Sikh Federation UK – Trudeau’s visit to Sikh homeland eagerly anticipated

Focus will be on what he says about the experience of the minority Sikh community in India and their campaign for greater rights

London-UK, 16 February 2018. Sikhs in Canada and other parts of the globe have been in private communications directly and indirectly with the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and some of the Sikh Ministers and Liberal MPs accompanying him before his week-long trip to India that begins tomorrow on 17 February.

Trudeau will be accompanied by his four Sikh Ministers, Harjit Singh Sajjan (defence), Navdeep Singh Bains (innovation, science and economic development), Amarjit Singh Sohi (infrastructure and communities) and Bardish Kaur Chagger (small business and tourism), who is also the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and a number of other Sikh MPs.

As far as the worldwide Sikh community is concerned the peak of Trudeau’s visit to India is when he is in Punjab and the Sri Harmandr Sahib Complex on 21 February with his 35-member media delegation from Canada.

The Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh who last year accused all Sikh Ministers in Trudeau’s Cabinet of being Khalistani sympathisers and refused to meet Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan will face a major dilemma by being seen to make a U-turn.

Every word Trudeau speaks about the experience of the minority Sikh community in India when he visits the Sikh homeland will be closely watched and dissected by Sikhs not only in Canada, but other parts of the globe.

Privately and publicly there is no doubt the Indian authorities and media will challenge Trudeau on his perceived backing or otherwise for those campaigning for a separate Sikh homeland, Khalistan.

They will also try and get his views on the recent restrictions imposed by Gurdwara management committees in Canada on Indian government officials where he will no doubt have a carefully prepared response.

How Trudeau responds to questions about Sikhs in Canada could determine his political future as he will be conscious that his Conservative predecessor Stephen Harper in his November 2012 visit to India pushed back strongly when challenged by the Indian media.

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper said merely advocating for a Khalistan homeland was not a crime and should not be confused with the right of Canadians to hold and promote their political views. He added that “we can’t interfere with the right of political freedom of expression.”

It will also not be lost on India that Canada, alongside Italy and Pakistan are leading a counter-proposal at the UN to have more non-permanent members that in essence is designed to stop India and others becoming permanent members of the UN Security Council.

There is no doubt Trudeau will need to walk a fine line during his India visit given the media hype of him being a close ally of the Sikhs. The fact that economic trade between Canada and India is relatively small will help Trudeau stand up to pressure from New Delhi during his visit given the line taken by his Conservative predecessor.

Trudeau also knows next year he will be up against Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), who will have most to gain if Trudeau fails to at least go as far as Stephen Harper in defending the rights of Sikhs in Canada to be able to highlight the atrocities by the Indian authorities i.e. the failure to release Sikh political prisoners who have served their terms and have the freedom to advocate for Khalistan.

Another human rights case that is certain to come up is the case of Jagtar Singh Johal where Liberal MPs have been vocal and the Canadian government has also officially raised concerns.

Trudeau is certain to face questions about the Sikh Genocide motion passed by the Ontario Provincial Parliament last year that was led by politicians belonging to his Liberal Party who have subsequently been promoted.

He will come across as weak on a crucial human rights issue if he chooses to distance the Liberal Party at the federal level from those of his party at the provincial level.

Trudeau should address this challenge head on and point out the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in late December 2014 referred to what happened to the Sikhs in November 1984 as ‘Genocide’.

He continued that ‘justice would be meted out to the victims only when the perpetrators of the crime are punished’ and ‘that until these persons are punished, victims will not get relief’.

It would also be an opportune moment for Trudeau to ask what the BJP government is doing to address the recent revelation of the sting operation that has exposed Congress politician Jagdish Tyler.

He has now been heard confessing to the killing of over 100 Sikhs and separately implicated Rajiv Gandhi by disclosing the two toured the streets of Delhi during the peak of the Sikh Genocide..

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK) <>


The Times of India – Radical Sikh groups hope to meet Trudeau during his Amritsar visit

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 09 February 2018. Sikh radical groups hope to be able to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his India visit from February 17 to 23. This comes in the backdrop of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh expressing reservations in meeting some of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers for their alleged leaning towards Khalistan.

While welcoming the visit of the Canadian PM, Jarnail Singh Sakhira, general secretary of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), a pro-Khalistan group, said they would give a memorandum to Trudeau reminding him of Sikhs’ genocide in India.

While stating that Khalistan was very much on the party’s agenda, he said they had no plans to raise separatist slogans during Trudeau’s visit.

On his state visit to India, Trudeau is scheduled to visit Amritsar, Agra, New Delhi, Ahmadabad, and Mumabi. SAD (Amritsar) leaders and workers had raised slogans in praise of Khalistan during Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan’s Amritsar visit last year. However, even Sajjan had not met them.

Party’s office secretary Harbir Singh Sandhu said, “We have a peaceful programme to welcome Trudeau and meet him but if we are stopped from meeting him then we will see.”

Amarinder had refused to meet Sajjan during his visit in April 2017, accusing him of being a Khalistani sympathizer.

Canada is among other countries including the UK and the US where radical Sikh groups are still pursuing the Khalistan agenda by not only trying to provoke the Sikh youths in India but also instigating the gangsters to fight for the “cause of Panth”.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, legal adviser of Sikhs For Justice, in an e-mail message, said that they had written to Trudeau to defend Canadian Sikhs’ freedom of expression on Khalistan during his visit to India.

