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

Super User

Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi

Narendra Modi  

The Prime Minister of India 

Subject: I wish you a long life so that you can live to see the consequences of your actions  

Mr. Modi,  

Hope you are doing well, even under these difficult circumstances when your country is now the second most hit in the world by COVID 19. Too bad that your lockdown did not work despite tall claims and leaving the poor and marginalized as most vulnerable. But they were never on your radar anyway.  

Let me briefly introduce myself.  

I am a Canadian citizen of Indian origin, who is highly concerned about the well-being of the country of my birth. Since you have many followers in Canada who continue to support you and your party, I also hold some rights to at least say something that irks me. No?  

From what I am seeing in the media, your fans all over the globe are super excited to celebrate your 70th birth anniversary on September 17. In India, they are going to do some acts of kindness and have decided to give away artificial limbs to those in need.  Good for them.  But why shouldn’t they be? After all, you have delivered to your constituency, with promises of progress for everyone. However, until now it’s mostly your party supporters who have benefited the most. Whether it was to abrogate special rights given to the only Muslim-majority state of Kashmir or constructing a temple where once stood an ancient mosque that your party supporters demolished in 1992, you have fulfilled your core promises. And who can stop you when you have been elected with a brute majority for the second time in 2019?  

You have already turned India into a Hindu nation. So what is stopping you from officially declaring the country as a Hindu state? Maybe you are a little bit scared after seeing so many people coming out on the streets against your highly problematic citizenship law that discriminates against Muslim refugees coming from neighbouring countries. So you have already seen that the people are not going to accept it so easily.  

But who can prevent you from using draconian laws such as Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) that can be conveniently applied against protestors?  

But let’s talk about your birthday. I want you to have a very healthy long life and there is a reason for that.  

First of all, I believe that one’s enemy should live longer, until you win by conquering the heart and soul of someone you oppose.That is the real victory. I hope you agree on that.  

I want your real and not fake critics to win over your heart and soul with their ideas. By fake critics I mean those who you rightfully pointed out in your last victory speech wore badges of false secularism. So stay calm, I am not even talking about them. I do not agree with you on many things, but I am in complete agreement with you about your opinion of the opposition Congress party, which you have accused of being involved in terrorism against innocent Sikhs, who were massacred mercilessly all over India following the murder of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984.  

But the problem is you did the same to Muslims in 2002 as Chief Minister of Gujarat. This followed the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims leaving more than 50 people dead. Even though one commission of enquiry had found that it was an accident, you simply blamed it on Muslims and let your party people avenge the incident by targeting ordinary citizens. By using your own definition of terrorism, what I should be calling it then?  

You can justifiably argue that you were never convicted for anything. But Mr. Modi you understand more than anyone how the Indian legal justice system works. Congress too can make a similar argument, as then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, despite being complicit in Sikh massacre, was never convicted.  

Let’s not talk about what Congress says about you. They have already lost their credibility.  

But I am going to point out a couple of things on behalf of the people your party and your government have been tormenting.  

Muslims are one of the most persecuted groups. It doesn’t matter if you have handful of Muslims on your side, as Congress too had many Sikhs on their side. Who cares about such sell outs or tokens when in the end majority matters in a democracy like India? 

You made Muslims suffer in 2002. Even before that, your party supporters razed their mosque to the ground in 1992. Come 2019, you scrapped the special rights given to the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir, while in the meantime, your men carried on mob lynching of Muslims at will. Some made videos of their violent actions to post on social media.  

By the way, some of those you follow on twitter are very interesting people Mr. Modi. One of them even applauded the murder of Gauri Lankesh, a journalist who was murdered in 2017 by the supporters of your ideology.  

I don’t really understand - on what basis do you keep talking tough on Islamic terrorism, while people from within your community are also involved in similar activities? On one hand you revere MK Gandhi, while on the other your party members glorify his assassin Nathuram Godse. One of the MPs, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who was accused in the 2008 bombing targeted at the Muslim community, has called Godse a patriot. You yourself brought her into politics and ensured her victory in the last general election. It seems that you have two different yardsticks to measure terrorism. Perhaps it is fine to be a Hindu terrorist, who can kill Muslims, destroy their places of worship, and then get elected with your blessings. But a Muslim or a Sikh terrorist can either get killed by the police without a fair trial or charged under UAPA which is not applicable to Hindu extremists. Wow.  

