The oppressed rickha ‘coolie’ plying his humble vehicle in the Far East colonies of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai was tasked with monthly inspection British law. The inspection would be for renewing his ricksha license which invariably was conducted by a Sikh policeman imported from India. The Sikh policeman was considered to be unbearably harsh and aggressive, liberally using his truncheon, damaging the ricksha and hurting even the ‘coolie’. The ricksha laborer’s livelihood was dependent on operating the ricksha and hence loss of earnings was naturally attributed to the much detested British Sikh bobby. Many western onlookers and passengers have narrated in their travelogues and accounts of the plight of the puny ricksha coolies at the hands of the towering Sikhs who used excessive violence and brute force.

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1910 Singapore

Even in present times the caricatures of the Sikh policeman in popular Chinese culture continue, symbolizing the humiliating past and the cruel face of imperialism.

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