Ensaaf and Jakara Movement Remember Jaswant Singh Khalra
September 6 is both a somber day and a celebratory day for the Sikh community and human rights defenders worldwide.
It is a somber day for it was on this day in 1995 that Punjab Police abducted Jaswant Singh Khalra from outside of his home. Despite repeated threats, he had continued to investigate and document the stories of Sikhs unlawfully killed by India's security forces. Police chief KPS Gill's top commander in the region had directly threatened him. Yet, Jaswant Singh Khalra persevered with his work and uncovered the names of thousands of Sikhs who had been secretly cremated by India’s security forces.
It is a celebratory day for the Sikh community, as well. While security forces tortured and killed Jaswant Singh Khalra 22 years ago, their goal to silence his memory and the human rights movement has failed. It was the light of justice he raised that inspired Ensaaf to launch and build upon his work in 2004. Over the past 13 years, Ensaaf has been documenting and recording the names of every person that was disappeared or unlawfully killed by security officials in Punjab.
To remember and re-dedicate yourself to the mission of Jaswant Singh Khalra, we urge you to take 30 minutes to view this documentary produced by Ensaaf.
Similarly, Jaswant Singh's legacy inspired the diaspora and the Jakara Movement. After organizing the community and significant advocacy, Jakara has successfully immortalized Khalra’s legacy in the United States with the naming of a park in his honor. While the Indian State attempts to discredit the memory of Jaswant Singh Khalra, the city of Fresno will be memorializing the human rights defender with this local landmark.
Yesterday, the Executive Director of the Jakara Movement, Naindeep Singh, published an Op/Ed in the Fresno Bee that honors Jaswant Singh Khalra. The piece frames the impact of honoring Sikh heroes for the Sikh youth and beyond.
The impunity enjoyed by India’s security forces continues to haunt all of India. Not a day goes by without human rights violations in Kashmir, the Northeast, or other regions in India. The use of human shields, collective punishment, and widespread torture was honed by the Indian State in Punjab. Neither Ensaaf nor the Jakara Movement will allow the Indian government to erase these abuses. As the generation of parents--that hold the stories of their loved ones in their hearts--disappears, we are losing the chance to record our own history and build our movement for justice. Over the last several years, however, Ensaaf undertook the largest initiative in the history of India to document cases of disappearances, unlawful killings, and torture in Punjab, visiting each of Punjab’s 12,000+ villages. In the coming months and years, we will be sharing our data on crimes against humanity as we work towards truth and justice for the Decade of Disappearances in Punjab.
Let Jaswant Singh Khalra's legacy continue to inspire you. Take time today to celebrate and rededicate yourself to his legacy of justice.
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