– SFJ lodges defamation case against Indian government in Canada’s Superior Court of Justice

Sikh24 Editors

Toronto – Ontario – Canada, 11 July 2019. The US based pro-freedom Sikh outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ has lodged a defamation case against the Indian government for leveling allegations on SFJ of being a supporter of terrorism and working on the directions of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The move has come in a quick reaction to the India’s step of banning the ‘Sikhs for Justice’.

The SFJ has also sued a mainstream media outlet in this case and has demanded one million dollar penalty charge.

This lawsuit has been filed in the Superior Court of Justice, situated in the Toronto city of Canada’s Ontario province. A firm of lawyers named ‘Stockwoods LLP Barristers’ will represent the SFJ in the Court.

Attorney Nadir R Hassan has said that the Indian government’s statements against the SFJ were extremely defamatory as the SFJ is a respectable human rights body.

On July 10, the Indian government had imposed ban on the US based pro-freedom Sikh outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ (SFJ) which has been campaigning for a referendum in Punjab in 2020. The Twitter account of SFJ’s legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannu has been also suspended on the request of Indian government.

SFJ lodges defamation case against Indian government in Canada’s Superior Court of Justice

World Sikh News – Panjab peace needs global conflict resolution, not anti-Sikh accusations

Published 1 week ago, Kanwarpal Singh

Despite being proven a debauch by the judiciary and in spite of overwhelming evidence of his unlawful approach to policing, KPS Gill was a darling of the Indian state and the Indian media. All Indian newspapers, including the Tribune, do not spare a chance to eulogise his monumental contribution towards peace in Punjab.

He was the worst human rights violator of the last century in Punjab. His legacy is being forwarded by his son-in-law Ajay Sahni through his writings, who uses prime space easily provided by The Tribune to float unfounded stories of “Sikh Terrorism”.

In a sharp reaction, Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh rebuts his perverted logic and presents the Sikh nationalist view­point.

Despite being proven a debauch by the judiciary and in spite of overwhelming evidence of his unlawful approach to policing, KPS Gill was a darling of the Indian state and the Indian media. All Indian newspapers, including the Tribune, do not spare a chance to eulogise his ‘monumental contribution’ towards peace in Punjab.

He was the worst human rights violator of the last century in Punjab. His legacy is being forwarded by his son-in-law Ajay Sahni through his writings.

First, they called us Khalistanis. Now they have added the word “Terrorists”. First, they blamed Pakistan for supporting us. Now Canada is also on the list. First, they sought sanctions against Pakistan. Now they propose the same with Canada.

All this is being done to malign the Sikh image world­wide and to portray the Sikhs as mindless and violent persons.

The write-up “Canada’s double game” carried in the columns of The Tribune is a deliberate and willful attempt to portray the Sikh struggle for the right to self-determination as a design of some foreign forces.

The writer of this article, Ajay Sahni, who heads the Institute for Conflict Management, is the son-in-law of former Punjab police chief KPS Gill, notorious as the Butcher of Punjab.

While Gill harmed the Sikhs physically by using extra-judicial violent means, his son-in-law is maligning the image of Sikhs with his pen. The article carried by The Tri­bune on its opinion page has stereo­type allegations against Sikhs in tune with the Punjab policy of the Indian state.

The content of the article is full of hate nurtured by the writer and his mentors against Sikhs. He goes hammer and tongs against Canada with­out any proof what­so­ever, in the same vein as the Chief Minister of Punjab.

Not surprisingly, he has a word of praise for Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who has once again started his anti-Canada diatribe by urging the Modi dispensation to approach the United Nations and seek sanctions against Canada.

By continuously questioning the credentials of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues, a section of Indian media and the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh have repeatedly offended the political sensibilities of Canada, a Commonwealth associate of India, and un­leashed a tirade against the Sikh Diaspora which has been making the right moves on Cana­dian soil, raising human rights concerns and endorsing the call for the right to self-determination.

Indian politicians refuse to recognise that Canada is known for its open, mature and vibrant democracy. While in India the right to freedom of expression and to hold independent thoughts is only on paper, in countries like Canada, it is practised in letter and spirit.