The kind of legitimacy you give to all these acts of violence since 1992 will ultimately lead to more bloodshed. We have seen the history of vendetta and terrorism repeated all over the world and India is no exception. After all, India too has witnessed how the ugly events of 1984 had fuelled Sikh separatism, which you despise so much. When courts under you have lost will to give justice to the people you have made to suffer for all these years, what else can they think of to get justice except taking the law into their own hands?  

So do not assume that there will be no consequences of the incidents which have happened under your watch. Quoting Bhagwad Geeta, your sacred scripture, I would like to say that what you do comes back to you. Let’s not forget that you also tried to rationalize the anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002 by quoting Newton's third law of motion, which says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, in reference to the train incident. Unfortunately, you do not enjoy a copyright on Newton's law. Anyone can use it in an event of any act of violence in retaliation to your actions. You will see all that happening sooner or later. So it is important for you to live longer and repent.  

I already know that you are a tyrant. It’s up to you now to prove me wrong by becoming kinder to religious minorities and your opponents. You can make a beginning by at least releasing former Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba from jail on your birth day. The wheelchair-bound scholar is disabled below the waist and poses no danger to anyone. He is being incarcerated since the time of Congress, merely because he stood up for the Adivasis, whose lands are being taken away by the extraction industry in the name of development. In spite of all your criticism of Congress, you both are partners in crime when it comes to suppress the right to dissent.

When COVID 19 broke out you gave a call to fight corona with karuna (compassion). But hardly any compassion was shown by the jail authorities who did not even let Saibaba see his dying mother, leave aside the question of giving him amnesty because of the pandemic spreading in overcrowded Indian prisons.  

Your people do not need to give away artificial limbs to celebrate your birthday. Just set Saibaba free and we will be thankful. For the rest of your report card we can always wait for the next time. Anxiously waiting for you to act, even though, I have no hopes from you or your administrators.   

Happy Birthday in advance.  

Gurpreet Singh  

 

 

On the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom day of Jaswant Singh Khalra, Surrey-Delta Gurdwara officials honoured a former Burnaby School Trustee for being instrumental behind a proclamation recognizing the circumstances that led to his murder.  

A prominent human rights activist, Khalra was investigating the extrajudicial killings of Sikh political activists in Punjab when police kidnapped him on September 6, 1995. He was murdered in cold blood.  

That same year, Khalra visited Canada to educate Indian diaspora and Canadian politicians about the human rights abuse in Punjab during the Sikh insurgency for the right to self-determination. 

In response to this situation, the Indian state gave sweeping powers to police to suppress the militancy, which led to thousands of Sikhs being abducted and killed.  

Khalra had detected more than 2,500 such cases, and was continuing to work to find more when he was picked up from outside his home in Amritsar following his return to India.  

Although he was warned against going back and advised to stay in Canada and seek asylum, he did not allow himself to do that.  

Khalra preferred to go back to his country and face possible death rather than making Canada home. 

As a tribute to him, the City of Burnaby proclaimed September 6, 2020, as Jaswant Singh Khalra Day.   

On August 24, Coun. Sav Dhaliwal read out the historic proclamation recognizing how Khalra lost his life fighting for the dignity and human rights of Sikhs.  

Narang was the driving force behind the proclamation. Being a progressive Sikh, she is very vocal on social justice. In the past, she has also stood up for the rights of the LGBTQ community in Burnaby.  

On Sunday, she was honoured at the Surrey-Delta Gurdwara during a commemorative event held for Khalra. Themple President Hardeep Singh Nijjar presented her with a trophy amidst Sikh slogans of victory from the congregation. 

Narang, who briefly spoke on the occasion, presented the gurdwara with a copy of the proclamation.  

Burnaby was the first municipality in Greater Vancouver to proclaim Jaswant Singh Khalra Day, followed by New Westminster, Victoria and Surrey.  

*** 

 

 

The members of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) presented a medal of courage to a North Delta MLA at his constituency office on Thursday, August 27 for raising the issue of Kashmir with the United Nations and speaking out for justice to the victims of Sikh Genocide. 

