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General She was the ticket to a better life

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by kds1980, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    She was the ticket to a better life

    Before Amandeep Dhillon's short life ended in her murder, she was caught between a new family in the GTA she barely knew and one back in India

    Hours before she flew to Toronto on May 3, 2006, Amandeep Kaur Dhillon sat in her room chatting with Pawandeep Benipal – her sister, best friend and confidante. She told her younger sibling to take care of their parents and to study hard.

    Outside, neighbours and friends gathered. When it came time to leave for the airport everyone was teary, but Amandeep kept smiling, laughing and cracking jokes. "She was so excited she was going to Canada to join her husband," said Pawandeep.

    When she saw her next, Amandeep was lying in a casket, a long gash running down one side of her face and smaller knife wounds on her forehead.

    Amandeep, 22, was found stabbed to death at a grocery store in Mississauga on New Year's Day.

    Her father-in-law, Kamikar Singh Dhillon, 47, is charged with first-degree murder.

    Amandeep's family has been left grieving with few answers. The slaying has also shaken the South Asian community and again raised concerns about the lack of social support for immigrant women, particularly young brides who leave their home and family behind, to live with another family they hardly know.

    Some endure a life of isolation and extreme hardship, with the hope their own family – which has invested heavily in dowry money – will one day join them in Canada.


    SHE WAS her family's ticket to Canada.

    Amandeep had turned 18 in 2005 and was studying at a college in northern India, when her parents, Kulwant Kaur and Avtar Singh Benipal, told her a family in Toronto was keen to marry their son, Gurinder Singh Dhillon, to her.

    Everything happened in a matter of a few weeks: two men and a woman – common friends – came to meet her one evening in October. They asked a few questions, took some photographs and left a photo of the young man, a beefy 26-year-old with a boyish face. The next day, they phoned to say the wedding should take place on Nov. 11.

    Amandeep's family was thrilled. No one had met the boy or his parents, or asked any questions, but it didn't matter. He lived in Canada. An arranged marriage to someone living in North America was seen as a step to prosperity not only for the bride but eventually her family too.

    Iqbal Singh Benipal, a friend of the family who lives in Brampton, said when the groom is from Canada or the United States, "Not many people care to even meet the guy before the wedding. It happens all the time in Punjab."

    In this case, the boy's relatives had assured Amandeep's family she would be happy.

    The family didn't argue when dowry was settled at roughly $54,000, an excessive amount but seen as an investment in their own future. This was in addition to $15,000 the family spent on a lavish three-day wedding that was attended by more than 600 guests.

    A month after the wedding, Amandeep's parents were asked by her in-laws to send an extra $2,500 to Canada or her immigration papers would not be filed. Her father, Avtar, pawned his wife's jewellery and sent the money.

    For Avtar, a farmer who grows mostly rice and wheat on nearly 5 hectares of land, a small-sized holding in Punjab, it was a lot of money. He sold some land, borrowed from family and friends and ********d his house. "It was very tough but we didn't mind," said Avtar. "We just wanted Aman to be happy."

    Dowries were outlawed in India in 1961 but it is common for the groom's side to seek a dowry and for the bride's side to provide one. The dowry – cash and gifts – is meant to smooth their daughter's move into the new home.

    Though rarely talked about in Punjab, it is understood that when a son or daughter marries and moves to North America or England, they will apply for their family to join them. Amandeep was expected to do the same for her parents, her sisters Pawandeep, 20 and Jasvir, 16, and brother Rajvir, 12. When she flew to Canada in May 2006 to join her husband, her family was already counting the days until they would follow.


    THE FIRST couple of months that Amandeep was in Canada, she lived with her husband and father-in-law in a basement apartment in Malton. Within two weeks, she was working in a factory in Brampton.

    At first, she met people from her village at their homes or the Sikh temple. Slowly all changed. Her phone calls to India became irregular and when she was invited, along with her husband and father-in-law, for a get-together she made excuses. When she did leave the house, she was always with her father-in-law or husband, say her extended family in Brampton.

