"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

 

Thanks to a Vancouver-based body of literary awards, the Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature, Balbir Madhopuri’s Mitti Bol Peye has received this year’s award in the "novel" category.   

Based on the Dalit resistance movement in Punjab, the novel is a powerful commentary on the oppression of the so-called untouchables in a caste-based Indian society. The story of Gora, a Dalit youth, gives voice to the underdog in one of the most progressive societies, where discrimination is deeply entrenched in spite of the fact that such brutality was rejected by the Sikh Gurus.   

The novel revolves around Gora’s relationship with his grandfather Sangti, who is a part of the Aadi Dharam movement that was started to encourage Dalit assertion for equality and to resist oppression in British India.  

Sangti is closely associated with the towering leader of the movement, Manguram Muggowal, who was earlier involved with the Ghadar Party, a group of Indian revolutionaries in North America, who wanted to free India through an armed uprising. Muggowal later left the Ghadar Party, which taught him to stand up for social equality, to dedicate his life for the emancipation of his Dalit community from the clutches of the barbaric caste-system practiced by the Hindus.  

Muggowal, like other members of the Ghadar Party, immigrated to the U.S. for economic reasons and became involved in the freedom struggle following a realization of racism and discrimination in the foreign land.  

People like him endured double discrimination, for being a person of colour and a Dalit. Born in a so-called low caste “untouchable” family, he began facing caste-based discrimination during childhood. He witnessed segregation at school and suffered physical abuse for defying caste laws. Thankfully, the Ghadar Party believed in secularism and kept religion and politics apart, yet he faced such prejudice even in the U.S.

Muggowal not only worked for the Ghadar newsletter, but also went to Java to help in collecting and sending arms to India. He narrowly escaped a death sentence at the hands of the British allies.  

On coming back to India, he was disillusioned by the continued oppression of the Dalits, who were considered untouchables by the orthodox Hindus and Sikhs. He was partly upset with the popular leaders of the freedom struggle who failed to address the issue of casteism. He resigned from the Ghadar Party in order to mobilize Dalits against systemic caste-based discrimination, and eventually launched the Aadi Dharam movement in Punjab. He believed that without bringing social revolution first it was impossible to bring real freedom in India.

But since his movement was in conflict with the interest of the freedom struggle, his cause was not dear to the popular leadership of India. Rather, Muggowal was branded as a tool of the British Empire that was playing a divide and rule game to prolong its rule. Incidentally, Muggowal’s descendants live in Greater Vancouver. 

The novel can be described as a historical document that helps in understanding not only the inconvenient past of the caste system, but also the Dalit resistance movement and its relevance even today.    

Notably, Dalits continue to suffer caste-based discrimination in India in spite of tall claims of progress. Untouchability is still practised in many parts of India in accordance with orthodox principles of Hinduism despite India being a secular country. The problem has only aggravated under the current-right wing Hindu nationalist government. Besides, thousands of Dalits are forced to indulge in manual scavenging for livelihood.  

Madhopuri’s novel makes all that visible.  

It is pertinent to mention that Madhopuri has previously published an authentic biography of Muggowal, and a powerful novel on caste-based discrimination, “Changeya Rukh”. He received the Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature through a virtual event on Saturday, November 13.    

The other two recipients of this year’s awards were Nain Sukh from Lahore, Pakistan and Sarghi from Amritsar, India.

 

Gurpreet Singh  

The Wednesday, November 3 proclamation made by the provincial government in Victoria to acknowledge the annual blood drive launched by the Sikh Nation has missed a point. 

While it has been widely welcomed by the Sikh community, the ruling NDP and those behind the drive will be at pains to explain what prevented them from recognizing the cause that prompted the drive, which has saved more than 160,000 lives since 1999. 

According to the proclamation, the BC government has declared November as “Sikh Nation Blood Donation Month.” 

However, the proclamation is completely silent about the history of the drive that was started in commemoration of the Sikh Genocide.  

In the first week of November, 1984, thousands of Sikhs were murdered all across India by state sponsored mobs. 

The massacre was engineered by leaders of the ruling Congress party, following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Years have passed, but Sikhs continue to wait for justice and closure. One senior Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar, was convicted and given a life sentence 34 years later, but senior politicians and officials who were complicit in the crime remain unpunished. 

Sikh Nation began its annual “Campaign Against Genocide” blood drive in 1999, to raise awareness about the carnage. The signs displayed by the group annually around this time of the year clearly mention that. Since then, Sikhs come out in large numbers to donate blood in the month of November, both in BC and other parts of North America. 

