Forgotten in his homeland: Laawaris Laashan Da Waaris

25 years after he blew the whistle on forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings in Punjab that eventually led to...

For a man who waged a battle against the disappearance of thousands of Sikh youths who would later be found killed in fake encounters during the militancy before he himself became a victim of one such forced disappearance and was killed by the Punjab Police, Jaswant Singh Khalra remains a forgotten icon in his home state.

It was on September 6, 1995 that Khalra, whose probe into the extrajudicial killings had by then caught the United Nations’ attention, was kidnapped by the Punjab Police personnel. He was killed on October 27 and his body disposed of in Harike. A Patiala court in 2005 convicted six policemen of his murder. The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011.

Now, 25 years later, following a push from the local Sikh populace, four cities in Canada — Regina, Burnaby, Brampton and Westminster – and one in the US – Manteca — have announced to observe ‘Jaswant Singh Khalra Day’ on September 6. The UK-based Sikh Press Association is also observing Khalra week beginning August 30...

...Human rights activist Sarabjit Singh Verka considers Punjab as a special case. “There would be very few activists in India who would celebrate Khalra. It is complicated… but the human rights activists should understand that Khalra’s is the story of fight back. We have an opportunity to realise the importance of his legacy”.

For Paramjit Kaur, however, the struggle is far from over and the 25-year long fight to get justice for Khalra and many others continues.

“We got much better response when I contested elections from from Khadoor Sahib Assembly constituency in 2019. Our main issue was human rights and large number of people came in our support and voted for me even though I was not successful in winning the election. You should compare this response with when my husband was kidnapped and killed by police, there was no one to stand with us to seek the justice,” says Paramjit Kaur.

She is also excited about a new book – The Valiant Jaswant Singh Khalra – written by Gurmeet kaur and set to be released on September 6.

On her part Gurmeet Kaur say that she has written the book keeping youngsters aged 12 and and above in mind. “What we know about Khalra is just his work in last years of his life. But there is lot more about Khalra like his contrasting political ideologies and how he also stood for human rights of not only Sikhs but also Hindus, who were killed by militants or police blackcats,” says Gurmeet Kaur.

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