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The cold-blooded murder of Jaspal Singh

May 18, 2012 | By

[Note: Sirdar Gurtej Singh is a well known Sikh scholar and author of various scholarly works. He has shared following write-up on his blog: Readers/Visitors of Sikh Siyasat may visit the blog to find more artilcles etc of Sirdar Gurtej Singh.]

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On an earlier occasion, I had written to more than two newspapers of the region protesting against the distortion that has almost become second nature of the Indian Media when it carries news and views pertaining to the Sikhs and the Sikh issues. I am compelled to write again as under to The Tribune, although I am certain that like the two other letters written earlier, this one will also be ignored. The purpose of writing is to hold a mirror to the faces of our great leaders who fondly believe that they are firmly tackling the Sikh problems. If they are not able to speak about the deep-rooted prejudices that lead the state to frequent killing of the Sikhs in cold blood, they ought to evaluate the worth of service that they are rendering. The people must also become aware about their leaders who do not protest against blatant and potent distortions that eventually become the reason for glossing over the past murders and help in paving the way for committing fresh ones. The Sikhs must remind their leaders that the state repression and the Media support for it needs to be exposed if they are really concerned about the people they claim to lead. They must realize that leadership is not just pinching money from the pockets of the led to satisfy their own desire for luxurious living. It is not enough that they simply issue high pitched statements to convince themselves that they are alive and are going about their business seriously. Something concrete is required.

Call needs to be issued to each and every Sikh to wake up. Another determined round of repression (that never really abated since 1982) has begun. Save other to save yourselves!

Engineering Student Jaspal Singh (Gurdaspur), who was shot dead by police at Gurdaspur on March 29, 2012

The reader may contrast the attitude of our leaders with the leaderless response of mere students from the most backward part of the North East of India. Richard Loitham (19) was a student of Architecture at the Acharya NRV College of Architecture at Banglore. He was found dead in his hostel room on April 18, 2012, The police entered this happening in its Unnatural Death Register because the day previous to it he had had a motorcycle accident and it was assumed that he had died of injuries sustained in the accident. There was spontaneous uproar alleging racial profiling, citing prevalent climate of hatred and hinting at murder. This was the spontaneous reaction of the students of that region studying in the various cities of the country. The allegation was that a student with whom he had a quarrel on the day of the accident had so badly beaten him up that he succumbed to injuries while in sleep. The body was exhumed and evidence of skull injuries was literally unearthed. The demonstration of grief had been so powerful that on May 1, 2012 the police was forced to register a case of murder under Section 302 of the IPC.

The recent case of Dana Sangma, another young student from the North East who committed suicide on April 24, 2012 at Gurgaon, after being wrongly accused of copying at an examination is also significant. It provoked a well articulated debate on the national television although the suicide is not in doubt.

Police breaking up doors of Sikh dwelling houses at Gurdaspur on March 29, 2012

Police opened fire on peaceful Sikh protest at Gurdaspur on March 29, 2012

The response of the Sikh people to the Gurdaspur killing was phenomenal. At least ten thousand people turned out at Jaspal’s last rites. His family was made to feel that the whole community was with them in their hour of grief. Sikhs all over the globe felt the pain and registered their sorrow and dismay. Why are our leaders not able to convincingly pursue the case of murder against policemen who killed Jaspal Singh with a gun?

When a youngster of the same age was killed in USA by a security personal, President Obama’s loud lament was, “if I had a son he would have looked like him.” Must not someone ask our leaders why they do not feel the same way about our children? Finally, why is our blood so cheap in India after 1947?

