"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  

On November 26, the world’s so called largest democracy celebrated its Constitution Day. Not only were special events held by the Indian government back home, several programs were organized in the Diaspora, including one in BC.  

The Day was initiated by the current right wing Hindu Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under whom attacks on religious minorities, including Dalits and political dissidents, have grown since 2014. All this goes against the spirit of the constitution that guarantees religious freedom to everyone, as well as social equality and democratic rights.  

This year’s events coincided with the release of Anand Teltumbde, a renowned columnist and published author, who had been held in custody for more than two years under trumped up charges.  

Teltumbde was arrested in 2020, on accusations of inciting violence and being part of conspirators against the government, but his only crime was that he stood for the poor and marginalised and questioned the power through his writings.  

Teltumbde happens to be the grandson-in-law of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, an undisputed Dalit icon and the architect of the Indian constitution. He was not even granted bereavement leave when his brother, a Maoist insurgent, was gunned down by the police in November, 2021.    

Ironically, he was arrested on the birthday of Ambedkar, who Modi claims to revere, and got bail on the day when Modi and his apologists, including self-styled Ambedkarites in Canada, were celebrating Constitution Day. His release came only after the Bombay High Court gave him the bail, while the Modi administration unsuccessfully tried to keep him behind bars. For all the time, he rotted in jail with his trial not being started.     

From the time of his arrest until his release, Modi may have bowed his head before Ambedkar’s statues or garlanded them a number of times. But such tokenistic gestures by someone who is wedded to an ideology of turning India into an intolerant Hindu theocracy, will not hide the reality that he is unwilling to listen to any criticism or treat minorities or the oppressed with respect.

 

Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) has welcomed the ongoing march started by the opposition Congress party in India. 

Bharat Jodo Yatra, aimed at uniting the country that is going through difficult times under a right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government, is gaining traction. 

The cofounder of IAPI, formed in response to growing attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents ever since the BJP government came to power with a brute majority in 2014, feels that the Bharat Jodo Yatra, led by Rahul Gandhi, gives hope for an inclusive India and deserves support from those who care for diversity and tolerance. 

However, Gurpreet Singh is also critical of the Congress for its opportunism and “soft Hindutva“  and involvement in the 1984 Sikh Genocide. He clarified, “Our support should not be viewed as a blank cheque for Congress. The party needs to be made accountable for its misdeeds if we really want progress. But Rahul cannot be blamed for the mistakes of his parents or grandparents. He should be given a chance to prove himself.” 

Singh maintained that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is giving sleepless nights to those in power, and is proving to be a challenge to those who are actually trying to divide Indian society in the name of religion and by polarizing Hindu majority. 

 

Sajjan-The Thug

November 16, 2022

Gurpreet Singh 

Some recent political developments in India remind me of a legend associated with the founder of Sikhism.  

Guru Nanak, whose birth anniversary was celebrated on November 8, is credited for traveling widely, reforming the misguided and encouraging them to follow the path of truth and justice. One of those who came under his influence was Sajjan, the thug, who ran an inn, where to deceive people he provided space for worship to both Hindus and Muslims. He often looted his guests and even killed them mercilessly. Such acts were in complete contradiction of his name which means noble.  

Nanak’s birthday celebrations this year coincided with the 38th anniversary of the Sikh Genocide. Thousands of Sikhs were slaughtered across India by mobs led by the then-ruling Congress party, which claims to be secular, much like Sajjan who offered place of worship for two different religious groups. This was in the aftermath of the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. 

In the national capital of New Delhi alone, close to 3,000 Sikhs were murdered by the political goons with police connivance. Coincidentally, among those involved was a former Member of Parliament who bore the same name as Sajjan, the thug.  

Sajjan Kumar is the only senior-most politician to be convicted for life in the case, while a few others remain unpunished. Indira's son, the late Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded her as the next Prime Minister, died without being indicted. Congress, which portrays itself as a progressive and liberal alternative to the currently ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP, under which attacks have grown on religious minorities, especially Muslims, has recently started its Bharat Jodo Yatra (Unite India March). Though it is aimed at challenging the BJP's divisive agenda of transforming India into a Hindu theocracy, it seems that the party hasn't learn anything from the past.  

