31 July 2008

Farewell To Ishmeet

This is from Just Sikhs. I do not know who the woman in the picture
is. I suspect it may be his mother:


Ishmeet Singh’s body was brought home amid the chants of “Waheguru” here this afternoon.

When the van carrying his body, escorted by his father, relatives and friends, entered the street near his house, neighbours broke down. Women were seen running along the van, crying bitterly.

His shattered father, Gurpinder Singh Sodhi, walked ahead of his son’s body when it was taken inside the house. A proud father had suddenly aged.

His mother, Amritpal Kaur, sat next to the body. She uncovered Ishmeet’s face and kissed him before breaking down. She had not cried for the past two days, leaving the family worried.

As the family grieved, those witnessing the scene could not control their emotions. It seemed the tragedy had struck not only Ishmeet’s family, but also those present there.

Later, the body was kept outside in a glass chamber. The head was covered with a saffron cloth. People who loved him queued up in the sultry weather to have a last glimpse of Ishmeet, whom they had once cheered to victory.

Several elderly people, who had trouble walking, waited patiently for their turn to see him once more.

“Ishmeet’s family members are not alone in their grief. We are with them. We all have lost a promising and talented son,” said Narinder Kaur (70) from Dugri, while summing up the sentiments of scores of Ludhianvis.


29 July 2008


From World Sikh News




When he would sing a lilting lyric, he made many cry; next he would hit a happy note with a chirpy song and the audience would dance in a frenzy.

Hope and icon of the Sikh youth, Ishmeet Singh, VOICE OF ALL OF US, is no more.

Ishmeet Singh (20) drowned in a swimming pool at a resort in Maldives at around 2000 hours Indian time. He had gone to Maldives to take part in a concert. Gurprinder Singh Sodhi, father of Ishmeet, who shot to fame by winning the Star India TV Voice of India contest in November last year, said at their home in Ludhiana that the event management company, which took his son to the Maldives, informed him at around 8 pm that the singer died due to drowning in the swimming pool of the hotel where he was staying.

An honour, and the queer feeling!

Only months ago, Ishmeet Singh was honoured by ghazal samrat Jagjeet Singh and his wife Chitra with an award in memory of their deceased son who had passed away in an accident. It was difficult not to cry. And just months later, Ishmeet has also left us all. It is heartless to tell someone not to cry.

Ishmeet was a student of B.Com second year at the MNC college in Mumbai. His father said he had no idea whether his son knew swimming. He said Ishmeet had left Ludhiana on Monday for Chandigarh from where he went to Mumbai on way to the Maldives.

The news of Ishmeet Singh's death left the world, his millions of fans, South Asia's TV audience and the diaspora which followed his progress song after song, week after week, shell shocked.

The Sikh community had celebrated worldwide his achievement at becoming VOICE OF INDIA through a popular TV contest where millions kept faith him, his voice and his loving and polite personality, voting for him all the way right to the top last year.

None other than the planet's goddess of singing, Lata Mangeshkar, had blessed Ishmeet Singh. Since then, Ishmeet Singh had been in demand and even months after the show ended, TV channels would keep pulling him in one or the other program to boost their audience figures.

Forever shall Ishmeet Singh be known as the man who made being a turbaned Sikh the trendiest hairstyle statement, inspiring many Sikh young men and women to follow the ways of the Guru and keep unshorn hair. Being turbaned became synonymous with being beautiful and smart.

Perhaps Ishmeet Singh was always closer to God. The day he won the biggest contest on Indian TV in November 2007 was also the day of the Guru. It was Guru Nanak Dev Ji's gurpurab.

Ludhiana, from whose noisy and industrial lanes Ishmeet Singh had risen to become the brightest of the stars on Indian glamour horizon went into a total shock.

Sikhs who had celebrated the event from California to Calgary to Christchurch to Chandigarh were frantically calling to confirm whether the sad news was indeed true.

Ishmeet Singh was honoured by Sikhs worldwide, by even the highest of the high Sri Akal Takht.

Forever shall the Sikh community remain indebted to this young man who made us all feel proud of our identity.

At the World Sikh News, we pay homage to Sardar Ishmeet Singh, and pray to Akal Purakh in this hour of grief to give his family and friends and fans the strength to cope with the immense loss.

29 July, 2008

Sikh News Update - Victory and Great Sadness

It is hard to believe that two such different stories could be breaking at the same time.

First, the tragedy.

Ishmeet Singh is dead. Our strong, handsome young lion prince drowned in the swimming pool at his hotel in the Maldives. Here is the latest, as I write from the online magazine from Maldives, The Furaavaru:

LATEST UPDATE 23:20 Maldives Time

An exclisive interview given by the Assistant Manager to TheFuraavaru.com Stated that Ismeeth and his coluge friends whom any one dosent know how to swim and was given a baby pool for them to enjoy. Also was requested not to go to Adult pool which was very deep, but ismeeth went to the adult pool. As a result an unconssisous incidence was happed and his friend reported to the resort managment. Said Robert the A.Manager of Chaayaa dhonveli to TheFuraavaru.

"We understand that he did not know how to swim and had been advised by his friends not to get to the deep end," a hotel official said to

Stay tune with us. TheFuraavaru reporter is covering is reporting us live from ADK where ismeeths dead body was kept for further investigations. His coluges are still in a deep shock and they are inside the room with ismeeths body.

We are trying to get the pictures of the resort. We will upload the pictures from the hospital as soon as possible

After that, I suppose none of us really feel like celebrating, but we did win a large victory today.

