PESHAWAR: Even though he ran a modest general store on the outskirts of Peshawar for the better part of four decades, Sardar Charanjit Singh had a very public second life: that of a scholar and an activist who worked for interfaith harmony.
Charanjit Singh, like some others in his community, had migrated to the provincial capital in the early 1970’s for business.
“In 1975, there were only four Sikh families in Peshawar. Charanjit’s family was one of them,” said Sikh elder Baba Amarjit Singh while speaking to The Express Tribune.
He added that Charanjit hailed from the scenic Sadda region of Kurram Agency and moved to Peshawar owing to better business prospects. In turn, he blazed a trail for others of his community to follow.
“He [Charanjit] was a preacher and had a thorough knowledge of the Sikh religion which is why he was often invited to universities to lecture about the different aspects of the Sikh faith,” Amarjit said.
The Sikh elder added that Charanjit was also a social worker who actively worked for interfaith harmony.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Hindu leader Haroon Sarabdayal said that Charanjit had in 2006 helped found the Pakistan Councils of World Religions. Moreover, he wrote three books on interfaith harmony from that platform.
“He not only wrote three books but also co-authored a number of theses and books,” he said, adding that Charanjit’s role for Sikh rights was also laudable.
Charanjit lived in Mohalla Bar, inside the walled city and operated his store on Scheme Chowk together with his brother. Two of his other brothers are hakeems — traditional physicians.
“They were four brothers in which two, including Charnjit, were shopkeepers, while two others are hakeems,” Amarjit said, adding that Charanjit leaves behind three children.
Sarabdayal believes that the attack was a targeted killing.
“His murder is terrorism and target killing since he did not have a feud with anyone,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2018.