    "She was here for more than two years and I met her only about five or six times," said Kirandeep Basran, a cousin who lives in Brampton."She came to my house twice and barely stayed for 10 minutes each time."

    Basran says whenever someone called Amandeep, her father-in-law or husband either picked up the extension or switched on the speakerphone. "I started to worry about her and so I called up her husband one day," said Basran. "He abused me, screamed and told me never to call again."

    This was early 2007 and Amandeep was about eight months pregnant. A few days later, Amandeep phoned her cousin and asked her not to phone or visit.

    "I didn't want to aggravate things for her," said Basran, who next met Amandeep when her son, Manmohan Singh, was born on March 1, 2007. "Even when I went to see Aman and her son, the father-in-law hovered around." Basran asked him if she could take Aman and the baby for a few days but "he refused."

    In India, Amandeep's family was thrilled she had a baby boy and seemed to be settling into her new life. In the weeks after the birth, Amandeep spoke to her parents only about her son.

    "After the baby was born, she looked and sounded happy for some time," said Karamjeet Benipal, Iqbal's wife. The family is from the same village as Amandeep's.

    But ten months later, in January 2008, the baby was sent to India to be brought up by his paternal grandmother. Two weeks after that, however, the baby was sent to Amandeep's parents.

    Amandeep never saw him again.

    Soon after, Amandeep started working at an Indian grocery store run by her father-in-law on Airport Rd. in Malton.

    Neighbours at the family's Brandon Gate Dr. home in Malton say Amandeep and her father-in-law left for work as early as 7 a.m. every day. The owner of a pizza store in the plaza, Anil Dhodi, recalled a "very hardworking" Amandeep serving customers or cleaning and stocking shelves.

    Another woman, a regular at the Malton store, told the Star how Amandeep spoke fondly of her family and had tears in her eyes whenever she talked about her son.

    At the store, Amandeep listened to music and talked to customers, but when left alone would hurriedly call Basran or her sister in India.

    In mid-March, Amandeep phoned her family in Punjab – her voice full of excitement – and told her father their immigration papers had been filed.

    "That's what her father-in-law told her," said Iqbal.


    BALDEV MUTTA knows the stories of immigrant women all too well.

    The executive director of the Punjabi Community Health Centre in Brampton says hundreds of young Punjabi brides arrive in Canada every year. Many have arranged marriages. "They don't know anyone, don't have any support system and battle pressures most people can't even imagine exist," he said.

    In the Punjabi culture, men are raised to be dominant while women are expected to be subservient. "The level of thinking of men in the Punjabi community leaves a lot to be desired," said Mutta, a Punjabi himself. Mutta, who runs programs at four Sikh temples in Brampton, Rexdale, Malton and Oakville, and hosts a radio show, wishes he had been able to reach Amandeep.

    Some women are so isolated that they are not allowed to have any communication even with their parents, said Kripa Sekhar, executive director of the South Asian Women's Centre on Lansdowne Ave. in Toronto. "There are times when we get emails or phone calls from a woman's family saying they haven't heard from her ever since she came to Canada, can we check on her," says Sekhar.

    In some cases women, bruised and beaten, have been locked up in their homes, not allowed to make or receive any calls. "It's a problem women face everywhere, but what is unique among South Asians is that we don't acknowledge it or want to talk about it."


    BASRAN RECALLS getting a call from Amandeep in January 2008.

    "Amandeep was sobbing on the phone," the cousin recalls. "She was hysterical. She said `my parents have spent so much money on me ... I have to get them here first.' She believed everything would be okay once they got here."

    On Dec. 15, 2008, Basran stopped by the store on her way to Pearson airport. She was flying to India and wanted to know if Amandeep had any message for her parents.

    "Aman had tears in her eyes. She just told me to give her son a big hug from her."

    Weeks before, Amandeep had also called Pawandeep. The sisters cried on the phone. They spoke again two weeks before Amandeep died and there were more tears.

    "She said we (the family) would be soon joining her and everything would be fine then. She didn't want to jeopardize our chances of getting to Canada."