Sarika Singh has won her case. She was the young lady in Wales who refused to remove her kara in compliance with her school's dress code. Here is what I just read in The Langar Hall:

Moments ago, the BBC reported that the UK's High Court affirmed her case, stating that the dress code unfairly burdened Singh's freedom of religious expression. Both advocates and the court expressed frustration with the school, stating that the issue had been clearly defined in U.K. statutes and case law for over 20 years. This judgment opens the door for students of all religious backgrounds; in addition to the banning of the kara, other UK (private) schools have moved to ban the crucifix, the hijab, and the yarmulke. Against this "confining" interpretation of secularism (an interpretation more common on the European continent), the UK courts have clarified the intent of the country's inclusionary and anti-discriminatory legal framework.

This comes from Times OnLine:

Sikh teenager Sarika Watkins-Singh wins right to wear bangle
Frances Gibb, Legal Editor

A Sikh teenager won a legal battle yesterday over her right to wear a bangle that she holds central to her faith.

Sarika Watkins-Singh, 14, had been excluded from school for breaking a “no jewellery” rule by wearing the bangle, known as the kara.

But the ruling by a judge in the High Court means that she can return to Aberdare Girls' School in South Wales in September wearing the kara, a slim steel bracelet.

Her lawyers told Mr Justice Silber that wearing the kara was “extremely important”, just as it is to Monty Panesar, the England spin bowler, who has been pictured wearing the bangle.

Related Links
Huge case over small item bodes
Yesterday the judge condemned the “seriously erroneous attitude” of the school, which had equated the wearing of the bangle to displaying the Welsh flag - ignoring its religious importance.

However, Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that he was disappointed.

“The school had offered the student reasonable alternatives to accommodate her religious beliefs, such as wearing the bangle, but not so that it was on display, and it is frustrating that the courts did not find this acceptable.”

The ruling appears to run contrary to recent rulings that give schools discretion on religious dress or items of jewellery. However, it is in line with a 25-year-old law lords ruling allowing Sikh children to wear faith items, such as turbans, to school.

Jack Rabinowitz, a lawyer and expert in education law, said: “We have had a House of Lords ruling in favour of a school that would not allow a girl to wear the full Muslim veil and also a ruling in which a girl lost her case against being banned from wearing a chastity ring.

“The House of Lords said that schools needed to have very clear guidelines but subject to that, there was no reason why they could not ban whatever they wanted to.” That ruling still stood, he added.

Mr Justice Silber made clear in a summary yesterday that the case was specific to its own facts and did not involve a wider issue of “whether the kara should be permitted to be worn in other schools”.

Sarika, from Cwmbach, near Aberdare, who is of mixed Welsh and Punjabi origin, was at first taught in isolation and was excluded eventually for refusing to remove the bangle, in defiance of the school's policy, which prohibits the wearing of any jewellery other than a wrist watch and plain ear studs.

The judge upheld her claim of indirect discrimination on grounds of race and religion and declared that the school had failed in its positive obligation to promote equality of opportunity and good race relations.

He said that there was “an enormous difference” between rulings allowing schools to ban the Muslim niqab (full veil) or jilbab (long coat-like garment) and the “unostentatious” and “very small” bangle.

After the judgment, Sarika's mother, Sinita, 38, said: “It is just such a relief.”

Sarika said: “I am overwhelmed by the outcome and it's marvellous to know that the long journey I've been on has finally come to an end.”

She added: “I just want to say that I am a proud Welsh and Punjabi Sikh girl.”

Anna Fairclough, legal officer of Liberty, who acted for the family, said: “This common-sense judgment makes clear you must have a very good reason before interfering with someone's religious freedom.

“Our great British traditions of religious tolerance and race equality have been rightly upheld today.”

After being permanently excluded last November, Sarika was enrolled at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, where she was allowed to wear the kara. The judge said that the Aberdare school had offered to take Sarika back.

The judge said the school's governing body accepted that the way it conducted the appeal was unfair. He refused the school permission to appeal, although it can still seek permission from the Court of Appeal.

The kara is one of the five Ks of Sikhism, the others being the kesh (uncut hair), the kanga (wooden comb), the kaccha (specially designed shorts) and the kirpan (sword).

The governors and head teacher of the Aberdare school said they would take time to consider the judgment. “The decision to defend this action was taken after careful consideration by all concerned, and in good faith. It was not taken lightly. We regret that this action became at all necessary.”

If Sarika wished to return, she would be offered help and support to reintegrate her.

Oh, yeah, I bet she'd really be welcomed back with open arms! *rolls eyes*


28 July 2008

Green Sikhs?

This latest Sikhtoon and another article in Sikhchic, brought to my attention by Jasleen Kaur, has gotten me thinking. How to be greener. Being, at the moment, physically handicapped - not disabled, I'm still pretty abled - this presents a challenge.

As much as I hate to admit it, some things I cannot do right now. Hanging clothes on the outside line is simply impossible. (Not to mention, I live near Seattle and it's usually pretty wet out.) I have cut back on the time I use the clothes dryer, though. If that article isn't quite dry, it gets hanged up or spread on the bed to dry. I also have moved from warm water wash to cold for most things. I do admit to washing bedsheets in hot water - please forgive me - because of a totally obsessive-compulsive thing about bed mites.

I have taken to using reusable cloth bags for grocery shopping. But I did that years ago anyway. I am knitting a bag now to have something a bit more expandable. If any of my volumnous readers are knitters, please go here to read about 1Bag. Such a great idea. Someone join me? OK, I know - or at least suspect, most of the readers of this blog are young Sikh men who are probably not that interested in knitting. There are a few women, however, - at least one of them knitters - who read this, and they might be willing to do this.


