Son Of The Sant
The man leads a typical middle-class life — eking out a living as a property dealer, living in a modest house on the outskirts of Jalandhar, with his family of a homemaker wife and two studious looking children. But, there is nothing ordinary about Ishar Singh’s life, try as much as he might to lead an anonymous life.
It’s neither easy, nor ordinary, being the elder son of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale — ‘sant’ to some, ‘terrorist leader’ to others.
On the eve of the 26th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, as a Sehaj Path of the Guru Granth Sahib fills his house, 38-year-old Ishar is calm. Bhindranwale stickers still adorn cars in the crowded lanes of Jalandhar and youth sport T-shirts with his face embossed on them. But, Ishar is unwilling to speak much of those days — he was 12 when he last saw his father at Darbar Sahib. He has refused offers from politicians and stayed away from the limelight.
“It’s not out of feeling of fear. I could have joined politics. There were offers and many still pouring in, but I am not interested. I attend function in his memory, but I would rather stay at home and cherish his legacy, since no action of mine can further add to that legacy. But who knows what the future holds,’’ he says.
“My father was a misunderstood man. He never initiated violence, it was always in reaction to something that had been said about his community. His quote of ‘every Sikh killing 70 Hindus’ was misinterpreted by the media. It was in reaction to Bal Thackerey’s comments that there were only 2 crore Sikhs for 70 crore Hindus,” he adds.
There is nothing to suggest that the mild-mannered, middle-aged man is cut out in his father’s mould, but then, he is also not apologetic about being his father’s son. “I am proud of his legacy, of what he did for the community. It’s left to history to judge individuals later on. Even Bhagat Singh was a ‘terrorist’ for the British government,’’ he says.