Jagjit Singh: In Loving Memory Of Jarnail Singh
I was hoping he would pull through but was left shocked when I learned of the news of his Akal Chalana this morning due to COVID-related complications
May 14, 2021 | 4 min. read
It is with a heavy heart I write this dedication to Veer Jarnail Singh Ji.
We exchanged messages a few days ago, I was hoping he would pull through, but was left shocked when I learned of the news of his Akal Chalana this morning due to COVID-related complications.
I first heard of Veer Ji in March 2009 like many of us did after his famous Panthic reply and protest against P. Chidambaram, the Congress Home Minister of the time. Chidambaram was attempting to cover up and vindicate Congress perpetrators of the 1984 Sikh Genocide.
The moment he said “I protest” while throwing his shoe ignited a debate during that election campaign.
After that event, we tried to find out who this Gursikh was and how we could help him. Delhi Sangat rallied around him as well and within hours he was released from the local police station.
As a result, Congress had to remove the candidate tickets it had given to those killers in its ranks. They never did give back the shoe that he had thrown (although he still had the other one).
He would later go on to write his famous book documenting November 1984 called “I Accuse”. He traveled around the world to promote and talk about it. When in the UK, Veer Ji stayed at our house for about five days while he toured local gurdwaras. This was when we really got to know him.
He enjoyed Naam Abyass, loved playing with my kids and talking to my parents. He said it was a good break from the constant traveling. We spoke at length about Panthic affairs, Sikh youth issues, geopolitical concerns, and Gurbani.
This is when I saw the other side of him.
People know him for his extensive seva and sacrifice around the 1984 issue, but he was a nice humble Gursikh. He was extremely knowledgeable on Gurbani, Rehat, and Sikh history.
I was well aware of his capability as an orator. We have many people who are emotional speakers, but I always have more time for speakers who have facts, calmness, and the ability to communicate effective ideas and solutions in an articulate manner. I talked to him about ideas for the future, globalized parchaar, and how he could be a part of this.
He shared with me his need to do something for the Panth.
After the shoe incident and his book, many Indian political parties reached out with ticket offers and large sums of money. He rejected these because he knew they wanted to use him, then mute his voice. We discussed this at length and at that time he was most comfortable using his voice to bring mass awareness in India and abroad on the events of 1984 via his book tours. He knew no justice would be given, but he wanted those who committed genocide to know that Sikhs never forget and their actions would haunt them for the rest of their lives, as well as destroy their reputations and careers. He hoped it would be a deterrent to future attacks on the Sikh community.
Later he joined the Aam Aadmi Party. He was not comfortable with it, but he knew that sincere Panthic minded Sikhs needed to operate on a parliamentary level. It was the lesser of the evils at that time, compared to BJP or Akali Dal.
For the time he was a Delhi MLA, he used that platform very effectively to bring awareness on 1984 and other Sikh issues. He was so effective, that AAP used him, but then sidelined him as Kejriwal wanted the party only in his nationalist image.
Some Sikhs will judge him on joining AAP at that time, he knew whichever party he joined the criticism would come. In our discussions, we both knew that we have a community in which many are casual observers, many are armchair analysts of Sikh affairs, but few become real activists for positive change to bring voice to our community. All real Panthic activists will face criticism at some point because they challenge the status quo.
Just before COVID and the Farmers’ Protest, I exchanged ideas with him about some projects we were going to do. I wished for him to go to Sikh camps globally because, alongside his deep understanding of Gurbani, he also knew how Sikhs in this modern world could work together to find solutions and operate as global citizens. COVID delayed these projects.
Last week, I heard he had got COVID.
We asked all Gursikhs to do Ardas. He contacted me three days ago and we exchanged messages. We were helped by other Gursikhs to find a hospital bed for him. He eventually did get one.
He had a local network for help and was younger than me, so I genuinely thought he would pull through. Two days ago, I heard he was on a ventilator, we did Ardas and we requested everyone to do so as well via a public message. But I had to take down the post within hours as so much sangat was contacting the family, that the family was unable to answer the calls.
This morning, as per Guru Jis Bhana, Veer Ji left this world.
I have seen so much over the last 18 months in front-line healthcare. I have seen some abyassi Gursikhs leave this world, an uncle pass away, and shared a lot of tough times and hopeful times with my team.
Mentally none of this affected me, but this morning’s news was tough.
Many people will comment about Veer Jis seva, sacrifice, humility, frankness, and knowledge. Personally, I mourn not only for what sevas he had done but the far more seva I knew he would embark on. I thought for the next 20-30 years, he would be a good global ambassador on Sikhi.
Today, we lost a true gem, a sincere soul, a visionary who did not have the time or capacity to fully blossom due to being an eye witness of 1984 which had taken up so much of his life.
Similar to Jagraj Singh, he has been taken before his time. However such is Vaheguru Jis bhana and this should be sweet to all Gursikhs.
It is important as the sole breadwinner, that we look after his family. He gave up a lot of worldly comforts so his voice would not be silenced. Respected Gursikh Bhai Sukhwinder Singh from Vismaad and AKJ Units have set up a GoFundMe page for his singhni and kids’ future education. Please take time to support them.
Veer Jarnail Singh Ji also wished that his book would go to every parliamentarian and influential journalist around the world so that they would learn of the genocide felt by our people across India. Most importantly, he also wished that Sikh families educate themselves on this moment of our history. Spread his books as much as you can. His work should continue after his time.
Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa. Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
Jagjit Singh hails from the UK and is a well-respected Sikh educator. You can find him on Twitter at @jagjitvaheguru.
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