During the massacre, the political goons chanted the infamous slogan of “We will avenge blood with blood” to scare Sikhs, but here the Sikhs chose to give blood to save human lives, in an attempt to conquer hatred with love.  

Notably, their efforts have been slammed by the Indian officials several times. It is pertinent to mention that any reference to the 1984 Sikh massacre as Genocide has irked the Indian state. Pro-India lobby groups continue to oppose Sikh Genocide motions being brought in the Canadian parliament and legislative assemblies. 

So much so, the New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh was denied visa by the Indian government for supporting a similar motion in the Ontario legislature.    

It is pertinent to mention that the BC government remained silent about this aspect of the drive even in April last year, while thanking the Sikh Nation for heeding its call for more donations to overcome the shortage of blood during the pandemic.  

It raises too many questions, and the only possible explanation is that the BC government does not want to make powerful people in New Delhi and their agents in Canada unhappy. If the BC NDP government really cares for human rights and social justice, it should stand up against repression anywhere in the world; and if it truly believes that the Sikh community is an important part of our social fabric, it must call a spade a spade and send a strong message to the Indian establishment, rather than getting into such meek balancing acts.  

On the 37th anniversary of the 1984 Sikh Genocide, South Asian activists gathered in Surrey to raise their voices for a jailed Indian scholar, who was behind documenting the tragedy and exposing those involved.   

Gautam Navlakha was arrested on trumped up charges in April 2020, and is currently lodged in jail near Mumbai. His only crime is daring to question the powerful, and always standing up for the minorities and the oppressed.   

In spite of health issues and the danger of the pandemic in prisons, he is not being released on compassionate grounds.   

On the call given by Radical Desi, the activists gathered outside the Indian Visa and Passport Application Center in Surrey on Sunday, October 31 to protest against his continued incarceration under brutal conditions. They held out signs reading “Free Gautam Navlakha”, and another one commemorating the Sikh Genocide.  

Among those in attendance were Sikh activist Kesar Singh Baghi; freelance columnist Kanwal Gill, who has been consistently writing on the Sikh massacre; the cofounder of Coalition Against Bigotry, Imtiaz Popat; Radical Desi cofounder Gurpreet Singh and secularist activists Parshotam Dosanjh and Tejinder Sharma.  

Navlakha is associated with People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), which published a report on the Sikh Genocide in partnership with People’s Union for Civil Liberties shortly after the pogroms.  

Thousands of Sikhs were slaughtered across India by political goons following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Who are the guilty? was probably the first authenticated field report revealing the complicity of the Indian state in the anti-Sikh violence.  

Navlakha, who is a journalist and author, remained steadfast in his position to name the influential political figures involved, even as others expressed their reservations. He has always maintained that though it was the then-self-proclaimed secular Congress government which was directly responsible for the massacre, members of the currently ruling Hindu nationalist BJP cannot be vindicated either, because of their silence or direct support to the mob violence targeting a particular minority group.  

For years, he has exposed the pattern behind othering minorities in India, and has never failed to remind people through his writings how 1984 had set a precedent. Today, the attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown under an outright Hindu supremacist government.          

Because Navlakha has been vocal against ongoing repression of Muslims and marginalised communities such as Dalits and Adivasis, he has faced assaults and backlash from the supporters of BJP.  

 

Gurpreet Singh 

As we head into the first week of November, which marks 37 years of the Sikh massacre, a scholar who was behind documenting the tragedy is struggling for his release from an Indian jail.  

Gautam Navlakha was arrested on trumped up charges along with other prominent scholars and social justice activists in April 2020. He is currently lodged in jail near Mumbai. His only crime is daring to question the power and always standing up for the minorities and the oppressed.   

In spite of health issues and the danger of the pandemic in prisons, he is not being released on compassionate grounds. He hasn’t got any respite from the courts either.  

Navlakha is associated with People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), which published a report on the Sikh Genocide in partnership with People’s Union for Civil Liberties shortly after the pogroms.  

Thousands of Sikhs were slaughtered across India by political goons following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Who are the guilty? was probably the first authentic field report revealing the complicity of the Indian state in the anti-Sikh violence.  

Navlakha, a journalist and author, remained steadfast in his position to name the influential political figures involved, even as others expressed their reservations. He has always maintained that while the then-self proclaimed secular Congress government was directly responsible for the massacre, members of the currently ruling Hindu nationalist BJP cannot be vindicated, either because of their silence or direct support to the mob violence targeting a particular minority group.  Notably, the Congress won the general election following the massacre with a brute majority by polarizing Hindu majority and riding on anti-Sikh wave. The BJP was routed in that election, as its vote share shifted to the Congress with Sikh blood on its hands. Thus, an era of impunity for mass murderers had begun. 