The theories and allegations about the Kanishka bombing are oft-repeated and still base­less. Nobody is sure, even after 35 years, who executed the bombing and why.

Let’s be clear: The Sikh strug­gle has a clearly defined agenda. We have our rightful aspirations. We have a political cause to fight for. Punjab belongs to all its citizens, be it Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Dalits or Sikhs. We give respect to all and we expect the same from them.

We don’t believe in senseless and arbitrary violence as like the one perpetrated by the Indian government in Punjab, Kashmir and the North-east.

The Punjab conflict needs a political resolution as per the aspirations of the people, but certainly, not one brokered or suggested by the KPS Gill inspired Institute of Conflict Management.

Sikhs strongly be­lieve that the international community and Indian civil society have a role to play for lasting peace in this region.

Punjab Peace needs global conflict resolution, not anti-Sikh accusations

The Tribune – India to raise SFJ issue with Canada, UK

New Delhi – India, 11 July 2019. The government has expressed its resolve to curb the banned Sikh separatist organisation, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), by taking up the matter strongly with countries where it is active, especially with the Canadian government, MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar told mediapersons at a press conference here today.

The other countries which will be sounded out are the UK and US where SFJ plans to step up its activities.

While the vast majority of Sikhs in Canada share warm relations with India, Ravish Kumar said this fringe group had supported violent extremism in India. The Home Ministry had pointed out that while the SFJ had over 2 lakh online supporters, it was a group of only eight to 10 people and the government had been successful in getting the Twitter handle of its legal adviser Gurpatwant Pannu.

Links on Facebook had also been brought down on India’s request.

Sikh Federation UK – India’s ban on Sikhs for Justice shows it has no respect for freedom of expression and the basic right to self-determination

India’s ban on Sikhs for Justice shows it has no respect for freedom of expression and the basic right to self-determination

London – UK, 11 July 2019. The decision earlier this week by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs to ban Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) from operating in India shows India’s total disrespect for basic human rights and its desire and desperation to silence the Sikh Diaspora.

SFJ is a human rights advocacy group based in North America that has been highlighting human rights violations and the 1984 Sikh Genocide by the Indian state for the last 12 years and has in the last five years been underlining the right to self-determination.

During the 1984 Sikh Genocide and in the decade that followed the Indian State perpetrated what can only be termed crimes against humanity. Following the 1984 Sikh Genocide the rape, torture, disappearances, fake encounters and extra-judicial killings of Sikhs was nothing short of Indian State terrorism.

Not content with its gross violation of human rights for over a decade the Indian authorities turned its attention by killing human rights activists in Punjab like Jaswant Singh Khalra. He was eliminated by Indian police as he highlighted to the global community 25,000 Sikh disappearances, including unidentified bodies and illegal cremations.

The “Sacrificing Sikhs” report published in November 2017 based on around half of the UK Governments own official papers released after 30 years provides evidence the Indian State was active in the 1980s to try and silence the British Sikh voice of opposition and calls for Sikh independence that followed the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

There is little doubt the Indian state would have tried to do the same with other foreign governments like Canada and the USA to varying degrees of success that no one has yet uncovered to the extent as in the UK. The Sikh Federation (UK) has also in recent years become aware of some of India’s anti-Sikh activities in countries like Germany and Switzerland to try and silence Sikh opposition.

UK politicians have confirmed in 2001 the Indian government pressured the UK Government to ban the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF). The ISYF was the main Sikh organisation operating in the Sikh Diaspora highlighting human rights violations by the Indian State and advocating for an independent Sikh State.

The 9/11 act of terrorism was misused by India for its own purposes to push for worldwide restrictions on the ISYF and bans in India (December 2001) and Canada (June 2003).

In the UK Sikhs have successfully lobbied and used the legal process to have the ban on the ISYF lifted in March 2016 and two months later to have all restrictions lifted on the ISYF across Europe. There has been recent talk that Sikhs in Canada may be legally challenging the Canadian government to justify the continued ban on the ISYF.