    PAWANDEEP, FLANKED by her parents, is sitting in the spacious living room of a north Brampton home owned by members of their extended family. The three arrived in Toronto on Jan. 9, the night before Amandeep's funeral. It has been a tough few weeks.

    First, a Peel Region police officer called to break the news about Amandeep's death. Then police told her father sponsorship papers for the family had never been filed.

    Police won't comment on the case.

    The family waited for two days to get a travel visa for Canada. Hours after they arrived, they drove to the funeral home to view their daughter's battered body.

    Avtar spoke to his daughter a day before she was killed. It was his birthday on Dec. 31. He had turned 46. "She wished me happy birthday and said she hoped my next birthday would be celebrated in Canada," he said, shaking his head.

    He looks tired and distraught. His wife, Kulwant, sits next to him, tears streaming down her face, her shoulders sagging.

    "I think we were numb after we heard about Aman. That everything was based on lies ... sunk in much later," says Pawandeep.

    "We hope Aman didn't know about it when she died. It's what she lived for." Before Peel police called, the family says they received a strange call from Amandeep's mother-in-law in India. Harjinder Kaur Cheema warned them they would get a call from the police `but don't get worried ... ' That's what she told me," says Avtar.

    Amandeep's husband called them 30 hours after she had died, says Pawandeep. They've barely spoken to him since they arrived. The husband, his sister, and other relatives, who attended and paid for the funeral, declined to speak to the Star.

    What's to say? asks Iqbal, the friend with whom Amandeep's parents are now staying. "Amandeep's gone. We want to see what happens with the father-in-law now."

    The day after the funeral, people stream in to Iqbal's home to mourn. Everyone is heartbroken.

    Iqbal's wife, Karamjit, says she called the funeral home before the ceremony, wanting to bathe and dress Amandeep according to Sikh tradition. She was told there were too many wounds on her body.

    Amandeep's mother, Kulwant, is inconsolable as she hears this.

    Bobby Benipal, another family friend, wonders if he or others in the community could have done something. "She was from my village (in India). I feel like I've let her down."

    Pawandeep holds a framed photo of her sister. In the photo, Amandeep is wearing a pink salwar-kameez, a Punjabi dress. "She dreamed of a better life for herself and her family. All she wanted was to live happily with her husband and son like any other woman."

    Amandeep's parents don't know what they will do next. They haven't even started thinking of their mounting debts or the future of their three children. All they know is that they don't want to stay in Canada for long.

    "I just want my daughter's ashes," says Kulwant. "I don't want to stay long in the country where my daughter was killed."
     
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  3. Archived_member7

    Archived_member7
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    The most horrible Orgies can be heard from such homes ..The marriage thing there it appears to me is like a shady business. I remember few years back there was a documentry on National Geography about a case in British Columbia, Canada.

    Here's the story; source
    Jassi murder-Jassi (Jaswinder) Kaur Sidhu was murdered on June 8, 2000


    August 4, 1975: Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu is born in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. ​
    1977: Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu , also known as Mittoo, is born the Punjab, India.
    1991 and onwards: The village of Kaonke, in the Punjab, becomes a stronghold of the Sikh militancy. Police round up boys in large numbers. Mittoo is one of eight picked up on suspicion and taken to the CIA office of Joginder Singh. He is brutally interrogated for a week. A local politician finally gets him released.
    1992 onwards: Mittoo plays Khabaddi, an athletic form of team tag. He plays 10 to 12 tournaments a month, earning very small amounts of prize money.
    1992: Police arrest Mittoo for a second time. He is beaten severely enough so that he is forced to stop playing khabaddi for 6 to 7 months.
    1993: Mittoo begins his career as an auto rickshaw driver, a very low-paying kind of work.
    1993: Mittoo begins playing khabaddi again and becomes a local star.