The story did not end there. For years, Navlakha has exposed the pattern behind othering minorities in India, and has never failed to remind people through his writings how 1984 had set a precedent. In 2002, the state of Gujarat witnessed similar violence against Muslims under the watch of then-BJP Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whose rise to power as Prime Minister in 2014 can only be understood through an analysis of the Sikh massacre. Navlakha is a published author and has been writing hard hitting columns for Newsclick and Economic and Political Weekly. Today, the attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown under an outright Hindu supremacist government.         

Since Navlakha has been vocal against ongoing repression of Muslims and marginalised communities such as Dalits and Adivasis, he has been facing assaults and backlash from the supporters of BJP.  

Hopefully, Canadian politicians, especially those of Sikh heritage who do not fail to remember 1984, will pay attention and raise their voices for the release of Navlakha and other jailed scholars who have been thrown behind bars by the world’s so called largest democracy.   

 

 

South Asians came together in British Columbia on Friday, October 8, to protest against the recent brutal deaths of four peasants who were run over by vehicles belonging to the convoy of an Indian Union minister, Ajay Mishra.  

Organized by Radical Desi, an online magazine that covers alternate politics, the rally was held right outside the Indian Visa and Passport Application Center in Surrey.  

The participants demanded justice for the victims’ families, the arrests of those involved, and the suspension of Mishra.  

The Indian farmers have been holding peaceful protests against unjust farm laws that were passed by the right wing BJP government without much consultation and debate. They strongly believe that these laws threaten their livelihood, and have been camping outside New Delhi since November 2020.    

On October 3, the farmers had gathered to protest against Mishra, who was visiting Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Video footage reveals that the vehicles in his convoy mowed down the farmers, killing four of them and leaving several others injured.  

Following this episode, another farmer in Punjab committed suicide, leaving behind a note saying that he was disturbed by the events of Lakhimpur Kheri.  

Eyewitnesses claim that Mishra’s son Ashish was in one of the vehicles involved.  

The ruling BJP in UP is trying to shield the accused, while Mishra continues to perform his duties as a minister in the central government.  

The participants at the Surrey rally demanded immediate action against the father and son and the repeal of the farm laws. They also asked for the two men to be charged for terrorism.  

A moment of silence was held at the start of the rally for the four farmers who died in Lakhimpur Kheri and the one who committed suicide in Punjab. Their names were read out on the occasion. Raman Kashyap, a freelance journalist who died during the violence that followed the killings of the four farmers, was also remembered. A thorough enquiry was demanded into the circumstances leading to his mysterious death. 

Those in attendance held out signs asking for justice to the victims of Lakhimpur Kheri and raised slogans against the BJP government.  

Among the speakers were renowned community activists, Rakesh Kumar, Imtiaz Popat, Kulwinder Singh, Kesar Singh Baghi, and media personalities Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal, Navjot Dhillon and Radical Desi director Gurpreet Singh. A prominent story writer, Harpreet Sekha, was also present.  

Gurpreet Singh  

It was late July this year when some Sikh kids came out with their parents in Surrey, to register their protest against the unjust farm laws passed by the world’s so-called largest democracy without due consultations.  

Implemented by the ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi, these laws threaten the livelihood of the peasantry, which has taken to the streets since November, 2020. Most Indo-Canadians come from Punjab, which is considered the bread basket of India, and belong to the predominantly farming Sikh community. So the ongoing farmers’ protest back home has drawn wide support here from coast to coast.  

The July demonstration was organized by the Guru Granth Sahib Satkaar Committee, a group dedicated to the Sikh scriptures. The children who were part of the rally punched fists on the portrait of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I made a video of the event and posted it on Twitter, without realizing that it would go viral.  

Shortly after that, supporters of Modi and his BJP began trolling the organizers and myself. Some described these young souls as potential terrorists and started comparing them with Taliban and ISIS members. These people were being completely unfair, as the children involved in the protest were not using replica guns to target Modi’s poster. All they were doing was punching his image.  

Perhaps they need to be reminded how young children also participated in the Indian freedom movement and spoke to the power. Instead of taking all this in stride, and doing some self-reflection about where Modi and his party have gone wrong, they were trying to malign these young protestors.  