There is yet another serious aspect of the matter which must dawn upon our leaders. An official document of the United States defines terrorism as the “calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious or ideological in nature (carried out) through intimidation, coercion or instilling fear.” Going by secular, democratic ideals revered all over the world, liberty and rule of law confers on every human group the right to lead their lives according to the culture they hold dear. Our leaders must ask why the Sikhs in India are being intimidated on the dictates of the permanent cultural majority (pcm) to rescind their allegiance to the Sikh faith, to Guru Granth Sahib and the rahit of amrit prescribed by the Tenth Nanak? The evidence of the existence of this diktat is ample and conspicuous. The constitution of India refuses to recognise the Sikhi as an independent sovereign faith whereas other academic and cultural entities all over the world have no difficulty in doing so. Why does the Indian ‘secular’ state insists on assuming powers under Article 25 of the constitution of India to bring about reforms in the Sikh faith? In the seven decades of decolonised India there are thousands of incidents of setting fire to Guru Granth, the scripture considered by the Sikhs to be their living Guru and why has none ever been punished for causing hurt to the religious sentiments of a section of the people? The same can be said as truthfully and with more emphasis for the destruction of Gurdwaras with administrative support. Can it be seriously denied that the promotion of the human heads of anti-Sikh sects in Sikh garb (Radhaswamis, Nirankaris, Dera Balllan followers, Dera Sirsa, Dera Ashutosh etcetra) aimed at encouraging the Sikhs to repudiate allegiance to Guru Granth Sahib and the rahit of amrit is the pcm’s method of bringing about reform? Since the 1980s why has the police administration made forcibly removing turbans from the heads of Sikhs a mode of administering law and order? Why at the behest of the pcm is the administration going on an amritdhari killing spree? The latest example is the liquidation of Jaspal Singh on the demand of the Hindu Shiv Sena just because Jaspal Singh had protested against the removal of turbans from the heads of the Sikhs by the Shiv Sena on March 28, 2012.

After reading even a list prepared at random above, can our leaders say that there is no attempt at calculated use of violence and a constant threat of violence to attain the goal of eliminating Sikh ideology, Sikh faith and the Sikh people through intimidation, coercion and instilling fear? Except for those enjoying benefits for remaining silent spectators why are others wedded informally to be forever dumb? Instead of preaching Khalistan to us, and rendering the emotional people into cannon fodder, why are they not inspired by Slovakia, Kosovo, East Timor and South Sudan to argue our case in international fora? Why are they bogged down by the subtlety of the operation genocide being carried out in India? Those who presume to lead us why are they refusing to understand that the Sikhs, like any living organism, have the right to live and to live honourably according to their persuasions?

Those committing heinous crimes in the name of curbing terrorism must know that, the only way to curb terrorism is to abandon state terrorism for ever and not merely as an expedient measure but as a matter of conviction. “Nothing rankles more in human heart than a brooding sense of injustice” said Justice Barannan of the US Supreme Court. He is supported by Frantz Fannon at the other end “– injustice makes you want to pull things down.” Adding a spiritual content, a poet chimes in with: Mayoosion ne aur bhi sarkash bana dia; itne hue zalil ke khuddar ban gai. Frustrations made them even more defiant. The humiliation was so complete that they became self-respecting.


(Letter to the Editor for publication)

From : Gurtej Singh,
742 Sector 8,

To: The Editor, The Tribune,
[email protected]
May 5, 2012

Dear sir,

My last letter (dated April 3, 2012) about your negative reporting regarding the Sikhs which has reached alarming proportions, over the years was not published by you.

Today I bring to your notice another piece of news in which your paper of May 3, 2012, has tried to provide a shield to the policemen who killed Jaspal Singh on March 29, 2012. Reference is to “One death two probes and a lot of confusion” by Ravi Dhaliwal. Though it is datelined Gurdaspur, it is a “table news” essentially dictated by the police. It is not even news and is sheer propaganda aimed at absolving the police of the dastardly murder which should have shamed every Indian and should have earned the disgust of all liberty loving democratic people with conscience.

