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The Member of Parliament from Surrey Newton Sukh Dhaliwal has submitted a petition seeking the release of Delhi University lecturer Prof. G.N. Saibaba in the House of Commons.

Signed by 500 residents of BC, the petition was launched by the Radical Desi publications. Another set of petition with more signatures is yet to be submitted through other elected officials. Dhaliwal is the only Liberal MP so far who has taken interest in the case. Notably, he had submitted a petition seeking justice for the victims of 1984 anti Sikh violence in the past and has been consistently raising voice for human rights. 

The petition that was drafted by a well known community activist and lawyer Amandeep Singh asks for the intervention of the Canadian government in getting the disabled professor released. Saibaba was given life sentence after being dubbed as a supporter of Maoist insurgents.

A wheelchair bound Saibaba is being persecuted for opposing state repression on tribal people and other marginalized sections of the Indian society.  

In the meantime, Radical Desi team also submitted a letter to the Minister responsible for people with disabilities Carla Quoltrough asking for her intervention in the case on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. The letter was signed by 100 residents in her riding. The minister's staff has been very cooperative and listened to the case of Saibaba carefully.

Among other groups that actively supported this initiative were Chetna Association, Sikh Nation, Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar and Gurdwara Sukh Sagar Sahib, besides few individual members of the Ross Street Sikh temple in Vancouver.


Gurpreet Singh

Sixteen years ago I made Canada my home. Like most South Asian immigrants I also came to Canada from India for a better livelihood. Like other immigrants from India where corruption and human rights abuses are very common, I was also impressed by the Canadian system and influenced by its openness to accept other cultures and diversity.

However, as I discovered the history of the struggle of our community elders in Canada against racism, I gradually learned that the Canada wasn't always a great country that accepted immigrants with open arms. To keep Canada as a white man's nation, rulers of the land formulated policies that were aimed at discouraging permanent settlement of immigrants from South Asia. These immigrants were disfranchised in 1907 and were not allowed to bring their families. Also, a ship carrying more than 350 passengers from India was forced to return in 1914 under a discriminatory immigration law.

Community elders fought against these injustices. One of them, Mewa Singh, was hanged in 1915 for assassinating a controversial Immigration Inspector, William C Hopkinson, who had penetrated his spies in the community to keep a watch on political activism. Among those spies was Bela Singh, who murdered two community leaders, Bhaag Singh and Badan Singh, in a shooting inside Vancouver's oldest Sikh gurdwara in September 1914. Mewa Singh killed Hopkinson to avenge the sacrilege of the temple.

Indian immigrants gained the right to vote in 1947 and as years passed they became politically influential. Currently, Canada has its first turbaned Sikh defence minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan, and in B.C. alone there are seven MLAs who trace their roots back to Punjab. In the meantime, Canada gave refuge to Sikhs who fled India to escape from state violence and persecution during 1980s. This was a time when Sikh activists were fighting an armed struggle for an independent Sikh homeland in Punjab.

The shift indicates how Canada has changed over the period of 100 years. There were times when Sikh men had to cut their hair to get jobs, and both Sikh men and women avoided stepping out of their homes in traditional attire to avoid racial taunts and attacks from white supremacists.

They also avoided speaking Punjabi, fearing violence at the hands of racists.

More than 350 South Asians onboard the Komagata Maru were denied entry to Canada in 1914.


Nowadays, not only do Sikhs proudly sport their religious symbols, Punjabi has now become an integral part of the communications messages from Crown corporations. Caucasian politicians have picked up some key words in Punjabi to greet constituents in ridings with a sizeable South Asian population.

Indebted to Canadian authorities, many Sikhs now see themselves as proud Canadians. They believe that apart from providing religious freedom, Canada also offers them freedom of speech. After all, they can openly speak here in support of a separate homeland in Punjab without fear of getting arrested for sedition, a charge that is freely used by Indian police against minorities.