The US Administration has stood up to the Indian government and never banned any Sikh organisation, but the authorities have been pressured to act against individual Sikh nationalists. What is abundantly clear is the Indian government has been constantly complaining to foreign governments for up to 40 years about Sikhs in the Diaspora raising human rights violations in India and pressuring them not to engage with Sikh organisations and individuals advocating for the right to self-determination.

Instead the Indian authorities have increasingly pushed with foreign governments Sikh groups, businessmen and individuals that are totally silent on criticism of India or who are pro-Indian as Sikh representatives with whom they should engage.

The Indian authorities are increasingly worried about the in-roads being made by Sikhs in the Diaspora into the highest levels of the political arena in countries like Canada and the UK.

They are struggling to understand many of the Sikh politicians have been born in Canada or the UK or lived most of their lives there and are duty bound to respect human rights and act as champions for the minority Sikh community.

As shown with Canada India has gone to extreme lengths in the last 18 months to discredit the current Canadian Prime Minister and exert pressure on the Canadian government to act against individual Sikh activists with a no-fly policy or try and demonise the entire Sikh community through official reports.

With federal elections taking place in Canada in October 2019 the Indian authorities are unashamedly approaching the opposition Conservative Party to change their position on freedom of expression and those campaigning for Sikh self-determination.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“We want to make clear the Indian authorities will never be able to silence the Sikh Diaspora from highlighting human rights violations and our right to self-determination.”

“Banning Sikhs for Justice in India where it does not exist, pressuring foreign governments to take actions against Sikh nationalists and interfering in the Canadian federal elections are signs of desperation by the Indian regime.”

“Sikhs in the Diaspora are increasingly politically active and media savvy and foreign politicians will find it more and more difficult to appease the Indian authorities at the expense of their own Sikh citizens.”

“In the long run India’s actions will backfire as foreign governments will eventually realise they have more to gain from a large independent Sikh State in the Indian sub-continent than from bowing to the blackmail of the Indian authorities.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK) – India’s outcry intensifies after display of pro-freedom attitude by Sikhs and Kashmiris in world cup matches

Sikh24 Editors

London UK, 07 July 2019. The state embedded Indian media doesn’t spare any chance to begin poisonous propaganda against the Sikhs living in developed countries like USA, Canada, UK etc. due to their liberal nature and blunt stand in favor of a sovereign Sikh state.

This poisonous propaganda against the Sikh diaspora has picked a fast pace as compared to the previous years because of Pakistan’s initiative on Kartarpur corridor and the recent manifestation of pro-freedom attitude by the Sikhs and Kashmiris living in Britain during the recently held Cricket World Cup matches.

It is pertinent to note here that a plane carrying a banner with wording “India stop genocide & Free Kashmir hovered over the Leeds cricket stadium in England during a match between India and Sri Lanka.

As per its routine work, the Indian media has now started propaganda that the Pakistani nationals are financially helping the pro-Khalistan Sikhs living in Canada and Britain, and they are also getting help of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI.

This time, the Indian media has used the former Indian Army’s Major General Dhruv Katoch as its mouthpiece to give a base to its propaganda.

Major General (Retired Dhruv Katoch, who didn’t handle any spying agency during his service tenure, has claimed that the Pakistani Muslims are trying to promote pro-Khalistan activities in Britain and Canada but the governments of those countries don’t have anything to do with it.

India’s outcry intensifies after display of pro-freedom attitude by Sikhs and Kashmiris in world cup matches

World Sikh Organisation Canada – A Message From The Executive Director

ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ, ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫ਼ਤਿਹ

Summer is for spending time with family and friends.

This is also the final summer before the fall federal election in October, which means you will start seeing a lot more of your local MP at the door, events and community gatherings.

So, while politics may be the last thing on your mind over the next couple of months, make sure you use the opportunity of increased interaction with your elected officials to let them know what you think about issues that are important to our community.

Right now the most pressing concern for Sikhs across Canada is Quebec’s discriminatory Bill 21, which bans religious symbols for those in certain public sector jobs. We have also seen a trickle-down effect on private-sector jobs as we are seeing a growing trend of discriminatory practices from employers emboldened by the government’s legislation.