Rajiv's son, Rahul, who is leading the march, tried to sell the image of his father as an advocate of communal harmony, a blatant lie that cannot cover up his complicity in the Sikh massacre. If Rahul really cares for a tolerant India, he could have made the first Indian Prime Minister - his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru - as the icon of the march. Unlike Rajiv, Nehru was secular to the core and believed in scientific temperament. He was a complete different personality than the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is far more regressive and superstitious. That he was also involved in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms of Gujarat is well documented.  Innocent Muslims were targeted all over Gujarat, after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire leaving more than 50 passengers dead. Modi who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat back then, blamed the incident on Islamic extremists and reportedly incited the Hindu mobs to go after the Muslim community. 

As if this was not enough, the Congress included Jagdish Tytler, who was prominently involved in the 1984 bloodshed, in a party panel for the upcoming municipal elections in New Delhi. Rubbing salt on the Sikh wounds, Rahul made time to visit a Sikh temple during his march on Guru Nanak's birth celebrations, while all this was happening under his watch. 

The Congress needs to come clean on this issue rather than making mockery of diversity. That said, the Sikh leaders associated with the BJP are no less than Sajjan, the thug. How can they align themselves with a party that is persecuting other minorities, like Muslims and Christians, when Nanak taught the Sikhs to stand up for everyone? Even otherwise the BJP is no friend of the Sikhs. Their supporters were also involved in the Sikh massacre. The Congress did all that to woo the Hindu majority, and was able to win the subsequent general election with more than 400 seats in the parliament. The entire BJP vote shifted to the Congress, implying that the anti-Sikh tide worked. By merely raising a hue and cry over Tytler's appointment and remaining silent to the crimes of the BJP, they are not doing any service to their community. Be like Nanak, denounce Modi and his cohorts in a strong voice and leave the BJP, otherwise history will never forgive you. 

 

Gurpreet Singh  

When the Indian Residential Schools were open in Canada, one of their mandates was to kill aboriginal languages to assimilate the First Nations into the body politic of a Eurocentric nation state environment. The survival or extinction of the languages of indigenous peoples still remains a very sensitive issue.  

But the Vancouver-based Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature has come a long way to celebrate both the Punjabi and the indigenous cultures simultaneously.  

Not only is the organization determined to promote Punjabi in Canada, it has taken upon itself the cause to strengthen reconciliation with the aboriginal communities that are struggling to keep their languages alive.  

Back in 2016, the organization honoured Punjabi author Jarnail Singh, who wrote Kaale Varke (Dark Pages), a fictional account of the impact of the Indian residential school system on indigenous communities.  This year, it has invited an indigenous author of the famous book, First Nations 101, as a keynote speaker for their annual award event in Surrey on Thursday, November 17.  

Lynda Gray is excited to be a part of the initiative.   

As estimated 250,000 indigenous children were forcibly sent to residential schools mostly run by churches, to indoctrinate them into Christianity. Once at these schools, they were forced to give up their own indigenous names and customs. Defiance would often invite punishments. The Canadian government has already apologized for this cultural genocide. Gray’s book becomes handy for anyone who wishes to learn more about First Nations. The second edition of her book with additional chapters came out this year.  

When the first Dhahan Prize ceremony was held at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC in 2014, it opened with a traditional song by Cecilia Point from the Musqueam First Nation.   

Barj Dhahan, the cofounder of the prize, feels that it is important to recognize that we are sitting at unceded lands belonging to the First Nations. 

“Just as indigenous communities are trying to preserve their languages that residential schools tried to erase from their collective memory, Punjabis, too, are struggling to save their language from extinction.” 

 

 

Gurpreet Singh 

November 16 marks the 107th martyrdom day of a towering revolutionary of the Indian freedom struggle.  

Kartar Singh Sarabha was executed in 1915 in British India for waging a war against the Empire while he was only 18-and-a-half years old.  

He was a part of the Ghadar movement that was started to liberate India from foreign occupation through armed rebellion.  

Sarabha had gone to the US for studies, and instead got involved in the freedom struggle among the Indian expatriates, who wanted to establish an egalitarian republic back home. He had returned to India in 1914 to help start the uprising with the help of the Indian peasants and soldiers working for the British government. However, the authorities got wind of the conspiracy and crushed it with an iron fist.  

The courts remained unmoved by the fact that Sarabha was of an impressionable age group and deserved some leniency. Rather the judges described Sarabha as the “most dangerous” in spite of being the youngest of those arrested. They noted that he warranted no sympathy.  