Not surprisingly, supporters of a Sikh homeland who have lost faith in Indian nationalism have no problem celebrating Canadian nationalism. On July 1 when 150 years of Canadian Confederation was being celebrated all over the country, many Sikh temples organized special prayers for the well-being of the Canadian state.

One can understand the compulsions and passion of Sikhs behind these gestures, but there is a need to acknowledge that Canada was built on stolen lands of the indigenous peoples. The white supremacy that hounded Sikhs and other immigrants has its roots in the colonization of Canada.

European settlers who came to this part of the world brought indigenous peoples under subjugation through wars and deceitful trade relations. The sense of cultural superiority, because of the strong backing of the church, gave these settlers a reason to believe that they had right to capture this land and turn indigenous communities into Christian enclaves.

Since then, Eurocentric scholars have tried to portray indigenous culture as inferior and their identity as that of a savage. It's a shame that the indigenous peoples who are the original inhabitants of Canada make up only four percent of its total population. Their numbers were reduced through wars, diseases such as smallpox brought by the Europeans, and the policy of assimilation through the residential school system, in which they were forced to give up their language and traditional names.

All these factors contributed to create poverty among indigenous tribes. That they are overrepresented in jails suggest that the structural violence and systemic racism against them continue to prevail in Canada, which claims to be a human rights leader and showcases its diversity and multiculturalism by opening its doors to immigrants.

So when Sikhs and other immigrant communities are excited about Canada 150, they need to understand the anger of the indigenous activists, whose Resistance 150 campaign is an attempt to reject Canadian nationalism. For them, Canada 150 is a celebration of the genocide of the First Nations.

Sikhs and other immigrant groups must take a moment from their celebrations to see this reality and show their solidarity with indigenous peoples. As both South Asians and the indigenous communities share history of racism and colonialism, they must stand up for each other in the face of growing bigotry under U.S. president Donald Trump right across the border.

Not only should Sikh leaders acknowledge that we are on traditional lands of indigenous groups, but that the indigenous communities were forced to give up their spiritual beliefs, languages, and traditional names.

Gurpreet Singh says more people of South Asian ancestry should support the legitimate aspirations of indigenous peoples.


It should not surprise anyone that indigenous peoples were always more welcoming to immigrants than the white settlers. When "East Indian" males were denied entry to bars and pubs in the past and no white woman dated them, some elders in our community remember it was the indigenous women who accepted them with open hearts. As the men from India were not allowed to bring their wives, they got into relationships with indigenous women.

Perhaps those were the times when community elders starting addressing the indigenous peoples as Taaye Ke (those from elderly uncle's family) in Punjabi, just as those of European ancestry referred to them as "Red Indians". That bond needs to be made stronger.

There is also a need to acknowledge that indigenous peoples obtained the right to vote in 1960, only after the Indians and other immigrant groups. Whereas Sikhs celebrated the election of seven Punjabis in the May provincial election of B.C., the provincial legislature has only four indigenous MLAs (Carole James, Melanie Mark, Adam Olsen, and Ellis Ross).

Sikh activists who've had success in getting the ant-Sikh pogrom of 1984 in India called a genocide in Canada must also see that the indigenous peoples were subjected to cultural genocide when the Canadian state was being established.

This is not to suggest there is a complete silence around indigenous stories in the immigrant communities. There are a few dedicated Sikh and other South Asian activists who have been raising voices in support of grassroots movements within indigenous communities. A few Punjabi-language authors have written stories and poems dedicated to the indigenous peoples. But that is not enough. 

Racial bias against indigenous peoples also exists among South Asians, who are often influenced by stereotypes about First Nations widely reinforced by the mainstream media and populist leaders. This is why they can sometimes be insensitive toward the sentiments of indigenous communities. Those who understand these issues need to educate their compatriots and break these myths and make them understand how deep-rooted racism has marginalized First Nations and pushed them to impoverishment.