I found a nice pattern for crocheting a bag that I'll try when the left hand in working better. I can knit now pretty well, but crochet is difficult.

I have taken to planning shopping trips carefully, so many little trips become just one. Unfortunately, there is not even a convenience store where I live that I can walk to and bus service is limited to a little bus that comes once an hour during weekdays only, and I have tried that a few times. Hard to get off and on, but I can do it. (Yes, the bus does have a lift; I feel unsteady on those things, though, and I'm sure they use extra energy, so Mai struggles off and on.) I use a backpack for carrying purchases, as I need to use a cane for walking these days. It's hard to get off and on , but I can usually find some kind soul willing to do a random act of kindness. The real problem there is that some stores just don't allow backpacks because of shoplifting problems. Most will hold them while I shop, but a couple refuse. Liability, I suppose. OK, they don't need my business and I don't need their goods. An even exchange. My valuables, of course, are in my fanny pack, in lieu of a purse

Cooking I am unsure of. Does the rice cooker use less energy (electricity) than the stove (natural gas)? I don't obsess, but I'd like to know. I know doing processing by hand would save energy, but I admit to using the food processor quite a bit. I have, however, gotten a hand spice grinder to use instead of the electric coffee grinder I had been using. I think the hand ground spices taste better, too. We eat a lot of tortillas, both corn (maize) and flour. I have invested in a tortilla press, a pretty little thing, quite decorative actually, and am now making our own tortillas. Fresher than from the store and I know my hand work saves energy over those huge machines in the factories. In the summer, I make my own curd (yogurt). It doesn't seem to grow well, though, in the cool of other seasons.

My favourite green thing is my green thing. My little organic garden. This year, unfortunately, it's something of a bust. During the early spring planting season, the temperatures were below freezing; then when the weather warmed, my husband's back gave out and he couldn't cultivate for me. (Try cultivating with half your body not working. I did. It doesn't work. I kept falling down and quit before doing real damage to myself.) We do have a small crop of pumpkins growing, plus some collards, voluntaries from last year's crop gone to seed. I have also gotten a promise that next weekend we will plant some cucumber seeds. My experience is that those will grow very easily, in fact will take over the whole garden if you let them. For next year's crop, all of this should provide a good basis for a real garden again. I forgot to mention my curry plants. They have gone wild, seemingly happy and free. And delicious, too.
I also do the obvious little things. Turn off anything that isn't being used, lights, TV, computer, etc. I am considering turning off all the power strips at night to cut down on the use of stand-by energy. I'm not quite ready for that, though, because many of our electronic gadgets have to be reset after a power outage and I'm not sure if I'm ready for that every morning yet.

I remember back when there was a severe water shortage and I learned to take three minute showers, five when hair washing. I haven't quite gone back to that since I never really felt clean, and since the stroke, everything takes more time. I have, however, stopped dawdling in the shower, the first thing here that is a real sacrifice for me.

I have also heard that the methane produced by the cows of India are a major source of global warming. I'm not sure I believe that, but in any case, that is out of my hands. Totally.

Am I crazy enough to believe these silly little things are really going to save the world, stop global warming, make a real difference, all that stuff? Sure! Why not? "Great oaks from little acorns grow." "The journey of a thousand

miles begins with a single step."

Now, next problem...How are we going to save our beloved Punjab, both in India and Pakistan (Occupied Khalistan), from desertification? "The difficult we do at once. The impossible takes a little longer." That said, the sooner we get moving, the sooner we'll see results.
BTW, in Sikhtoons, you can find many cartoons about the Third Sikh Holocaust (Teeja Ghalughara).by going here: http://www.sikhtoons.com/ThirdSikhHolocaust.html


24 July 2008

Adventures In Colonoscopy

As my friends know, I had a colonoscopy on Tuesday. No, wait, please don't tune out! I'm not going to do a Katie Couric on you.

No full descriptions, no grossing out. Promise. I couldn't if I wanted to because I was fully sedated, quite unconscious of the whole procedure. I want to talk about what happened before.

I was all (un)dressed and (re)dressed for this when the nurse, a sweet, young thing wanted to take my blood pressure. Instead of using the big pressure cuff I'm used to, she used a small wrist device. Because the stroke had affected my left side, she needed to use my right wrist. And on my right wrist, of course, my kara. I half-expected her to ask me to remove it, but I was totally surprised when she said, 'Oh, are you a Sikh?'

Of course, I answered , 'Yes.'

She must have heard the question in my voice because she went on, 'I like you Sikhs. You guys never make a big fuss and usually smile.'

She then helped tie my kechera firmly but not tightly around one leg. Then my kirpan. 'You'll need to arrange that thing you don't call a knife -'


'Yeah, keerpaan. 'Cause you'll be lying on your left side.'

So that was done.

She also made sure my kangha was firmly in place.

Then she stuck the IV needle in my arm.


The next thing I was aware of, it was all done. She helped a very groggy Mai get dressed, all the kakkars properly arranged, none having left my body, and returned me to my waiting husband.

BTW, the test came out clean. No polyps, no cancer, see you in another 10 years.

So why this story here?

