"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


Mr. Narendra Modi  

The Prime Minister of India  

Dear Sir,  

Please accept my condolences for the passing away of your mother.  I myself lost my father in 2017 and often feel sad about his death five years later. So I can relate with your pain.  

These must be difficult times for you, and I hope you recover soon. It was nice to see how the opposition leaders of India, including those from the Congress party, have offered their sympathies. Rahul Gandhi of the Congress, whom you and your supporters frequently mock, poured out his heart to pay tributes to the departed soul on Twitter.  Several prominent secularists and liberals I follow on social media have also done the same. Normally, they are very vocal against your right wing and sectarian politics. 

It appears that the opposition in India is too kind. For that you should be thankful.  

However, I am not a diplomat or a politician. I am a simple hearted person and would like to take this moment to say what needs to be said.  

In the light of how your political rivals have risen above ideological differences to share their condolences, it’s my desire to see you and your brutal government becoming compassionate. Remember how your government did not let disabled Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba out of jail when his mother was on her death bed. The wheelchair-bound Saibaba, who is suffering with multiple ailments, continues to be incarcerated under inhuman conditions for merely questioning the power and standing up for the poor and marginalised. Instead, your  government was happy to give freedom to those who had gang-raped a Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano, in 2002 right under your command when you were the Chief Minister of Gujarat, while no empathy was ever shown for a harmless scholar.  

You are lucky enough to have such meek opposition that also came to your rescue when a leader from Pakistan rightfully dubbed you as “butcher of Gujarat”. This is despite the fact that the Congress leader back then, Sonia Gandhi, had also described you as a “merchant of death”. Apparently when a neighbour points finger at you, all the Indian leaders get united in the name of so-called national interest. This is nothing but hypocrisy.  

Before you get angry or outraged by what I said, let me remind you what you recently tweeted about Guru Gobind Singh ji, the tenth master of the Sikhs, on his birth anniversary. You stated, “His unparalleled courage will continue to motivate people for years to come”. Indeed. I write all this to you after being motivated by his historical letter to the tyrant Aurangzeb.  

If you have doubts, try to read Zaffarnama, which has become even more relevant today under your repressive regime, where the rights of the minorities and political dissidents are being suppressed. You will also know that Guru Gobind Singh ji had empathized that it is just to draw a sword to resist barbarity when all other means of resolution end. By your actions, you are inciting people to take to arms. Zaffarnama applies to you, as much as it applied to Aurangzeb.   

Take care and be kind.  


Gurpreet Singh  

Independent journalist  


Gurpreet Singh  

One of the worst developments of 2022 was the electoral victory of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Gujarat state of India.  

The December 8 assembly polls gave a clear verdict in favour of the BJP, which won 156 out of 182 seats, forming government for seventh term in a row.  

Like it or not, the mandate was in support of bigotry and hate by a highly polarized society of Gujarat. If the results are any indication, the fight against Hindu supremacy isn’t over yet, and needs to be continued until the upcoming general election all across India in 2024.  

A BJP defeat in Gujarat would have sent a strong message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and set a tone for the national election. The outcome has disappointed secularists.  

Modi himself led the state as Chief Minister before being elected as Prime Minister in 2014. 

The infamous 2002 Muslim Genocide occurred under his watch. Thousands of innocent Muslims were targeted in mob violence orchestrated by the BJP leader across Gujarat. Because of that, Modi was denied a US visa until he became the national leader. 

The pogroms were started to avenge the deaths of more than 50 passengers of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims. The train caught fire under mysterious circumstances, and Modi had instantly blamed it on Muslims and Pakistan.  

He then got re-elected with a brute majority. The BJP was never defeated after that, as Modi was able to muster enough support from the Hindu Right to ensure his ascendance to the highest office.  

Even during the recent election, the BJP lost no opportunity to invoke the ghosts of 2002, taking advantage to stoke anti-Muslim prejudices and fear. 

Before the election, the rapists of a Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano, were released from jail and given a heroic welcome. 

Bano had lost several members of her family in the violence and was gang raped. Her testimony had brought the culprits to book and they were convicted for life, yet they were given amnesty by the government. 

Teesta Setalvad, an activist who has been campaigning for justice to Gujarat Muslims, was arrested and thrown behind bars under trumped up charges. 

As if this was not enough, Home Minister Amit Shah told voters that the BJP has established permanent peace by teaching a lesson to those involved (read Muslims) in the 2002 violence. 

The voters who chose the BJP despite all this clearly made a statement on what kind of society they want.        

In the meantime, the corporate world was enamoured by the so-called Gujarat model of development, which was more hype than reality. Since the opposition Congress party which was in power previously had lost its charm and credibility on a number of issues, Modi became a poster boy for the Hindu majority and the elite, paving the way for him to be the future leader of the country.   

However, the broader issue is that Modi is an RSS man while his party is its political arm.  

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) began its journey in 1925 to establish  a Hindu theocracy. It remained a fringe force in the beginning, but gradually turned into a "deep state" with complete control over the power structures and the intelligentsia. They have changed the thinking of the masses or poisoned young minds through daily gatherings in different parts of India. Clever enough to get the desired results through social engineering, the threat of RSS cannot be brushed aside. Their proteges like Modi are not like any other career politicians. They are determined to redefine India.  

As we head for 2025, the RSS will be thrilled to see India becoming an official Hindu state a century later under Modi.  

Gujarat model in reality was an image of  the RSS vision for Hindu India, which has almost been achieved. Attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, have increased throughout India under Modi, a situation replicating the one that existed in Gujarat.  

Let there be no illusion - Gujarat alone isn’t polarized. The whole of India is on  the Gujarat way, and we need to take this seriously. The year 2023 needs to be dedicated to more struggles for an RSS-free India for the sake of diversity and pluralism, so that Modi is ousted from power in 2024. For that, all secularist groups and minorities need to get united under one banner. That should be our New Year’s resolution.  


Saturday, December 10 saw activists come together in Surrey to release a calendar featuring a towering leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.  

Desmond Tutu passed away on the eve of 2022, at the age of 90, leaving behind a rich legacy of struggles for social justice. Close to his first death anniversary, Radical Desi, an online magazine in partnership with People’s Voice, Spice Radio, Mehak Punjab Di TV and Channel Punjabi decided to dedicate its calendar for 2023 to him.  

The event was held at the art gallery of Surrey-based painter Jarnail Singh, who made the portrait of Tutu for the calendar that bears important dates related to the history of resistance against racism and colonialism, especially in North America.  

Apart from Singh, others who participated in the unveiling ceremony were BC Education Minister and former Parliamentary Secretary for anti-racism initiatives Rachna Singh, anti-racism educator Annie Ohana, the cofounder of Coalition Against Bigotry Imtiaz Popat and renowned Sikh activist Barjinder Singh.  

Those who spoke on the occasion included prominent Punjabi poet Amrit Diwana, leftist scholars, Dr. Raghbir Singh Sirjana and Harsharan Singh Punia, and community activist Sahib Singh Thind. Dr. Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal from Channel Punjabi, Kamaljit Singh Thind of Mehak Punjab Di TV and Radical Desi cofounder Gurpreet Singh also addressed the gathering.  

The speakers were unanimous in their views to continue to raise voices against injustice anywhere in the world. 


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.