– Father of Apartheid: How Gandhi de-humanised black Africans

Here’s the story of how African thinkers are constructing the narrative.

Pieter Friedrich

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 13 April 2018. For years, controversy has brewed around Gandhi statues placed outside India. On several continents — Europe, Africa, and North America, people of all backgrounds have stepped forward to protest the Indian political figure.

In Ottawa, Canada at the University of Carleton, a statue installed in 2011 has galvanized student leaders to demand its removal.

In November 2017, an African student at Carleton published a letter in the student newspaper saying, bluntly, “Remove the Gandhi statue.” Kenneth Aliu, president of Carleton’s African Studies Student Association, believes history has been twisted to conceal Gandhi’s racist past.

“His proximity to whiteness as one who continually espoused anti-Black rhetoric is, perhaps, one of the reasons behind his apotheosis,” writes Aliu. He explains, “For you to deify Gandhi, some people have to be erased from history. You don’t engage with how his activism as a whole was detrimental to certain segments of society.”

Controversy centers around the argument that Gandhi was the “father of apartheid”, a shocking claim to make about a person who is sometimes valorised as “the greatest man who ever lived”, and that he systematically de-humanised black Africans while living in South Africa from 1893-1914.

Here’s the story of how African thinkers are constructing the narrative :


Calgary Herald – ‘We call this our home’: Family of elderly man, MP Obhrai believe attack was a hate crime

Deanna Montalvo

Calgary – Alberta – Canada, 06 April 2018. An elderly Sikh man was attacked in the city’s northeast, and his family believes he was the victim of a hate crime.

“It is absolutely important when these incidents happen, that we highlight it, and we expose it, so that we can then address the issue on how to tackle this intolerance that exists,” said MP Deepak Obhrai during a press conference at his constituency office Friday morning.

Harjit Singh Rai, 91, was attacked, unprovoked, on March 16 at around 1:15 p.m. in the No Frills supermarket parking lot at 5401 Temple Dr. N.E.

Rai opened his car door and was allegedly confronted and pushed by a man in his mid-40s. Rai asked the assailant why he was pushing him, only to be pushed again and knocked to the ground, causing his turban to fall off.

A man was arrested at the scene in connection with the attack after running into the store, and is charged with one count of assault.

“I personally think, after talking with the family, that this was a hate crime incident,” said the victim’s son, Suritam Rai.

His belief stems from the fact that Rai was the only turban-wearing Sikh in the parking lot that afternoon, he did not know the assailant, there were no other victims and no apparent dispute at hand.

“My dad is 91 years old. He’s not young to create problems, and in his life, he has never had anything like this happen to him,” said the son.

Rai sustained injuries to his hand, shoulder and head, but due to his turban, his head injury “wasn’t that bad,” said his son.

“We call this our home. If living in a country for 35 years, then you end up in a situation like this, I’m pretty sure everyone else would feel pretty bad as well,” he said.

Thanks to the quick action of bystanders and police, Rai was taken to hospital, where he was treated for his injuries. He was released the same day.

Obhrai can’t recall an incident like this ever happening in his community, which he’s been politically involved in for the last 21 years; nor can the Rai family.

Nevertheless, Obhrai said the incident is cause for concern and he wants to “ensure the message goes out that all Canadians should be treated equally with respect in our country, and that these kinds of incidents and behaviour are not the Canadian way”.

The World Sikh Organization expressed deep concern about the attack on Rai, citing it as the second attack on Sikhs in Canada in March.

“We have repeatedly warned that intolerance against Sikhs is on the rise in Canada due to recent, false accusations of extremism and radicalism against the community. The removal of the turban is considered a very serious insult,” said vice-president Tejinder Singh Sidhu.

“We hope that this crime is fully investigated as a hate crime. It is important that members of the Sikh community remain vigilant in the wake of these attacks,” he said.

Obhrai described the victim as a highly respected individual in the community and a personal mentor. – WSO shocked by racist attack on Ottawa Sikh

Balpreet Singh – WSO

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 27 March 2018. The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply disturbed by the attack on a Sikh man last Friday night in Ottawa. Two suspects, described as white males by police, approached the Sikh male, threatening to cut his beard and hair.

