Author: Harwinder Singh Mander

Darbar Sahib is still under attack

Another year passed. Commemoration events were significantly muted when considering those of recent years. The mainstream media’s role of reflection, both in Punjab and outside, lessened as it has gradually done over three decades. And as new generations emerge, an older class of Sikh perishes, taking with them the story of why our kith and kin died repelling armoured tanks and raging fires. That the invasion of Darbar Sahib in June 1984 would be relegated by Sikhs to the ‘once-a-year’ outing it presently occupies was not only inevitable, but a part of the master plan that has been employed...

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Why I won’t celebrate KPS Gill’s death

The one-time Director General of Police (DGP) in Punjab, KPS Gill, has died from a cardiac arrest today at the age of 82. In recent months, his ill health had been widely reported in the Indian Press and he was said to be suffering from kidney failure and ischaemic heart disease. Gill gained notoriety as the most senior Police official in the Punjab during the late 1980s where he instigated obscene human rights abuses and ordered the suppression of basic civil liberties. Whilst his death is being mourned by State agencies, it is conversely being celebrated by minority groups,...

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Sikh politicians or politicians who happen to be Sikh?

The upcoming general election in the United Kingdom has provided the very real chance that a number of Sikhs could be elected to Parliament. Whilst they will not be the first to take up that office, most successful candidates will be from a new generation of Sikhs growing up in the west. Their respective candidacies have received coverage and wholehearted well wishes from the various quarters of Sikh media and organisations. Whilst this will come as no great shock, I wonder if such a welcome is perhaps short-sighted and frankly nepotistic, after all, what if any changes can we...

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Disconnected from Punjab

A fortnight ago I made the familiar journey home to Punjab after a near-decade away. Having heard so much about immense progress in the towns and cities, I anticipated seeing a vastly different place than the one I remembered. A number of questions filled my head: how significant were those changes? Did they manifest a more positive outlook amongst the people of Punjab? Or are the glowing social media posts and pictures masking the real Punjab that I had last seen in 2008? I travelled to Punjab less than a month after the result of the Punjab State elections...

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Why we should not polarise Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale

I wrote a lengthy article last summer for the Sikh Education Council publication I edit, Sikh Sunehan, expanding on an academic paper I first presented at the London Sikholars conference a few years ago titled, ‘The Assassination of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’. My work drew some raised eyebrows at the time and in the few lectures on the topic I have given since, for it is contentious to apply a charge of assassination rather than the dignity (or ignominy) of martyrdom. In my defence, the Sant’s martyrdom is no less valid when seen as one aspect of his assassination...

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