I know this post is a little more light-hearted than most posts here, and maybe better belongs in sometimes - 2, my personal blog. But hardly anyone reads that blog and I like this story and want it to be read. (On the other hand, a couple of my sometimes - 2 readers wouldn't think of reading a blog with Khalistan in the title. Oh, well, their loss.)
I read - and write - so much about Sikhs being mishandled, disrespected, and just totally mistreated, I thought this story of a sweet, young gori nurse might brighten someone's day. An occasional day brightener is good for the soul.

And if anyone is hesitating to get this procedure, it really is painless. A little gross and unpleasant the night before, but nothing major. And it might save your life.

Top - Colonoscope. I promised nothing gross, so just use your imagination.
Second from top - Katie Couric, newswoman. She's not really a tart. Her husband died of colon cancer and she's become a colonoscopy advocate.
Second from bottom - Wrist blood pressure monitor
Bottom - Five kakkars. I know we all know what the 5 Ks are, but I used this picture because the person on the left might be a woman. And her kesh isn't any longer than mine, which still hasn't grown out properly since being destroyed by that defibrillator a couple years ago.

23 July 2008



Is the only way to get justice to take matters into our own hands?
VAHEGURU! I hope not. I pray not!

'Please don't send our dad home'

And the saga of Brother Laibar Singh Ji goes on. Imagine how hard it must be for his children to say that they can't care for their only living parent.
I have always been proud of being Canadian; one reason for this is that we are a country with a huge heart, knowing that people are more important than money. This whole affair, however, is making me rethink this.
From the Asian Pacific Post
Wed, July 23 2008

Laibar-SinghBy Gurpreet Singh

On assignment in India

JALANDHAR, Punjab — As the sword of deportation continues to hang over the head of Laibar Singh, the paralyzed refugee claimant who has spent a year in the sanctuary of a Sikh temple in Abbotsford, British Columbia, his family in this part of the developing world is pleading that he not be sent back to India as he won't get proper medical treatment in his native village.

As the 60-kilometre, bone-rattling road from urban Jalandhar to Singh's village of Sohal Khalsa increasingly deteriorates, so too does the state of the district's infrastructure.

The 90-minute journey into the rural heartland of India's northern state of Punjab reveals a scattered landscape of rudimentary structures and dilapidated dwellings.

Just outside of the small, agrarian village, Singh's two children — son Kanwaljeet, 17, and 20-year-old daughter Pinky — live in a two-room house of mud-patched walls and plastic chairs.

With no land or cattle to their name, the youngsters' only source of income is Pinky's sewing business, which brings in a few meagre rupees each day. She takes in work piecemeal, stitching dresses day and night, between the electricity brown-outs that are so common in the region.

After their mother fell ill and died in 1994, life for the Singh family quickly spiralled into penury.

In 2003, after his eldest daughter, Sonia, was married off to a local farming family, Laibar Singh opted to leave his children behind with extended family and seek out employment in Canada.

According to his children, Singh paid a 'travel agent' heavily for his one-way ticket out of poverty. He entered Canada as a refugee claimant, first working in Montreal before shifting to Vancouver.

"He kept sending us money until he got paralyzed and became bed ridden," recalled Kanwaljeet, showing off a picture his dad sent home from Quebec before falling critically ill.

There is no hospital in or near Sohal Khalsa village. Kanwaljeet now goes to a nearby school that is run on charity. His elder sister Sonia, now 23, lives in a nearby village, but visits them by bus on occasion. The youngest sister, 16-year-old Amandeep, lives with an aunt, Laibar Singh's aging sister.

"We alone cannot take care of him," Sonia told the South Asian Post during a visit last week to Laibar Singh's ancestral home.

"He needs good nursing and constant medical check ups. Where the money would come from?"

Following an aneurysm, Singh became paralyzed in 2006 and was placed in a long-term care facility in Vancouver.

Meanwhile, Canada's refugee board rejected his claim and ordered him deported.

An Indo-Canadian nurse at the care facility informed the Punjabi media about the sorry state Singh was living in, seeking help in raising funds to get him a special wheelchair.

Laibar-Singh's_son-KanwaljeetAs soon as the story hit the media, the demand for granting Laibar Singh legal status to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds began to grow.

Vancouver-based human rights group, No One is Illegal, began lobbying for Singh with the aid of other South Asian organizations and influential individuals within the community.

Since the Canadian authorities were determined to deport him, Singh took sanctuary in an Abbotsford Sikh Temple with the help of friends amidst petitioning and protests — both for and against the immigrant who entered Canada without the proper documentation or authority.

The Canadian government finally decided to deport Singh last December 10 — ironically, the International Day of Human Rights — after reviewing his case.

However, over 1,000 people gathered at the Vancouver International Airport to stop Laibar Singh's deportation.

Singh was shipped by supporters to a different Sikh temple after the authorities decided not to wade into the pressing crowd at YVR. He ultimately returned to the same Sikh temple in Abbotsford where he was originally granted sanctuary after two other temples refused to take him in, even after keeping him for several days.

He remains there today.

The Canadian Border Agency has decided to respect the sanctity of the temple and won't enter it to arrest Singh. He is likely to be arrested once he steps outside the temple as the deportation orders against him are still valid.

"We won't be able to look after him well if he is sent back," Pinky said. "We don't have enough resources to provide him with long-term care. We don't have a car either to take him to the city (Jalandhar) in case of emergency."

The villagers of Sohal Khalsa also feel Singh is better off in Canada.

The village Sarpanch (headman), Laimber Singh, told the South Asian Post that they are not equipped to take care of a man in Singh's condition.

"We don't have such facilities even close to our village," he said. "In the city, he would need money to get good care at private hospitals as the government hospitals also lack special services."

