Last Saturday, Dr. Cynthia Keppley Mahmood from the University of Notre Dame was honored with “ਹਾਅ ਦਾ ਨਾਅਰਾ” award by IFCAPS in recognition for her dedicated services to the study of Sikhs. The Institute for Conflict and Peace Studies honored her for her commitment to honesty, integrity in her academic pursuits and for standing on the side of truth regardless of the consequences. The award was in the form of a Certificate and a check for $1000.00. The event took place at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, IL. The award was presented to Dr. Mahmood by the President of IFCAPS, S. Sadhu Singh Rikhiraj. Explaining the idea behind this award Executive Director of IFCAPS Dr. Swaranjeet Singh said “This award has been established in memory of the courageous deed of sympathy and compassion shown by Nawab of Malerkotla who fearlessly opposed cruel martyrdom of the younger Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh ji. With the same fervor and zeal Dr. Mahmood is fighting for the rights of the Sikhs in courthouses of the Western Hemisphere. This award will not be an annual event: however it will be awarded to those courageous enough to dedicate themselves to serving the cause of Truth and giving voice to the oppressed. This award will transcend all geographical, social and religious boundaries. Dr. Mahmood is the first deserving, brave and selfless woman candidate for this award who risked her personal safety and her career to stand by truth and justice. Sikhs will always remain indebted to her for this invaluable service.
The program started with S. Sadhu Singh Rikhiraj welcoming the participants; remembering and reminding the audience about the agonizing tragedy of 1984. Thereafter, IFCAPS Director of Communications Bibi Harvind Kaur recited Gurbani Shabad. The audience maintained silence in memory of those who were mercilessly massacred in 1984. During this silent tribute, the audience was shown the horrific reality of the Delhi Pogroms and the Operation Blue Star through historic photographs. Bibi Harvind Kaur introduced Dr. Mahmood and invited her to express her views about the ghastly tragedy of 1984 and the plight of Sikhs today. Without mincing words she expressed the following, “In reflecting on the twenty-five years since the tragedies of 1984, I focused particularly on the wider context of the conflict in Punjab and the Sikh movement for self-determination. Based on twenty years of intimate research with the Sikh community, I noted the insularity of this community and its tendency towards concentration on internal dynamics rather than building relationships with other communities, working on shaping the external perception of the Sikh experience, and learning from the comparative history of other movements for self-determination. I emphasized the notion of readiness to seize moments of opportunity, and discussion ensued around how the global Sikh panth could work now on issues of unity, communication and planning that have thus far been elusive.” She further said within her lecture that, “It is impossible for Sikhs to forget the tragedy of 1984. There are many facets to this tragedy. This tragedy is the direct result of establishing a Centralized System of government that took away the rights of states to self determination .In the changing circumstances of today, 1973 document prepared by Sirdar Kapur Singh, is the best alternative and solution to the problems faced by minorities in India. Sikhs should unite and pursue this course. In the changing circumstances of the last twenty five years, Sikhs should also change their approach. Because of the curse of prevailing caste consciousness, the Dalits are moving away from mainstream Sikhism. Negative approach towards splinter groups- within the brotherhood – by the mainstream Sikhs and their insular mentality and preoccupation within the Gurudwaras has given birth to too many problems that they face today. Current statistics show that Sikhs top in domestic violence. This is highly disappointing to Sikhs and sympathizers seeking solutions to the problems faced by the Sikhs.”
During question/answer session Dr. Mahmood provided highly logical answers. During this time Dr. Swaranjeet Singh, also clearly expressed IFCAPS position on the complex river waters issue in Panjab, he said “This issue of river waters should be settled according to International Law. This issue pertains to riparian rights of states. It is a problem: not a conflict. The division of 1947 is a conflict that has lead to this agonizing problem. Since the Punjab has been divided many times, its riparian and geographical integrity has been violated. Solution to this nagging problem lies in re-establishing a riparian state from the Sindh River to the Jamuna River. The division of the Panjab is the root cause of this problem. Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Jinah both are responsible for this problem. Sikhs are paying price for the problem created by them.”
To conclude the event, Prof. Kulwant Singh Hundal thanked all the organizers and lecture attendys. He also acknowledge the work of Inderjit Singh, Ifcaps, Director of Public Relations and outreach. He was special thankful to the donors who support the Ifcaps. Lakhwinder Singh Cheema, Surinder Singh, Narinder Singh, Harmeet Singh, Ravi Singh, Karamjit Singh, Amardev Singh, Santokh Singh, Hardeep Singh Gill, Inderbir Singh Gill, Ujagar Singh Gill, Mandeep Kaur Gill, Upawan Kaur, Irwinpreet Singh, Sukhvir Kaur, Kuldeep Singh Makkar, Surinderpal Singh Kalra, Dr. Baldev Singh, Prof. Jagindar Singh Ramdev, Thakar Singh Basati. Jaswinder Singh,Harjinder Singh Jindi, Harbans Singh, Amrikpal Singh, Bibi Jasvir Kaur, Bibi Gurbachan Kaur , Bibi Mann Kaur, Gurdev Singh, Tirlochan Kaur, Gaurav Singh, Hardeep Singh Komal, Amrit Kaur, Sewa Singh Virdi, Narinderpal Singh Marwaha, Amolak Singh, R.S.Mahal, Jaspal Singh Bajwa, Tara Singh Hundal, Bhupinder Singh Hundal, Lal Singh, Surinder Singh, Sarwan Singh, Harpinder Singh, Rajinder Singh, Inder Kaur, Ginni and more Chicago land respectable families participated in the event.