Honored with Pravasi Award, not bothered about being sent back from airport: Dhaliwal

US-based NRI Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, who was sent back from the Delhi airport on the intervening night of October 23-24, 2021 for allegedly participating in the farmers’ agitation at the borders of the national capital, on Tuesday said that he “ Feeling very honored and respected. Excited to be among the 21 recipients of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award this year – the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians.

Based in Milwaukee, Dhaliwal, 72, was turned back from the Indira Gandhi International Airport after he “arranged langar” for farmers protesting against the three new farm laws, which were later withdrawn. Dhaliwal said, “I was not disappointed when I was sent back. I bow before the Almighty and believe that whatever He does is always for the best.

Dhaliwal said that he decided to organize a langar for the farmers after seeing the condition they were going through. He said, “I was not involved in the agricultural laws.”

The NRI businessman also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, ‘He did a lot for the country. He has done great things for the Sikhs and I wish he continues to do so.

It is learned that Dhaliwal’s selection for the award was part of a settlement exercise by the government for the Sikh community after the farm protests ended. An influential member of the Indian American community, Dhaliwal had hosted a few events in the Chicago area, and there was also an outreach exercise by Indian functionaries. Sources said the award is a culmination of that outreach.

Sources said Dhaliwal’s name was decided by the jury and the award committee, which is headed by the external affairs minister as vice-chairman and vice-chairman. The panel unanimously selected the final list, he said.

Dhaliwal is an influential NRI businessman for many decades, who has done business in petrol stations, trucks and real estate in the US.

Guyana President Mohammed Irfan Ali and DSB Group CEO Piyush Gupta are among others to receive the award, which will be handed over during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention to be held in Indore from January 8 to 10.

Dhaliwal’s younger brother Surjit Singh Rakhra, who was a minister in the previous Akali government in Punjab, described the award as “Guru Maharaj’s blessings”.

According to Rakhra, the prime minister had met Dhaliwal in Delhi last April. “PM Modi had invited around 100 eminent personalities including him (Dhaliwal). He participated in the event,” he said.

Asked about Dhaliwal’s support for the farm agitation, Rakhra said, “We had only arranged langar for the protesting farmers, but the government thought we could mediate and help end the standoff. My brother was given three choices, either to drop anchor, or to help negotiate a settlement with the farmers, or to return to the United States.

His family is a resident of Rakhra village near Patiala. Rakhra said that Dhaliwal will come to India on January 7 for the conference to be held in Indore.

In 2021, after Dhaliwal was sent back from the airport, his brothers deboarded a United Airlines flight on October 23, 2021 at 7 pm and after questioning him for 5-6 hours sent him back to the US on the same flight Went. ,

At that time former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal sought the intervention of the Prime Minister. Requesting Modi to personally invite Dhaliwal “as a goodwill gesture, which will send a great positive signal to the NRIs”, Badal demanded “stern action against those officers who have harmed the country by their action”. Spoiled name”.

Dhaliwal moved to America in 1972. He is married to Debra, of Wisconsin, and the couple has three sons and three daughters.