Syed Ali Mujtaba | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Punjabi folk singer Mohammad Sadiq, has won with a margin of 83256 votes from the Faridkot (reserved) Lok Sabha election constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Sadiq was fielded as a Congress candidate for the first time in 2012 from Bhadaur assembly segment in Barnala district, where he defeated Darbara Singh Guru. However, he lost the 2017 assembly polls and was again fielded from Faridkot for the LS election.
Being a folk singer for decades, Sadiq is a popular figure among all the communities in Punjab for the past over five decades now. He is best known for his duets in the 1970s and 80s with singer Ranjit Kaur. Sadiq’s popularity among the Punjabi masses made the Congress leadership give him the ticket from the Faridkot.
Sadiq was born into a non-practicing Muslim family, Punjab’s Malerkotla region in 1942. He belongs to the ‘Doom’ community, which comes under the Scheduled Caste category. During the partition, Sadiq, aged-five was to board the train to Pakistan, however, as destiny would have it, he missed the train. And the rest, as they say, is history. Incidentally, Malerkotla is the only place in Punjab, where Muslims survived the Partition’s ethnic cleansing.
Mohammad Sadiq’s earlier electoral victory from reserved consistency was quashed by the courts on the ground that he being a Muslim did not belong to the Scheduled Caste category.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court even quashed his election. However, the Supreme Court, on his appeal, overturned the HC decision on April 29, 2016.
The Apex Court in a landmark verdict noted that “a person can change his religion or faith but not the caste to which he belongs to, as caste has linkage to birth.”
Sadiq had argued that he had grown up as a Muslim and is not a Sikh and that it was only in 2006 that he converted to Sikhism.
Sadiq maintained that growing up in a Muslim family and being closely involved with the Sikh community, he had been subjected to untouchability as a child. He even has openly spoken about the caste-based discrimination that exists both in Islam and Sikhism.
“It is only in theory that Sikhs and Muslims don’t believe in caste, but in practice, both the faiths do so,” Sadiq has reportedly said.
Sadiq’s case throws light on caste and identity in Punjab’s Sikh society. His story is a fascinating tale of how caste has polluted religions that claim not to recognize such hierarchies.
Even for those like Sadiq who are looking to free themselves from the shackles of caste by converting to other faith, have to be content with the fact that their caste identity shall remain attached to them forever.
(Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. Views expressed here are his personal and Caravan Daily does not necessarily subscribe to them.)