The untiring panthic sewadar, Dr.Awatar Singh Sekhon is no more!

Dr Awatar Singh Sekhon is the son of the late S. Dhan Kaur Sekhon and S. Dalbir Singh Sekhon (who retired as a Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajasthan), and was born on January 15, 1941 in Dharangwala of Ferozepur district into the well-known Machaki family of his grandfather, Zaildar Sardar Narain Singh Sekhon and his grandfather’s grand-parents Diwan Sardar and Sardarni Budh Singh Sekhon of the former State of Faridkot, now in Punjab.

Dr Awatar Singh Sekhon received his B.Sc. and M. Sc. from Agra University and his PhD from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Dr Sekhon was an internationally renowned Scientist in the discipline of Medical Mycology. He specialized in human fungal infections and served as Mycologist in the Provincial Laboratory of Public Health, Edmonton; as Principal Scientist of the National Reference Centre for Mycotic Diseases; as Acting Director (1986-87) of the Provincial Laboratory of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton; and as Director (1983-94) of the National Centre for Human Mycotic Diseases, Provincial Laboratory of Public Health, University of Alberta and University of Alberta Hospitals. He retired as Associate Professor in the Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta.

With an enormous interest in Sikh affairs, he starting writing on Sikh history and current affairs since the mid-1980s. Over the years, some of the books which he authored, co-authored and edited are as follows:

1.         India Kills the Sikhs: Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon and Dr. H.S.Dilgeer (2016) 

2.         The Sikhs’ Struggle for Sovereignty: Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon and Dr. H.S.Dilgeer (2017) 

3.         Betrayal of the Sikh Nation by Master Tara Singh: Ram Singh Ed: Dr. A. S. Sekhon (2009) 

4.         The Sikhs – Sovereignty to Slavery: Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon (2015) 

5.         Murder of Pluralism: Coping with Democratic Oppression in South Asia: Dr.Awatar Singh Sekhon and Kavneet Singh (2014)

6.         “A White Paper on Khalistan – A True Story”: Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon (1999)

7.         Authentic Voices of South Asia: Editor – Brig. Usman Khalid (2005)

8.          25 Years After the 1984 Assault on Darbar Sahib: Laying the Foundation of the Sikh Nation: Dr Awatar Singh Sekhon and Kavneet Singh (2021)

Dr Sekhon was the Managing and Acting Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Sikh Affairs. His articles and views have been appearing regularly in Indo Canadian Times, World Sikh News, Chardi Kala, The Sikh Messenger, Sant Sipahi, Ajit (Toronto), The Sikh Spectrum, The Sword, Malaya Samachar, The Punjab Times, Awaz-e-Qaum International, the Sikh Times of the United Kingdom, many cyber groups, The Sikhs: Past and Present and The International Journal of Sikh Affairs, since its inception in 1991.

Dr Sekhon was invited to speak in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and United States of America on the human rights violations, persecution, genocide, injustices, betrayals and broken promises of the Sikh Nation but also citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, Christians, Dalits, Manipuris, Assamese, Adivasis, etc.

Dr Sekhon was a staunch supporter of the United Nations Resolutions of 1948, 1949 and subsequent resolutions to hold a plebiscite to decide the fate of the Kashmiris, presently under the occupation of the Indian administration. He has been actively participating in the discussions related to Briefing on Kashmir and areas of human rights violations in Southeast Asia at the UN commissions and sub-commissions since 1999.

Dr Sekhon is the former Director, Human Rights Wing, International Sikh Organization, Washington DC, USA.

For over 20 years Dr. A. S. Sekhon resolutely pursued the cause of the Sikhs. He travelled to Geneva for almost every session of the Commission/Council and never once faltered. It was a sign of his high level of intelligence being utilized for the needs of his people. He was able to work with every tendency in the Sikh world without conflict (admirable considering the tensions under which the Sikh community in the diaspora were suffering). Each of his speeches before the participants at UN Human Rights sessions was unique – in them he brought forth a multitude of aspects of the situation of Sikh life in the sub-continent both past and present. Some were delivered ‘matter-of-fact’; others with passion and emotion. But each was a contribution to help understand the complex issues.

Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon – had been a tireless advocate of the human rights of the Sikh community and has attended over 50 sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and Human Rights Council in Geneva, presenting details on violations of human rights in South Asia, since 1999. Crossing such vast spaces from his home in Edmonton, Canada in order to serve the needs of his people is quite inspiring. His oral and written interventions at the Human Rights bodies are both precise and provocative. From his perspective it is evident that some governments in South Asia are not sufficiently open to listen to grievances of peoples of differing cultural and religious orientations. For protection of the human rights, he dreamt of a ‘federation’ of peoples in South Asia including all the tendencies which, of course, were not always to the liking of the governments concerned. This still persists to a great degree and Dr. Sekhon’s struggle on behalf of Sikh interests and those of his Sikh colleagues are very relevant.

We salute Dr.Awatar Singh Sekhon for the incredible service to the Sikh Nation and know he inspired many others to follow in his footsteps to carry the torch of Sikh liberty further, for a better tomorrow. His trailblazing work will not be wasted but built on by others.

He passed away in the early hours of September 9, 2021 at the hospital in Edmonton, surrounded by his family. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by his dear friends and his loved ones. A generous man of humility yet resolute in his convictions who would do everything in his power to pursue a righteous goal based on Sikh principles, to help the larger Sikh Panth.

Dr Sekhon leaves behind his wonderful wife, three children and their families which includes two grandchildren. His eldest daughter is in public service, and other two children (a daughter and son) are practicing dentists.

May Akal Purakh keep Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon in His care, and our prayers are with the family to bear this terrible loss!

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