We need our federal government to take a hard stand against Quebec’s violation of our most basic human rights. It is shocking that this is something that is happening in our own backyard.

You can learn more, and sign a petition, by clicking here. Make sure you email, call or tell your MP face to face that Bill 21 is a serious issue for the community and requires clear action from all political parties and our government.

If you believe the work we do is important and valuable, please consider donating. It is through the support of individuals like you that we are able to advocate fearlessly for Canadians coast to coast!

Warm Regards,

Jaskaran Singh Sandhu
Executive Director

Support the Canadians who will be discriminated under this law
Also support Sikhs in Belgium and France who are victims of secular fundamentalism
Man in Blue

CBC News – Turban ripped off devout Sikh man by RCMP officer, alleges civil suit

‘Forceful’ removal of the turban, hair pulling ‘insulting to the plaintiff’s religious beliefs,’ says lawyer

Surrey – British Columbia – Canada, 28 June 2019. In a civil claim filed with the BC Supreme Court, Kanwaljit Singh says that an RCMP officer ripped off his turban and threw it on a booking desk during his arrest for an unspecified reason two years ago at a Surrey RCMP detachment.

The Abbotsford software programmer’s lawsuit alleges that he was the only prisoner in a booking area of the Surrey detachment June 30, 2017, and he faced a semi-circle of about four or five officers when one moved toward him and ripped his turban off his head.

Singh’s statement of claim says “suddenly without provocation or justification” an officer he understood to be Sgt. Brian Blair “approached the plaintiff and ripped the turban off of his head,” then threw the turban onto the booking desk.

After that and despite his compliance, Singh alleges that an unidentified officer grabbed his arms and marched him to a holding cell. During this march the lawsuit alleges that Singh’s arm was twisted and his hair was grabbed and his “topknot” was pulled out.

“The plaintiff had styled his hair in a ‘topknot’ to facilitate the wearing of his turban, and Sgt. Blair pulled his hair out of the topknot,” the suit says.

In the filing Singh says he is a devout Sikh who wears a turban as part of his religious practice and a core part of his identity. He claims to have suffered injury to his dignity, loss of self-respect, embarrassment, stress and anxiety.

He’s seeking damages and a declaration that his charter rights were breached. Singh immigrated to Canada in 2006, according to the claim.

It’s unclear what he was arrested for or whether he was charged. His lawyer would only say that information was “irrelevant” to the treatment Singh received. He described his client as in his late 30s.

“The plaintiff was subjected to negative and differential treatment by employees, servants or agents of the defendants on the basis of his race, ethnic origin and/or religion,” the lawsuit alleges.

“Sgt. Blair intended his forceful removal of the … turban and his pulling of … hair to be insulting to the plaintiff’s religious belief,” says the claim.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. Neither the attorney general nor the RCMP were available for comment.

Ottawa Citizen – Leader of India’s Punjab calls for sanctions against Canada if it does not crack down on Sikh extremists

‘India had, for too long, been soft towards Canada and needed to crack its whip aggressively, even seek UN sanctions if needed, to end the growing threat once and for all’

Tom Blackwell

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 27 June 2019. Captain Amarinder Singh has always made it clear he thinks Canada is soft on alleged Sikh extremists in this country.

The head of India’s Panjab state government once alleged the Liberal cabinet harbours four “Khalistani” advocates of an independent Sikh homeland, publicly snubbed Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a list of purported Sikh terrorists living here.

But Singh went even further with his critique in an unexpected statement issued this week, accusing the Canadian government of providing “overt and covert” support to the Khalistani movement, and calling on New Delhi to consider sanctions against Canada if it does not take a tougher stance.

The Panjab chief minister urged India’s national government “to mount global pressure on Canada to put an end to the use of its soil to unleash terror against India, particularly the Sikh community being targeted by Khalistani terrorists.”

“India had, for too long, been soft towards Canada and needed to crack its whip aggressively, even seek UN sanctions if needed, to end the growing threat once and for all, the Chief Minister stressed,” said the news release posted on the Punjab government’s website Monday.

