Reaction to NBC Dateline Story: Forbidden Love – PAHS Press Release

Crimes of one family can not be blamed on whole community-Punjabi American Heritage Society’s reaction to NBC dateline story: Forbidden love-story about murder of Sikh girl, Jassi Sidhu in India

We like to express our concern regarding dangers and misunderstanding created about Americans of Sikh faith by Dateline story Forbidden Love on NBC on August 27, 2002. We rather appreciate efforts of NBC to highlight this story of heinous crime by one family of British Columbia but unfortunately this story has tarnished image of all Sikhs in USA. Sikhs have lived over 100 years in USA and Canada but they have been most misunderstood Americans, especially many Sikh-Americans have faced  hate crimes and even few have been killed since 9/11 by some ignorant Americans. Media has done poor job by confusing all turban-wearing (99% of turban wearing Americans are Sikhs) Americans with Taliban. We wish your reporter would cover unfortunate killing of Balbir Singh Sodhi of Mesa, Arizona or killing of his brother Sukhpal Singh Sodhi in San Francisco. These people were killed just because of their appearance.

Your reporter again and again linked murder of Jessie (the girl in this story) to Sikh culture and indirectly blamed on Sikh religion. It is like blaming every rape and murder by a criminal individual on his/her religion/community. Sikhs are not an ancient religion (as claimed by your reporter) rather only five hundred year old progressive faith. It respects gender equality. Yes, in Indian culture arranged marriages are common amongst all people irrespective of their faiths- like Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhist people of India. It is a cultural phenomenon rather than any thing to do with religion or faith. In Yuba City, California (10% residents are Sikhs) most of the marriages are love marriages blessed by their parents. So it is very unfortunate that your story is going to create lot more confusion amongst ignorant people. Most Sikh girls in America are highly educated and doing professional jobs (even in India) also surving in police and army.

Also, there were some technical hitches in this story, no one was allowed to represent Sikh point of view on this story. Love letters shown in this story were written in Punjabi/Gurmukhi but Jessie was not able to read affidavit written in Punjabi, then how could she read those love letters. Most baptized Sikhs carry small kirpan but three feet long sword (probable murder weapon) was confused again again as a Sikh symbol. Punjab police is notoriously known for its records of consistent violation of human rights (please refer to Amnesty International records). Even Indian courts don’t readily accept confessions obtained under police torture.

Once again we express our sorrow at tragic death of this unfortunate young beautiful girl, but please don’t let your reporters tarnish the image of all Sikhs in America. There is no link between this crime and Sikh faith. Please, at least have some one represent Sikh point of view on this story in your future programs.

Jasbir Singh Kang MD
Spokesperson, Punjabi American Heritage Society
Yuba City, CA

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