Within the ongoing probe into the toolkit tweeted by Swedish setting activist Greta Thunberg, amongst these within the cross-hairs of the Delhi Police is a 61-year-old US-based Sikh activist Bhajan Singh Bhinder alias Iqbal Chaudhary. He spoke to The Indian Express about his background and the allegations being levelled towards him.
When did your loved ones depart India?
My household hails from Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. My grandfather, Sultan Singh, was a standard man who fought towards British rule, confronted harassment and needed to depart the nation beneath duress. He settled in Malaya like a number of different individuals, who opposed Britishers, and by no means returned. We had been born and introduced up there. Then I shifted to the US in 1980 at a younger age of 20-21 years and now I’m residing within the northern a part of California. I’ve been working my insurance coverage enterprise for the previous 22 years. I used to be the youngest president of the most important gurdwara — Fremont — in late 1980s and created a brand new constructing of gurdwara and arrange Khalsa College the place now 400-500 children are studying fundamental Punjabi language. I visited India as soon as within the mid-1970s. I had additionally labored in Silicon Valley in 1984-85. Other than founding the Sikh Info Centre (SIC) in 1988, I additionally based the Organisation of Minorities of India (OFMI) in 2006.
Delhi Police has referred to as you a number one proponent of the “K2 (Kashmir and Khalistan) desk” of the Pakistan ISI. What do you must say about it and why do they name you Iqbal Chaudhry?
K2 has been created by the federal government and a bit of the media. I don’t know what’s K2. The Indian authorities’s personal report says that from 12 months 2000 onwards Bhinder has modified the technique of his working; he’s preventing an data warfare now. When I’m preventing a ‘Kaghji ladai’ (a paper warfare) — which is to unite all those that are suppressed and victimised — for the previous 20 years, then how can they name me a militant or an ISI agent”.
Additionally my title was there within the black listing until 2011, however after that my title was deleted that’s what I used to be instructed.
Now, when Indian authorities has launched a number of those that had been concerned in militancy in each side together with killing, bombing and a brand new chapter has been began by the federal government. Then focusing on individuals for supporting farmers in such method is uncalled for and offers a nasty title to farmers’ protest.
My title is Bhajan Singh or Bhajan Singh Bhinder solely, as to why they name me that (Iqbal) — that’s a query that may greatest be answered by Delhi Police.
What do you must say about being referred to as a Khalistani?
I’m not denying it. There was a time in 1984, after I, like every other Sikh was indignant concerning the state of affairs with the assault on the Golden Temple after which Delhi riots killed 1000’s of Sikhs. It was traumatic for each Sikh on the planet and extra hurting as a result of it was dedicated by our personal individuals on our personal individuals. At one level of day out of anger, we supported militants by offering treatment, meals, assist to them and their households on humanitarian grounds. However I’m not a militant, and by no means participated in any violence.
Additionally, we wished to behave towards state oppression and atrocities on individuals not towards India. I’ve no involvement in any sort of violence in any respect.
SIC was based following the 1984 bloodbath to deliver larger consciousness on the planet concerning the plight of Sikhs throughout darkish militancy days when a number of youths disappeared. Now even the persons are apologising for the 1984 assault however we wished to talk for these, who couldn’t converse for themselves, throughout these darkish occasions of militancy.
OFMI was shaped to advance the person liberty of minorities in South Asia by encouraging secularism.
The time adjustments and everybody evolves. We additionally advanced and even Indian authorities is now releasing former militants and I’ve been educating individuals for his or her human rights and never supporting any kind of militancy in any manner.
How is US rights activist Pieter Friedrich related to you?
I met him in 2006 as he was working towards the persecution of Christians. We wrote two books — Kite Fights: The Proxy Wars Behind the Kabul Gurdwara Bloodbath and ‘Charming’ The Easy-Hearted: A battle for Human Dignity within the Indian Subcontinent. A number of reviews about Sikh faith, historical past of Mulnivasi are carried in it. Pieter, I and several other different like minded people who find themselves working for human rights are protesting collectively. They’re doing conferences, conferences, writing and so forth. collectively.
Pieter is a contract author having a big following as he was by no means my worker and we will not be seeing one another for years however our line of working and activism is on related traces.
What do you must say concerning the Toolkit episode?
Toolkits are usually not against the law. It’s a data enhancer even throughout Covid time it was extensively used to make consciousness. The federal government is utilizing it. The entire world is utilizing it. I might like to be part of this (Greta’s Tweet) toolkit, zoom assembly to assist the farmers as a result of farmers are the spine of India. I wished to assist farmers. However I’m not a part of any such toolkit or Zoom assembly however the authorities could blame us.
Persons are laughing at us as a result of the toolkit is being introduced as an atomic bomb. If Indian individuals from north south, east, west are supporting farmers it’s like common assist from Indians and really a lot an Indian factor.
Authorities in India has been focusing on the farmers’ motion within the title of China, Pakistani, Khalistani-backed and now this ISI and K2 agenda has come. They’re digging all outdated data and placing individuals there to tarnish the farmers’ protest.
No one needs to face the true challenge. The world is passing via one of the difficult occasions and right here we’re taking part in with this sort of factor.
Do you assist the Referendum 2020 motion?
I’m not antagonistic to the time period ‘referendum’ as it’s occurring all around the world. However having stated that I’m not part of SFJ, my work is in regards to the welfare of the minorities in India and specializing in the philosophy of icons like Dr BR Ambedkar, Shaeed Bhagat Singhand educating individuals to stay with dignity and self respect.
How can I be towards the land of my grandfather, our Sikh Gurus.
Why am I supporting the farmers solely as a result of if the farmers will go down everyone will go down in India.
I’m a member of Dr BR Ambedkar basis, I assist Sir Chhotu Ram Motion, Kanshi Ram Motion. I would like farmers to be revered, I would like legal guidelines to be repealed and need a comfortable wholesome India.