Ban, burn, blast and boycott

Opinion | Malaysia | 24 Nov 2015 | Asia Samachar |

By Ranjit Singh

When cornered, you hear calls for a ban. When threatened by new ideas, they burn the books. Lose an argument and they blast the other side with noise. When all else fails, they call for boycott or they let fly the blast of a more deadly nature.

This is sad story of many communities around the world. Looks like some quarters want to make it the story of the bhais (brothers, in the wider sense, which is gender neutral) in Malaysia.

In the aftermath of the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calls for ban and boycott are making their rounds.

Modi has come and gone. His maiden trip to Malaysia is a huge success, judging from the media coverage. He even joined his Malaysian counterpart to unveil some gate in Brickfields, home to some pretty nice Indian restaurants, big and small.

As he departed to Singapore yesterday (23 Nov 2015), he has left a deep divide within the local Sikh community.

Some Sikhs, invidivuals and leaders of some local Sikh non-government organisations (NGOs), took part in some functions where Modi was feted.

SEE ALSO: Some Sikhs ignore call to shun Modi function in KL

SEE ALSO: 22 Sikh NGOs to shun Modi events in Malaysia

In this world of selfie and wefie, some did not let slip the opportunity to snap photos with the Indian leader. As these photos began making its rounds, calls to boycott these leaders began making its rounds.

Ban, burn, blast and boycott. Are these proper and valid responses?

Some background. Some weeks ago, various Sikhs organisations had lent their signature to a memorandum addressed to Modi on the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab. They held a demonstration at the building where the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur is located. Apparently, they received no response from any quarters.

You can imagine their dissapointment. The simmering anger went up a notch or two.

In the meantime, Punjab was the focus of Sikhs globally when a gathering, badged as the Sarbat Khalsa, was held in Amritsar. It was a politically contentious affair. For the lay Sikh, they would need a who’s who guide to understand what was happening there. Nothing is straight forward when it comes to Indian politics.

Along comes Modi to Malaysia for the Asean Summit, an annual gathering of an important regional block for India and China. He stayed on for an official visit to Malaysia. Next stop: Singapore.

Now, Sikhs in Malaysia were confronted on how to deal with the Modi visit. Do we meet him? Do we attend his functions? Do we shun him? Do we hold demonstrations to show our anger and disgust? The larger Sikh communities in US and Canada were also confronted with similar questions. But their dynamics is different from Malaysia and Singapore.

Local Sikh NGOs were graplling with these issues. The loosely cobbled group called the Task Force decided to ‘advise’ Sikhs to shun Modi. Fair enough. It’s a legitimate call.

As expcted, some showed up at the Modi functions. As you can see from the comments to the story ran by Asia Samachar, some are clamouring for boycott.

Should we boycott those who chose to go? Boycott, as mentioned earlier, is a valid form of response, but should never be an immedaite response. Maybe you want first to sit and talk. Find out why they went. Enquire what were their motivations.

Instead of bans and boycotts, it may be better to engage them in table talks. Build consensus. Don’t let Modi leave you guys divided.


Ranjit Singh is a reader of Asia Samachar. This is the personal view of the author and not necessarily of the Asia Samachar or any organisation. We welcome feedback. Write to:


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website:]


I would want to meet the Indian Premier (Asia Samachar, 24 Nov 2015)

Some Sikhs ignore call to shun Modi function in KL (Asia Samachar, 23 Nov 2015)

PJ Resolution: Message from Malaysian Sikhs to Modi (Asia Samachar, 22 Nov 2015)

Let us engage, not boycott – SANTOKH (Kampar) (Asia Samachar, 20 Nov 2015)

22 Sikh NGOs to shun Modi events in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 18 Nov 2015)

STATEMENT: Sikhs nationwide gather in KL to hand memo to Indian authorities (Asia Samachar, 27 Oct 2015)

Punjab protest: What they are fighting against (Asia Samachar, 26 Oct 2015)

Full force at Hong Kong peaceful march (Asia Samachar, 26 Oct 2015)

30 orgs, 125 gurdwaras in Malaysia condemn use of lethal force in Punjab (Asia Samachar, 25 Oct 2015)

Beadbi issue ‘wake up call’ for Indonesian Sikhs (Asia Samachar, 23 Oct 2015)

Hong Kong Sikhs to protest SGGS beadbi on Oct 25 (Asia Samachar, 20 Oct 2015)

CSGB urges Singapore Sikhs to do personal prayers for Punjab (Asia Samachar, 20 Oct 2015)

Lawyer challenges Akal Takht order on new gurdwaras (Asia Samachar, 27 Sept 2015)

Akal Takht approval for new gurdwaras worldwide edict comes under question (Asia Samachar, 12 Sept 2015)


  1. LET US UNDERSTAND first Who is Narendra Modi?The civilised career diplomat or an opportunist Facist NazI of India.

    A LOYAL CADRE OF THE FASCIST RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH (RSS). A Hindu supremacist paramilitary organisation modelled on the Nazi and Italian Fascist parties, the RSS was founded in the 1920s in opposition to Indian independence. It is the core of a family of organisations which includes the BJP, currently India’s ruling party.

    THE BUTCHER OF GUJARAT: In 2002, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi presided over the genocidal attacks in which over 2,000 people from Gujarat’s Muslim minority community were systematically killed, and 200,000 displaced. Women and children were specifically targeted for horrific violence. Court cases implicating Modi are still being heard, including one filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband Ahsan Jafri, a former MP, was brutally murdered in the violence. The family of two British citizens, Saeed and Sakil Dawood murdered in Gujarat while on holiday are also pursuing a civil case against Modi. Judgments in both these court cases are expected in the next few months.

    AND NOT ONLY GUJARAT: The Hindu supremacist groups repeated the Gujarat ‘model’ in an anti-Christian pogrom in Odisha, in 2007, and against Muslims in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh during Modi’s election campaign. In Muzaffarnagar, and across the country, the Hindu far-right groups created the baseless myth of ‘love jihad’ (Muslim men seducing and converting Hindu women) in the absence of any evidence, and used this to incite violence against Muslims and terrorise and control Hindu young women who choose their own partners outside their community. The same myth was also used against couples belonging to differing castes. Since Modi came to power, the hate speech of his party members and ministers has led to an enormous escalation of violence against minorities as well as Dalits.

    AUTOCRATIC RULER: Critics of Modi’s genocidal politics or his government’s destructive policies have been subjected to threats, false cases and imprisonment, and even murder. They include Priya Pillai of Greenpeace India who was prevented from travelling to Britain to address MPs about the destruction of forests by coal mining by Essar Energy and Teesta Setalvad who has campaigned to bring Modi to justice for his role in the Gujarat massacres.

    FRIEND OF ISRAEL: Modi has moved India closer to Israel, which is providing weapons for intensified state terror in Kashmir, and aligned itself fully with the ‘War on Terror’

    Learn from Narendra Modi ah???