Bhagat Singh Thind

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The Times of India

Bhagat Singh Thind was born in Amritsar but travelled to America in 1913 to pursue higher studies.

Five years later he was recruited by the US Army to fight in World War I, and was even promoted to acting sergeant. In 1918 he applied to the US government for citizenship, which technically only `free white persons' and those of African descent could ap ply for. However, several high caste, light-skinned immigrants managed to bypass this because of their skin colour.Thind too was granted citizenship, but it was rescinded four days later. He made two more attempts -in 1923 the matter even reached the Supreme Court, which ruled against him -until his last attempt bore fruit in New York.

In March 2016, the Asian American theatre group, East West Players, staged a play based on Bhagat Singh Thind in schools and libraries in LA. “Part of my fascination with Thind came from the fact that he actually does not occupy a place of prominence in the Indian diaspora,“ says Mayank Keshaviah, the playwright, “So I felt as if I were uncovering a hidden gem of a story .“

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