This was when India was still under British rule. Fast forward to 2022, when the Indian Supreme Court in a so-called free and democratic environment showed similar curtness towards a wheelchair-bound political prisoner.  

Former Delhi University Professor G.N. Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist and suffering with multiple ailments, is being incarcerated under trumped up charges for merely speaking out for the poor and marginalized and questioning the power.  

He was convicted for life in 2017 after being branded as a Maoist sympathizer.  

Even though he was acquitted by the Bombay High Court in October, the Supreme Court suspended the sentencing and denied him freedom. It has now listed the matter for hearing on December 8. One of the judges said that the “brain is the most dangerous thing”, when Saibaba’s lawyer requested for house arrest. 

The judge’s statement echoed what the courts observed for Sarabha years ago, and reinforced the position taken by the Solicitor General, who opposed the plea for house arrest.  

That the prosecution and the judiciary consider human brains as dangerous was true both in British India, and even today, when the people have their own elected government. It does not matter whether you are young enough to deserve capital punishment, or physically challenged enough to stay behind bars. Your involvement with any pro-people initiative is sufficient to provoke state violence, which only shows that whoever challenges the status quo and wants a change will be on the wrong side of the law. 

Much like the judiciary worked at the behest of the British Empire back then, it is dancing to the tune of their present political masters in New Delhi. So, nothing has really changed since 1915 , especially for social justice activists who continue to be detained under draconian laws, subjected to unfair trials, tortured or killed at will by those in power. 

As long as Saibaba is in jail, it’s better that the Indian politicians stay away from celebrating the legacy of Sarabha, and others like him who dreamed of a just society, and not just a country free of white rulers and governed by the natives.  

 

Gurpreet Singh  

When Shushma Datt started Rim Jhim (drizzle) radio, she was partly influenced by the rainy weather of Metro Vancouver to pick the name for her station. When she looks back almost four decades later, it does not feel the same.  

Once known as wet coast or Raincouver, the lower mainland is now constantly grappling with drought-like conditions and heat waves from summer through fall, due to climate change.  

As Rim Jhim celebrates its 35th birthday this month, meteorologists are reporting a huge decline in the amount of rain received around this time of the year. The daily Chaataa (umbrella) update on her radio is no different.   

Datt, who launched the Hands Against Racism campaign in 2015, has now created a space for discussions on environmental racism on both her stations, Rim Jhim and Spice Radio, taking her initiative to another level.  

Since environmental catastrophes affect racialized groups disproportionately, it has become impossible to ignore the issue.  

This coincides with the emergence of Anjali Appadurai, a South Asian climate justice activist, who challenged the Premier-designate David Eby for the BC NDP leadership. She was disqualified in spite of a very strong campaign. Anjali was interviewed by Datt for her famous TV show Women in Focus. Not only that, Appadurai also visited the Rim Jhim studio in Burnaby to participate in Hands Against Racism, which encourages participants to dip their hands in colour and leave a palm print on a white sheet of paper alongside a message against bigotry. “Everything for Everyone: Peace, Justice, Liberation, Love”, scribbled Appadurai.  

Throughout her leadership run, she did not miss an opportunity to talk about the seriousness of environmental racism.  

Other dedicated and vocal climate justice activists, such as Rita Wong, Peter McCartney, Alison Bodine and Donna Clark, as well as former Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, have joined Hands Against Racism remotely since the beginning of 2022 by sending in selfies with hands up in the air. 

Wong is critical of controversial projects that are creating challenges for the livelihood of the indigenous communities. McCartney is associated with Wilderness Committee, and Bodine is a part of the Climate Convergence movement. Clark is a former teacher who is involved in civil disobedience against the cutting of old growth forests.  

With its anti-racism mandate, Rim Jhim marches ahead to make everyone look into the intersectionality of environmental degradation, which remains the biggest threat to humanity.   

 

Gurpreet Singh  

Close to the 38th anniversary of the Sikh Genocide, two Indian movies have tried to expose the reality of the world’s so called largest secular democracy. 

Laal Singh Chaddha and Jogi depict the state sponsored massacre of the Sikhs in the first week of November 1984, following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Both are produced by Muslim filmmakers Aamir Khan and Ali Abbas Zafar respectively.  