The comments add to ongoing tension between the two countries over the Khalistani issue, and the degree to which Canadian politicians support the movement.

It’s unclear what prompted the latest outburst, although it follows a decision by the federal government in April to remove specific references to Sikh extremism from a contentious Public Safety Canada report on terrorism.

Global Affairs Canada, asked about the statement, was unable to respond by deadline.

The Indian government has also voiced concerns over Canadian politicians’ approach to Sikh nationalism, but the Indian High Commission in Ottawa did not reply to a request for comment.

For Sikhs here, Singh’s verbal attack comes “completely out of left field,” said Balpreet Singh, legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization.

The allegations are unfounded, and some of them are “outlandish”, but they will nonetheless harm Canadian members of the faith, he said.

It hurts us here as a community

“What this looks like to us, is foreign interference, a narrative created in India and pushed into Canada about Canadian Sikhs,” said Singh. “It hurts us here as a community. It’s something that affects our reputation, and affects folks here on the ground.”

Singh suggested the Panjab leader may simply be angry that Canada barred him from coming here in 2016 to campaign among the Indian diaspora, a group considered to have considerable influence and financial clout in Punjab politics.

Accusing another country of giving a safe haven to terrorists could also help distract voters from the state’s struggling economy, he said.

Amarinder Singh, a former Indian army officer, first aired his criticisms of Canada in April 2017, when he insisted the four Sikhs in Trudeau’s cabinet were Khalistanis, a charge denied by all of them, and refused to meet Sajjan when the minister visited Punjab.

Peaceful support for an independent Khalistan in India is strong among leadership of Sikh temples [Gurdwaras] in Canada, with some gurdwaras displaying portraits of alleged extremists, and Canadian politicians have for years now reached out to such leaders as they court the powerful Sikh vote.

One of the guests on Trudeau’s ill-fated India trip in February 2018 was Jaspal Atwal, convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986.

Trudeau sat down with Singh for a fence-mending session during that same trip, with the Punjab chief minister handing over a list of nine alleged Sikh extremists in Canada.

Whether by coincidence or not, at least three Sikhs were for the first time placed on the federal no-fly list last year. Last December’s edition of the annual terror report also mentioned the threat of Sikh terrorism for the first time, though that phrasing was removed and replaced with a reference to extremists who pursue separatism in India after an outcry from Sikh leaders here.

In his statement, Singh referred to the list of “wanted terrorists” he provided to Trudeau last year but said “the lack of response from their government so far has exposed their intent.”

Canada’s “failure to check anti-India activities being carried out from its soil would be detrimental to its own security and interests in the long run,” he warned.

As evidence, the chief minister quoted extensively from the 2010 findings of a public inquiry into the Air-India bombing by Sikh terrorists, which concluded the attack followed a “cascading series of errors” by security agencies 34 years ago.

Singh’s statement exhibits a less-than-perfect knowledge of Canadian political geography, indicating the seat of federal government is Toronto, not Ottawa.

World Sikh News – From Panjab to Diaspora, Sikh leadership in sham­bles

Published 3 months ago – Jagmohan Singh
25 June 2019

As the World Sikh News completes two years of its presence on the internet, we focus on the working in the Sikh world. On the eve of the elections in the Punjab, with deep anguish, we present an analysis of the political canvas of the Sikhs, the Sikh leadership in Panjab and the Diaspora. We will soon follow up with detailed analyses of Sikh social and religious forums.

As India goes to the hustings, the Sikh leadership from Punjab to the hustings, the Sikh leadership from Punjab to the Diaspora is in utter shambles. There is no organisation or individual worth the salt who can lead the situation and take the community forward in these trying times.

The religious, political and religio-political leadership, the traditional and revolution-inclined parties are all in limbo, waiting in the wings for a miracle to happen or a leader to descend from the skies. No party or leader, individually or collecively has framed the Sikh agenda and thrusted down the throat of the political parties contesting the elections.

