Jarnail Singh: ‘Shoe-throwing’ journalist-turn lawmaker championed plight of 1984 Delhi Sikh pogrom

S P Singh is a senior journalist who knows where the shoe pinches but hasn’t mustered up enough courage to hurl one at so many deserving faces he has come across in a quarter-century of journalism. Hence, this tribute, remembering and decoding the one act of Jarnail Singh that the world will find hard to forget.

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Jarnail Singh (1973-2021). Right: Jarnail hurling a shoe at then Indian Union home minister P. Chidambaram in 2009
By Asia Samachar | India |

Former journalist-turned-lawmaker Jarnail Singh, who has died aged 48, will be remembered for championing the plight of the 1984 Sikh pogrom in Delhi.

He was 11 when the incident took place after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The three-day unchecked attack on the Sikh community, from Nov 1-3, was masterminded by senior Congress leaders, many of whom have yet to be held accountable.

Jarnail succumbed to Covid-19 related complications at a super speciality hospital in New Delhi on Friday (14 May 2021) morning.

He was a 11-year-old boy and living in in Lajpat Nagar in South Delhi when the dark chapter descended upon the Sikh community.

He shot to limelight when he had hurled a shoe at then Union home minister P Chidambaram in 2009 for his alleged failure to bring the perpetrators of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom to task. The shoe missed the target but the then 36-year old journalist managed to put some spotlight on the issue.

Needless to say, he lost his job. Jarnail readily acknowledges that the shoe-throwing was not an appropriate means of protest.

After the incident, Jarnail turned to politics. He joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAM) led by Arvind Kejriwal. He failed in his first attempt when he ran at West Delhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. In 2015, he made headlines when he defeated Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) political heavyweight Manjinder Singh Sirsa for the Rajouri Garden seat.

He resigned his seat the following year to take on former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on his home turf Lambi in the 2017 Panjab state assembly elections. Jarnail lost the seat when it primarily became a three-cornered contest with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh joining the fray. Badal won the seat. Amarinder won in another seat he contested and went on to become the Panjab chief minister.

Jarnail had authored a book, ‘I accuse: The Anti-Sikh Violence of 1984‘, which detailed how the President, the Parliament and different branches of the administration – the judiciary, media and police – is said to have conspired to encourage violence against the Sikhs

The three days in 1984, when over 3000 Sikhs were slaughtered, have indelibly marked the lives of thousands more who continue to exist in a twilight of bitterness and despair, according to his book. It was the outrage at the state of affairs that led Jarnail to throw his shoe at Chidambaram.

He leaves a wife and two children who live in New Delhi.

 

RELATED STORY:

Making sense of Sikh Genocide of 1984 (Asia Samachar, 1 Nov 2020)

 

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

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