In contrast, the RSS, a Hindu supremacist group of which BJP is a political wing, continues to encourage kids to carry arms, and incites them against minorities with impunity. Notably, Modi himself is an RSS member, having joined it when he was only eight.  

Dedicated to the cause of transforming India into a Hindu theocracy, the RSS has a track record of being involved in violence to terrorise minorities, especially Muslims and Christians. 

Before becoming the Prime Minister in 2014, Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, which witnessed its worst Muslim massacre under his watch in 2002.   

Not surprisingly, attacks on religious minorities have grown in India under Modi. However, the most recent developments call for global attention and swift action against the BJP. While world leaders remain obsessed with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and refuse to recognize that government, they look away when it comes to the crimes of Modi's government.  

The extremists do not exist in Afghanistan alone, and the international leadership needs to see that.  

On Sunday, October 3, the convoy of Ajay Mishra, a minister in the BJP government, allegedly ran over peasants agitating against farm laws in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh (UP), leaving four farmers dead.   

Video footage of a vehicle mowing down the peaceful protestors is now being widely circulated on social media. Earlier, two videos emerged, of Mishra and another BJP leader and the Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar inciting party supporters to violently attack the protesting farmers, suggesting that this could be a pre-planned conspiracy. Notably, UP is ruled by the BJP, which has been notoriously trying to suppress the farmers’ struggle.  

Considering all these facts, if anyone deserves to be called terrorists, it is the BJP leaders, like Mishra and Khattar. Unfortunately, given that they are in power, we cannot expect any senior BJP political functionary to be charged for terror, but it’s time for world leaders to intervene before it’s too late and designate the BJP and the RSS as terror groups.  

Those agitated by the video of innocent children punching Modi’s poster in Surrey, out of genuine outrage they share with their concerned parents, should instead make their masters in New Delhi accountable, and figure out - who are the real terrorists? If the June, 2021 attack in London, Ontario that killed four members of a Pakistani Muslim family in a similar manner can be described as terrorism, the Lakhimpur Kheri incident cannot be treated differently. After all, the white supremacist accused of running his vehicle into the family that was out for a walk is facing charges under terrorism. It’s time for Canada to show leadership and put BJP on its terror list, to send a strong message, or at least make a strong statement on behalf of the Indo Canadian community that is deeply devastated by this development.

 

In a clear indication of the growing influence of the Sikh community on the political landscape of Canada, at least six turbaned MPs have been elected from across the country this time.  

Among them is Jagmeet Singh, who is the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. He is the first person of Sikh heritage to become a national leader of any political party in a Eurocentric country.  

Singh was re-elected from Burnaby South on the night of September 20. Not to be left behind, Harjit Singh Sajjan, who was the first Sikh defence minister in the previous Liberal cabinet, was also re-elected.  

Likewise, Sajjan’s party colleague from Surrey Center, Randeep Singh Sarai, has been elected for the third time.  

Iqwinder Gaheer is a Liberal newcomer to the House of Commons from Mississauga-Malton.  

Ironically, the Conservatives, who have been harsh on the head coverings of Muslim women, saw their two turbaned Sikh MPs, Tim Uppal and Jasraj Hallan, re-elected from Edmonton Mill Woods and Calgary Forest Lawn respectively.  

Among other MPs of Sikh heritage elected this time are Sukh Dhaliwal and Parm Bains from BC, George Chahal from Alberta, Maninder Sidhu, Sonia Sidhu, Kamal Khera, Ruby Sahota and Bardish Chaggar from Ontario, besides Anju Dhillon from Quebec.  

It is pertinent to mention that Indian immigrants were disenfranchised under racist laws back in 1907. They got the right to vote after a long struggle in 1947. The Sikh community has made a mark in spite of many barriers and outright racism in the country.  

The latest development comes close to the death anniversary of Comrade Darshan Singh Canadian, who was assassinated by the Sikh separatists in India on September 25, 1986.   

Canadian had lived in Canada for ten years before moving back to India in 1947, and was involved in the struggle for the right to franchise.  

 

From Nazneen to Naina: 20 years of Kareena Kapoor Khan in Bollywood and what that means for India and the rest of the world was officially launched on Tuesday, September 21 at the Press Club of the Union Territory.   

Authored by Canadian journalist Gurpreet Singh, the book is based on her film career so far, and what she has faced from followers of the current right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government, under which attacks on religious minorities have grown.  

In the absence of Singh, the event was held by his media colleagues on Khan’s birthday.  