    1995: At age 19, Mittoo meets Jassi who is visiting the Punjab from Canada with her mother, her maternal aunt and uncle, Surjit Singh Badesha. It is love at first sight. A friend of Jassi's agrees to be a go-between for the mismatched lovers. They meet privately at Romi's house and take oaths of living and dying together.
    1995-99: Home in British Columbia, Jassi writes letters to Mittoo, sent to him via a friend. They also arrange to speak on the phone.
    January – February 1999: Jassi's family goes to India for three months. The purpose of the visit is to arrange a marriage for Jassi. She turns down all of the suggested matches.
    March 15, 1999: Jassi and Mittoo marry secretly at a temple in Ludihana in the Punjab and spend their first night together in a hotel.
    April 19, 1999: Jassi registers the marriage in India. Rumors begin to spread about the secret wedding. Jassi's family is told that she has married a poor man, but Jassi denies the story.
    June 1999: Jassi's family finds out about the marriage and demands that she divorce Mittoo. The mother and the uncle beat Jassi. Jassi's mother and uncle, saying they are going to buy a car for her, convince her to put her signature on a blank piece of paper
    February 9, 2000: Back in Canada, Jassi tries to arrange immigration for Mittoo. Jassi sends a letter to Ottawa telling Immigration officials that her uncle might try to give them false information about Mittoo which he later does.
    February 10, 2000: Jassi's uncle, Surjit, has affidavit drawn up that says that Mittoo and his friends forced Jassi, at gunpoint, to marry Mittoo. The uncle uses Jassi's signature that he obtained from her under the pretence of buying her a car to validate the complaint. Jassi is confined to her Uncle's home in Maple Ridge, B.C.
    February 23, 2000: Eleven days after receiving the affidavit from Jassi's uncle, Indian police begin to investigate Mittoo and his friends, Bindri and Surinder Kumar for kidnapping Jassi. The two friends, Bindri and Surinder, are arrested and held illegally for four days. Surjit Singh Badesha arrives from Canada and beats the men while they are in custody. Mittoo is forced into hiding and calls Jassi, begging for help. Her uncle promises Mittoo he will help him come to Canada if he divorces Jassi. Mittoo refuses.
    March 8, 2000: Jassi sends a fax to Indian police refuting the story of her kidnapping.
    March 13, 2000: Jassi faxes a letter to Indian police telling them she fears for her and for Mittoo's safety. Mitto is found by Indian police and arrested.
    April 3, 2000: Jassi goes to the RCMP in Maple Ridge, B.C. after being threatened and hit by her uncle.
    April 4, 2000: Jassi has a new passport issued in Surrey, B.C.
    April 6, 2000: Jassi calls the RCMP and is escorted out of her family home. Family members outside yell insults at her.
    April 13, 2000: Jassi leaves for India.
    April 19, 2000: The Judge grants bail to Mittoo and he is released from jail.

    April 26, 2000: Jassi's uncle begins calling Darshan Singh, a wealthy local businessman in the Punjab. Darshan Singh's daughter later marries Surjit Singh Badesha's son.
    June 7, 2000: Jassi's mother learns that the pair are in hiding at the home of Mittoo's grandparents. She calls them there and speaks to Mittoo and Jassi. Jassi believes the call is a peace offering and tells her mother where they will be during the next few days.
    June 8, 2000: The day after the phone call, they are attacked by a gang. Mittoo is badly beaten and left for dead. He is found and taken to a hospital Ludiahna and tells police that Jassi was kidnapped.
    June 8, 2000: Jassi is taken to a farmhouse outside Ludihana where she told that her husband is dead. One of the kidnappers, Ashwani Kumar talks to Jassi's mother and uncle by cell phone in B.C. According to Indian police, Jassi's mother orders Ashwani Kumar to kill Jassi.
    June 9, 2000: Jassi's body is found, her throat slit, in an irrigation ditch.
    June 10, 2000: The Indian newspaper Ajit publishes a photo of Jassi. Mittoo's relatives identify her and claim the body.
    June 18, 2000: The first newspaper coverage of the story appears in British Columbia. Indian Police seize weapons, cars, mobile phones from the men suspected of kidnapping and killing Jassi.
    July 9, 2000: Indian police announce Jassi's murder is a contract killing and arrest 11 men.
    July 11, 2000: Indian police issue arrest warrants for Jassi's mother and uncle.
    January, 2001: Mittoo fears for his life. Gunmen shoot at his house attempts are made to run him down in the street.
    October, 2001: the fifth estate investigates Jassi's murder and broadcasts its documentary, The Murdered Bride. At that time, the RCMP in British Columbia, told the fifth estate that they had no jurisdiction over crimes committed in India.
    January 2002: RCMP confirm to the fifth estate that they do have the jurisdiction to investigate. Spokesperson Danielle Efford says: "To conspire in Canada to commit a murder elsewhere is against the law and a crime here in Canada."
    2003: RCMP spokesperson Grant Learned refused to confirm or deny that there is any investigation.

