Singaporean author Balli Kaur Jaswal said that she had declined to be a part of a global Sikh contingent which met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
“Thank you for this invitation to join a global Sikh contingent to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence in New Delhi,” Jaswal wrote in her reply to the invitation on Thursday. “I will decline, as PM Modi’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions go against my personal values, and the tenets of my Sikh faith.”
Sharing her response to the prime minister on Instagram, Jaswal said that she would not meet him as long as “Muslims are targeted and persecuted in his leadership”.
In several parts of the country in the past few months, hate speech and calls for genocide against Muslims have been made. Hindutva supremacists have threatened to rape Muslim women and online abusers have created apps to put them on “auctions”. Accused persons in many of these cases have even been granted bail. Repeat offenders like priest Narsinghanand Saraswati have made inflammatory comments while being out on bail in hate speech cases.
Jaswal on Thursday wrote that there is “no honour in being feted as part of a model minority community if it means that other religious minorities are thrown under the bus”.
She added that rejecting human rights abuses “loudly and clearly” is in line with her faith.
Born in Singapore, Jaswal is the author of Inheritance, which won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist Award in 2014. It was adapted into a film at the Singapore International Festival of the Arts in 2017.
She is also the author of the novel Sugarbread and the critically acclaimed Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, which was released in 2017, according to her website.
Modi’s meeting with Sikh delegation
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled his association with members of the Sikh community as he hosted the delegation in his home in the national capital.
“The group included people from different walks of life,” a release from his office said. Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri was also present.
The prime minister expressed his gratitude to the Sikh community for their contribution during the freedom struggle and post-Independence.
“The feet of Sikh saints keep falling from time to time in the Prime Minister’s residence here,” he said during the meeting, according to the release. “I keep getting the good fortune of their company.”