Lahore Embraces Sikh Traffic Cop

Posted on May 2, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Minorities, People
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Adil Najam

[UPDATE: Unfortunately the story of Gulab Singh has not been a pleasant one since the great start that this post originally reported on. Current, and still evolving details, here.] 

A few days ago a reader sent me a link to a BBC story about Dr. Gulab Singh Shaheen who has been inducted into the Pakistan Punjab traffic police and has become a celebrity on the roads of Lahore where he is quite literally stopping the traffic as Lahoris stop to embrace and greet him.

I felt real good about the continuation of this trend towards reintegrating minority communities who have been systematically sidelined in the past, and even more about the wonderful reception Lahore is giving to Sub-Inspector Gulab Singh. And, of course, my fascination with traffic cops is well known to ATP readers (here, here, here, here, and elsewhere).

However, I hesitated because I wanted an on the ground confirmation. That came today from the Lahore Metroblog (yes, in general, I have more respect for the three Pakistani Metroblogs than for BBC!).

(By the way, I am intrigued by the fact that he is a homeopathic doctor since we had earlier carried another post and video report on the Khalsa Dawakhana and Hakim Sarbir Singh; of course, Sikhs have a long history in what is now Pakistan – here and here – but I wonder whether and why this community has a particular focus on traditional medicine studies).

It turns out, in fact, that Daily Times had a wonderful story on him last week which I had missed earlier. Here is what it said:

“Since yesterday, I have been hearing different greetings, such as sat sari kaal, jo bolay so nihal and ballay ballay from car and bus drivers, motorcyclists and children. Lahoris are really very loving people and these are unforgettable moments for me,” remarked Dr Gulab Singh, the first-ever Sikh to be appointed traffic police warden in Pakistan, in an exclusive interview with Daily Times.

Gulab, the 25-year-old Sikh traffic warden, who hails from Nankana Sahib and now lives in Defence Housing Authority, said that joining the force as a sub-inspector was a dream come true for him. Pledging to do his duty wholeheartedly, he said that the loving welcome he had received from the public had added to his joy. He said he had joined his duty station on Wednesday, and by the second day, dozens of children had forced their parents to stop the car so that they could meet him. Singh is deputed on Alif Laam Meem Chowk on Aziz Bhatti Road in Cantt.

Gulab said he was born in Nankana district in January 1982. His father, Manna Singh, is a farmer and a father of seven – five boys and two girls. Gulab is the youngest of the siblings. Gulab completed his matriculation in Nankana district, graudation in Lahore and then received a doctorate in homeopathy from Bahawalpur. Gulab said he also operated a homeopathic clinic, which he might have to shut down because of his new and demanding posting.

Gulab said he applied for the sub-inspector post when announcements inviting applications appeared in newspapers, but did not tell his family. He informed them only after he was appointed, which translated into a delightful surprise for them, he added. Commenting on his training process, Gulab said, “The attitude of my fellow trainees and officers was very good towards me. Nobody ever forced me to do anything against my religious beliefs.” He said he had no problems wearing his kara (bangle), or keeping his kirpan (dagger) on him. He added that, as he was a vegetarian, green meals were arranged for him in the mess during the training period. “I am very grateful to my officers for this gesture,” Gulab said.

Gulab is multilingual and has command over Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, and Sindhi. He added, “I can also speak English, but not very fluently.” Gulab also said that he was fond of Punjabi bhangra music and that his favourite singers are Abrar-ul-Haq, Harbajhan Maan and Waris Baig. In terms of the future, Gulab said, “I will do my duty honestly, work like a true and dutiful citizen, and dream of a corruption-free atmosphere.”

114 responses to “Lahore Embraces Sikh Traffic Cop”

  1. Aamir Ali says:

    Sikhs view their rule as great, Muslims view their rule as great, Hindus view their rule as great.

    The truth always lies somewhere in between.

  2. Feisal Khan says:

    On a not unrelated note, does anyone have an update on Lt. Harcharan Singh? I know he passed out in 2007 but which arm/regiment was he commissioned in? Any further news?

    I also recall reading about two Sindhi Hindu doctors in the Pakistan Army; anyone have any additional news on that?


  3. GurTeg Singh says:

    Lutful Islam,
    Ranjit Singh was not a challenge to the Sikhs- as you might know once he was punished by 10 lashes on the back for (mistakenly) doubting scripture! he bowed to the order despite being the king. its not a small act of submission.
    truth is he was a genuine representative of Sikhs, their philosophy and the inherent openness for the Others. For, as you can imagine, after experiencing ineffable persecution under the Mogals for centuries, via muslim nawabs and hindu hill kings, Sikhs could have done anything when they took controlled of the entire area, but they didnt.

    And the5 year chaos post-Ranjit singh, was the operation of british intelligence agencies via Dogra inflitration- its now well known and documented by all parties involved, including british historians!

  4. Lutful Islam says:

    Ranjit singh was an intelligent and worthy ruler. He had problems in managing a large number of Sikh factions who wanted harsher treatment for muslims, but I have read about Ranjit Singh’s efforts to keep the balance.

    It was his successors who lost the plot and due to their infightinging and mismanagement lost Punjab to the British. Muslims were mistreated in varied intensities throughout Sikh rule, but the worst came after Ranjit Singh’s death.

  5. GurTeg Singh says:

    aamir ali ji,
    When u say cruel and harsh are you refering to the same Ranjit Singh who abolished death penality, funded the mosques & mandirs with Darbar’s treasury throughout India, and ordered calligraphies for the Quran,Gita and Sri Guru Granth Sahib equally… Punjab faced 5 jihads from outside (arab/persia/afghanistan) and two Anglo wars during Sikh Raj but the Punjabi Muslman stood by the Darbar every time, even as hindo dogras sold out the British. You think this is a conincidence? The muslims and Sikhs of Punjab shared more with each other than anyone else- spiritually, culturally, linguistically- and that was the reason for this alliance.
    Be cautious of nationalistic interpretations of the past, both pakistani and hindutvadin, bc histories are always in the process of being re-written by those in Power.

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