Among those who unveiled the book were prominent journalists Shiv Inder Singh, Rajeev Khanna and Jasvir Samar, the publisher of the book Satish Gulati, and Singh’s father-in-law and editor of the literary magazine Sirjana, Dr. Raghbir Singh.  

Renowned photo journalist Pankaj Sharma, whose picture is on the cover of the book, also joined them in the ceremony.   

Khan has been under constant backlash for marrying a Muslim man, adopting Khan as her last name, and naming two of her sons Taimur and Jeh, which have been interpreted as an affront by the self-styled defenders of Hindu religion.  

This is a reflection of the growing intolerance in a toxic political environment created by those in power both within and outside the Indian film industry.    

The book talks about her work and goes into the details of her performance as an actor, and as an activist and philanthropist, trying to make connections between the present political situation and its impact on the cinema. It looks deeply into the challenges before her for being a flag bearer of secularism which is despised by the religious bigots who have become emboldened under the BJP regime.  

Her significant screen roles, as someone who stands up against hate, have been underlined in the book, which also attempts to make a critical assessment of her position on issues, such as racism, feminism, environment and state violence. 

For pre order of a copy, please contact Ludhiana-based Chetna Parkashan at 9876207774 or 95011 45039.

 

Gurpreet Singh  

The recent outburst against Communists by a spokesman of India’s ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP should come as a wakeup call for those fighting against each other over the control of an ongoing farmers’ agitation in Punjab.  

Harinder Singh Kahlon had asked for throwing “comrades” behind bars for instigating the peasantry struggle.  

The Indian farmers have been camping outside New Delhi since November 2020, against unjust farm laws that threaten their livelihood. Since Punjab is a Sikh dominated state where agriculture is the backbone of the economy, a majority of the agitating farmers from there come from Sikh backgrounds. That said, not everyone is a practising Sikh, as many of them are aligned with the communist movement.  

Kahlon is a former leader of the All India Sikh Student Federation (AISSF), a radical group that was in the forefront of the struggle for an autonomous Sikh region, and considered communists as their ideological enemy. On their part, the communists denounced Sikh separatism and theocracy of any shade. This led to a bloody conflict between the two sides between 1980s-1990s, as a result of which many communist leaders were assassinated by the Sikh separatists, who accused the leftists of being hand-in-glove with the Indian state, despite the fact that a number of those killed had also opposed the state repression of innocent Sikhs. 

Kahlon was recently appointed as the BJP spokesman in Punjab, where the farmers’ protest continues. This may have been part of a design to weaken the agitation by roping in a former hardliner Sikh, who could checkmate the Sikh activists whose stakes are also involved in the struggle. Squarely aimed at the communists, his speech clearly suggests the desperation of the BJP, which wants to create a wedge between the Sikh activists and the left leaders who have come together to challenge the controversial farm laws.  

Kahlon not only created a storm by calling for the arrests of the communists, but went further to claim that he was instrumental in wiping them out during the 1980s.   

It is unfortunate that a section of the left movement and the Sikh activist camp have neither given up past hostilities, nor they have honestly tried to learn anything from the history. Instead, they continue to stick to their guns, making the job of the BJP government easier. Perhaps the BJP knows this very well, and has been trying to exploit the situation.  

A case in point is the mudslinging of Sonia Mann, an actress-turned-activist. She is the daughter of the late communist leader from Punjab, Baldev Singh Mann, who was murdered by the Sikh separatists in 1986. Sonia is actively participating in the farmers’ protest, and came under vilifying campaign from among the Sikh activists who still believe in a separate homeland.   

Such divisions only benefit the BJP, just as the killings of the communists by Sikh militants helped the neoliberal governments of the past. It should not surprise anyone that the Indian state succeeded in creating a favourable political environment for the bourgeois forces, after liquidating the Sikh militants through extrajudicial measures, while letting them kill communists at will before the Sikh separatist movement was brought to an end.  

It is hard to prove whether the Indian state incited Sikh militants to kill communists, or tried to kill two birds with one stone through agent provocateurs. But one communist activist, Tejinder Virli, points out that a significant number of leftists were murdered during the tenure of SS Ray, who was the governor of Punjab from 1986 to 1989. 

Ray had previously served as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, where he crushed the communist revolutionary movement. Virli believes that he might have been behind the scheme to get the communists killed through the Sikh militants. That the militant movement was penetrated by the Indian agents is well documented. Among the dead were several mainstream communists who had unashamedly sided with the government in its aggressive policy toward the Sikh separatists in the name of national interest, but those like Baldev Singh Mann who stood up against the state violence were not spared either.  

