Sikh Journalist's Shoe Hurled at Home Minister, Heard Across the World
April 10, 2009
Author/Source: Khalsa Press
Shoe Incident grabs Indian attention - Congress cancels election tickets for Tytler and Sajjan.
NEW DELHI (KP)--After being repeatedly ignored by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Jarnail Singh, an accredited correspondent for the Daily Jagran, and an Amritdhari Singh, decided to get attention through an unorthodox manner. After his inquiries were constantly being ignored, Mr. Singh decided to throw his shoe at the Home Minister as a sign of protest. Mr. Singh, was then escorted out of the Congress headquarters conference room by Congress workers.
This unorthodox method of getting attention seemed to be effective. When outside, the inquisitive press flocked to the brave journalist who took measures which are unprecedented in Indian Journalism.
Before he was taken to the Tuglak Road police station, journalists asked Mr. Singh what provoked him to throw his shoe at the Home Minister as a sign of protest. Mr. Singh replied, “My manner of protest might have been wrong, but I did not intend to hurt anyone. The method was wrong but the issue was right. I don’t think any journalist should repeat it. I only did it to protest the clean chit to Tytler. This should not provoke any more incidents and no one should try to imitate them.” After spending an hour in Jail, Mr. Singh was released.
After his release, Singh talked to NDTV over the phone and stated ”My method (of throwing a shoe) could be wrong, but not my cause. There is no question of apologizing for what I did.” He stated the following to another newspaper “the issue I raised was an appropriate issue and the victims should get justice. Maybe my way of protest was wrong.” When later asked if there was another method to get his point across he states, “For the past 25 years, this has been happening. So what other method is left.” By looking at the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_Tbf49tjSE) one can visibly see that Mr. Singh had no intentions to harm the defenceless Chidambaram. One can see Mr. Singh throw his shoe lightly to the far side of the Home Minister. Shortly after throwing the shoe, the harmless Singh did not make any attempt to attack the Home Minister. By looking at the video, one can also notice how the Home Minister was not giving any attention to an issue that was of great importance.
Before the shoe throwing incident, the following conversation took place: The Home Minister was informing the reporters on the measures the government has taken to deal with terrorists and terrorism. Naturally, this led Mr. Jarnail Singh, known by his friends and colleagues as a disciplined and deeply religious family man, to question Chidambaram. Singh asked Chidambaram if the CBI's decision to drop the case against Tytler was given under pressure from the government.
In the conversation, Mr. Singh stated, "It has been 25 years since the anti-Sikh riots but the Congress has not done anything. Is it not shameful?" The home minister then stated, ”Please don’t use this as a political platform. Please ask me the question." Mr. Singh then asked why has nothing been done against the anti-Sikh genocide orchestrator Jagdish Tytler.
Singh mentioned how the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is under the Home Ministry, of which Chidambaram is its head; therefore, he was responsible to address these questions.
Chidambaram replied, "You are still not asking me the question."
Even though the question was already quite clear, Mr. Singh further elaborated and stated "My question is was there any pressure from the Home Ministry to pressure the CBI to let off Tytler although the agency works independently?"
Chidambaram replied "Neither the Home Ministry nor any other ministry put any pressure on the CBI. The CBI is only reporting to the court. The court is to decide whether to accept or reject the report or they can ask the CBI to further investigate. As Singh was beginning to refute the Minister's false claims, the Home Minister replied, "Let us be patient, let us wait for the courts to take up the case."
Mr. Singh again decided to further inquire, yet the Home Minister replied, ”No arguments please, no arguments."
Out of frustration from being denied answers to numerous questions which have been a stirring up in the minds of the Sikh nation for over two decades, Mr. Singh replied, “I protest!” and threw his shoe at the insensitive Home Minister.
After this incident, the only people who seemed to condemn this incident were the BJP. BJP spokesperson Balbir Punj said in New Delhi that they condemned the incident. While Simranjit Singh Mann has commended this act. In fact, Mann has offered his party's Lok Sabha ticket for the Amritsar seat in which cricketer-Chamcha Navjot Singh Sidhu is seeking re-election on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket.
Mann stated, "Jarnail has done a big act of bravery. We all Sikhs take pride in what he did to highlight the injustice against Sikhs. He is a warrior of the community.” Along with Mann's offer, many other organizations have offered the brave journalist a job.
The SGPC has offered to give a job to Jarnail Singh if his current company fires him. In addition, the affluent SPGC, which annually generates approximately Rs. 4.48 billion, has offered to take care of Singh and his family if he is laid off. Mr. Singh’s company has already mentioned that disciplinary action will be taken against him, but they did not mention anything about firing Singh. Currently as a defence and health correspondent, Mr. Singh is covering the defence ministry and the Congress party. Previously he covered the HRD ministry, home ministry as well as the environment ministry. A journalist for the last 20 years, he has also gained support outside of Punjab. The Akali Dal (Delhi branch) has already claimed that they will give a reward of Rs. 200,000 to the brave journalist.
Besides Delhi and Punjab, many people across the country mention how Singh’s questions were legitimate, and they shouldn’t have been ignored--especially in a conference which was intended for Chidambaram to present the Congress Party's terrorist report. So why does the Home Minister feel it convenient to deny questions which were asking why one of India's most notorious terrorists is walking around freely and being offered top Government positions? Maybe it was politically convenient for the Minister to deny such questions.
Recently Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, two notorious terrorists, have been granted election tickets for the upcoming elections. Amongst many concerned Sikhs, Jarnail Singh and Bir Davinder Singh (http://www.panthic.org/news/126/ARTICLE/4866/2009-04-03.html) have been outraged by this unconscionable act by Congress. Bir Davinder Singh, a well renowned and senior Congress official has already submitted his resignation after the recent decision by Congress to grant the tickets to Tytler and Kumar. Rumour has it that Mr. Singh’s act of bravery has shaken the walls within the Congress Party. Sources in the Congress have told CNN-IBN that the party is open to dropping Tytler from the election ticket.
Jarnail Singh was only 11 when the looting and killing of Sikhs took place outside his Lajpat Nagar home in November 1984, after the execution of Indira Gandhi by her own Sikh bodyguards. Although his family survived the tragic events in which thousands of Sikhs were systematically lynched, killed, and raped, the horrific memories still seem to haunt Jarnail Singh even today. The mark this survivor of 1984 has made on India's political scene will be long remembered.