Appear for the Disappeared – A 5K Walk

You will be walking in memory of twenty-eight-year-old Darshan Singh who was a young farmer from Amritsar district. On 9 September 1990, Darshan and two other young men went for a motorcycle ride when a group of police officers suspected them of being militants and shot at them. Darshan, the pillion rider, was hit by a bullet and fell down dead. The police took Darshan’s two companions into custody and reported them dead in alleged encounters.
ensaafAfter recently registering for Ensaaf’s Appear for the Disappeared 5K walk, I received the above email with information about the individual in whose memory I would be participating.

Ensaaf has documented thousands of cases of disappearance and unlawful killings in Punjab and in an effort to allow its supporters to connect with victims, Ensaaf is holding a 5k walk, called Appear for the Disappeared, on April 6, 2013 in Fremont, CA. The walk is an opportunity for all participants and virtual donors to commemorate a specific individual who was disappeared in Punjab by Indian security forces from the mid-1980s to late 1990s. Ensaaf’s goal is to commemorate 500 individuals and raise $25,000 to complete documentation efforts.

Between 1984 and 1995, Punjab witnessed thousands of disappearances and unlawful killings, with many victims facing unimaginable torture at the hands of Indian security officials. Rarely were victim families informed of the fate of their loved ones, let alone given a chance to carry out final rites and funeral services. As thousands of men and women disappeared and their families left in the darkness, responsible security officials were awarded promotions and their human rights violations faded into darkness.

Twenty-eight years later, human rights violators still roam free of consequences and victim families still await reparations, truth, and justice. With each passing year, survivors and family members of victims die and we lose the memory of a disappeared individual. Ensaaf has reached thousands of victim families, but the organization needs your support to complete its work.

There are multiple ways to support Appear for the Disappeared:

1. Register to walk in Fremont, CA on April 6th.

2. Register to walk virtually on April 6. Ensaaf will set up a platform for virtual walkers to share videos of their participation.

3. Donate to a registered participant’s walk.

Register today and make Appear for the Disappeared a success!

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25 Responses to “Appear for the Disappeared – A 5K Walk”

  1. UK Sikh says:

    Do others feel it slightly troublesome that our American brethren would use the memory of those deceased as little more than a ploy to raise funds?

    While ENSAAF may be documenting these deaths, Khalsa Aid here in the UK is ACTUALLY providing money to those very families, not just using their memories for their own organisation efforts.

    This is troublesome indeed!

    • Sundari says:

      These events are not simply about raising funds, they are about raising awareness too – and Ensaaf has done a lion's share of the work in bringing attention to the human rights abuses in Panjab. As someone who was born and raised in England but now lives in the U.S., i can attest to the value of the work being done by the North American Sikh community and it's something the UK community could learn from, rather than criticize.

      • UK Sikh says:

        Wouldn't it also be helpful if American Sikhs also looked at the efforts of those in the UK.? Documentation is important, but meaningfully providing funds, jobs, and support to the families seems even more critical. This is not a history project. These are real people suffering. Instead of 'walking for the disappeared' why not look at the work Ravinder Singh is doing with Khalsa Aid – he is actually HELPING the families of the disappeared.

        • sanehval says:

          For the adventurous Khalsa Aid Supporters! We have seen skydiving, mountain climbing now HOT COAL WALKING! Here’s a chance to raise funds for Khalsa Aid whilst walking across hot coals.

        • Sundari says:

          Who says we don't look at that work too? Are our minds so limited that we can't be open to various means of addressing the problem? This isn't an Ensaaf vs Khalsa Aid issue. If there is any insecurity about that, then that's something you have to deal with personally.

          • UK Sikh says:

            It is clear from being a longtime reading this blog that you don't have a clue about the UK.

          • Bik says:

            As a Sikh from the UK I find both UK Sikh and Blighty Singh's views deplorable. Rather than support those who give a damn and are actually doing something for the Sikh nation we have internet warriors whose sole purpose seems to be to criticise and create division where there needs to be none. To UK Sikh I would say your attempt at creating some sort of rivalry between Ensaaf and Khalsa Aid has failed miserably as the CEO of Khalsa Aid had posted his views on here. As A Sikh from the UK, I would venture to say that US Sikhs are well ahead of us in the way they have been able to work within the political and social system within their country. In the UK, our organisations think that just inviting a politician from one of the parties to address the congregation during the run up to an election is the pinnacle of political engagement!

          • UK Sikh says:

            Your own caricature is not relevant. The point was not an attempt to create a rivalry – in fact the two can find symbiosis. Ensaaf identifies the families and Khalsa Aid can actually support them.

            The critique is on the cheap marketing ploy that pulls heartstrings, while doing nothing to actually aid those shaheed families.

  2. Meena says:

    @Uk Sikh: A despicable remark. Ensaaf has done more than their fair share. Shame on you for trying to divide and rule.