The two suspects then made racial slurs and threatened the Sikh with a knife. The suspects proceeded to assault the man, dragging him on the ground and then ripped his turban from his head and stole it along with his phone and bus pass.

Over the past several weeks, The WSO has repeatedly expressed concern that intolerance towards Sikhs is on the rise in Canada.

The victim was treated for minor injuries. Police are investigating the incident.

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today, “we are shocked by the attack on a Sikh male in Ottawa last week. We had feared that recent accusations of extremism and radicalism against the Sikh community would lead to a rise in intolerance against Sikhs, this incident would appear to substantiate those fears.

The forcible removal of a Sikh’s turban is considered the greatest insult a Sikh can be subjected to and is being taken very seriously by the community. We call on the Ottawa Police Service to investigate this incident as a hate crime and ensure that those responsible are quickly brought to justice.

We encourage members of the Sikh community to remain vigilant as more details emerge about this assault.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status. – WSO open letter to Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey on coverage of Sikh Canadians

In an open letter to Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey (posted below), and copied to the editors of the Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen and National Post, WSO President Mukhbir Singh expressed his concern at recent coverage of the Sikh community in Postmedia newspapers. The Sikh community has been disappointed by recent opinion pieces making harmful generalizations and stereotypes about the community, including the argument that Sikhs are “overrepresented” in Canada’s democracy and asking readers to “reflect on whether the inordinate influence the [Sikhs] now enjoy is good for democracy.”

WSO will continue to be a strong advocate for Canadian Sikhs and ensure the community is not silenced or marginalized by misleading and irresponsible writing.

Paul Godfrey – President
Postmedia Network Inc.
RE: Coverage of Canadian Sikhs in Postmedia Journals
22 March 2018.

Dear Mr. Godfrey,

The World Sikh Organization of Canada is a non-profit human rights organization registered in Canada. Founded in 1984 with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, social and economic status.

We are writing to you today to express our deep dissatisfaction and concern at how the Sikh community has been portrayed within Postmedia newspapers in recent weeks.

As you know, Canada has welcomed millions of newcomers from around the world. Our country has not only been a welcoming home, but we have also done exceptionally well in integrating these newcomers into Canadian society.

Canada has been enriched by the contributions of these successive waves of newcomers, but we cannot take our success up to this point for granted.

As a major actor in the Canadian media landscape, we feel that it is your responsibility to ensure that your publications are not undermining the social fabric of our country by promoting an alarmist approach towards or false information about any particular community.

Regrettably, there has been considerable misinformation spread about the Sikh community by your publications recently.

The columns we are referring to are as follows:

On March 7th, Terry Glavin of the National Post published a column, “A short history of Canada and Khalistani terror”.

On March 10th, Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun published a column, “Why Sikhs are so powerful in Canadian politics”.

On March 16th, Todd followed up with “NDP could suffer from Jagmeet Singh’s links to ‘blood hatreds,’ say observers”.

On March 18th, Martin Collacott wrote a column for the Vancouver Sun entitled, “Sikh political power in Canada under scrutiny”.

Todd’s columns and Collacott’s column are filled with stereotypes and gross generalizations. It is suggested that Jagmeet Singh, a major federal party leader, is influenced by an imported “blood hatred” along with many other members of the Canadian Sikh community.

Gurdwaras across Canada are depicted as battlegrounds for ‘moderates’ and ‘fundamentalists’ who compete for power and influence that is exercised by then controlling the Sikh vote which follows their lead en masse.

In his opinion piece, Collacott makes the incredible suggestion that Sikhs are “over-represented” and that members of the Sikh community have hijacked the memberships of multiple political parties. He goes so far as to wonder whether Sikh involvement in politics may result in “resentment and reaction from other ethnic groups as well as the public at large.”

Collacott goes so far as to muse that, “in the circumstances, it is time for Canadians, including members of the Sikh community, to reflect on whether the inordinate influence the latter now enjoy is good for democracy.”

This is all not only misleading and offensive but also very damaging to the Sikh community.

Terry Glavin’s column is littered with falsehoods that portray Sikhs as murderous thugs. Glavin refers to Khalistan, a Sikh state sought by some Sikhs as an “ethnically cleansed theocracy”.