Ravi Kahlon, who is known for his strong advocacy for human rights and social justice, has written to the United Nations on behalf of his constituents, who had raised concerns about the plight of their relatives in Kashmir, asking for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the disputed region.   

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government unilaterally scrapped special rights given to the state of Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, arresting local leaders on the pretext of maintaining public safety.    

The right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government claims that the act was necessary to stop terrorism in the only Muslim-majority state of India.   

Since then, Kashmir has been turned into an open jail, communication channels such as internet have been shut, and leaders fighting for freedom and autonomy have been detained indefinitely. These include political figures and activists who have been advocating for peaceful resolution of the problem of Kashmir, where people have been struggling for the right to self-determination.   

Kahlon has directly written to the office of United Nations’ Human Rights Council Branch, for the second time after October 2019. He hasn’t heard back yet from them, and reminded the UN High Commissioner about the concerns raised by his constituents.   

Kahlon shot off his first letter to the UN after meeting with a delegation of people of Kashmiri origin, who were having difficulty in connecting with their relatives back home  They remain deeply concerned about human rights abuses in the highly militarized zone.   

In 2017, Kahlon read out a statement in the BC legislature asking for justice to the victims of Sikh Genocide. Thousands of Sikhs were murdered all over India during the first week of November, 1984 in a state sponsored massacre following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.    

He is also vocal about systemic racism in Canada, and recently concluded a BC-wide tour to learn about the first hand experiences of people of colour with bigotry and prejudices. He was instrumental behind the restoration of the BC Human Rights Commission, which was disbanded by the previous Liberal government.   

IAPI President Parshotam Dosanjh presented Kahlon with the medal. Among those who joined him on the occasion were prominent Punjabi poet Amrit Diwana, besides other IAPI members Tejinder Sharma, Sandeep Modgil and Gurpreet Singh. 

Due to COVID 19 restrictions, everyone, including Kahlon wore masks during the ceremony.  

*** 

 

The Punjabi Press Club of British Columbia (PPCBC) has come out with a strong statement against assaults on three reporters by the supporters of ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in India.  

The August 11 incident happened in New Delhi, the national capital of the world’s so-called largest democracy.  

Three journalists, including one Sikh, one Muslim and an unidentified woman were harassed and physically attacked by a mob after they had gone to do a follow up story in the area hit by sectarian violence in February.  

It is the same place that saw an organized attack on Muslims by BJP supporters. The pogrom was planned to terrorise Muslims and secularist activists who were demonstrating against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the BJP government. The law discriminates against Muslim refugees coming from neighbouring countries, and gives amnesty only to non-Muslims. This had enraged people across India and evoked sharp reaction in other parts of the globe. Delhi witnessed many peaceful demonstrations.  

On Tuesday, The Caravan magazine had sent three journalists, Prabhjit Singh, Shahid Tantray and an anonymous female, who did not want to be identified, to do a story.  

Those who came to attack the three included a BJP official. The assailants made lewd remarks and obscene gestures toward the female journalist, while Singh and Tantray were beaten and kicked. They also made hateful remarks about the Muslim identity of Tantray.  

The members of PPCBC unanimously denounced the incident, and called for action against those involved and protection to journalists who continue to face threats and intimidation under the current political environment of India.  

 

 

Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Rachna Singh made history on Wednesday, August 12, by raising the demand to overturn the conviction of a political activist, who was executed for fighting against racism back in 1915.  

Mewa Singh was the first Sikh dissident to be hanged in Canada, for assassinating a controversial Immigration Inspector. He was one of the Indian revolutionaries who fought against the British occupation of India and racism abroad.   

Calling him Shaheed (Martyr) in the legislature, Rachna Singh presented a petition asking the Canadian government to overturn his conviction.   

Signed by 10,000 people, the petition was launched by the Ghadar Party Centenary Celebrations Committee. Singh stated in the assembly, “as this house has condemned racism in all forms before, I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of my constituents”.  Due to COVID 19 restrictions, the petitioners could not attend.  

Last year, Singh had unveiled Mewa Singh’s portrait in her constituency office on his death anniversary.    

Hopkinson had precipitated a conflict within the South Asian immigrant community, and was responsible for the murders of two Sikh activists inside a gurdwara days after the Komagata Maru ship was forcibly returned.   