Thousands of Sikhs were murdered across India by the mobs instigated by leaders of Gandhi’s ruling Congress party with the help of police. In the national capital of New Delhi alone about 3,000 Sikhs were slaughtered.  

Khan is a prominent Bollywood actor, who had earlier produced a documentary Rubaru Roshni that deals with the same subject.  

Whereas Laal Singh Chaddha is a Hindi adaptation of Forrest Gump, Rubaru Roshni is an inspiring story of reconciliation between former Sikh militant Ranjit Singh Kukki and the daughter of a senior politician, Lalit Makan, who was murdered for being allegedly involved in the anti-Sikh pogroms.  

Zafar’s Jogi looks deeply into the complicity of the police machinery that openly sided with the goons that targeted Sikhs. 

Though a number of movies have been made on the horrific events of 1984 over the past three decades, these two films come at a time when attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have grown in India under a right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 when Muslims came under attack after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, leaving more than 50 passengers dead. The technique that was once used to eliminate Sikhs was applied against Muslims this time. While Modi was never charged, he was denied US visa until he became the Prime Minister in 2014, for letting this happen under his watch.  That the two Muslims chose to make films on the pain and sufferings of the Sikhs instead of the Gujarat episode and the current situation is heart-warming and shows how the two minority groups need each other.  

 

 

Gurpreet Singh   

India has reasons to celebrate after the first man of Indian origin has become the British Prime Minister. Considering how the British Empire once ruled the giant South Asian nation, and Indians had to fight to liberate their homeland from foreign occupation, this means a lot. That the Indians faced racial hatred as immigrants in the UK for years is another story.  

While everyone both in India and the Diaspora is congratulating Rishi Sunak, and rightfully so, there is a need to pause and examine what he truly represents, apart from the Indian identity.  

Sunak is a rich man who does not come from the working class of the citizens and immigrants of Indian descent in UK. Since he belongs to the right wing Conservative party, can we really expect him to stand up for them when it comes to systemic racism? Had he been from the more progressive Labour camp, we could have relied on him in addressing the issue which has been haunting Indian and other immigrants from across the globe. Things have changed over the years, with more people of colour joining British politics, and Sunak’s ascendance to the post of PM clearly reflects that. But it is nothing more than tokenism.  

History has been made certainly, but can Sunak make a change when it comes to decolonization? The British government has yet to apologize for the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre. In April 1919,  close to 1,000 people had died in an indiscriminate firing by British troops on peaceful demonstrators who had gathered in Amritsar to protest against draconian laws. With Sunak becoming the PM, expectations have obviously risen. We still have to see when the British government will return artifacts and relics plundered during their rule in India. It will be refreshing to see if Sunak delivers on these two ticklish issues.  

The way that supporters of the ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP in India are cheering the moment is hugely problematic. Since Sunak is a practising and proud Hindu, their jubilation sees no bounds. Sunak has every right to follow his faith and be proud of it; nevertheless, will he dare to challenge those in power in New Delhi about growing attacks on religious minorities under their government? Several reports suggest otherwise, and hopes are dismal. His critics within the South Asian communities apprehend that the Hindu Right will become emboldened in the UK under him, especially because his party is a natural ally of the BJP.  

For the record, this whole episode has also exposed the double speak of the BJP and its supporters, who did not let Sonia Gandhi, a widow of the former Indian Prime Minister the late Rajeev Gandhi, become the leader of India only due to her Italian heritage. This was despite the fact that she had spent years in India and gave her dues to her opposition Congress party. Notably, she too congratulated Sunak, even though the right wing Hindu nationalists did not show her similar respect and graciousness.  

Jubilation is fine, but it’s time to get real and make Sunak accountable.   

To Anjali

October 12, 2022

You are not just a name on the ballot

You are more than that

A flowing stream

A shady tree

A roaring ocean

A breeze of fresh air

The song of a hummingbird

The sound of the cricket in my backyard that gives me hope of a living earth

Your fight isn’t yours alone

You are an embodiment of a long awaited rain on a parched land of our dreams

 

- a poem by Gurpreet Singh  

Heartbroken

September 12, 2022

Gurpreet Singh 

It’s been one year now and there is still no response from her. Not even an acknowledgement for all those messages I have been sending her way. 