Atamjit Bawa, a philanthropist who runs Pingla Ghar, a special home for the disabled in Jalandhar agrees: "We don't have a kind of social security net in India as one in Canada for the poor and people with disabilities."

Varinder Singh, a senior journalist with The Tribune who has been following the case, is also apprehensive about the quality of long-term care provided to the disabled in Jalandhar.

"Even the NGOs cannot guarantee good care, leave aside the ill-equipped government-run facilities," he said.

Dr. Gulzar Cheema, who is looking after Singh in Canada, earlier noted that Laibar Singh won't get adequate care in India.

"What would be the image of Canada before the whole world when a paralyzed refugee claimant is deported and arrives at the Delhi International Airport?," he commented.


13 July 2008

What Is A Dalit Sikh?

Disgusting, just flat out disgusting!

Any time I see the words 'Sikh' and 'caste' in the same sentence, I cringe. The very idea that after all these centuries, we still carry this evil baggage around with us is disheartening. But what can I do? I can explain to nonSikhs that caste is a Hindu belief, but, yes, some Sikhs don't follow the teachings of our Gurus. Sad. I can simply tell them I neither have nor want caste.

But I have thought long and hard about what can I say to other Sikhs. What can I do to help eradicate this evil from our midst? I have come to the conclusion that there is only one thing I can do. From now on, I am a Dalit Sikh. Take it or leave it. Now. Does anyone out there have the guts to follow my lead on this?

I was going to let this article pass, but my friend and nemesis, Darcey, of Dust My Broom has picked it up, so I guess it has to be addressed. Here is the offending article:

From Canwest News Service

Temple allowed to restrict members because of class

Catherine Rolfsen
Canwest News Service

Saturday, July 12, 2008

VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint by two members of the Indo-Canadian community who were denied membership in a Burnaby Sikh temple because of their social ranking in India's caste system.

Gurshinder Sahota and Sohan Shergill said they were discriminated against by the Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Temple because they belong to a higher caste in the traditional system of social ranking than do temple members.

Caste is a complex and much-maligned hierarchy that has historically divided Indian society according to occupational categories.

The 900 members of the Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Temple belong to the lowest group, Dalits, formerly referred to as "untouchables" and often considered outside the caste system altogether. Sahota and Shergill are from the jat caste, which is traditionally a land-owning class in the Punjab and now makes up much of Metro Vancouver's Sikh community.

The decision, released this week, was hailed as an affirmation of temple members' right to gather as a "minority within a minority," said spokesman Jai Birdi.

"Since the decision has come out, the members are feeling quite empowered by it," he said. "They're feeling that this really reinforces their ability to come together as a marginalized community from India to talk about their heritage and historical unresolved issues and come up with some strategies for moving forward."

He added that the complainants are welcome to attend the temple's religious ceremonies and social programs.

"Our vision is that one day the community's confidence will increase to the point that they are not feeling oppressed . . . and then there will no longer be a need to restrict membership," he said.

The Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Temple was formed in 1982 to meet the needs of Dalits who "felt that they weren't fully welcome in the existing temples," Birdi said. Members follow the teachings of a 15th-century guru who preached against the caste system.

Birdi said temple-goers were worried that if membership was opened to non-Dalits, it would defeat the purpose of the organization.

The tribunal dismissed the complaint for two reasons: First, it found it does not have jurisdiction over temple membership; and, second, citing a prior decision regarding the United Native Nations, it agreed that the temple should be allowed to restrict membership to a minority group in order to promote the group's welfare.

Sahota and Shergill argued that by denying them membership, the temple was promoting the "evil caste system," according to the tribunal ruling.

But Birdi said that after centuries of social segregation and extreme poverty there is a need for Dalits to unite. He compared the struggle to that of Canada's First Nations and African Americans, groups that have gained a sense of pride and identity through organization and advocacy.

Although caste is not taught in the Sikh religion, in reality it still affects many aspects of life for Sikhs in India and Canada, with even local matrimonial ads specifying caste preference, he said.

Vancouver Sun


© Canwest News Service 2008

A Little More About Brother Laibar Singh Ji

This article doesn't really say anything new - except maybe he shouldn't call the cops for help, lol. Would someone please inform me about the demonstration on Saturday! Was there a demonstration on Saturday? I want to report, but I can't unless I get some infoirmation!

Anyway, here's the article from 660 News (All New Radio):

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - As paralyzed refugee claimant Laibar Singh marked one year in sanctuary Sunday, his supporters were concerned about visits by Canada Border Services agents to the Sikh temple where he has sought sanctuary.

Spokeswoman Harsha Walia said the unannounced visits are making the tradition of religious sanctuary meaningless.

"The fact that they're entering into sanctuary without notice and without consent is of concern," Walia said.

"Immigration authorities themselves have typically respected sanctuary because that's the intention of that tradition, but for them even to come for any purpose is a concern.

"It's just told to them that they really shouldn't be doing that," Walia said. "They haven't attempted a removal because they know he's in sanctuary but it is a little bit alarming."

Singh came to Canada on a false passport in 2003.

His appeals to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds have been complicated by the fact that he was left a quadriplegic after suffering an aneurysm three years ago.

His refugee claim was denied because the government believed he did not have sufficient ties to Canada, although supporters pledged money to pay the costs of his care.

Singh was initially to be deported in June 2007, but took sanctuary in the Sikh temple in Abbotsford, about 60 kilometres east of Vancouver.

He has been provided shelter in several Vancouver area Sikh temples but is currently at the Abbotsford gurdwara.

