Disabled Sikh woman to skydive against fascism

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London : A feisty Indian-origin woman with cerebral palsy has announced plans to jump more than 14,000 feet from a plane to help raise funds for the fight against fascism in Britain.

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Wheelchair-bound Rupy Kaur, 22, plans to carry out her skydiving feat Dec 6 in Lake District, a picturesque region in northwest England.

The psychology graduate of Manchester University said money raised from the act will go toward two of Britain’s best-known groups campaigning against fascism and racism – Searchlight and Hope Not Hate.

The move by Kaur, who is a disability activist, comes amid a recent surge in violent demonstrations by racist and anti-immigration groups in towns and cities with large non-white populations across Britain.

Kaur is particularly critical of the anti-immigration British National Party (BNP), which is the midst of a major controversy over a decision by BBC television to invite its leader to participate in a popular current affairs panel discussion show called Question Time this week.

“When I first heard of the BNP, I thought nobody would be that stupid as to vote for them. There have been many wars and nobody would want to incite hatred, would they?” Kaur says on the Hope Not Hate website.

“The sad fact is there are people who support them.”

The BNP has more than 50 elected representatives in local authorities all over Britain and two in the European Parliament.

Kaur, who takes her inspiration from Gandhi and declares pride in her Indian origin, said she comes from a family of fighters for justice: her grandfather had to fight prejudice and racism as a ragman in order to become a successful businessman.

Born with cerebral palsy, Kaur started her education in a special needs school but authorities were forced to admit her to a mainstream school following a campaign by her uncle.

Although she did not have a note-taker in lessons and was considered to be a ‘health and safety hazard’ – which meant she could not stay back in school without a support worker – she scored three A-grades in her 12th standard exams.

After finishing school, social services advised her to stay at home to do a ‘Learn Direct’ course but her cousin helped her “battle with them in order for me to study at Manchester” – one of Britain’s best universities.

“Gandhi once said, ‘We are the change we seek in the world.’ If you are proud to be British then I believe that you should stand against fascism,” said Kaur.

“This jump is a major thing for me.

“It would be awesome to know that people are supporting me and this cause so get your hands in your pockets … by doing so you’ll be making a positive difference in the world.”

Kaur can be sponsored on the website www.hopenothate.org.uk/skydive.

(Dipankar De Sarkar can be contacted at [email protected])