The accusation that Sikhs who believe in Khalistan favour ethnic cleansing is completely false and paints a picture of Sikhs as genocidal maniacs.

Glavin specifically accuses Sikh Leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale of possessing a “genocidal hatred of Hindus” without presenting a shred of evidence. Glavin’s suggestion that Pro-Bhindranwale, Khalistan-supporting Sikhs are in favour of ethnic cleansing and genocide is deeply troubling and completely untrue.

The underlying messages of these columns is unmistakable: Sikh political power in Canada is illegitimately obtained, that Sikhs are overrepresented and that they are an insidious threat to Canada’s political system and democracy.

The columns noted above encourage readers to be wary of Sikh engagement in Canada and see the community as a negative force.

We do not like to casually throw around accusation of racism but these columns are undoubtedly spreading racism by encouraging Canadians to be resentful towards the Sikh community for its successes. As such, publishing these columns was deeply problematic.

The media plays an integral role in any democratic society and it should carry out that role responsibly. This means that Canadian media must be mindful that its reporting does not undermine the social fabric and cohesiveness of Canada’s multicultural society by feeding racial resentment.

Too often, we feel like your publications have failed to meet that important test. There is perhaps no more serious threat to Canada’s long-term success than the proliferation of racism. It is a potential threat to Canada’s national unity and we take it very seriously, as proud Sikhs and as proud Canadians.

In response to the columns noted above, Sikhs from across Canada have expressed to us their hurt and disappointment. We are writing with the hope that you will take this as an opportunity to address the community’s concerns. We look forward to your timely reply to this letter.


Mukhbir Singh
World Sikh Organization of Canada

The Star – Police make second arrest in death of 21-year-old Brampton man

Peel Regional Police say they’ve charged 22-year-old Guryodh Singh Khattra with first-degree murder in the death of Paviter Singh Bassi

Parviter Singh Bassi, 21, of Brampton was rushed to a Toronto trauma centre after he was beaten by “multiple suspects” on the grounds of Sandalwood Heights Secondary School around 6 pm Monday. He died the next day. Two men have been arrested in connection with Bassi’s death.

Brampton – Ontario – Canada, 23 March 2018. Police west of Toronto say they’ve made a second arrest in the killing of a 21-year-old man.

Peel Regional Police say they’ve charged 22-year-old Guryodh Singh Khattra with first-degree murder in the death of Paviter Singh Bassi.

Bassi was found Monday evening suffering from life-threatening injuries at an address in Brampton, and he died the next day in hospital.

Also on Tuesday, police arrested and charged 22-year-old Karanvir Singh Bassi with first-degree murder.

They say there’s no familial relationship between the two men, despite them sharing a last name.

Both Bassi and Khattra have appeared in court for bail hearings, and police are asking anyone with information about the case to contact them.

The Huffington Post – 1984 Anti-Sikh Violence Should Be Declared A Genocide: Jagmeet Singh

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks at an availability following caucus meetings in Ottawa on 25 January 2018

He said the label will help bring peace between Hindus and Sikhs.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 16 March 2018. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Canada should declare that anti-Sikh violence that took place in India more than three decades ago was a genocide.

Singh, who spent much of this week defending himself following the emergence of several videos showing him appearing at various events where others promoted Sikh independence and violence, says there is clear evidence attacks on Sikhs by Hindus which followed the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 were not spontaneous, but rather organized by government.

Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards a few months after Sikh separatists who had barred themselves inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar were killed in a military assault. The Air India bombing in 1985 was carried out in reaction to the temple attack and the post-assassination violence.

India has said fewer than 3,000 people died in the attacks, but Sikh leaders sometimes put the number closer to 10,000. Singh said this week many Canadian Sikhs moved to Canada following the attacks, feeling persecuted and afraid to remain in India.

Singh believes labelling the event a genocide will help bring peace between Hindus and Sikhs.

Motion is ‘misguided’: India

He introduced a motion calling the attacks a genocide in 2016, when he was an NDP member of the Ontario legislature. That motion failed, but a very similar one brought forward by Liberal Harinder Malhi passed last year at Queen’s Park.

That motion was described by Indian media as a “body blow” to India and the Indian government called it “misguided.” Although the motion was passed in a provincial legislature, the Indian government did not distinguish between the levels of government when complaining to Canada about the motion and it was among the tensions that contributed to a troubled state visit to India by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month.