He has been granted two extensions to remain while his refugee claim was dealt with.

A deportation order was issued in December despite claims that his health would suffer if he was returned to India, where he has family.

He is being cared for by supporters and doctors who are donating their services.

Walia said in an interview that Singh's health remains precarious.

"His medical condition is always up and down," she said.

"He's really stressed out (and) has a high degree of anxiety particularly because he's in a place where he can't leave because of fear of being detained and or being deported."

Federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, who is responsible for the CBSA, suggested in January that the law would eventually be upheld in Singh's case.

And Border Services Agency spokesman Chris Williams said the same month that the fact a person is in a place of worship to avoid deportation will not stop the enforcement of a deportation order.

Day also rejected suggestions the agency might look weak due to its handling of the case. He noted when a crowd of Singh's supporters forced the cancellation of a January removal effort, agents had instead shown "sensitivity" to a situation possibly becoming inflammatory.

The minister noted the CBSA successfully removes 12,000 people a year.

Visits to Singh at the Abbotsford temple would not be the first time officials had allegedly violated the tradition of sanctuary in B.C.

An Iranian refugee claimant who spent almost three years in sanctuary in a Vancouver church was arrested in February 2007.

Amir Kazemian said he'd been tortured in Iran and had been living at St. Michael's Anglican Church in east Vancouver since June 2004 when he sought sanctuary from a deportation order.

The Canada Border Services Agency released Kazemian after Citizenship and Immigration officials granted permanent resident status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds not long after the arrest.

Kazemian had reportedly called police to the church himself to investigate complaints he had been receiving harassing telephone calls relating to a business deal.

The attending officer arrested Kazemian after a check of his name found an immigration arrest warrant from June 2004.

B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal said the police officer was simply doing his job when he arrested Kazemian on an outstanding warrant


12 July 2008

South Africa And Palestine

Of course, this blog mostly covers Sikh issues; that is one of the reasons it exists.

From time to time, though, I feel the need to include items from the world community. I read this article from Haartez, an Israeli newspaper and was simply stunned. I know many Khalistanis, including myself, feel a sort of kinship with the Palestinians, being dispossessed from our own homeland by people who insist they have the better claim. Nevertheless, I try not to get sidetracked too much into the Palestinian/Israeli issue; it is too thorny, too complex and, to be completely honest, too depressing for me to dwell on.

This article hit me between the eyes, but I was going to let it pass until I noticed it was from an Israeli newspaper. I give you no pretty pictures, no ugly pictures, no distractions. Just the flags of the involved parties.

So let us, for a few moments, focus on some problems and heartbreak of our sisters and brothers of Palestine.

From Haartez

Last update - 09:40 12/07/2008

Twilight Zone / 'Worse than apartheid'

By Gideon Levy

I thought they would feel right at home in the alleys of Balata refugee camp, the Casbah and the Hawara checkpoint. But they said there is no comparison: for them the Israeli occupation regime is worse than anything they knew under apartheid. This week, 21 human rights activists from South Africa visited Israel. Among them were members of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress; at least one of them took part in the armed struggle and at least two were jailed. There were two South African Supreme Court judges, a former deputy minister, members of Parliament, attorneys, writers and journalists. Blacks and whites, about half of them Jews who today are in conflict with attitudes of the conservative Jewish community in their country. Some of them have been here before; for others it was their first visit.

For five days they paid an unconventional visit to Israel - without Sderot, the IDF and the Foreign Ministry (but with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and a meeting with Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinisch. They spent most of their time in the occupied areas, where hardly any official guests go - places that are also shunned by most Israelis.

On Monday they visited Nablus, the most imprisoned city in the West Bank. From Hawara to the Casbah, from the Casbah to Balata, from Joseph's Tomb to the monastery of Jacob's Well. They traveled from Jerusalem to Nablus via Highway 60, observing the imprisoned villages that have no access to the main road, and seeing the "roads for the natives," which pass under the main road. They saw and said nothing. There were no separate roads under apartheid. They went through the Hawara checkpoint mutely: they never had such barriers.

Jody Kollapen, who was head of Lawyers for Human Rights in the apartheid regime, watches silently. He sees the "carousel" into which masses of people are jammed on their way to work, visit family or go to the hospital. Israeli peace activist Neta Golan, who lived for several years in the besieged city, explains that only 1 percent of the inhabitants are allowed to leave the city by car, and they are suspected of being collaborators with Israel. Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, a former deputy minister of defense and of health and a current member of Parliament, a revered figure in her country, notices a sick person being taken through on a stretcher and is shocked. "To deprive people of humane medical care? You know, people die because of that," she says in a muted voice.

The tour guides - Palestinian activists - explain that Nablus is closed off by six checkpoints. Until 2005, one of them was open. "The checkpoints are supposedly for security purposes, but anyone who wants to perpetrate an attack can pay NIS 10 for a taxi and travel by bypass roads, or walk through the hills.

The real purpose is to make life hard for the inhabitants. The civilian population suffers," says Said Abu Hijla, a lecturer at Al-Najah University in the city.

In the bus I get acquainted with my two neighbors: Andrew Feinstein, a son of Holocaust survivors who is married to a Muslim woman from Bangladesh and served six years as an MP for the ANC; and Nathan Gefen, who has a male Muslim partner and was a member of the right-wing Betar movement in his youth. Gefen is active on the Committee against AIDS in his AIDS-ravaged country.