For the record, Mann had opposed the military invasion of the Golden Temple Complex, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs in June 1984. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had ordered the ill-conceived army operation to deal with a handful of militants, leaving many innocent pilgrims dead. This had alienated the Sikhs and galvanized the movement for a separate homeland of Khalistan. Mann, in spite of being staunchly opposed to Khalistan, had criticised the military attack and the subsequent violence against the Sikhs by security forces.

This culminated in the murder of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984, following which thousands of innocent Sikhs were slaughtered across India by the goons led by her party activists. Another revolutionary communist, Paash, had written a protest poem against the pogroms. Nevertheless, he too was killed by the Khalistani extremists.    

Years later, the diary of slain Khalistani militant leader Labh Singh revealed that he repented the killings of Mann and Paash, who despite differences of opinion on many issues never became apologists of the Indian establishment. Singh had acknowledged that murdering Mann and Paash was a tactical mistake.  

Indeed, the Sikh activists and the leftists could have found a common ground on people’s issues, such as human rights, fair treatment of minorities, autonomy and fair distribution of natural resources, which led to the start of the Sikh movement in the first place. It is pertinent to mention that some of the participants of the Sikh struggle had been part of the revolutionary communists in the past. The economic hardships of the middle class farmers had partly turned them into communists during late 1960s and Khalistanis decades later. It is for the protagonists of these two movements to find out the linkage and analyse.  

Today, under an outright Hindu fascist regime that openly targets minorities, including the Sikhs and the leftists, this question has become even more relevant and easy to resolve. After all, the draconian laws are only being used against minority or the leftist organizations to suppress any voice of dissent, and not against the Hindu extremists who continue to terrorise everyone with impunity.  

To begin with, old hostilities must be kept aside to fight against the common enemy that is much more powerful. Kahlon’s statement should unite those engaged in the farmers' movement, in spite of philosophical differences. Diversity of views is the beauty of the farmers’ struggle and must be respected come what may.  

Let’s face it; the Punjabi farmer is mainly a Sikh, and a Sikh farmer could be religious or irreligious, a supporter of Khalistan or even a united India, but that is all immaterial. This is an important moment, especially for the left to reflect on itself. The BJP supporters have been trying to demonize the Sikh famers as separatists and terrorists. If you want to survive in Punjab, take this as an insult of not only your Sikh brethren, but your own. An injury to one should be taken as an injury to all. 

This also applies to the Sikh leaders who fail to see communists as their allies, and try to judge them all as atheists from the narrow lens of religion. Painting the entire left with one brush is also hugely problematic. Just for the sake of argument, if some of the left leaders were acting at the behest of the Indian state, how would they like to explain Kahlon’s admission, which only shows the real loyalties of a former AISSF leader, who has now joined the BJP and openly speaks the language of the government?

The two sides miserably failed to identify the real enemy back then, and have failed to identify it even today. At least learn from your own heritage. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, preached to share and earn one’s living through honesty and hard work. His vision for an egalitarian society is compatible with socialism.       

 

  

 

From Nazneen to Naina: 20 years of Kareena Kapoor Khan in Bollywood and what that means for India and the rest of the world, will be officially released at Chandigarh Press Club on Tuesday, September 21.

Authored by Canadian journalist Gurpreet Singh, the book is based on the film career of the famous Bollywood diva, and what she has faced from followers of the current right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government, under which attacks on religious minorities have grown.  

Published by Ludhiana-based Chetna Parkashan, the book will be launched on her birthday.

Affectionately known as Bebo, Kareena has been under constant backlash for marrying a Muslim man, adopting Khan as her last name, and naming her two sons Taimur and Jeh, all of which has been interpreted as an affront by the self-styled defenders of Hindu religion.  

This is a reflection of the growing intolerance in a toxic political environment, created by those in power both within and outside the Indian film industry.    

The book talks about her work, going into the details of her performance as an actor, activist and philanthropist, trying to make connections between the present political situation and its impact on the cinema. It looks deeply into the challenges before Kareena, for being a flag bearer of secularism which is despised by the religious bigots who have become emboldened at the behest of the BJP regime.  

Her significant role as someone who stands up against hate on the screen has been underlined in the book, which also attempts to make a critical assessment of her position on issues such as racism, feminism, environment and state violence. 

Singh is a newscaster and talk show host with Spice Radio in Greater Vancouver and writes for the Georgia Straight. This is his fifth book, which is being released by his India-based media colleagues in his absence.

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