On Canada's 150th birth anniversary it's time to rethink Canadian nationalism rather than getting blinded by it. A nation is not just represented by its government, insignias, and power structure but by its people.

And if its real stewards for centuries are now fighting discrimination every day and opposing the ongoing appropriation of their lands by the extraction industry, there is hardly any reason to rejoice. Particularly when this industry is backed by the Canadian state and those historical stewards are met with police brutality and bad press.

Gurpreet Singh is an independent journalist and one of the founders of Radical Desi.

Arundhati Roy's latest novel gives voice to the most condemned groups in the world's so-called largest secular democracy.

From transgender people to tribals and from Dalits (a.k.a. untouchables) to religious minorities, they all make appearances in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. And especially Muslims, who are forced to live under constant threat in a country governed by the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).

Through many characters and with numerous stories that constantly intersect, Roy consistently writes through the lens of the poor, challenging the myth of a great country that is said to have benefited from neoliberalism. 

All these narratives woven together in fiction unmask the real face of India where the dominant culture has frequently othered powerless sections of the society. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, referred to as Gujarat Ka Lalla in the book, this tendency has grown.

Modi's real-life complicity in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat finds a mention in the novel, even as the major part of the story is dominated by the conflict in the northern Indian state of Kashmir, where Indian forces continue to suppress the Muslim population in its struggle for self-determination.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness also touches upon other tragedies in the distant past, such as the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and the anti-Sikh massacre of 1984.

Anjum, the central character of the story, is both Muslim and a eunuch, and therefore remains vulnerable in a society where religious orthodoxy against LGBT people and non-Hindus prevails. She survives the Gujarat massacre and remains anxious about the future of her own community, especially the younger generation.

However, she gives hope for all condemned groups to live with self-respect and dignity through Jannat Guest House in Delhi. It becomes refuge to an orphaned child of a tribal woman, Maoist insurgents enduring state repression, and a Dalit man who lost his father at the hands of Hindu fanatics terrorizing people in the name of a cow-protection campaign.  

Roy's imagination is at its best when she makes Anjum use the expression "Laal Salaam Vaalekum"—a combination of the Communist slogan of "Red Salute" and Muslim greetings as a last respect to the dead Maoist militant. It is a statement against the growing onslaught on left-wing activists and Muslims, who are often harassed as potential terrorists by state agencies in India. 

In a nutshell, the novel makes one see an unseen India. This India remains obscured and hidden because of the hype created by its growing economy and powerful global capitalists' greed for investment in that part of the world. 

Though some passages give an impression that the author is overly influenced by her nonfiction political writings, overall the story is very gripping and makes one angry and sad. Yet it ends with an optimism for a future that lies in the hands of the people who can unite and resist against power.



Pityful a rethoric question ran over her cheek When she reached thre first hills of the Italic Mountains, she had a last view back on the skyline of her hometown Bookmarksgrove, the headline of Alphabet Village and the subline of her own road, the Line Lane.

Pityful a rethoric question ran over her cheek When she reached the first hills of the Italic Mountains, she had a last view back on the skyline of her hometown Bookmarksgrove, the headline of Alphabet Village and the subline of her own road, the Line Lane.

The Big Oxmox advised her not to do so, because there were thousands of bad Commas, wild Question but the Text didn’t listen her seven versalia, put her initial into.

Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth.

Pityful a rethoric question ran over her cheek When she reached the first hills of the Italic Mountains, she had a last view back on the skyline of her hometown Bookmarksgrove, the headline of Alphabet Village and the subline of her own road, the Line Lane.

Pityful a rethoric question ran over her cheek When she reached the first hills of the Italic Mountains, she had a last view back on the skyline of her hometown Bookmarksgrove, the headline of Alphabet Village and the subline of her own road, the Line Lane.

Pityful a rethoric question ran over her cheek When she reached the first hills of the Italic Mountains, she had a last view back on the skyline of her hometown Bookmarksgrove, the headline of Alphabet Village and the subline of her own road, the Line Lane.

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