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Jasveer Singh: Jaggi Could Be Any One Of Us
"[Help free Jaggi] because, genuinely, next time it could be me or it could be you."
November 7, 2022 | 3 min. read | Opinion
Jagtar Singh Johal ("Jaggi") is another western born Sikh of our ever growing diaspora, just like me and just like you reading this right now.
Jagtar Singh Johal has spent a lot of time writing about Sikh issues, like many of you and me.
Jagtar Singh Johal felt free to visit Punjab, in India, like I have before and you have probably too.
However, Jaggi was not actually free to do that, again probably like me, and like you too.
The fact that five years ago today, whilst out shopping with his newly wedded wife, Jaggi had a sack put over his head and hauled off in broad daylight by the gangsters that are Punjab Police, is yet another sign that when it comes to being Sikh in India none of us are free.
To know this, firstly one must know that to be Sikh is a mandate to challenge oppression, tackle tyranny, stand up for the downtrodden, and share with all. Sikhs cannot justify solely sitting peacefully and meditating, reciting prayers and going to the Gurdwara, as being “religious”.
Sikhs with even an ounce of knowledge on Sikhi know this. Jaggi knows this. That’s why he spent countless hours documenting events of the 1984 Sikh genocide, which happened before he was even born.
Secondly, the tyrannical nature of the Indian state must be recognised. In order to keep the power structure the same as it has been since India as we know it was created – despite the fact that it’s a country with hunger issues worse than North Korea, pollution as bad as smoking 50 cigarettes a day, and lawlessness which sees a woman raped every 16 minutes – authorities crack down hard on anyone that challenges their governance.
From the Muslims who were slaughtered in the Gujarat massacre, to the Dalits who everyday live a life of oppression, to God knows who else is suffering under this regime; the Indian state does not care what happens to any minority communities.
However, if you do challenge how they run their broken country the Indian state will kill you, and your whole family, and your whole village if necessary, as various examples of the Sikh Genocide have proven.
This is why Jaggi could easily be me and he could easily be many of you too.
If you are supporting any charity or NGO work in India, you are exposing their incompetency. Jaggi could be you.
If you are flagging India's human rights abuses, you are highlighting their tyranny. Jaggi could be you.
If you are trying to elevate the lower-castes, you are trying to deconstruct their power structure. Again, Jaggi could be you - arbitrarily kidnapped and tortured under the guise of policing.
Jaggi is not the first, and he will likely not be the last, Sikh activist targeted by the Indian state like this. Non-Sikhs as well, this issue is apparent for anyone that challenges the Indian state’s callous regime.
But this isn’t the 80s, and it isn’t even the 90s. We have the freedom and access outside of India to keep pressure on a tyrannical state. In 2022, we have the ability to make noise about these long running issues.
Contact your local MP. Email the Foreign Office. Share news that doesn’t come via the Indian state to keep the narrative fair. And more importantly, change your mindset to what you want the future of India to be. Do whatever you can and whatever you think needs to be done to help Jagtar Singh Johal become free from his arbitrary detainment by the Indian state.
Do it because genuinely next time it could be me, or it could be you.
Jasveer Singh hails from Southall, UK, and is the Senior Press Officer of The Sikh Press Association, a position he has held since 2015. In this role, Jasveer works across all sectors of media supporting Sikh organisations and individuals on panthic endeavours. Jasveer previously worked as a freelance journalist which included stints with Sky News, Super Fight League, and more. You can find Jasveer on Twitter at @Jazzthejourno.
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