  3. Blighty Singh says:

    Brother, I agree. I find everything our American brethren do troublesome. However, let me tell you from the outset….it is not that we are right and they are wrong. It is simply a case of ideologies of clashing. Our American brethren are the same as us except the fact that they are either born in or grow up in a culture where it is normal and acceptable to rally 'round the national flag…and thus articulate seemingly intelligent and educated viewpoints accordingly. Our ideoligies clash in the fact that we UK Sikhs, despite not only being born in the UK and having parents and grandparents born in the UK never ever display the UK flag……and even publicly display contempt for it. WE, the UK sikhs, are here, of we come, with a 100% love and allegiance for Punjab. The Americans come……with allegiance to America first. They are, after all, the people that entered the last 2 world wars very very late…and are thus now trying to make up for it by starting the next world war ver y very early. Thus, understand this : Getting out in the streets, taking blows to the heads and actually doing things = UK Singhs and Kaurs. Getting a good degree…Adding to your resume…….Impressing future employers and or your tutors = American Singhs and Kaurs.
    Moral of the story ? Take everything you read from an American Siklh with a pinch of salt. They have 'riuff n tuffs' as much as we do. However their 'ruff n tuffs' are doing mainstream ruff n tuff 'ting and tings' whilst our ruff n tuffs are the ones rejecting mainstream and representing Sikhi. This is the sound of ideologies clashing. Not all Sikhs are the same.

    • Bik says:

      In Canada and USA, showing pride in the nation is seen as some sort of mental problem as it is in the UK. I am one of those who came to the UK as a child in the 70s and would not been seen dead paying respect to the union jack. But you need to remember that whatever its faults the USA is still a force for good in the world. Who would you have in charge, my friend, the Chinese? The Russian? or even the Indians?

      • Bik says:

        meant is NOT seen as a mental problem

      • UK Sikh says:

        Yankees are a force for good? Ask Iraqis, ask Afghanis, ask those in South America, ask the Iranians that had their democracy overthrown in the 50s, ask the Palestinian children, the list of those that would disagree is long indeed. All colonialisms are terrible. The point is not to pick better or worse oppressors and be their lackeys, but rather to fight all oppressors and colonialists.

  4. What ridiculous criticisms! Such commentary is an example of what is wrong with our people in general: big egos, big jealousies. The individuals commenting here charitably on behalf of all UK Sikhs to condemn or accuse all American Sikhs for policies and politics for which they are not even a part is shallow and silly.

    Ensaaf is doing challenging, delicate and complicated work. If they were to do something for personal gain, I am quite certain there are easier projects to take on.

    There's absolutely no need to point fingers at efforts supporting the Sikhs in Punjab. There is enough criticism to go around on both sides of the Atlantic, and clearly there is even room to make ludicrous accusations, but the wise on each side will learn, collaborate, and support.

    • UK Sikh says:

      I think you missed the gist of the argument American Turban. My criticism is not on the important work that ENSAAF does. My criticism is with this particular campaign.

      Sundari at the start of this piece writes: "You will be walking in memory of twenty-eight-year-old Darshan Singh who was a young farmer from Amritsar district. On 9 September 1990, Darshan and two other young men went for a motorcycle ride when a group of police officers suspected them of being militants and shot at them. Darshan, the pillion rider, was hit by a bullet and fell down dead. The police took Darshan’s two companions into custody and reported them dead in alleged encounters."

      instead of 'walking' for Shaheed Darshan Singh in some cheap marketing gimmick, why not actually provide money, support, and jobs to his family? This is what Khalsa Aid is doing. ENSAAF can raise money without such a cheap gimmick.

      • I think Ravinder Singh of Khalsa Aid said it very well. However, to the point of your labeling the Ensaaf event as a "cheap gimmick", that is a matter of perspective and if that is how you see it, that is your choice. However, I disagree with this characterization.

        In fact, I think what they are doing to raise awareness is very effective. It brings to light the untold and unknown stories of disappearances and abuses that are lost in global statistics. This awareness is part of their stated mission. And, re-kindling of the memory of these lost ones also connects a generation that has grown up away from what happened in Punjab to that history. I am glad that Ensaaf is telling these stories and connecting us to them in a personal way. If just for this event, it makes each participant an activist in this cause for justice.

        Finally, let me say that I have no formal affiliation with Ensaaf, but I am supportive of their work and find in poor taste these accusations about the work they do. No person or organization is perfect, but these criticisms are quite unfair to the well-intentioned people behind this work.

        • UK Sikh says:

          Calling these criticisms unfair is just a matter of your opinion. Bhai Ravinder Singh must keep organisational faces and I respect his position. The larger critique still remains. It is not about Ensaaf vs. Khalsa Aid. It is about exploiting narratives for purposes that will not serve the actual affected shaheed parivars.

