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Former Sikh militant is now foster mother to abandoned girls in Amritsar

Sandeep Kaur is providing shelter and education to around 250 girls, aged between two and 15 years.

chandigarh Updated: Jul 03, 2019 14:07 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
sandeep kaur,former militant sandeep kaur,Bhai Dharam Singh Khalsa Charitable Trust
Sandeep Kaur, surrounded by her wards, in Amritsar.(HT Photo )

A former woman Sikh militant is providing abandoned girls, some of whom almost became victims of female foeticide or infanticide, a home and education.

Sandeep Kaur had earlier raised the wards of slain Sikh militants. She joined the ranks of Sikh militants after Operation Bluestar in 1984. Kaur, who is in her 40s, says , “I was hurt by the attack on Akal Takht (the highest Sikh temporal seat) and the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in Delhi and other cities of India. These incidents caused many a Sikh youth to revolt against the Indian state. I too was one of them.”

In 1989, she married one of the top Babbar Khalsa militants, Dharam Singh Kashtiwal, and was imprisoned for four years in Sangrur jail. She was released in 1996. In 1992, her husband died during an encounter with security forces.

She says, “After my husband’s death, a relative brought my son to visit me at jail. The meeting got me thinking about the hundreds of children whose fathers or caretakers had been killed in the counter-insurgency operations. This led to the foundation of the Bhai Dharam Singh Khalsa Charitable Trust at Sultanwind.”

“The militants’ wards (both boys and girls) were sent to good educational institutions. Almost all of them are now pursuing high-powered courses such as medicine, engineering, law or accountancy. We also took care of the wedding expenses of the girls”, she says.

Now that her first batch of foster children have grown up, Kaur can again be seen playing with little girls who have been deserted by their families. She has taken in around 250 girls, aged between two and 15 years.

“Some of these girls would have been killed while still in their mothers’ womb or soon after birth had I not convinced their families not to kill them,” she says. “One of the girls was brought in by a nurse after she overheard her parents talking about killing the infant at a private hospital. Some of the girls are orphans, some have only one parent and some belong to families that are too poor to take care of them.”

“The girls study at different CBSE-affiliated schools and classes are also provided at the shelter. “We don’t make any distinction on basis of caste, creed or religion,” she says, adding that around 10 Hindu girls were being raised by her.

In 2015, Kaur received an award for being the ‘most inspirational woman’ by Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Kaur has also penned down two books, including an autobiography in Punjabi, after marrying Sikh writer Baljit Singh Khalsa, editor of the magazine, Vangar.

First Published: Jul 03, 2019 14:07 IST