I am even losing interest in her Instagram posts. Often I prefer to take a break for days from social media, to overcome frustration caused by her indifference towards me. 

Earlier, I used to like almost all her posts and made sure to leave a comment beneath. But it’s not the same anymore. 

That might be true for others who have celebrity crushes which usually end up with disappointments, but I wasn’t expecting this, at least in my case. After all, I am not just another fan. I have written a book on her film career. 

My infatuation with Kareena started way back in early 2000s when she stepped into the Indian film industry. I always found her beautiful and attractive. Her flowing hair, fair skin, gorgeous eyes and charming smile were simply irresistible. She looked hot in any attire on the screen or for her photo shoots. 

I kept looking for magazines carrying her pictures and surfing for more on the internet. Even until recently, my day would begin first looking for news about her and images on my Iphone. In my early years, my cheeks turned red whenever she popped up on TV. Oh boy, will I ever meet her one day? Being a middle-aged man with wife and two kids has not stopped me from dreaming about dating her. Almost everyone in my life knows about my fondness for her. And why wouldn’t they, after noticing my Facebook posts and TikTok music videos I have make for her, much to the embarrassment of my family?  

I never missed any of her new films. But soon, being a political journalist, I began following her work more seriously and tried to see her performance, especially in meaningful movies, using a very different lens. With a changed political environment of India over the past eight years that urge turned even stronger.  

I have not succeeded in my attempts to interview her, or get her attention on Instagram where she remains active, but I was lucky enough to get pictured with her wax statue at Madame Tussauds Museum in London in 2014. My wife who accompanied me was kind enough to take a nice picture of me with her replica. I still remember Rachna teasing me and telling me not to be shy and hug the statue for a memorable image. Rachna has always been like that. A big hearted woman, who only wants my happiness. 

That same year, India elected Hindu supremacist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Little did I realize that this year in history was going to redefine my relationship with Kareena.

I worked with an ethnic radio station as a talk show host in Surrey. The owners wanted me not to be too critical of Modi, as they did not want to annoy a new government under him. A fiery argument ensued, after which I quit, only to found myself more isolated within the South Asian community that rarely dared to challenge Modi, except during the recently concluded farmers’ protest in the streets of India.    

Ever since he became the leader of the world’s so called largest democracy, attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have spiked. Film actors from the Muslim community were not immune to such hate. Not surprisingly, being married to Muslim co-star Saif Ali Khan, Kareena became a target of such madness.  

Born in a prominent Punjabi Kapoor Hindu family, she chose a man from another faith group to be her husband, despite him being ten years older than her  with grown up kids from his previous marriage. 

The early signs of impending intimidation and harassment started showing when they married in 2012. 

The followers of Modi, who was still waiting to become the future leader of India, accused Saif of luring her and forcibly converting her to Islam. That’s the argument they use to go after interfaith couples, particularly to discourage Hindu women from marrying Muslim men.

Undeterred by anti-Muslim hysteria, she adopted Khan as her last name, without giving up Kapoor or her Hindu identity. 

By the time, the couple was blessed with their first child in 2016, Modi was in power. Even though Saif and Kareena met him at a public event, following which Saif had showered unnecessary praises on the Prime Minister, they both came under attack for naming their son "Taimur", which means iron. The supporters of Hindu Right took it as an assault on their religion, claiming that it was the name of a Muslim conqueror, who some believe tormented Hindus.  

Kareena was brave enough to withstand pressure of changing his name. The story did not end there, and was repeated in 2021 when she delivered her second son. The child was named Jeh, meaning “to come”. This too was misinterpreted as short form of Jihad. 

Around this time, I had finished writing my book on her. Until then I had written several articles on her work and the challenges she was facing in a toxic environment created by Islamophobes in New Delhi. During the pandemic I began thinking of writing this book to let the world see her struggle. I was deeply disturbed to see the way she was ridiculed by the troll army which was said to be created by the IT cell of Modi’s party. 

I took out time to watch all her movies again, including those I had accidentally missed, and to take notes of her posts on social media on issues that concerned  humanity. She has been vocal against sexual violence with political undertones and also racism and police brutality. 

In 2018, she came under attack for standing up for Asifa Bano, an eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl, who was raped and murdered by the Hindu fanatics to terrorise the community of the victim. This episode was followed by protests all over the globe, including here in Metro Vancouver. Since then any innocent mistake she makes as a public figure becomes an excuse for the trolls to put knife on her throat. 

