Novembers were colder back then than what they are now. One starts line-drying their winter clothes to give it a summer fresh smell. Few of his winter clothes were still lined up outside in balcony, when the news appeared that his father is missing. It was not a similar November in 1984, as the anti Sikh riots had hit Delhi, and unexpectedly it had reached Karol Bagh that Friday night on November 2. News quickly spread that people are being hit and charred to death mercilessly by a violent mob moving recklessly in the locality. His father was missing and police took 16 days to verify that he was dead. The incident changed his life and had a huge impact on the mind of this twelve year boy, who is now a 42 year old candidate for Aam Admi Party from Hari Nagar. Jagdeep was 12 by that time and her sister 16. These are the words of mother of Jagdeep Singh who is fighting as an Aam Admi party candidate from Hari Nagar constituency in the coming Delhi Assembly election. She is hoping that all will turn out well this November unlike 30 years back in 1984. I had to wrap up the interview as I could see her trying to control her expression showing sorrow at her loss. I quickly turned to some political jokes on AAP and their symbol jhaddu.
Jagdeep Singh is an Insurance service provider in his locality and is also a social activist working particularly in health sector. His tireless days were spent visiting his small office of two employees and nearby Deen Dayal Hospital, looking for patients who need his service, before he was nominated as AAP candidate. Separately, he used to takes out time to visit people in park and public places to inform them about AAP and its political ambitions, building opinions on political transformation cutting across party, religion, caste and community lines. He is more often remembered as the man who took to Dholak to spread the message of brotherhood and unity. It all started with Anna Hazare movement and moved indefatigably to Damini rape case protest at India gate and later at Jantar Mantar. A political activist said to me “he used to come alone and sit at a lonely place playing Dholak and singing gurubanis whole night, amazingly people used to gather around him and sing and play other instruments making a huge impact on others who unconsciously had entered the place. Such was the aura of this simple man streaked with sweat and swollen hand that nobody could resist his words and message”. The Damini case highlighted his dedication within the circles of AAP and Arvind Kejriwal requested him to formally join party.
Asked how a businessman like him reached Anna Hazare movement for Lokpal. An abstemious smile floated on his lips, posturing objective mood, he said “I was caught by the imagination, how a single man can turn the corrupt political circle upside down. How can he render so much of motivation to youths across the nation? The question had merit and needed a validity of the enterprise. So there I went and since then, I have understood the power of Aam Admi and trying to disseminate it.” During this short span of questioning he replied many calls on his mobile and volunteers sitting in his party office. The small party office was filled with volunteers; people from completely different faith, age, occupation, dialect and even social background were sitting together. I realised this starkly noticeable heterogeneity of India and a homogeneous enthusiasm for a change.
“1984 rights had has a positive impact on my mind, instead of revenge I am now more concerned with avoiding such a flagitious situation for any family. I think no one deserves what I deserved after the 1984 riots. To avoid such riots or hatred, we need informed citizen and above all a concerned political community.” It had persuasive impact and now I have platform, an opportunity to work in a concrete manner, so that India remains free of riots and political violence. During the conversation the light of the hall went off, and the Jagdeep Singh calmly told me to wait till the lights are back. Somebody shouted for a electric mechanics, in between the candidate himself took a chair, holding his mobile in his mouth for light trying to fix fluorescent without waiting for an electrician. I looked at my watch; it was 12:30 AM, quite late for my standards. I left without informing him, with the flickering fluorescent and voice requesting me to have dinner before I leave.
I was amazed how this man can think of fighting an election with just sheer motivation against a political heavyweight like Harcharan Singh Balli, who have recently left Bhartiya Janta Party and has joined Congress (I). He has consecutively won the seat for four times and has been ruling the constituency for 20 years in the name of anti congress and anti Sikh riots. He has suddenly shifted his gear, possibly proving that self-indulgence is the only philosophy left in today’s political ambit. It does not matter Jagdeep Singh or for that sake his party AAP wins or lose this assembly election, it proved that ideals of democracy could still be reclaimed and established if one works with the sole intention of community service at ground level.
By Tanushree Chakravorty