FRESNO, California, USA—On Thursday, August 31, 2017, Fresno City Council members unanimously passed the resolution to rename the Victoria park located on Clinton and Barley to Shaheed Jaswant Singh Khalra park. Five council members voted in favor, while two were absent.
Shaheed Jaswant Singh Khalsa was a Sikh banker who had unearthed proof of over 25,000 cremations of unclaimed dead bodies. These were extrajudicial murders committed by the Punjab Police in the early 1990s.
On September 6, 1995, Jaswant Singh Khalra was picked up by the Police outside his house, and taken away. He was was kept in illegal confinement at the house of a Police Superintendent named Ajit Sandhu in Tarn Taran district. This is where he too was murdered by the Punjab Police.
Sikh youth and adults filled the Fresno City Hall as they awaited their council members to vote on this critical issue. Several arrived here from other parts of the valley, including cities such as Selma, Fowler, Parlier and Madera.
“I thought we were just naming a park, but we are doing much larger than that. I am touched by the life of Jaswant Singh Khalra,” said Garry Bredefeld, Council Member. “Sikh community has done so much for our city and you are all involved in so many ways. This is much larger than just naming a park. This is saying you matter to us and that you are a big part of Fresno.”
“We honor our future as this park naming will be a permanent landmark in the city of Fresno, marking our presence and our pursuit for the values that Jaswant Singh Khalra gave his life – justice, truth, sovereignty, and human rights,” said Deep Singh of the Jakara Movement.
On August 31, 2017 Navkiran Kaur Khalra returns to the Fresno on a very special occasion. Now the city of Fresno will make sure that the name of Shaheed Jaswant Singh Khalra is remembered. The Sikh Community of Fresno, led by the youth activists of the Jakara Movement, have worked with Fresno City Council officials, especially Oliver Baines, to have Victoria Park (located on Clinton and Brawley streets) renamed and dedicated in Shaheed Jaswant Singh’s honor. While parks have been labeled “Singh Park” in cities such as Livingston and Elk Grove, this will be the first time a park is named in honor of a community leader that addresses this recent chapter of Sikh history.
We ask the community to join Navkiran Kaur Khalra, the Jakara Movement, and the entire Sikh Community of Fresno for this historic naming of a city park in honor of Shaheed Jaswant Singh Khalra. Please come to Fresno City Hall on August 31, 2017 at 4:30pm. For more information call Simranjit Singh at 559-779-4916.