Tarjinder Bhullar: Manmeet's Mission Continues As We Remember The March 25 Kabul Gurdwara Attack
Reflecting back now on March 25, when we as a family first heard the news of the 25 lives cut short, we felt the pain. We knew that this was exactly the thing Manmeet was working to prevent.
March 25, 2021 | 3 min. read
I can remember a time in my life when marking milestones was not as daunting a task as it has now become.
November 23, 2015, changed that forever when I lost my brother, Manmeet Singh Bhullar, to an accident. And, now when I think of March 25, 2020, I along with others am marking another grim anniversary.
This day a year ago, 25 people who should have felt the solace and strength that comes from visiting our sacred spaces of worship, our Gurdwaras, were met with a violent and tragic end to their life. Stories of terror, where the loss of life occurs at the hands of those that hate others simply for who they worship or what they look like, have become far too common across the globe. However, that still does not make these acts any more comprehensible.
In 2015, Manmeet began the Save Afghan Minorities Project. A man from Alberta, Canada, wanted to help people in Afghanistan. People he did not know personally or would ever meet, aside from a numbered few who he met a couple of months before his passing in the August heat of Punjab on the sacred grounds of the Harminder Sahib. He actually wanted to travel to Afghanistan to meet them, not just wanted, he was ready. However, security concerns, including a bombing a few short days before his plans to travel, made that impossible.
Never one to shy away from obstacles, he instead charted a different path. First, by meeting with Afghans in India, and then essentially living out of a suitcase for the next few months, going from province to province, country to country, asking government officials, community members, anyone willing to give him a few minutes to share the plight of fellow Sikhs. Sikhs who could not practice their religion, perform funeral rites, go to school, or provide for their families through honest work.
His fight was not in vain.
Like everything Manmeet did, he brought passion and purpose together. 150 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus found refuge in India shortly after Manmeet’s passing. They are slowly making their way to Canada. They now are focused on thriving instead of surviving.
I have no qualms with saying that our 70-year-old father is the reason this work continues. Full stop.
He believes that Manmeet started this project and left him with it, in order to have a reason to still find purpose in a world without his son. He keeps our team committed to the cause. This is a man that counsels these families at every hour of the day, connects them with resources, reminds Gurdwara committees in his diplomatic way that they have the means to support these families, and equally reminds politicians that they must use their time in office to further this work.
Reflecting back now on March 25, when we as a family first heard the news of the 25 lives cut short, we felt the pain. We knew that this was exactly the thing Manmeet was working to prevent. We also doubled down on our purpose - to finish what Manmeet started. Countless others share this goal.
I can tell you that we have not stopped, COVID implications notwithstanding. We continue to support the families we have sponsored, and we continue to work closely with people on the ground in India who have seen an influx of new refugees since last March. We are relentless in our follow-up with immigration officials to ensure people like Manak Singh, one of the first people to leave Afghanistan for India in 2015, is reunited with his daughter who arrived in Canada in 2019.
The progress on this work has been slow, and no one feels that more than all of us at the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation (MSBF). But we remain optimistic in our goals and realistic in our need to continue to pressure our government to do more. This is not a partisan issue. This is a humanitarian issue.
Today we mark the milestone of lives lost. I hope one day together we can mark the milestone of completing the project that my brother called his life’s most important work.
To learn more visit MSBF’s website at https://www.themsbf.ca/what-we-do/save-afghan-minorities and follow them on Twitter at @theMSBF.
Tarjinder Kaur Bhullar is a communications professional with over 15 years of experience helping individuals and organizations share their stories. Educated with a Masters of Arts in communications and technology, Bachelors of Arts in communications, and diploma in broadcasting, her work experience has been focused on the non-profit and public sector. As a Director of the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation, the most important story she is committed to sharing with others is of the life of her brother, Manmeet Singh Bhullar. She served as Campaign Manager for his three political campaigns and continues to champion the causes important to him. You can find her on Twitter at @tbhullar.
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