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The Kind of Chest-Size The World Needs Today:
Super Hero Police Officer Gagandeep Singh





What is the chest size of Sub-inspector Sardar Gagandeep Singh?

It’s difficult to erase the mental image of the Sikh police officer holding a Muslim man close to his chest to shield him from a mob at the Garjiya Devi Hindu temple near Uttarakhand’s Ramnagar in India.

On May 22, 2018, the 28-year-old police officer risked his life to ensure the safety of a young man who ran the risk of being lynched by a Hindu mob. The 23-year-old Muslim was spotted with a 19-year-old Hindu girl near the temple premises and according to Ashok Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (“ADG” - Law and Order), local Hindu extremists wanted to “teach the duo a lesson”.

When Gagandeep was alerted about the situation, he rushed to the spot. He found a mob, alleging ‘love jihad‘, preparing to thrash the couple. Gagandeep turned himself into a human shield, saving the young man.

In the process, Gagandeep Singh also received several blows. Upon failing to lynch the Muslim man, the crowd began chanting anti-police slogans. ADG Kumar said the mob, however, was eventually dispersed. The couple was then taken to a police station and handed over to their families.

Gagandeep Singh was not related to the man he saved. He could – like most Indian police officers probably would in a similar situation – have taken the easier option of doing nothing on the pretext of waiting for reinforcement. In all probability, his brave act averted a lynching.

The importance of Gagandeep’s selfless act lies in the fact that the unimpeachable professional integrity of public servants - something which is rare, if not absent, in Modi’s India today - is the only guarantee that our democracy won’t turn into majoritarianism given the political economy of vote bank politics.

The idea of India could well be linked to the chest size of this extraordinary policeman. Here’s why.

One, prevention is better than cure. India has a history of religious violence across the country, mostly at the hands of the Hindu majority – 8,449 such incidents incidents (counting only the recorded ones) resulted in 7,229 deaths and 47,321 persons being injured between 1954 and 1985.

[This figure does not include the tens of thousands of innocent Sikhs murdered in the 1980s by government agencies and street Hindu mobs.]

In 2015, 97 deaths were reported and another 2,264 people were injured in 751 extremist incidents. In 2016, 86 people were killed and 2,321 others were injured in 703 incidents. In 2017, 111 people were killed and 2,384 injured in a total of 822 incidents across the country. [Again, these are only the ones recorded by the police. A majority of these incidents go unrecorded.]

One of the reasons behind these incidents occurring and resulting in deaths so frequently is that more often than not, the leaders of extremist and fundamentalist mobs belonging to the Hindu majority go scot-free in the rule of the Hindu-majority government which actually encourages such violence in order to consolidate its vote banks.

Take for example the 1984 Sikh Genocide and the 2002 Gujarat Muslim massacres (the latter under the rule of Narendra Modi himself, then the state’s Chief Minister).

Given that the probability of prosecution is virtually nil, many lives will be saved if we manage to prevent these incidents from taking place in the first place.

Two, the Indian constitution is as much about making the state machinery (bureaucracy, police, army etc) accountable for protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens as about regularly conducting general elections. This accountability goes beyond the formal legal definition of the concept.

There is an element of sacredness attached to it. The brave act of Sub-inspector Singh carries that touch of sacredness in its heroic context. If India’s public servants keep limiting themselves to the notion of accountability in a strictly legal sense, it will be extremely difficult for our democracy to survive and prosper.

Gagandeep Singh could have resorted to inaction using the pretext of being alone in front of a charged mob, but he didn’t, unlike hundreds of police officers who did nothing to save the helpless citizens during the Sikh Genocide of the 1980s which was spread-out across the length and breadth of the country), the 2002 Gujarat massacre, and other outrages against minority groups.

Three, as things stand today and as history has been a witness, the willingness and ability of the ruling dispensation – whenever and wherever extremist incidents occur in the country – to hold the erring police officers accountable for their commissions and omissions is highly doubtful. This lack of accountability goes beyond party affiliations.

No Indian Police Service (‘IPS’) officers being punished for their role in the Sikh Genocide and the 2002 Gujarat massacre, is again a case in point. Irrespective of what the central IPS association and its state-level wings wild claim of the ‘great job’ IPS officers are doing for the country, they will have to live with this glaring fact.

Sub-inspector Gagandeep Singh’s chest size matters for the very idea of India, if it is to be saved. And, for that matter, in every corner of the world, if human decency is to be preserved and upheld.

As a narrative.

As an image.

As a metaphor.

*   *   *   *   *

EDITOR’S NOTE: To India’s further and utter shame, instead of this extraordinary superhero being hailed by one and all, he’s been since hounded by Hindu extremists and fundamentalists for having saved a Muslim life, with even death-threats being made against the heroic police officer.

*   *   *   *   *

The author is a 2000 batch IPS officer who belongs to the Jammu and Kashmir cadre.

[Courtesy: The Wire. Edited for]

June 26, 2018


Conversation about this article

1: TJ Singh (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), June 27, 2018, 12:28 AM.

It is very alarming that Sardar Gagandeep Singh is being targeted by the RSS and BJP politicians for his heroism. I would request that we as a community call upon PM Justin Trudeau and Minister Sajjan/ Bains / Grewal and other Sikh leaders of all parties to support some sort of honorary fast-tracked immigration status to Sardar Gagandeep Singh, so that he can have an opportunity to serve as part of the RCMP or one of the many police forces across this great nation. Given such a display of valour and courage, Sardar Gagandeep Singh possesses the basic qualities that every Peace Officer should display in such circumstances regardless of race or religion. India doesn't deserve the services of such a brave young man and I fear that his life may be in danger, given the hostility already shown towards him. I am lacking in my knowledge of immigration laws but surely there must be an expedited status that can be extended in circumstances where an individual such as Sardar Gagandeep Singh's life may be in danger. Does anyone else agree with me?

2: Kanwarjeet Singh (USA), June 27, 2018, 5:16 AM.

Now flip the scene with a Sikh boy being beaten by the mob. See how many get away with ripping his turban off and beating him (by a Hindu and Muslim mob) or even murdering him.

3: Harinder Singh (Jammu & Kashmir), June 27, 2018, 8:03 AM.

I doubt if he could have saved Sikhs from the 1) Mobs of Muslims in 1947, and 2) Mobs of Hindus in 1984.

4: Hitpal Singh  (New Zealand), June 28, 2018, 12:40 AM.

TJ Singh ji, I agree with you. He must be brought out of the shit hole of the sinking Hindustan.

5: Arjan singh  (USA), June 28, 2018, 1:38 AM.

#3 Harinder ji ... please elaborate on why do you say that?

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Super Hero Police Officer Gagandeep Singh"

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