Trudeau’s office did not respond when asked if the government would support a genocide motion.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said the 1984 violence was tragic and the issue is close to the hearts of many Canadians of the Sikh faith.

“We must continue to call for truth, justice and accountability for all victims,” he said in a statement. “After 34 years, we must continue to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

Edmonton Sun – Edmonton man architect of the official Sikh calendar

Juris Graney

Edmonton – Alberta – Canada, 14 March 2018. Thousands of Sikhs around the world celebrated the start of their new year Wednesday thanks in part to the unrelenting drive of an Edmonton man who was the chief architect behind the creation and adoption of the faith’s most widely accepted calendar.

Up until 2003, when the Nanakshahi calendar was adopted as the official calendar of Sikhs, followers of the religion shared the ancient Bikrami calendar with Hindus.

The Bikrami calendar contains a complicated set of rules to help accommodate annual festivals and days of observance, and is an unwieldy merger of lunar and solar cycles, according to some.

That led to many inconsistencies in dates for annual events. And that was problematic for Pal Singh Purewal.

“It wasn’t simple. It was chaos. That’s why I came to the rescue of my people,” the 86-year-old said with a laugh Tuesday.

When he first began toying with creating a calendar specifically for Sikhs, he did so with three core principles in mind.

First and foremost, it should respect sacred holy scriptures.

Second, it should discard the lunar calendar and use only a solar one.

Third, all the dates should be fixed and not vary from year to year.

In the 1950s, Purewal studied astronomy texts and almanacs over 1,000 years old to understand how the Hindu calendar came to be.

Part of the reason he embarked on the research was that he was captivated with the science and math behind the original observations.

But he also wanted to understand why there were so many differences between dates from author to author, and why some of the original dates were so different.

So he produced his own jantri, or a calendar of important dates and milestones.

He created a book that spanned 500 years, stretching back to the first year of the founding of the Sikh faith in 1469.

The retired computer engineer then consolidated data from 34 sources from earlier authors and used that information to identify historical dates that could be checked for accuracy.

A year after publishing his book in 1994, Purewal, who has lived in Edmonton since 1974, began perfecting the Nanakshahi calendar, which is named after the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak.

It features five months of 31 days and seven months of 30 days.

An 11-member committee representing the highest authorities of the Sikhs adopted the calendar in 2003.

“There was joy and happiness throughout the world that Sikhs had their own calendar,” he remembers. “I felt ecstatic.”

But like all change, the shift to a new calendar was met with opposition and by 2010, forces from within the community insisted upon changes, turning it into a hybrid version that melded the lunar and solar calendar dates, he said.

But by 2014, the changes were scrapped and the calendar has again been adopted in its original form, Purewal said.

Opposition against its use continues even today, with not all Sikhs happy with the calendar or willing to follow it.

As for whether or not there will be wholesale acceptance of the calendar, Purewal is holding out hope.

“I’m an optimist,” he said. “This is based on truth, it is based on science and it’s based on our holy scriptures.”

The Hindu – Jaspal Atwal came on valid visa, admits MEA

Reverses stand on Sikh separatist’s visit

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi – India, 10 March 2018. Sikh separatist Jaspal Atwal visited India last month on a valid visa, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed on Friday.

The Ministry’s statement marks a significant departure from its earlier position where it had stated that the Government of India had “nothing to do” with Mr. Atwal’s visit.

The presence of the Khalistan activist at an official event in honour of visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mumbai, had sparked a major diplomatic controversy.

“Jaspal Atwal has travelled to India on a valid visa. This was not his first visit to India. He has visited India on earlier occasions since January 2017,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said during the weekly press briefing here.

The Ministry also said, “Established procedures for grant of visa to foreign travellers” were followed in case of Mr. Atwal.

Mr. Atwal’s presence had nearly wrecked the Canadian leader’s trip. Mr. Trudeau had indicated that he would hold an official inquiry into how the Khalistani activist’s visit to India coincided with his own.

India’s announcement is a reversal of its earlier stand that had placed the onus of Mr. Atwal’s presence in India with the Canadian government.