It was decided then that a book on her is a must. I called up a publisher in Chandigarh to see if he would be interested, after another one in New Delhi flatly refused. A few others did not bother to respond.  

The one in Chandigarh showed his eagerness. I sent him my manuscript a few months later, only to be kept waiting indefinitely. After a while, I messaged him to find why there was so much delay. My world was almost turned upside down when he asked me to take out political references. I had to tell him that those references were the reason why I have written the book in the first place. 

I then went to another publisher in Ludhiana and the book was finally out. My journalist friends in India launched it on her birthday on September 21, 2021 at a press club in Chandigarh in my absence since I wasn’t in a position to travel to India. They sincerely tried to promote it in spite of potential challenges from the Hindu Right.  

The book release was reported by several media outlets, and I had a copy sent to Kareena’s valid address in Mumbai through a well-respected journalist. 

Now I was anxiously waiting for a feedback from her. I remained hopeful that she would acknowledge it soon. That’s the best birthday gift a fan could offer a star. Or so I thought. 

Friends and relatives began sending me congratulatory notes, with some wondering whether she knows about the book launch, or any word from her. Some of her fans started approaching me through twitter to find out how can they get a copy? But all this only added to more uncertainty.  

The wait continued for days, while big media in India kept talking about daily activity related to her family, friends, parties and business, but not a word about my book. No serious review, except a few commentaries - less than five in number. 

Then I began messaging directly to her and her manager. A deafening silence followed. My best options now were to contact her father and a veteran actor, besides her actor sister. I requested both separately through Instagram to help me reach out to her so that my book gets some kind of endorsement. All these efforts remained fruitless. It was clear now that my book won’t get much attention from her, let alone the big media. Her single post about it would have generated huge interest, but that never happened. My only hope to connect with my favourite diva also faded.  

It is hard to figure what could be behind such disinterest, but I am guessing it has to do a lot with the vicious socio-political environment of the country under Modi, and its spill over effect on Bollywood. 

I have reasons to believe that she and people in her team are aware of my book. Considering that the book launch was reported by a few prominent newspapers in and outside India, how could her publicity handlers miss that? If they can be cognisant of gossip and rumours about her, how come they don’t know anything about my book? I have noticed how she has appreciated junior artists composing songs for her, or ordinary folks making her sketches, so why can’t she appreciate someone standing up for her in the face of direct threats from a powerful group of people? 

Muslim actors continue to get a lot of heat in new India. Maybe that explains her silence. Any small gesture from her to endorse my book, which is heavily political, is likely to invite the wrath of Modi supporters. Or maybe it is because I am not a famous writer, who does not have a  huge following, or maybe because my publisher does not have a big name. 

My disillusionment apart, we did a book launch in Surrey too. Among those who came and spoke were my radio colleagues, a prominent story writer, a filmmaker and actor, besides a few journalists and Rachna.   

I was deeply indebted to each and every one who showed up at the event, but Rachna’s speech shook me to the core. 

She had seen how I was battling through my writings to make people aware of the ongoing high handedness of the majoritarian rule in India, and how it has affected me, with not many in Canada paying attention. For her, my celebrity crush was rather a good thing as it gave me some fresh air in these dark times. She would have been happier if I had written more about my romantic feelings towards Kareena instead of focussing on political side of things. She revealed that she was told by many of her relatives and friends that I should stop making silly music videos of Kareena and posting her pictures on Facebook as they feel ashamed, but she took that in stride and preferred me to continue with all that for my sanity. Her concern for me that day was another reminder of how deeply she loves me. 

Honestly, I am heartbroken because my celebrity crush has snubbed me, but I have still won the battle by making a point of how Modi’s regime has made it difficult for Muslims and free press to work freely and how he has transformed India into a Hindu theocracy, where minorities and political dissidents are mistreated with impunity. This has greatly changed Bollywood, which was once a beacon of diversity and pluralism. If nothing much, the book has caused minor ripples within the community of her fans on twitter. They continue to talk about it, with some trying to outreach her team on my behalf. If anything gives me hope, it is the breaking of silence about the crimes against humanity going on unchecked under the garb of secularism and democracy in the country of my origin. 

My date with Kareena can wait, but any effort to make the Modi government accountable cannot.  

 

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