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Home they brought the braveheart dead, for son’s first glimpse

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

Ludhiana: Gurinder Singh, 10, had always yearned to meet his father Sukhwinder but not the way he finally did. Sukhwinder, described as a “hero” by British authorities, had been killed chasing two muggers in London. When the body was brought to his ancestral village late Wednesday night, it was the first time Gurinder saw his father.

Gurinder had been born a few months after Sukhwinder left for Britain in search of a better life. The boy was brought up in their ancestral village Dholanwal, near Khanna town in Punjab’s Ludhiana district.

Sukhwinder, 31, worked as a builder in Britain. For 10 years, he had not been able to afford a trip home.

On Jan 8 evening, Sukhwinder had chased and confronted two youths near East London’s Barking station when they mugged a young woman. One of them stabbed Sukhwinder, who died at London’s Royal Hospital. He was termed a “hero” by London’s Metropolitan Police.

Like many Punjabi youth for whom living in a western country is a dream, Sukhwinder had left his rural home near Punjab’s bursting industrial hub of Ludhiana a decade ago to make it good in Britain.

When he was killed, Sukhwinder — Bittu to family and friends — had saved just about enough for a trip home to see his parents, his wife Sandeep Kaur and the son. He had planned the trip in June 2010.

Instead, Sukhwinder’s father Phakkar Singh, travelled nearly 8,000 km to London to get back the body of his braveheart son. Sukhwinder will be cremated in his village later Thursday.

Phakkar Singh said it was in the blood of every Sikh to help those in distress.

“What Mr Singh did was obviously very brave but I would not encourage that members of the public do that. What I would encourage the public to do is contact us immediately,” Detective Inspector John Sandlin told the Guardian newspaper in London after the attack.

Sandlin added: “This is a tragic death of a man who was killed for attempting to stop others committing crime, and our thoughts are with Sukhwinder’s family. However, I would also to reassure the wider community that tragic events such as these are very rare.”

The Sikh community in Britain arranged to send Sukhwinder’s body back to India.

NRI community leaders have been paying tributes to him.

Nirmal Singh Gill, who represents the Longbridge ward on Barking and Dagenham council, said: “He was a very nice young man. He used to go the gurdwara every evening and was always helping. He would help anybody so it doesn’t surprise me that he was trying to help a lady.

“He didn’t deserve this – nobody deserves it – but he was a special young man. He was very well known in the Sikh community and everyone is very shocked. It’s a very big loss to everyone, both here and in India.”

A tribute page on networking site Facebook already has over 24,000 followers for Sukhwinder. Most of them are seeking severe punishment for his killers.

The attack came just weeks after Britain’s Home Office released figures stating that nearly 375,000 people were mugged in England and Wales in 2009. The count made it one incident every 90 seconds.