Once upon a time, the Akali leadership was considered the Sikh leadership. Over the decades, they became Punjabi leadership in name to feed their pseudo-secular stance but in effect they are always at sea, not knowing which side to lean on. Today, the Badal Dal leadership is swinging between the Panth and the BJP, but doggedly pursuing their selfish and feudal politics.

Sikhs in the Congress have been voted to power many a time in the past but they have never qualified nor have been accepted as Sikh leadership by the Sikh population. They do not deserve to be so called, any­way. The present leadership certainly does not deserve to be called Sikh leaders.

For the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Panjab begins and ends in Sangrur. Though the party raises Sikh issues, the leadership is found wanting on many fronts. The Bharatiya Janta Party, through some nouveau-riche Sikhs has made inroads into the political fibre of Punjab, with active connivance and support of the Badal Dal, but they can never dream of being liked or accepted as Sikh lead­ers.

As for the Aam Aadmi Party, neither the party nor the leadership has any pretence of being Sikh leaders and they have still to make up their minds whether they want to align with the people of Panjab or their wavering leadership in Delhi.

The Taksali Akali Dal wants to be holier than thou and is heavily banking on the leftovers or break­aways from their parent party. They are still making up their mind whether they want to be pro-Panjab and pro-Panth or simply anti-Badal.

The Panjab Ekta Party is an attempt to be secular yet pro-Panjabi. The party leadership is still evolving and so far has only been able to break away from its parent Aam Aadmi Party.

The Lok Insaaf Party is testing the waters as it expands from Ludiana to around the state with their efficient management approach and provoking political mannerisms. Much water has to flow down the Sutlej till the leaders become Sikh leaders of the state and beyond.

Long ago, the Bahujan Samaj Party concluded that the 13 Parliamentary seats of Panjab do not have much significance in the larger scheme of things as it is Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar which decides who will get majority in the house of 543 mem­bers. The party has very little interest in the Punjab.

The Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and some extreme left versions continue their ‘botched politics’ of increasing the numbers of their vote count, without making an impact, but certainly siding with the State as opposed to Sikh interests.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee leadership has sold its body, mind and soul to the Bharatiya Janta Party. It would be naive and stupid to expect anything from them.

The Panjab Bachao Morcha of the Chandigarh club is devoid of innovative ideas and continues their anti-Badal rant. It has still to come to terms with what the revolutionary Chandigarh poet Gajinder Singh said years ago, “change and revolution does not come about over endless cups of tea in the comfort of drawing rooms.”

The All India Sikh Students Federation which was once the leadership bank of the Shiromani Akali Dal is now bankrupt; the defunct body has a lineage of sycophants and way­ward activists. They are not leaders and they have no organisation to lead, it is torn apart into so many groups that the body is totally defunct. No­body can lead the body, how will they lead the community?

The Bargari Insaf Morcha shamelessly has now got nothing to do with Bargari, no Insaf is sought and the Morcha has fizzled out. In their love for politics, they do not attend court hearings of top police personnel incarcerated for Bargari and Behbal Kalan police firings and then let off on bails. This morcha has been the biggest let down of the decade for the Sikhs, particularly those who expected the moon.

The Panthic Coordination Committee, working since the last decade has proffered no Panthic agenda; there is no coordination and the committee exists only on paper.

The Sikh Sewak Army, professedly non-political, but has not moved an inch on the ground to change the functioning of the SGPC. Unless it catches the bull by its horns, sweet-mouthings in the media will not fetch results.

On the side­lines, those who do not directly participate in the elections yet claim to be religious and religio-political leaders have failed to show initiative and dash.

The religio-political leadership of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is too content to serve langar to candidates and supporters of the Badal Dal and wherever possible send employees in mufti as volunteers of the party. There is hardly any dividing line between the party and the SGPC, prompting the Sikh Sangat to paint both with the same brush.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee leadership has sold its body, mind and soul to the Bharatiya Janta Party. It would be naive and stupid to expect anything from them.

The Takht Harmandar Patna Sahib Committee and the Takht Hazur Sahib Nanded Committee is always ready to be manipulated either by the government of the day or by the SGPC. So engrossed in their own worlds, it is a far cry for them to pro­vide leadership to the community on any front.

