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Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sukhwinder Singh - a martyr for Justice and Peace!

Standing before the image of Sukhwinder Singh during last nights remembrance ceremony, left me in a state of awe of how well loved this man truly was.
As I addressed the amassed mourners, whose numbers must have exceeded 200, I felt inspired by the strong sense of community amongst Sikhs.

I lit my candle amazed at the array of different candles and the light they shone for a never to be forgotten hero.

It was a sombre moment, but rewarding for me to be there for a community that has supported Pakistani Christians in their plight.

There was barely any room left for my candle and visitors arrived after me with even more candles. The luminescence and heat generated, was a fitting tribute.

Although very blurry this image illustrates the mass of people that came to show their respect.
Last night the Sikh community of Redbridge mourned the loss of one of their most benevolent and spirited and spiritual brothers. Sukhwinder Singh has been hailed as a Redbridge hero for his gallant efforts to thwart a crime of theft by mugging, enacted on a local vulnerable Ilford women, of a different racial origin and faith. In the process of assisting he lost his life in a knife attack meted out by the pernicious perpetrators of the original crime. Read more (here).
Sukhwinder was a baptised Sikh with strong ties to his community and local Gurdwara. The Sikh community has been struck with horror at the loss of a committed family man who died whilst being the "Good Samaritan" that many of us aspire too, but inevitably fall short.
I was invited to speak at the event in my capacity as Vice Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association. Asian Christians and Sikhs have always had a very strong connection in this country and in Pakistan and India. This stems from the fact that our people, are always the minority wherever we habit.
I felt encouraged and blessed with the attendance of Dr Jasdev Rai Leader of the Sikh Human Rights Group, who attended our recent protest against persecution of minority faith groups in Pakistan. He was part of the delegation to 10 Downing street and was interviewed for our official video of the event (Click here)
I personally was involved in coercing the UK Passport offices to undertake a risk assessment of the "Same day" Passport application and collection system in all their UK offices. This now allows Baptised Sikhs two options when using the service. The first is to remove their Kirpaan and place it in a blessed box. The second one for which I had to embark on a vigorous campaign resulted in remittance for the Kirpaan to be worn at all times, should the applicant be willing to apply and collect their passport from the Collections Department, which has a safe enough environment for this to be deemed of little risk. (Read more here).
News articles were deficient of information on the "Collections Department" scheme which caused some initial furore.
Moreover, our two faith groups have united previously to tackle persecution in India too (Read here).
Last night Wilson gave a short address that consisted of the following:
Greetings to one and all.

Although I come with sorrow mourning the loss of a true Redbridge hero, I also come with a sense of pride that so many Redbridge people have come out today, to honour the life of a man who sacrificed his life in his Samaritan desire to do good. I hope this action by those of us here today bring succour and strength to the family of this spiritual man.

Our local media is so often full of tragedy and news of the moral breakdown of society. This story is no different in many ways, but for the love Sukhwinder Singh showed for a vulnerable victim of crime.

Many of us would have shirked such responsibility. His courage is so rare and valued a commodity, that it has led to this public outrage and attracted such media attention.

We all know what we want from society and our environment. We want:

· Peace
· Unity
· Good quality of life
· Justice
· Equality

So many of us stand aside and watch while communities disintegrate, individuals and groups cause havoc and we all hope and pray that someone else will come to the rescue.

Sukhwinder has led by example. He has become a martyr for Justice and Peace.

I challenge local people today to provide any intelligence of the two incidents relating to the demise of Sukhwinder – to our local Police. I ask that in solidarity we provide comfort to one another and help in times of need. I also request that people donate to the collection being sought, to fund the transport of his Physical body, back to his original homeland of India.

In my role as chairman of the East Ilford Business Partnership I have been raising funds for a peace monument to be installed at the Winston Way Roundabout. This is the location that an innocent victim lost his life to Youth knife crime. I will ask the family of the bereaved, if we can add an epitaph to Sukwinder Singh to this monument (it will have spaces to include the names of all Redbridge victims of violent crime). We have already raised 50% of the funds and if others would like more details please contact me after the event.

Sukhwinder has made the Sikh community proud. He has made the Redbridge Community proud. Most of all, he has made his grieving family proud. I will be praying for his family and friends, as I know having lost a father, what it is to grieve the companionship of a close companion.

God bless us all.
The reception I received from the Sikh community was very hospitable. During grieving many faiths can become insular (especially due to the need to practice religious customs -unknown to visitors) - questioning outside interference and interest. It is a real indictment on the openness of this community that they were able to receive all peoples, in such a friendly and warm manner.
People took time out to share the meaning of their customs and spoken practices. Moreover, I would like to clarify for the wider community that may have heard about the "Kirpaan" (ceremonial knife) for the first time that the knife is a simple reminder to the bearer of their responsibility to protect others - the victim Sukwinder never drew his knife despite the ferocity of the attack on him.
Some visitors to last night meeting requested more details on the "Redbridge Peace Monument" project. You can learn more by clicking (here)


  1. a laudable effort.

  2. Well done.

    I trust it went well.