"Look left and right," the guide says through a loudspeaker, "on the top of every hill, on Gerizim and Ebal, is an Israeli army outpost that is watching us." Here are bullet holes in the wall of a school, there is Joseph's Tomb, guarded by a group of armed Palestinian policemen. Here there was a checkpoint, and this is where a woman passerby was shot to death two years ago. The government building that used to be here was bombed and destroyed by F-16 warplanes. A thousand residents of Nablus were killed in the second intifada, 90 of them in Operation Defensive Shield - more than in Jenin. Two weeks ago, on the day the Gaza Strip truce came into effect, Israel carried out its last two assassinations here for the time being. Last night the soldiers entered again and arrested people.

It has been a long time since tourists visited here. There is something new: the numberless memorial posters that were pasted to the walls to commemorate the fallen have been replaced by marble monuments and metal plaques in every corner of the Casbah.

"Don't throw paper into the toilet bowl, because we have a water shortage," the guests are told in the offices of the Casbah Popular Committee, located high in a spectacular old stone building. The former deputy minister takes a seat at the head of the table. Behind her are portraits of Yasser Arafat, Abu Jihad and Marwan Barghouti - the jailed Tanzim leader. Representatives of the Casbah residents describe the ordeals they face. Ninety percent of the children in the ancient neighborhood suffer from anemia and malnutrition, the economic situation is dire, the nightly incursions are continuing, and some of the inhabitants are not allowed to leave the city at all. We go out for a tour on the trail of devastation wrought by the IDF over the years.

Edwin Cameron, a judge on the Supreme Court of Appeal, tells his hosts: "We came here lacking in knowledge and are thirsty to know. We are shocked by what we have seen until now. It is very clear to us that the situation here is intolerable." A poster pasted on an outside wall has a photograph of a man who spent 34 years in an Israeli prison. Mandela was incarcerated seven years less than that. One of the Jewish members of the delegation is prepared to say, though not for attribution, that the comparison with apartheid is very relevant and that the Israelis are even more efficient in implementing the separation-of-races regime than the South Africans were. If he were to say this publicly, he would be attacked by the members of the Jewish community, he says.

Under a fig tree in the center of the Casbah one of the Palestinian activists explains: "The Israeli soldiers are cowards. That is why they created routes of movement with bulldozers. In doing so they killed three generations of one family, the Shubi family, with the bulldozers." Here is the stone monument to the family - grandfather, two aunts, mother and two children. The words "We will never forget, we will never forgive" are engraved on the stone.

No less beautiful than the famed Paris cemetery of Pere-Lachaise, the central cemetery of Nablus rests in the shadow of a large grove of pine trees. Among the hundreds of headstones, those of the intifada victims stand out. Here is the fresh grave of a boy who was killed a few weeks ago at the Hawara checkpoint. The South Africans walk quietly between the graves, pausing at the grave of the mother of our guide, Abu Hijla. She was shot 15 times. "We promise you we will not surrender," her children wrote on the headstone of the woman who was known as "mother of the poor."

Lunch is in a hotel in the city, and Madlala-Routledge speaks. "It is hard for me to describe what I am feeling. What I see here is worse than what we experienced. But I am encouraged to find that there are courageous people here. We want to support you in your struggle, by every possible means. There are quite a few Jews in our delegation, and we are very proud that they are the ones who brought us here. They are demonstrating their commitment to support you. In our country we were able to unite all the forces behind one struggle, and there were courageous whites, including Jews, who joined the struggle. I hope we will see more Israeli Jews joining your struggle."

She was deputy defense minister from 1999 to 2004; in 1987 she served time in prison. Later, I asked her in what ways the situation here is worse than apartheid. "The absolute control of people's lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw."

Madlala-Routledge thinks that the struggle against the occupation is not succeeding here because of U.S. support for Israel - not the case with apartheid, which international sanctions helped destroy. Here, the racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa. "Talk about the 'promised land' and the 'chosen people' adds a religious dimension to racism which we did not have."

Equally harsh are the remarks of the editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times of South Africa, Mondli Makhanya, 38. "When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. In a certain sense, it is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of the apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.

"The apartheid regime viewed the blacks as inferior; I do not think the Israelis see the Palestinians as human beings at all. How can a human brain engineer this total separation, the separate roads, the checkpoints? What we went through was terrible, terrible, terrible - and yet there is no comparison. Here it is more terrible. We also knew that it would end one day; here there is no end in sight. The end of the tunnel is blacker than black.

"Under apartheid, whites and blacks met in certain places. The Israelis and the Palestinians do not meet any longer at all. The separation is total. It seems to me that the Israelis would like the Palestinians to disappear. There was never anything like that in our case. The whites did not want the blacks to disappear. I saw the settlers in Silwan [in East Jerusalem] - people who want to expel other people from their place."

Afterward we walk silently through the alleys of Balata, the largest refugee camp in the West Bank, a place that was designated 60 years ago to be a temporary haven for 5,000 refugees and is now inhabited by 26,000. In the dark alleys, which are about the width of a thin person, an oppressive silence prevailed. Everyone was immersed in his thoughts, and only the voice of the muezzin broke the stillness.


11 July 2008

UPDATE - Inderjit Singh Reyat Ji's Bail Conditions

Here is Kimmy Bolan's take on this. I do wonder if a kirpan is considered a 'prohibited device.' I have included some comments - unedited by me - at the bottom, just togive some perspective on the opinions of people in 'our home and native land.' And I intensely dislike this picture of him. I need to see him standing upright and strong.