The Japanese vessel carried more than 300 South Asian immigrants, who were compelled to leave under discriminatory immigration laws aimed at keeping Canada a so-called "white man’s land". The current Canadian government has already apologized for the episode that had culminated into the violence leading to the murder of Hopkinson. 

Mewa Singh was deeply enraged by the killings of his comrades inside a place of worship, and wanted to avenge this act of sacrilege. He was a religious man who went to the scaffold with prayers on his lips. In his testimony, he owned up the assassination and never appealed for mercy. His testimony also shows how much he was pained by blatant racism against his community. 

 

Gurpreet Singh  

Close to the first anniversary of the scrapping of special constitutional rights given to Indian-occupied Kashmir, a North Delta legislator is seeking global intervention into the matter.   

Ravi Kahlon, who is known for his strong advocacy for human rights and social justice, has written to the United Nations on behalf of his constituents, who had raised concerns about the plight of their relatives in Kashmir asking for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the disputed region.  

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government unilaterally scrapped special rights given to the state of Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, arresting local leaders on the pretext of maintaining public safety.   

The right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government claims that the act was necessary to stop terrorism in the only Muslim-majority state of India.  

Since then, Kashmir has been turned into an open jail, communication channels such as internet have been shut, and leaders fighting for freedom and autonomy have been detained indefinitely. These include political figures and activists who have been advocating for peaceful resolution of the problem of Kashmir, where people have been struggling for right to self-determination.  

Kahlon has directly written to the office of United Nations’ Human Rights Council Branch, for the second time after October 2019. He hasn’t heard back yet from them, and reminded the UN High Commissioner about the concerns raised by his constituents.  

Kahlon shot off his first letter to the UN after meeting with a delegation of the people of Kashmiri origin, who were having difficulty in connecting with their relatives back home, and remain deeply concerned about human rights abuses under highly militarized zone.  

“It has been 10 months since my office wrote to you with those concerns,” Kahlon stated in a letter sent on August 7 asking for a reply.  

In 2017, Kahlon had read out a statement in the BC legislature asking for justice to the victims of Sikh Genocide. Thousands of Sikhs were murdered all over India during the first week of November, 1984 in a state sponsored massacre following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.   

He is also vocal about systemic racism in Canada, and recently concluded his BC-wide tour to learn about the first hand experiences of the people of colour with bigotry and prejudices. He was instrumental behind the restoration of the BC Human Rights Commission, which was disbanded by the previous Liberal government.  

 

 

Gurpreet Singh  

In the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of US police, supporters of the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India are trying to create a false narrative around the history of imperialism and racism to justify their crimes.  

The killing of Floyd, an African American who became the victim of systemic racism, has sparked civil unrest, including the vandalizing and breaking of statues of slave owners.  

Taking advantage of the widespread outrage over mistreatment of Blacks and Indigenous Peoples in North America, those owing allegiance to the BJP have started drawing parallels between the action of anti-racism protestors and those who razed the Babari Masjid, an ancient mosque, in Ayodhya in 1992.  

The BJP supporters claim that the mosque was built by the Mughals after destroying a Hindu temple built on the birthplace of Lord Ram, one of the most revered Hindu gods. They had launched a movement to reclaim the disputed site during the 1980s, which culminated in the falling of the mosque by a mob instigated by the BJP leadership. This was done with the active support of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, the province where Ayodhya is located.  

Under the current BJP regime in New Delhi, the Indian Supreme Court gave its verdict in support of building a Ram temple. On August 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the proposed temple. This has dampened the spirits of grassroots level secularists who have been asking for restoration of the site to Muslims.  

The right wing media commentators and the supporters are now trying to discredit the secularists, accusing them of double speak. Their prime argument is that the 1992 Babari Masjid episode was the result of “awakening among the Hindus about slavery and persecution of their forefathers by Mughals who came from outside India with imperialist designs”. If their version of the history is to be believed, Islam was imposed in India through the rule of sword.  

However, many of such claims are blatant lies and lack objectivity.  

