Jarnail Singh, 69, missing around Lathrop, CA

Jarnail Singh (photo: news10.net)

Jarnail Singh (photo: news10.net)

Lathrop, California police are searching for Jarnail Singh, aged 69 and newly arrived to Lathrop, California, who has recently gone missing:

LATHROP, CA – A man new to the country has gone missing in Lathrop, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department.

Jarnail Singh, 69, does not speak English and has only been in the United States for two months, said Deputy Les Garcia. Singh was last seen Monday at 3 p.m. when he left his home on the 300 block of American Farms Avenue for a walk.

Singh was described as Middle Eastern with a light complexion, gray hair and brown eyes. He is 5 feet 8 inches tall and 150 pounds. He wore a light brown turban, gray sweatsuit and white vest.

Anyone with information about Singh’s whereabouts was asked to contact Lathrop Police Services or the sheriff’s department at (209) 468-4400.

The most important thing is that we spread the word to help find this man. Hopefully, he is not in any danger and is located in safe circumstances.

The less important aspect in relation to this story is the police description of Jarnail Singh as “Middle Eastern”, which was discussed at length in Maheep Kaur’s piece on sikhchic.com entitled “We Have Dropped The Ball … Again! California Media Widely Describes Sikh as Middle Eastern”.

Yes, the “Middle Eastern” label is inaccurate and exemplifies ignorant stereotyping. However, the police department’s use of this label does not mean that Sikh organizations have “dropped the ball” – rather, that ball was in the court of the police department and the media who are circulating that story. Lathrop, California, is located in California’s Central Valley – an area where Sikhs have a long history and are not uncommon. The local police and media should have known better.

Now, the ball is in our court to correct and educate them.

However, to criticize the Sikh Coalition, SALDEF or other US-based Sikh organizations because one press release from a police department labeled a Sikh from India as “Middle Eastern” is unfair.  I’ve seen first-hand the efforts these Sikh organizations are making with very limited resources to educate the public, government and law enforcement about our identity, and it is a very high expectation to demand that these Sikh organizations pounce the minute such a mis-characterization happens. I am personally a little disappointed that the editors of sikhchic.com allowed for such a distraction from the story of Jarnail Singh’s disappearance to occur.

Rather than react hysterically to point accusatory fingers, it is again our responsibility to educate those police and the public in that town about who Sikhs are and where we come from – predominantly India (but Sikhs are not just from that country) and not the Middle East. It would serve the complainant’s cause well if she herself respectfully contacted Lathrop police and provided them with correct information, rather than have a complaint published on a website where police organizations and the listed media are not likely to see it. It’s not enough to “leave these issues to be addressed by those mandated with the responsibility”. We all have that mandate, and in the time it took to write and publish that piece on sikhchic.com, short e-mails could have been sent to the Lathrop police department, the media outlets, and our US-based Sikh organizations to alert them to the issue.

Let’s not lose our heads over this mischaracterization of Jarnail Singh – it only distracts from the real issue of his disappearance. Instead of pointing fingers within ourselves, let’s marshal the resources at our disposal to help locate this missing man.

Any information that might help police locate Jarnail Singh can be provided to Lathrop Police at (209) 468-4400.

If you would like to request a correction to the “Middle Eastern” characterization of Jarnail Singh, please contact the editor of news organization in which you saw the story. You can also contact Lathrop Police Department’s administrative office at (209) 858-5551, or police@ci.lathrop.ca.us and request they release a correction so that that the public has accurate information in the search for this man.

Let us pray that he is found safely.


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