The comments made by popular journalist and media specialist Thakur Ranjit Singh have attracted widespread criticism from a large number of people from the extended Indian community in New Zealand and abroad.
His original comments on Facebook were condemned as ‘outrageous, unwarranted and vicious’ by Members of Parliament and others (three of which appear separately in this section), while many community leaders and readers have said that Mr Singh had ‘condemned a Nation and its people.’
Our editorial appearing under Viewlink reflects the opinions of a majority of our readers. The following contains the views from the community.
The Waitakere Indian Association, of which Mr Singh is the Vice-President, distanced itself from his comments, saying that they did not represent either the views of the organisation or those of any of its executive committee members.
President Sunil Chandra told this newspaper that the Executive Committee at its emergency meeting held on August 13 decided to suspend him from the post of Vice-President, since “there are questions about his personal credibility and commitment to the advancement of the Indian community in New Zealand.”
“All of us are proud of our Indian ancestry and the progress made by India since its independence on August 15, 1947. Our Committee was shocked by the comments made by Mr Singh. They are clearly unacceptable,” Mr Chandra said.
Magsons Hardware Mitre 10 Mega Chairman & Managing Director and the Hindu Council of New Zealand President Vinod Kumar described Mr Singh as a ‘failed journalist.’
“His remarks and comments are always without any base and research. Let alone that, his thoughts are of hatred. We as Hindu Council of New Zealand totally condemn his remarks on the Facebook,” he said.
Muslim community leader Ahemad Bhamji said he wished to disassociate himself completely from the comments of Mr Singh.
“I am disappointed that Thakur Ranjit Singh had chosen to write derogatory remarks about India and Indians. I am proud that my ancestors were from India and I want the future generations to have the same sentiments. I am sure that my disappointment with Mr Singh is shared by a majority of Indo-Fijians,” he said.
Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust Chairman Jeet Suchdev said that he was “utterly disappointed” with such remarks.
“I agree with all the respondents who condemned the senseless remarks about our Mother India. His knowledge of a great country is poor and his bad attitude towards the people of India is deplorable,” he said.
Manukau Indian Association President Balu Mistry said that Mr Singh’s comments amounted to treachery.
“I have known Thakur Ranjit Singh and I am surprised by his ‘rejection of being Indian’ and running away from India. Many people did not run away from India to Fiji, but were forced to being indentured labourers,” he said.
V4U Entertainments Limited Director Viraf Todywalla said Mr Singh’s remarks against India and Indians were very disturbing.
“Every country has its positive and negative factors and nobody has the right to highlight the negatives of any country or its people the way Mr Singh did, that too taking Independence Day as a subject. What kind of a person does that? It was also disturbing that he had a few like-minded people liking and praising his comments,” he said.
Apurv Shukla, who is in the media, said that Mr Singh had expressed his own views and that no self-respecting person would agree with them.
“But in a country where Freedom of Speech is a fundamental right and the press is considered the fourth pillar of democracy, there is room for everyone’s views. India has shown to the world that it is a truly secular country, where religion never came in the way of merit. Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption has brought that scourge to the forefront of public discourse,” he said.
There were a few comments on the Facebook agreeing with Mr Singh.
Read related comments in this section and our editorial under Viewpoint