India should be thankful to this young Sikh man from Punjab

jaskaran singh

Obsessed with a dead movement of Khalistan, an imaginary Sikh homeland, the right wing government in New Delhi needs to follow the case of Jaskaran Singh, who recently won a famous Q and A show hosted by Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, to reassess their position.

The 21-year-old Sikh from Khalra village in Punjab is in the news after his great performance in Kaun Banega Crorepati.

Singh played really well throughout the show, answering most questions and displaying his excellent knowledge and skill in IQ, until he finally won Rs. 1 crore. The questions were based on a range of subjects, including current affairs, history, mythology, science and sports. He keeps himself up to date, studying constantly to clear administrative services examinations one day, as he revealed during his conversation with Bachchan. Coming from a modest background, he wanted to help his family financially, which brought him to the stage.

His victory coincided with the anniversary of the kidnapping of Jaswant Singh Khalra on September 6, 1995. A towering human rights activist, Khalra was abducted and killed by the Indian police in the name of “war on terror” against the armed insurgency for Khalistan. Jaskaran Singh belongs to the same village. This shows that the people of Punjab have moved on. Those of his generation want to be a part of the Indian mainstream, even though Khalra and other nearby villages were deeply affected by the militancy. Singh’s proficiency in knowledge of India illustrates both this reality and his openness to embrace the nation.

That Bachchan once fought an election on the Congress party ticket is well known to the people of Punjab. It was mainly the then-ruling Congress which is frequently blamed for human rights abuses in the state. Bachchan was a parliamentary candidate in the aftermath of the Sikh massacre of 1984 that was engineered by the Congress government across India after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Bachchan is often accused of complicity for remaining silent. And yet, Singh chose to sit down with him and give him due respect. The way he praised Bachchan and spoke fluent Hindi with the actor, speaks about his generosity.

The whole episode was not like any other Q and A show for me. It had political undercurrents.

Singh has broken many myths, one being that the Khalistan movement is gaining ground. This hype is being created to polarize the Hindu majority by the present government to win the next election. The most common prejudice about Sikhs being “less intelligent”, caricatured in Hindi movies as jokers, has been challenged by Singh.

It’s time India takes some hard lessons from this amazing story, and be thankful to this man from a village that was once made to suffer by the tyrants.

Gurpreet Singh is a journalist


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