          I will leave it to the Sangat to decide – is this Yankee group (though well intentioned and doing admirable work) merely utilising these narratives for fundraising, when they have no intention to actually support Darshan Singh's family or any other family?

          One can still support Ensaaf as a whole without condoning this ill-conceived campaign.

  5. CA Sikh says:

    Before accusing Ensaaf of "using memories for their own organization efforts", one may want to take a moment to read about the work Ensaaf has done and what the organization has accomplished for the families in Punjab. Indeed this isn't a history project, but in order to achieve justice, we, as a community, need numbers, facts, and evidence. This IS what Jaswant Singh Khalra told the Panth – to present exact figures of abuses to the world. Estimations have gotten us nowhere. We are of a generation that knows people who are affected by the human right abuses in Punjab and providing assistance to affected families is our responsibility, but working to bring justice to affected families is also our responsibility.
    Clearly, the Panth needs to stop comparing the work of different organizations and needs to start supporting all those organizations that are addressing the vast and growing needs of Sikhs everywhere.

  6. ENSAAF are doing an exceptional job by documenting the cases. Khalsa Aid very honoured to be so trusted by the Sangat but there is no need to make comparisons between Khalsa Aid and ENSAAF. These comparisons will only cause divisions and undermine the important but very different work by both organisations.
    I hope the Sangat will continue to support both organisations, please look beyond comparisons and towards the importance of the work carried out by ENSAAF and Khalsa Aid. Thank you. Ravinder Singh. CEO. Khalsa Aid

  7. Vilayati Singh says:

    UK Sikh, you're barking up the wrong tree 'me son.

    Ensaaf is raising funds for sure, but we know that, and we're absolutely comfortable with that because we know what it's going to support. Sure, it's not going to directly feed a Shaheed Parivaar (and Khalsa Aid are doing a sterling job in that regard) but perhaps you can suggest how legal cases against the State and Police can be constructed and coordinated with nothing but goodwill and a pat on the back? And before you ask who 'we' are, well, we're the hundreds (if not thousands) of supporters who are providing part of our dasvandh to Ensaaf.

    On that note, what do you think of the 'Race for Life' events that run about 300 times a year in the UK to raise funds for Cancer Research? They use imagery of cancer survivors, and hey, _just_ running the race isn't going to cure cancer is it, so why don't well tell good 'ol Cancer Research to STFU and just focus on palliative care for terminal cancer sufferers instead? Go UK Sikh, you tell 'em me diamond geezer. Get In There!

  8. K Kaur says:

    Took me awhile to read these comments, had a laugh in between on Blighty Singhs comment explaining the difference perspectives and values of AMericans And British. There maybe some truth in his analysis. Maybe we are all though too judgemental, and ready to criticize the others efforts rather than praise one another for any goodwill effort. General Courtesy is lacking, lets not put the other down, when we have a question, or suggestion that may be worthy of consideration to further progress and improve things. ITs probably good that someone is helping those in crisis and alive right now with immediate basic needs. And someone else is looking at the future longer term picture regarding giving profile and identity to the reason for the suffering that is being addressed. What are u or I doing is now the question?

  9. UK Sikh says:

    K Kaur: I donate to Khalsa Aid and have actually visited some of the families in Punjab. I don't know what you do?

    Vilayati: Good point about the Race for Life, but the difference is that they don't say 'I'm running for Tom, Dick, and Harry because they died and I don't really know them or their struggles or even care about the problems their families are probably still facing" People say I am running for my mom and my sister. People you actually care about and that the funding may actually go towards helping.

    Again, since this seems lost on many – I am not criticising Ensaaf as an organisation, merely this cheap marketing gimmick of 'walking for Darshan Singh,' when Darshan Singh's family probably actually needs money and help and you are ignoring them.

    • UK Sikh you're entitled to your opinions, but I disagree. I registered to walk virtually over a week ago because I like the idea of focusing on a particular disappeared person – who he was, what he did and how he disappeared. In the short time since I was given his details, I've found out quite a bit about who he was through my own personal research and he is no longer a disappeared person, he is Baghel Singh and I care for him in the same way I care for my immediate family members who departed before I could meet them.

      As it happens I'm not alone in the UK and now there will be a few dozen of us here walking, each highlighting the case of an individual who has disappeared. Helping those peoples families is something I've been doing for almost 25 years and Khalsa Aid has been doing to a much bigger scale for years, but if you think that's the only thing we should do… well I reckon that's why we are where we are right now as a Qaum… nowhere.

      The internet is a great forum where people can say what they like anonymously, but I find speaking in person means we can take this engaging discussion to the masses and provide some real food for thought. If you don't mind declaring these views publicly (no offence intended) then I'd love to have this debate with you in person on camera. Hit me up!

  10. UK Sikh says:

    Don't know you mate, but will hit you up.

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