The picture printed is that of three policemen one of whom is in an advanced state of striking some one not shown in the picture. The caption below it reads, “a file photo of policemen fighting a violent mob in Gurdaspur.” In all probability it depicts the police running after some people who are making a hasty retreat. Clips placed on the YouTube show the police attacking a handful of students and others trying to escape from the sudden, unprovoked and severe attack of the armed constabulary. That is why you could not show who the police is attacking. The ‘crowd’ you hint at was a handful of unarmed local undergraduates protesting against excesses of the previous day. Are you not ashamed that you have published a part of a picture in an attempt to mislead the public opinion? Is that the function of a newspaper of your standing?

The report, if we can call it that, is clearly dictated by the unnamed “senior police officer” whom your reporter quotes profusely. The suggestion of your source that particular suspended policeman is “being made a scape goat” is preposterous as an innocent boy has lost his life in the prime of youth. Your paper exudes empathy for the killer police and has no kind word for the deceased. Does not that appear strange to you? What moral consideration confers this right on you? Sending of the bullet recovered from the body of the deceased Jaspal Singh or that of the injured Ranjit Singh is the normal procedure and hardly needs mention. So also is the gathering of other evidence. There is also nothing abnormal or confusing about some key witnesses who are still to record their statements.

Your suggestion that “local residents” (should we read local Hindus accused of violence) do not consider either of the two inquiries ordered by the government to be valid. It is a strange suggestion. Enquiry into the death of a citizen in police firing is mandatory by law and government is bound to order it. Why should the anonymous “local residents” consider it invalid and on what grounds are they confused about the mandatory procedure? Why is their moronic confusion a public concern? Particularly, when the enquiring DIG Ram Singh is quoted as saying that he is merely trying to establish “the sequence of events.”

Your suggestion that the enquiry is ordered “under pressure from the Sikh clergy” is sinister and seeks to give a communal tinge to the matter just because an innocent Sikh boy (18) was the targeted by the police.

Police firing is done on the orders of a magistrate. The government has rightly ordered an enquiry by a senior magistrate and a senior policeman to bring out the truth.

Please realize that your tirade betrays a prejudiced mind and is calculated to obfuscate the inquiry just because you are overflowing with hatred of the Sikhs and want to encourage those who kill them. How human is that?

The Media has done it once in 1984. Will your paper please consider not being a part of the fresh campaign of hatred launched by it ostensibly to teach another lesson to the Sikhs? Will your paper also consider recalling the fate of Prithvi Raj Chauhan and see a lesson for India’s permanent cultural majority in the face of the current Chinese onslaught, or have you become so fond of slavery that mere sixty years of decolonisation distresses you?

Yours faithfully,
Gurtej Singh


Another relevant matter may also be taken up for consideration along with the above.

The all powerful (under Badals of course) Executive Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee met at Anandpur Sahib on May 03, 2012 and resolved to place the portrait of Santa Singh Nihang in the Sikh Central Museum. Santa Singh was head of the Buddha Dal of Nihangs. It was suspected by many that he had succeeded to headship after the murder of his predecessor Baba Chet Singh. Nihang rituals are calculated to take this Sikh institution progressively farther away from the Sikh fold. The sect is therefore clandestinely patronised by the Congress political party.

After the destruction of the Akal Takhat by the Indian army in June 1984, no Sikh was willing to undertake its reconstruction on the dictates of Indira Gandhi, Baba Santa Singh was persuaded to do the job. In the face of opposition from the entire Sikh people, he came to Amritsar and started the ‘karseva’ of the Takhat building. It was rumoured that the central minister Buta Singh had persuaded him to do so. In actuality, he did precious little; all the work of reconstruction and repair was done by the employees of the National Building Corporation. Santa Singh earned the ire of the entire Sikh people throughout the world and in response to the sentiment was excommunicated by the then Akal Takhat Jathedar Kirpal Singh on July 22, 2012. His patron Buta Singh too was excommunicated from the Sikh panth, primarily for the same reason. Later on he apologised and was forgiven on May 08, 2008 by Joginder Singh Vedanti, who had been appointed to head the Akal Takhat by Parkash Singh Badal.