    June 2005: RCMP spokesperson John Ward tells the fifth estate that there is an ongoing investigation, but declined to provide any specific details.
    2004: Mittoo is arrested and charged with the rape of a servant of Darshan Singh, a serious charge for which bail is rarely granted. Mittoo's lawyer, Ashwani Chaudhray, says the charges against Mittoo are false. Mittoo, however, remains incarcerated, awaiting his trial.
    October 21, 2005: Seven men are convicted in plotting and killing Jassi, including Darshan Singh and former police officer Joginder Singh and Ashwani Kumar who slit Jassi's throat. They are given life sentences for Jassi's murder and the attempted murder of Mittoo. Indian authorities say that Jassi's uncle and mother got away with murder.
     
  4. Archived_member7

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    THe above case shows the most cruel face of a mother who orders a honor killing of her own daughter.
     
  5. pk70

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    Rajkhlasa ji
    When cultural taboos become dominating priorities, the religious effects are eroded and people start showing up animal behavior, and criminality is justified by false illusions of integrity (Ijjat) that trigger honor killing. A girl, long time ago wrote to me “Punjabi culture doesn’t suit to Sikhism” First it sounded extremist views about a culture but over time I found them to be a solid reality (though painful). It is amazing how Guru Sahiban succeeded in cracking their wall of conceit and greed. After having said that I still believe such examples are rare, thanks to God.

    Note I also belong to the same community and culture so I am not picking on them as an outsider
     
  6. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Raj and pk70 ji

    The above 2 cases are totally different.The first case I posted is case of madness of going to canada which led Amandeep kaur killed by her in laws.The 2nd case which raj posted
    is case of honour killing because daughter married a sikh of another caste.

    In the first case I solely blame parents for the death of Amandeep kaur.Without proper enquiry they married their daughter to a canadian boy and paid hefty dowry too.If everything could have gone fine then its a waheguru di kirpa but here things went opposite.
    These type of people are Day dreamers who not only mary their daughters to canadian or usa citizens but also pay money to agents to send their sons abroad.The sikhs of today have totally forgotten the concept of simple living.Why to marry their daughters to unknown NRI's? .If parents of today will start marrying their daughters to hardworking ,honest people irrespective of their income of financial status then cases like these will not happen

    As far as 2nd case is concerned yes that was a case of honour killing.

    I also disagree with pk70 ji on the point that punjabi culture does not suit sikhism.I read
    cases of honour killing dowry killing in newspaper so many times among non punjabi hindu's or muslims.Just because many people do not read them it does not mean that in other culture's these things are not happening
     
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  7. pk70

    pk70
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    Kds1980 Ji

    There is no doubt what the truth in your statement, it is found in other cultures too. The reason I pointed out is not only about honor killing but also their ignoring behavior towards simple living (As you stated in your post and the tragic story of Amandeep kaur ji). The girl who wrote to me was from this very culture (as I am too) and we being from it, know for sure how this culture detours the mind from simplicity, contentedness and anti caste system feelings infused in us by Guru ji. In the beginning, I disagreed with her( a girl who wrote to me) as you do now but I have found some convincing factors about the culture that has not much space for simple living due to conceit or other factors. Partially I agree with you too.:)
     
  8. Archived_member7

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    I agree with PK 70 ji ..I too have roots ...although we have wandered a lot and have settled in Mumbai . There is so much of Haume..which Guru Mahraj wanted us to shed. The show of pomp, the arrogance.

