In a video after the assault, Manjit Singh GK challenged international pro-Khalistan group ‘Sikhs for Justice’ to a ‘fair fight’.
New Delhi: Manjit Singh GK, president of the Delhi unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, and his family members were attacked in New York by seven or eight unidentified assailants. Singh has alleged these men are supporters of a separate Sikh state of Khalistan, who “were under the influence of alcohol or some drugs”.
Singh said he was exiting a building in New York at 10:15 pm with his brother and sister-in-law after giving an interview to Jus Punjabi TV when a group of men starting hurling abuses at them and then tried to attack them.
In a video tweeted by Singh Tuesday morning IST, Singh said five of the men had short hair, while only two or three were wearing turbans. The attackers also wore earrings, and threw their shoes at Singh’s brother’s car.
A group of people attacked me & my relatives in #NewYork. This will not scare me away from my path to serve the community. I have fought & I will fight till my last breath.Such cowardly incidents do not scare me.???? @SushmaSwaraj @USAmbIndia @IndiainNewYork https://t.co/au9SUx1qrt
— Manjit Singh GK (@ManjitGK) August 21, 2018
Singh’s brother attempted to intervene and protect him, after which the assailants pushed him and tried to remove his turban.
Who were these men?
According to Singh, the men who attacked him were Khalistan supporters who “were sent by Beant Singh from Punjab, and who respect militant leaders like (Bhai Daljit Singh) Bittu”.
Beant Singh, not to be confused with the Congress chief minister of Punjab with the same name, was one of Indira Gandhi’s bodyguards who assassinated her in 1984. Bittu, meanwhile, is a former president of the Sikh Students Federation, who led the organised armed phase of the Sikh struggle for ‘freedom’ post the 1984 riots.
The Khalistan movement aims to create a separate Sikh state in South Asia, and has recently witnessed a surge abroad with the vote-rich and vocal Sikh diaspora becoming politically significant.
Singh went on to say his assailants were the same men who were thrown out of the Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Gurdwara in Richmond Hill, New York, Monday. According to him, they weren’t even permitted to put on their shoes before leaving the place of worship.
“If you were good people, even the gurdwara sangat would have stood by you,” Singh said. “But you disrespected the Guru Granth Sahib when the kirtan (prayer) was going on.”
Singh said nothing would scare him. “On 5 November, 1978, I bore the brunt of the police’s lathi charge during the Nirankari clashes,” he said, adding that because of a dispute with Kiran Bedi in 2012, over 90 men came with kirpans and attacked him on his chest and head. “But I did not die.”
In the video, Singh asked members of ‘Sikhs for Justice’, the collective at the forefront of the Khalistan movement abroad, who “lodged a case against me in New York”, to step forward and fight fairly. “Where did your people go?” Singh asked mockingly, adding “if you want to fire your bullets at me, go ahead, you won’t be able to silence my voice”.
“I know which agency you are getting funds from, I know it all.”
At the end of his exposition, with his voice becoming softer, Singh said “only Guru can forgive you”, adding: “And if you actually do something for the Sikh community, even I will respect you.”
Get the PrintEssential to make sense of the day's key developments