Gurpreet Singh: Khalsa Aid deserves appreciation, not mudslinging, for standing up for Rohingyas

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      The nongovernmental organization Khalsa Aid is again in the news for organizing relief camps on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to help Rohingya Muslim refugees. 

      A U.K.-based international humanitarian relief organization, Khalsa Aid has been active since 1999. That's when the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Khalsa was celebrated across the world.

      The Khalsa was an army of dedicated Sikhs raised by the tenth master of the Sikh faith, Guru Gobind Singh, to fight for social justice in what was then Moghul-ruled northern India. The Khalsa not only opposed repression by Islamic ruler on non Muslims, but also combatted caste-based discrimination within the Hindu community. 

      Khalsa Aid is known for providing relief to the victims of wars and natural calamities anywhere in the world. 

      The idea of helping anyone irrespective of one's race or religion is enshrined in the Sikh philosophy. The daily prayer of a devout Sikh ends with a call for the well-being of entire humankind.

      Sikh scriptures include the hymns of saints belonging to different communities and castes from all over India. The foundation stone of the Golden Temple Complex—the holiest shrine of Sikhs in Amritsar—was laid by a Muslim saint, while the four gates of the temple symbolize that people from all four castes in Hindu society can come to pay obeisance.

      Most importantly, the community kitchen at Sikh temples is open to everyone. 

      One of the towering figures in Sikh history, Bhai Kanhayya, also inspires members of Khalsa Aid to be ready to help everyone in a catastrophic situation.

      Bhai Kanhayya was a water bearer in Guru Gobind Singh's army. But during wars, he provided water to all the wounded and exhausted soldiers without discriminating between the members of his own army and those of the rival camp.

      When this was brought to the knowledge of the Guru, he was so impressed that he asked Kanhayya to start applying balm to the wounded soldiers of both sides in future. 

      Bhai Kanhayya as painted by the late Kirpal Singh.

      It's unfortunate that Hindu extremists have started attacking the Khalsa Aid on social media. Rather than appreciating them for coming to the rescue of Rohangiya Muslims languishing in refugee camps, these Hindu extremists have begun slinging mud at its volunteers. 

      The problem is that India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters have already announced that India is not going to open its doors for the Rohangiya Muslims, who have been forced to flee from Myanmar because of persecution from Buddhist extremists and the army.

      Certain BJP supporters have said that they are okay with Hindu refugees from Myanmar, but Muslims will have to leave.

      Notably, Myanmar shares a very long border with India, which has provided refuge to many other communities, including Tibetan Buddhists, Pakistani Hindus, and Sri Lankan Tamils in the past.

      But the BJP government is trying to create fear about Rohangiya Muslims by citing security reasons and characterizing helpless refugees as potential terrorists and illegal immigrants.

      The BJP has always been known for its strong anti-Muslim bias and has been scapegoating this community to attract Hindu majority votes. 

      Thus the trolling of Khalsa Aid on social media by the BJP supporters isn't surprising. In fact, the trend of trolling political critics and anybody who does not agree with the BJP has picked up in India ever since the party came to power with a brute majority in 2014.

      Attacks on Muslims have also grown in the entire county since then. What is noteworthy is that these elements that claim to be the defenders of Hinduism and aspire to transform India into a Hindu nation are actually going against the values of Hindu religion that says that the whole world is one family.

      By attacking Khalsa Aid and Rohangiya Muslims, they have shown that they not only lack humanity but are in fact the enemies of Hinduism. 

      Khalsa Aid which has set a great example by displaying compassion and need our appreciation and not mudslinging. The world needs to learn from them on how to offer shelter and kindness to the victims of violence rather than abandoning them to their fate. 

      Gurpreet Singh is cofounder of Radical Desi magazine. He's also the author of Why Mewa Singh Killed William Hopkinson: Revisiting the Murder of a Canadian Immigration Inspector and Fighting Hatred With Love: Voices of the Air India Victims' Families. Both were published by Chetna Parkashan.