First of all, not all Mughals were tyrants; some made India their home and had cordial relations with Hindus. Secondly, even if we assume that they were, why should the Muslims living in India today be made to suffer? In the garb of Ram temple agitation, the BJP has polarized the Hindu majority against Muslims for electoral gains. It is not surprising to see how they continue to be attacked with impunity under Modi ever since he became the Prime Minister in 2014. It is pertinent to mention that the 2002 Gujarat Muslim massacre was an outcome of this campaign. A train carrying Hindu pilgrims from Ayodhya had caught fire, leaving more than 50 passengers dead. Although one commission of enquiry found that it was an accident, the BJP blamed it on Islamic fanatics. Modi, who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat back then, allowed the bloodletting of innocent Muslims by his supporters. 

The point conveniently overlooked by BJP apologists in North American Diaspora is that the anger of African-Americans is against White privilege. In the Indian context, the Hindus are the most privileged because of their majority, and it was never the other way round. If there are any parallels, they are between the Blacks or and Indigenous Peoples of North America and Dalits in India.  

Hindus have been persecuting those considered as Untouchables from the Dalit community for centuries. Their case is not only stronger and well documented, and dates back to the time when Mughals had not even appeared on the scene. Like it or not, Islam did not spread in India only due to repression by Mughals, it became popular because of its egalitarian approach that embraced Dalits, who were not even allowed to enter Hindu temples under strict caste codes.  

If the BJP really cares for correcting history, why not begin with fixing the problem of the caste system? Why not first remove the statues of Manu, who invented such an inhuman social structure from outside the Rajasthan Court?  

What the BJP cannot deny is that their founding fathers in Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) – a Hindu supremacist organization, of which the BJP is a part - glorified Hitler and rationalised the annihilation of Jews. On what basis can they make such claims, and even appropriate progressive movements such as Black Lives Matter, when its own history is highly problematic and full of contradictions?  

What happened to Babri Masjid was not an act of resistance, but an act of aggression and terrorism. It cannot be equated with the actions of oppressed groups in North America.  

 

 

 

 

 

Gurpreet Singh  

If the insensitivity being shown by the Indian state towards a physically challenged former Delhi University Professor is any indication, the government of the world’s so called largest democracy lacks compassion.  

Wheelchair bound G.N. Saibaba, who is ninety percent disabled below the waist, is incarcerated after being convicted for life after being branded as Maoist sympathizer.   

He is among several known scholars and human rights defenders detained for merely standing up for the poor and marginalized, especially Adivasis (Indigenous peoples), who continue to face displacement from their traditional territories by the extraction industry looking for access to mineral-rich lands with the backing of the state. 

Maoist insurgents, fighting a class war, have been active in tribal areas, where Adivasis often take up arms due to the high-handedness of the police and security forces. Many Adivasis see them as protectors in their fight for survival from barbarity of the state. 

Saibaba’s only crime was raising his voice for the indigenous peoples of India and religious minorities.  

Although a UN committee has urged for his immediate release on compassionate grounds, the Indian authorities continue to oppose any attempt to bail him out.  

On Saturday, he lost his ailing mother, despite attempts by his lawyer to get him released on bail due to his deteriorating health and the growing threat of COVID 19 in overcrowded Indian jails.  

74-year-old Gokarakonda Suryavathi was suffering with cancer, but Saibaba's lawyer failed to get him allowed see her through video-conferencing. He had informed the jail authorities about her condition and her wish to see her son one last time, but they did not even reply. 

All this is in sharp contrast to what Indian Prime Minister had stated at the beginning of the campaign against COVID 19.  

Narendra Modi had called for battling Corona (COVID 19) with Karuna (compassion), but seeing what Saibaba and his family are being forced to go through, his actions certainly do not match his words. If Saibaba’s condition does not evoke Karuna then what does? 

Gurpreet Singh  

July 31 marks 140th birth anniversary of a renowned Indian author, the late Munshi Premchand.  

Born as Dhanpat Rai in British India, he was forced to adopt an immortal name after his collection of short stories was seized by the authorities who found them to be seditious. 

These stories, which reflect the struggle of working class and the oppressed groups under British occupied India, and highlighted the freedom movement, were provocative for the foreign rulers. By all standards, their response was an assault on free expression. One such collection translated in Punjabi bears the title,  “Munshi Premchand’s stories that were confiscated by the British.”    

Apart from focussing on the liberation struggle, Premchand was among the founding fathers of progressive literature. He showcased the richness of pluralist culture of India through his novels and short fiction.  

