Sikh community members launch effort to name future park after human rights leader


Members of the local Sikh community are leading an effort to name the site of a future park after the man they call the Martin Luther King Jr. of the Sikh community. Community members want a Southwest Bakersfield piece of land near the intersection of Diorite Ct. and Akers Rd. to be named after Jaswant Khalra.

“Mr. Jaswant khalra was one of the human right activists, considered the Martin Luther King activists for our community,” said Dr. Matab Singh, a leader in the community.

Kahlra is remembered by Sikhs because of his work to fight for human rights. He is known for his investigations into the Indian police for the killings, and reported subsequent illegal cremation of thousands of Sikhs from 1984 until Kahlra’s murder in 1995.

Sikh leader Nazar Singh Kooner said honoring this man in such a public manner would mean a lot to the Kern County Sikh community of roughly 45,000 to 50,000 people.

“This is humanism, this is not political,” Sing Kooner said. “[Khalra] identified 25,000 dead bodies who the government cremated without names.” 

This is not the first time the local Sikh community has sought to name a park after Khalra. Community members previously asked the name of Stonecreek park to be named after Khalra, but the plans fell through. But more important than determining which piece of land will be named, according to Sikh leaders, is ensuring that a piece of land will be named after Khalra to ensure his message of acceptance and human rights will never be forgotten.

“I don’t think anybody should oppose mother teresa’s name or dr. King’s name. Why should we oppose Jaswant Khalra?” Singh Kooner asked.

Dr. Singh shared a similar sentiment.    

“He’s a humanatarian, he worked for humanity,” Dr. Singh said. “He worked for humanity. His message was love and affection for everyone. People , so if we have a park in his name, people will love him,” he continued.

The piece of land at question is not expected to be developed into a park for at least another three years. Meantime, members of the Bakersfield City Council created a committee to consider this name request. They are expected to come back with a decision by December of this year.

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