The Chief Khalsa Diwan, throwing the idiom, wisdom, vision and historical work of its founder Bhai Vir Singh to the winds, is now a ‘private limited company’ of Amritsar-based rich Sikhs, who are engaged in changing the course, nomenclature and ownership of the properties of the organisation. For them Sikh leadership as an issue ceased long back.

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the Damdami Taksal have lost their political voice. They are either silent or aligned to some individuals here and there.

The Gurmat Missionary Colleges selectively become ‘religious’ and ‘semi-political’ or ‘political’ depending upon canddate and the times. Their leadership is too barricaded and without a world view of the Sikhs or the Sikh world. They are so engrossed in ‘pro­tecting’ the religious dictum as per their thinking that they end up creating more divisions than bridging those already there.

For the political forums in Panjab and elsewhere dedicated to up­hold the sovereignty of the people of Punjab, the elections in Punjab offer no ground for work. So they think.

The Dal Khalsa cadres are on a three-month sabbatical, free to pursue any political party or person of their choice, as the party has taken the stand of not contesting any elections under the Indian dispensation.

The Sikh Federation UK, the American Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the ‘June 1984 groups’ and the World Sikh Organisation of Canada would hereto­fore take keen interest in the religio-political developments in Panjab. Not anymore.

Now Sikhs are left to fend for themselves. These bodies are too entrenched in their own political canvasses to worry about the Panjab, except a human rights violation here and there. The same is the situation with other groups in other coun­tries.

The Diaspora bodies in all the countries where Sikhs now have sizable numbers and those numbers are increasing with the flight of Sikhs from the Panjab, these bodies are more concerned about local problems and their solutions.

The Sikh Referendum 2020 team in the Diaspora is desperately waiting for 2019 to pass. If you want to believe them, in the year 2020, notwithstanding whatever kind of referendum they will be able to manage, all problems of the community will be solved.

Sikhs will be in the seventh skies and Sikh sovereignty which we lost on 29 March 1849, will be restored in the year 2020. Does their leadership look, speak and function like Sikh lead­ers?

The can­di­da­ture of Paramjit Kaur Khalra has given a lit­tle fil­lip to the Di­as­pora Sikh bod­ies to iden­tify with hu­man rights as an agenda.

Oth­er­wise from UK to Canada to Aus­tralia to the US, they would have re­mained silent spec­ta­tors, first al­low­ing things to hap­pen with­out in­ter­ven­tion and then ru­ing that ‘look this is hap­pen­ing in Hindu In­dia.’ Re­gur­gi­ta­tion is their forte.

The Pak­istan Sikh Gur­d­wara Par­band­hak Com­mit­tee will do well to fol­low the trail of Sikh her­itage ex­perts and look af­ter the huge spec­trum of Sikh legacy wast­ing by the day in that coun­try. It will do well to look af­ter the eco­nomic needs of the poor­est of the poor Sikhs in Pak­istan and Afghanistan.

The Diaspora miserably failed in its assessment of the Aam Aadmi Party in the last elections, funding the party to the teeth and giving false high hopes of political power to their Sikh candidates, with many waiting in the wings to become the Chief Minister of the state.

In the present times, in the Diaspora and within Panjab has emerged a string of social media warriors who spare no opportunity to pick up Sikh issues and raise their voice against injustices by the state or union government.

They relentlessly expose the political renegades in the community. They are happy in their cocoons and would not like to become leaders of the Sikh community.

The religio-political leadership of the Jathedars, recognised by the SGPC to those recognised by the Sarbat Khalsa has miserably failed to provide direction to the existing parties or to anyone else. They are too involved in pursuing their own agendas only.

In the sixties of the last century, Pettigrew wrote her path-breaking analysis of politics in Punjab in her book Robber­man Noble­man and said that politics in Panjab is everything about ‘palty­baazi’. The group is more important than the Panth. The stance of the group is more important than the cause. The party is more important than Panjab. The party leaders are more important than the Sikh masses.