His work has become even more relevant today, under a right wing Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ever since he came to power in 2014, attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown. So much so, the authors and scholars are being frequently detained and thrown in jails for questioning the power.  

Ironically, Modi is a Member of Parliament from Varanasi, the birthplace of Premchand. It is not surprising to see how he is trying to appropriate the late writer, who continues to dominate the literary landscape of the country. Last year,in his radio address to the nation, Modi went to the extent of claiming that he was deeply touched by the stories of Premchand.         

If Modi really means what he says, then he should start releasing all the scholars and intellectuals who have been detained by his government for questioning the power. Among them is an 81-year-old revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, who was hit by COVID 19 in jail, and Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist. The list is long and includes published authors, like Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha. These individuals were arrested on trumped up charges for merely raising voices for the poor and marginalised.  

Also, Modi’s ideology completely contradicts that of Premchand. Whereas Modi wants to transform India into a Hindu theocracy, Premchand’s work stands for an inclusive and tolerant society.  

Modi's government is behaving no differently than the British rulers, who seized the short stories of Premchand to crush resistance. If he cannot do this, then he should at least stop lying about his feelings in public.  

*** 

 

Gurpreet Singh  

The news of Chinmoy Banerjee’s death has greatly saddened the South Asian community in BC.  

80-year-old scholar and activist of Indian heritage, Chin Daa, as we affectionately called him, was not keeping well for the past several days.  

He passed away on the morning of July 29, leaving behind a powerful legacy of tireless activism.  

He previously taught English at Simon Fraser University and was deeply involved in social justice movements.  

His demise, at a time when bigotry continues to grow all over the world, has caused an irreparable loss to his comrades. Until two weeks ago, he was actively trying to organize each one of us against racism. I had an opportunity to attend one of the two zoom meetings he had hosted to figure out how to work in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by the police in US. Little did we realize that those might be his last interactions with us on such an intense issue.   

As a true humanist and die hard secularist, he has been consistently raising his voice against state violence and repression of minorities anywhere, including India where he was born in January, 1940. He was among the founders of the Indian People’s Association of North America and South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, the advocacy groups of progressive South Asians dedicated to the cause of challenging attacks on democratic and civil rights of the people. He was also instrumental behind the formation of BC Organization to Fight Racism.  

He not only denounced the attacks on Sikhs during 1980s by the then-so called secularist Congress government of India, but remained vocal against the outright sectarian and anti-minority policies of the currently ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led by controversial Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

The BJP is determined to turn India into a Hindu theocracy, and believes in the ideology of Hindutva, which is based on extreme political Hinduism that excludes Muslims and Christians as “outsiders” and tries to assimilate Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.  

Banerjee was among those few in lower mainland who opposed Modi and his Hindutva and protested against his visit to Vancouver in 2015.  

Attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have grown in India ever since Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014.  

He had invited many fabulous speakers from India to educate the world about what is going on under Modi.  By virtue of knowing him closely, I had an opportunity to meet a number of them. Among them is Anand Teltumbde, an established author, who was arrested in April this year on trumped up charges for merely raising a voice against the Indian establishment. Teltumbde has been questioning the power through his writings. He is among many other scholars who are being incarcerated for challenging the status quo.  

Together with Chin Daa, we also held a protest outside the Indian consulate when another Indian scholar, Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, was first arrested and thrown in jail in 2014.  

Wheelchair-bound Saibaba, who is ninety percent disabled below the waist, had been speaking out against evictions of Adivasis (Indigenous peoples) of India from their traditional lands, by the Indian state in the name of development only to help the extraction industry. Since Maoist insurgents are active in those areas, Saibaba was branded as a Maoist, thrown in jail, and later convicted for life despite his disability. The Modi government refuses to release him on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.  

Banerjee had also given me opportunities to speak at public events organized by him and extended his help to Radical Desi, a magazine started by myself and also Indians Abroad for Pluralist India, a group we created in response to state sponsored violence against minorities and political dissidents under Modi.  

With Banerjee gone, we all need to carry on with his incomplete mission for a just society, as the struggle is not over yet and is only likely to become more difficult.  

Rest in Peace, Chin Daa. You will always be missed.

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