Jaskaran Sandhu: Do Not Apologize For The Nishan Sahib At The Lal Qilla

Whether this was a strategic mistake or not is yet to be seen. But do not apologize for what was a historically significant display of defiance and dissent.

Jaskaran Sandhu
January 26, 2021 | 2 min. read

No Sikh should apologize for the Nishan Sahib flying over the Lal Qilla. 

If it was not for Sikhi or the inspiration of Sikh history this protest would never have reached the gates of Delhi. It would not have brought about what has transformed into the first great challenge to Modi’s Hindu nationalist and authoritarian government. Bringing with it the rest of India. 

Apologizing for the Nishan Sahib at the Lal Qilla dismisses what has been at the core of the farmers’ protest since day one - the Sikh spirit.

The protestors that climb the ramparts of the Red Fort are the same ones that have been battling for months now. 

They protested in the streets of Punjab. The government did not listen. 

Then they marched all the way to Delhi, busting through barricades, filling trenches dug into the national highway, and fought through water cannons directed at old and young alike. The government did not listen. 

These farmers then sat patiently, blockaded out of what should be their capital city, a city where they have every right to air their grievances. For months they waited for the government to bargain in good faith. To realize that they have misplayed their hand, that they have taken the farmers of Punjab and India for granted. They fed the same police officers that were abusing them days before. They opened up institutions at a protest site unseen anywhere else. They made Singhu border a functioning state. And, to this date, the government still has not listened. 

What the government chose to do instead - today, during the #HistoricTractorMarch - is fire tear gas at peaceful protestors marching down designated streets. They chose to kill a farmer. They chose to shut down the internet, choke out information, and unleash disinformation through Godi media.

Disinformation that suggested Sikhs raised a “Khalistan flag” after tearing down the Indian one. Something that is patently false, they know it is, but chose to run it anyway to undermine the struggle.

What we as Sikhs should be doing, rather than apologizing for the Nishan Sahib, rather than overcompensating in response to the disinformation campaign with cringe displays of Indian-ness, is to continue to challenge a tyrannical government. To continue sending the message that we will not go away quietly. That we will fight till the end, and if we want to scale the walls of the Lal Qilla we can. If we want to send a message to the powers that be that we cannot be dismissed easily we will.

Do not erase the Sikh identity and presence at the protest to appease leaders that will never be satisfied. Do not ignore the lessons of the past. 

Whether this was a strategic mistake or not is yet to be seen. But do not apologize for what was a historically significant display of defiance and dissent. 


Jaskaran Sandhu hails from Brampton, Canada, and is the co-founder of Baaz. He is a Senior Consultant at the public affairs agency Crestview Strategy. Jaskaran also previously served as Executive Director for the World Sikh Organization of Canada and as a Senior Advisor to Brampton’s Office of the Mayor. You can find Jaskaran on Twitter at @JaskaranSandhu_

Baaz is home to opinions, ideas, and original reporting for the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora. Support us by subscribing. Find us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook at @BaazNewsOrg.  If you would like to submit a written piece for consideration please email us at editor@baaznews.org