Reyat's bail conditions finally released

Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, July 11, 2008

METRO VANCOUVER - RCMP bomb-sniffing dogs will be allowed to search the Surrey home of convicted terrorist Inderjit Singh Reyat every week "to ensure compliance with the firearms and explosives prohibition" in his bail conditions, the B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled.

Reyat, the only man convicted in the 1985 Air India bombing, will not be allowed to possess "any firearm, crossbow, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition, or explosive substance" as part of the extraordinary conditions that allowed him to be freed Thursday while awaiting a perjury trial.

The appeal court summoned media lawyers to a special session Friday afternoon to release both Reyat's conditions and the court's reasons for allowing the bomb-maker out on bail, reversing a March ruling by B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm denying him bail.

Inderjit Singh ReyatView Larger Image View Larger Image

Inderjit Singh Reyat

Global BC

Since the surprise ruling Wednesday, a veil of secrecy had surrounded the proceeding, which upset family members of the 329 victims of the Air India bombing.

Appeal Court Justice Risa Levine read a brief statement saying that she was releasing the decision of her colleague Justice Anne Rowles to maintain the judiciary's "principle of openness."

As The Vancouver Sun first reported, Reyat had to raise sureties worth $500,000 in order to secure his bail and reside at his wife's rented home at 13114 73A Ave. in Surrey.

He will be under virtual house arrest, though allowed to work, go to appointments and attend "one place of religious observance, as approved in advance by his bail supervisor."

The 56-year-old double bomber must also "present himself at the door of his residence for any bail supervisor or police officer who attends for the purpose of confirming his compliance with these terms."

Despite the fact that Attorney-General Wally Oppal earlier called the conditions "extremely strict," there is no curfew, electronic monitor or ban on associating with others in the Sikh separatist movement that motivated the June 1985 plot to bomb two Air India flights.

There is also no restriction on meeting Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, the two men acquitted after Reyat allegedly lied 27 times at their trial.

In her 32-page ruling, Rowles said Dohm was wrong to deny Reyat bail on the grounds that his "detention was necessary to maintain confidence in the administration of justice."

Dohm ruled in March that "the Crown has a strong case" against Reyat and that the circumstances of the case are extraordinary.

But Rowles said Dohm was incorrectly conflating "the offence of perjury with the offence of conspiracy to commit murder."

"It is clear from his reasons, however, that the exceptional or extraordinary circumstances on which he relied in denying bail was the purported link between the testimony alleged to be perjured and what he referred to as the Air India offence," Rowles said.

Rowles quoted from a prison report last February that said Reyat was a low risk to reoffend while out on bail.

"It also seems significant to me that there is no indication in the material of his engaging in any violent or aggressive behaviour towards others while he has been in prison," Rowles said.

Rowles acknowledged that Reyat was a well-regarded Vancouver Island electrician when he got involved in the political struggle for Khalistan in the mid-1980s and felt the need to retaliate against the Indian government after its raid on the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine.

"It is clear that he had sympathy for acts of violence in a political cause in India and was prepared to aid others in that cause by procuring components for explosive devices," she said. "If Mr. Reyat continues to harbour the same sympathies he had in 1985, he could present a risk to public safety."

But she said that risk could be managed by the 14 conditions imposed.

Until this week, Reyat had been in jail for more than 20 years, at first fighting his extradition from England, where he had fled after being identified as a suspect in both the Air India bombing and the same-day blast at Tokyo's Narita Airport.

He was convicted in 1991 of making the Narita bomb, which was destined for a second Air India flight when it exploded prematurely and killed two baggage handlers. Reyat was then charged in 2001 in the Air India blast and pleaded guilty to manslaughter, getting another five years.

He was then called as a Crown witness against Malik and Bagri and is accused of lying 27 times during his testimony. If convicted again, he faces a maximum sentence of 14 years.



Kevin McKinney
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 07:21 PM
What a perversion of justice. Did it even cross the mind of this judge that Reyat and those that he is protecting might like to get him out of the country ?
Scott Jones
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 07:56 PM
What about the air india victims families? This man should not be allowed to walk free
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 08:01 PM
"Rowles said Dohm was wrong to deny Reyat bail on the grounds that his "detention was necessary to maintain confidence in the administration of justice."" What a joke. With actions like this from judges, it is not too amazing that I and many other have lost confidence in the "justice" system long ago.
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 08:05 PM
I think this story is incomplete. What are the 14 conditions?
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 08:19 PM
I am saddend for the families of the over 300 victims that this person was not given 300 life in prison terms, and because he wasnt he walks the street today. Unlike His victims. I am ashamed of Canada and our Charter of rights that has turned our justice system upside down. This case should be studued intensively and we should amend our laws so such a "Travesty of Justice" Will never happen again. Why should ANYBODY who is responsible for the Violent Deaths of 329 human beings ever be allowed to walk among innocent citizens. Bail should never ever of been an option available to this person. And bail of $500,000. Thats about $1,500 per victim.
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 08:19 PM
So I can go out....bomb a plane...kill hundreds of innocent people and only spend 20 yrs in prison and then be released on bail???Gee...how comforting! I cannot believe the justice system.I'm appalled!!!
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 08:54 PM
Typical Canadian bleeding heart judges!
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 10:26 PM
its absolutely disgusting a man who uses religion as disguise to kill INNOCENT people gets to walk free. He shouldnt be allowed to see day light in his llife again.
Bruce Wayne
Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 10:32 PM
This is unbelievable. Did the dead and innocent, from the hands of this animal, have any standing in our gutless court?