Out of the political party sphere, no individual has either aspired or volunteered or worked to shake the old foundations of the political systems in Panjab and prove Irish anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew wrong.

In such times, with such a situation, what will happen? Nothing. No individual or party from the present sphere has the capacity, capability and vision to nurture and throw up Sikh leadership. As has happened in the past and as it stands, there will be a major up­heaval in the Indian subcontinent and some kind of Sikh leadership will emerge. Will it be ready to take the situation head on and guide the destiny of the community?

The freedom and the opportunity that the West provides to the Sikhs settled there should enable them for a more benevolent, visionary and effective interaction with the Panjab and Panth and not limit only to religious dogma and dictum.

Many of these groups and individuals have the interest of the Panth and Punjab at heart. However that is not enough. The context and perspective has to change. Repeating the same dialogues, the same arguments, yearning for funding is not going to help. The huge monster of Indian democracy cannot be wished away or fought with merely sloganeering and crying hoarse.

Soul-searching, adoption of new technologies, adaption of new world political thinking, developing Sikh leadership from amongst the youth from scratch, giving up old hyperbole, stopping to drum discrimination, engaging with the people of all castes, class and shades, reorienting the teachings of the Gurus and making it part of our lives and changing the social and religious fibre to be more inclusive and visionary.

All this needs to hap­pen and hap­pen fast.

From Punjab to Diaspora, Sikh leadership in shambles – Passing of Bill 21 a Sad Day for Quebec & Human Rights: World Sikh Organization

There are approximately 15,000 Sikhs in Quebec who will be disproportionately impacted by the ban on religious clothing and symbols

Montreal – Quebec – Canada, 17 June 2019. The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply saddened by the passing of Bill 21, An Act respecting the laicity of the State by the Coalition Avenir Quebec government banning the wearing of religious symbols.

The Bill was passed in a rare late-night vote on Sunday after the Government of Quebec invoked closure to prematurely end debate. The Government of Quebec has also invoked the notwithstanding clause, allowing it to override freedom of religion protections enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.

Closure was also used on Saturday to pass Bill 9, a controversial law throwing out 18,000 pending immigration applications to Quebec. Bill 9 includes the framework for a Quebec values test that would-be immigrants need to pass in order to become permanent residents.

Bill 21 restricts the wearing of ‘religious symbols’ by public servants in positions of authority such as police officers, judges, prosecutors and also school teachers and principals.

In a last-minute amendment, the Quebec Government added that “inspectors” will supervise compliance with the secularism law and impose corrective measures, targeted employee can be subject to disciplinary measures for failing to comply.

Despite the amendment, according to experts, the bill’s vague definition of religious symbol as “clothing, symbol, jewelry, ornament, accessory or headgear that is worn in connection with a religious conviction or belief and can reasonably be considered as referring to a religious affiliation” makes the Bill difficult if not impossible to enforce.

There are approximately 15,000 Sikhs in Quebec who will be disproportionately impacted by the ban on religious clothing and symbols. Practicing Sikhs, both men and women, wear the Sikh articles of faith such as the turban at all times as part of their daily lives as reminders of the principles of equality, service and spirituality.

In May, three UN legal experts joined sent a letter to the Canadian mission in Geneva which said that Bill 21 threatens freedoms protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today

“This is a very sad day for the people of Quebec and all of Canada. Quebec is the first jurisdiction in North America to impose a religious dress code. The message the CAQ Government has sent to the world this weekend is that Quebec has shut its doors to diversity and inclusion and that it will not adhere to basic international human rights norms.

Stripping members of minority communities of their rights is a shocking move that will have long term repercussions for Quebec and Canada. Bill 21 was a solution to a problem that did not exist and pandered to the xenophobic tendencies of a section of the Quebec electorate.

The WSO will work with community partners in Quebec to oppose this legislation with every means available to us. The fight against this secularism law will be a historic struggle that will have a permanent impact on human rights in Canada. We call on the people of Quebec to reject this discriminatory and divisive law.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

Passing of Bill 21 a Sad Day for Quebec & Human Rights: World Sikh Organization