Despite that he remained one of the most disliked figures among the Sikhs for having betrayed them at a very critical time in their history. Thereafter, he did nothing to endear him to the people. His elevation to a status of the benefactor of the Sikh people has come as a surprise to one and all. Several Sikh organisations protested against honouring him posthumously by adding his portrait to the Sikh Museum. In deference to strong reservations, the portrait placing ceremony held on May 09, 2012, ended without his portrait being placed there.

This episode raises a host of questions. First and foremost, why was he chosen for the honour despite his sordid record? We of course know that he was chosen for the honour by Parkash Singh Badal. It has gone without notice that all those chosen for this and similar honour after 1984 are those who have supported deviation from the Khalsa rahit by word or deed. Our political leadership, controlled by the BJP appears to be determinedly pushing through an agenda of reform in the Sikh religion revolving around revising the Khalsa thesis inclusive of the rahit of amrit prescribed by the 10th King. This could not have happened overnight.

Santa Singh and all other of his ilk could not have become favourites without there being a background to these happenings.

The background takes us back to 1982-83.This is the period when the Akali leadership was finding it difficult to exist in the face of erosion in its ranks by the popularity of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale. The Sant was also a thorn in the side of the Congress (I) ruling at the centre. He, following in the footsteps of his predecessor had successfully stemmed the tide of the Sikhs floating towards the Nirankari and other heretical sects. A joint strategy appears to have been chalked out to eliminate the serious threat. Under this strategy Santa Singh was at one time excommunicated and is now being rehabilitated in the Sikh mind.

The unique honour to Hans Raj Hans, the new Vice President of the Shiromani Akali Dal has to be understood in the above context. Sant Bhinderanwale’s main contribution was that he was encouraging people to enrich the moral, ethical and religious content of their lives. The inevitable effect of such preaching has always been in transform brutes and even ghosts into gods, says the Guru: pasu prethu dev kare poore satgur ki wadhiaee. Such men and women of rectitude, courage and moral standing have been found to be difficult to govern. The folk singers have always been the main source of entertainment for our rural society – a rare luxury that they could afford. So at some stage after 1984, great emphasis was laid on promoting nudity, immorality, mock chivalry and downright crassness through them to lead the society to the path of moral degradation and irreligiousness. Agents for dehumanising and de-spiritualising the society, who could popularise the antithesis of moral and ethical behaviour, were suddenly in great demand. New singers were trained to make an impact. The songs that became popular in that period have double meaning words and are replete with concepts bordering on the lecherous. You hear of ‘tootak tootak tootiaan, he Jamalo’ and ‘toon nee boldee nee tere vich tera yaar bolda’. Older ones lead the way with songs like ‘ishke di hoee barsaat saaree raat bhijde rahe,’ and ‘teri bhij gai kurti laal kure,’ to cite some mentionable examples. Our sensitivities were so dulled by the ample flood of human blood all around us that the younger generation took to obscenity and lewdness to escape the gruesome reality. It is only recently that our womenfolk, the main losers in the game, have started taking the vendors of immorality to task. One typical example of this breed is Daler Mehndi, the son of a gurbani singer dropping the Singh name and working on themes like, ‘meri dig payee chreeh de vich ganee, ve chack liaa toon mor banke.’ Such singers in their heyday did as efficient a job of destroying the society as the police and para-military forces did in eliminating the real social heroes. Now the time has come to reward them for the services they rendered at the critical time. Monetary rewards they have already reaped. Hans Raj Hans is just one who is to be honoured; in the near future we will see much of the same. The political outfit that will put up candidates at Gurdwara polls is slowly being infused with hot blood that will go far in handing over the Sikh shrines to the ‘bought slaves’ of the Hindutava forces.

Can the khalsapanth muster an adequate response to this wholly destructive challenge? The question has to be addressed by each individual comprising the panth.


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