it is never too late to learn through reading, even in the face of death, to keep our hopes alive and remain in high spirits.   

On World Book Day, April 23, let’s remember our hero as a book lover, who is even more relevant in an era of growing censorship and bigotry, shrinking space for dialogue and free thinking, under a growing threat of right wing politics worldwide, especially in his birthplace.