    Kds veerji be frank..what is the general opinion for Sardars amongst other people ? ask any one and they will say they are know to be tandoori chicken tearing, whisky gulping loud mouth swearing country bumpkins who have the 'Bhe***od' word always on the tongue. Rarely a person will say they r decent people who have emphasis for Naam Simran and Seva . When people see them doing it no doubt they do appreciate but thats not the image which is always there inspite of all the efforts made.

    Listen to any punjabi album..it is drenched in alcohol...few numbers are without the mention of daroo and whisky....I have stopped listening to them now .

    The Punjabi culture of today does not suit Sikhi. The people themselves have projected it that way. Ask any Sardar why ?and there comes the answer ' Je sab ta hondha hi hai..Punjabi nahi karange ta hor kon karega' which is translated as ' All this does happen ..if we punjabis dont do it who else will' ...they take pride in their Patiala Pegs more than their deed of valour.
     
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  9. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    rajkhasla ji

    There is a saying, "Angels with feet of clay." This means that the human condition is to have the potential to be a pure soul, but sadly we are mired in the mud and clay of earthly distractions which frustrate our progress to become that better part. That is most of us. There are very few pure souls.

    As I read the stories and the comments, I think that the better action is to keep these stories of continuous cruelty always alive. Even if one person whom you describe above is suddenly awakened in reading about the suffering caused by their ignorance, then something has changed for the good. Of course these women will not be made whole again, and their families cannot be healed by the story or by our reactions. To never forget, to keep awareness up front and center.... I think that will save some. In the end we are all accountable for our actions.
     
  10. Archived_member7

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    very truely said ...I really think at times ..why ? why this pride ? All that Singh is King ..and Khalsa Rules ..I understand they can be morale boosters ..But uou cannot prove yorself superior by showing someone down ..

    The world is based on co - existance ..You know something ..this is all tolerated in India ..nowhere in the world will you see such unruly behaviour ...

    All that pride is like ..ohh you ..you r a bloddy idol worshipper ..we r superior ..Man who r you to judge ...

    Its high time we get back to our senses ...Hindustan need the True KHALSA ..THE WORLD need the True Khalsa ..will the True Khalsa Arise ????
     
  11. pk70

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    Honor killing should have no place in Sikhism at all in any situation.
    We claim to be Sikhs, we display a show of being Sikhs, we boast about being followers of Guru Nanak but deep down we are terribly defeated animal- souls very rarely aware that no religion can be believed in if it is not lived to its high standard. Honor killing is a sheer criminal gut we harbor for our own destruction for the sake of a show off performed for others. In other words, it is the stupidity at its climax. Mind it, criminals pose to have a faith but they don’t have any actually
     
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  12. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    There is no honour in killing. Only ego,hatred,disdain and arrogance, which are not Sikh values.
     
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  13. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    and GREED as well...
    The most often "reason" given such behaviour towards wives is always.."she gave birth to a GIRL..." ( as if THAT was quite allright to kill her)..BUT in Amardeep's case she gave them a SON....it didnt help save her life...because the GREED was there to kill her and GET a NEW DOWRY..NEW WIFE..all the Baraat thingy marriage paalce partying and drinking at Girls expense..etc etc... sheer GREED. Whcih Father doesnt want to raise his son..this one shipped off his newborn son to India....Any punishment is too little for these OGRES in"sikh" form...:mad:
     
  14. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Dear Raj

    Its true that the image of negative sardars is like this but on the other hand sikhs do have lot of positive image.Btw i am not defending today's punjabi culture I am just saying that
    The things mentioned in this thread happens in other culture's of India too.and in some on much larger scale.so should we say that culture's of India or Asia do not suit sikhism?



    Punjabi albums mostly show clean shaven jatt youths so its obvious that they will
    mention what these youth like
     

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