“Let me categorically state that the Government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in Mumbai or the invitation issued to him for the Canadian High Commissioner’s reception in New Delhi.

Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable,” the official spokesperson had said on February 28.

India’s acknowledgement also raises questions on the exact reasons for the resignation of Liberal MP Randeep Sarai from the Pacific Caucus of Canada. Mr Sarai had earlier taken responsibility for inviting the former militant to India. The MP was also part of the Canadian premier’s delegation to India.

Mr Atwal’s visit also prompted “conspiracy theories” inside the Canadian establishment boosted by Ottawa National Security Advisor Daniel Jean’s statement that “rogue” Indian officials were responsible for issuing the visa. Subsequently, Mr Trudeau himself had supported the version of the events from his top officials.

According to the MEA’s, “The Government of India has a conscious policy of outreach to the Indian Diaspora, including misguided elements, who in the past may have harboured anti-India sentiments, which they have since renounced.”

The visit of the Sikh separatist has already become a major political issue in Canada where he was the cause of minor controversies earlier. – Political Prisoner Bhai Paramjit Singh Bheora appeals for Panthik Unity; Expresses concern over crackdown on activists

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 08 March 2018. Sikh political prisoner Bhai Paramjit Singh Bheora who is facing charges for assassinating former Punjab Chief Minister Beant “Singh” today expressed deep concern over recent crackdown on Sikh activists by the Punjab and Indian Government.

Bhai Bheora who said that situation seems to be getting out of hand as police brutalities are increasing day by day against Sikh human rights activists.

In a press note shared with Sikh24 through his older brother Bhai Jarnail Singh and Bhai Manpreet Singh, Bhai Paramjit Singh said, “Government is taking benefit of disunity in the Panth. Their only aim is to marginalize and eliminate the Sikhs.”

He added, “There was one time when the Mughals thought that all Sikhs had been killed, however, Bhai Bota Singh and Bhai Garja Singh at once showed them that Sikhs cannot be eliminated merely by killing. Although they were just two Singhs, they stood strong against the Mughal army.”

“Mughals thought that Sikhs were eliminated, but here, they saw two Sikhs collecting tax from the Mughals for crossing their check-point.”

Bhai Paramjit Singh Bheora said that Bhai Bota Singh and Bhai Garja Singh were greatly outnumbered, but today Sikhs live worldwide in great numbers, however, “we are not able to achieve our goals as we are not united”.

He appealed all Sikhs to ensure their children are well educated. Citing recent examples of Sikhs appointed at high posts in UK and Canada, Bhai Bheora said that this was the need of the hour. “But even more important is maintaining unity amongst the Panth so that oppressive regimes are not able to cheat the Sikhs,” he said.

The Hindustan Times – Former Sikh militant apologises for causing embarrassment to Trudeau in India

Jaspal Atwal says he renounces any form of terrorism and has reconciled with India now

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 09 March 2018. A former Sikh militant apologised on Friday for causing embarrassment to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his trip to India.

Jaspal Atwal, who was part of a movement that supported an independent Sikh nation in the 1980s and went to prison for the attempted murder of a visiting Indian minister in 1986, was invited to a dinner with Trudeau in New Delhi causing consternation among his hosts.

Trudeau’s visit to India had already been dogged by suspicions that Canada was soft on Sikh separatists.

“I am sorry for any embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community and my family,” the 62-year-old told a news conference.

“I renounce any form of terrorism,” he said. “I do not advocate for an independent Sikh nation. I, like the vast majority of Sikhs who once advocated for this cause, have reconciled with the nation of India.”

Since his parole, Atwal said he has engaged broadly in politics on behalf of the Indo-Canadian community, and visited India numerous times including three visits over the past year, each time “with the full permission of the Indian government.”

“There were also no restrictions placed on me by Canada so that I could not travel,” he added.

Before his latest trip, Atwal said he reached out to his local member of Parliament, Randeep Sarai, to ask if he could attend a reception with Trudeau in India.

“I had assumed there would be no problems. No one had at any point indicated there would be any issues,” he said.

The controversy has continued to hound Trudeau since his return to Canada, with opposition parties and editorialists heaping scorn on the prime minister over the misstep.

Sarai, meanwhile, has been stripped of his responsibilities within the Liberal caucus.