“Mr Prime Minister, since you are about to visit India, we are writing to apprise you about the pressing concerns of the Canadian Sikhs with regard to India’s policy of denying Sikhs’ rights to self-determination; labeling Sikh separatists as terrorists and policy of using torture as tool to suppress dissenting political opinion,” reads his letter. – Dal Khalsa: Clubbing the Khalistan issue with visiting Canadian PM is aimed to undermine indigenous character of Sikh freedom struggle

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 10 February 2018. Dal Khalsa believes that the raking up of the Khalistan issue coinciding with the trip of Canadian premier to India, including Amritsar, is aimed to embarrass Mr Justin Trudeau.

The organization feels by continuously questioning the credentials of Mr Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues, a section of media and Punjab chief minister Captain Amrinder Singh has offended the political sensibilities of Canada, a Commonwealth friend of India, and started a fresh tirade against the Sikh Diaspora which as part of the Sikh nation has been making the right move on Canadian soil, raising human rights concerns and endorsing the call for the right to self-determination.

Party leader Kanwar Pal Singh said in its criticism against the Canadian government, India has failed to understand that if Canada allows the right to self-determination to the people of the Quebec, it cannot deny the same to anyone else for that matter.

He said by portraying the Sikh struggle for right to self determination as foreign sponsored move, there has been a well-planned, well-thought propaganda by the Indian establishment and its media to undermine the sovereign character of the Sikh people and their aspirations for independence.

He said the latest target of India and the media is the Sikh Diaspora residing in UK, Europe and Canada. Unfortunately, the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh with his new-found love for neo-Nationalism (read Hindutva) and Narendra Modi have corroborated these accusations.

On Canada’s Defence Minister declaring that he doesn’t espoused Khalistani cause, another party leader H S Dhami said Harjit Singh Sajjan was never Khalistani and added that it was Captain Amrinder Singh, who labelled him out of egoistical reasons.

‘Sajjan is a Canadian Sikh and a minister owing allegiance to Canadian constitution’. He said Captain has his own axe to grind against the present Canadian government. On his U-turn, Dhami said Captain faced flak on his earlier stance of not meeting “guest” so to avoid further criticism he wasted no time to welcome Sajjan’s statement.

The Sikhs settled in Canada, UK and Europe need no certification or clearance to stand up for the rights of the Sikhs in Punjab, said he. He said to defame all Diaspora Sikhs supporting right to self-determination, the Indian state and media has labelled them as agents of their respective countries, out to create mischief in India.

Contrary to Indian perception, the reality is that they are Punjabi-born Sikhs, who have migrated to foreign countries and who want to see their homeland Punjab free from exploitation, human rights abuses and India’s political stranglehold.

Appreciating Canada for its open, mature and vibrant democracy, he said while in India the right to freedom of expression and to hold independent thoughts are only on paper, in countries like Canada it is being practised in letter and spirit.

The Hindustan Times – Amarinder Singh lauds Canadian minister Sajjan’s statements against Khalistanis

Amarinder Singh said the clarification by Sajjan has paved the way for better relations with Canada, which is home to a large Sikh population.

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 08 February 2018. Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh lauded Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan for clarifying his stance on Khalistan, and congratulated Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for creating the necessary environment against secessionist forces believed to be operating from his country.

The Canadian Press on Wednesday carried a statement by Sajjan and his fellow Sikh minister Amarjit Sohi, saying they “neither sympathise with nor espouse the Sikh nationalist movement, which is bent on creating a separate country called Khalistan in India’s Punjab region”.

Amarinder said this statement demonstrated that the Canadian Prime Minister had clearly sent out a strong signal within his party and the government that he would not allow his country’s soil to be used for any ‘anti-India’ activities.

In a statement here on Thursday, the CM said the clarification by Sajjan that he does not sympathise with the (Khalistani) cause, has paved the way for better relations with Canada, which is home to a large Sikh population.

Amarinder Singh, who had refused to meet Harjit Sajjan during his visit to Punjab in April last year, said he was looking forward to meeting Trudeau during his visit to Punjab later this month.

He said this visit will give Canada and Punjab the opportunity to forge mutually beneficial business and trade ties.

Amarinder said no nation should foster divisive forces that propagate terrorism.

“Such activities pose a serious threat to global peace and, therefore, should not be allowed to flourish in any part of the world. Nurturing or supporting separatist forces always proves detrimental, in the long run, not only to countries against which they are unleashed but also to those which allow such elements to operate from their soil,” he added.

Canada, said Amarinder, had always been a friend of India, especially Punjab, whose people had contributed significantly to the Western nation’s progress and development. – 100 days of arrest: activists to raise awareness of Jagtar Singh Johal’s continued detention

Sikh24 Editors

London-UK, 3 February 2018. The detention of 30-year-old Scottish activist Jagtar Singh Johal continues, without charge, and has reached more than 90 days in custody. He was abducted by the Punjab police on 4 November 2017, without any charges.

As the Punjab Police continually ask for extensions, the Indian judges have granted repeated remands, with Jagtar appearing in court more than 20 times since his abduction.

To this day, Jagtar continues to be shifted back and forth between NIA and judicial custody. Despite the confirmation of torture taking place during the first few days of his incarceration, he has been denied the right to an independent medical examination as well as private meetings with the British High Commission.

Jagtar’s detainment will reach 100 days in mid-February. To help raise awareness, a Twitter event has been organized on Monday 12 February, 2018, with coordinated times in UK (8pm), USA (3pm EST) and Canada (3pm EST).

Please share this event with your local sangat at Gurdwara, community, school, friends and family.

For the latest updates, please follow this campaign on all social media:

Twitter: @FreeJaggiNow

Facebook: Free Jaggi Now

Instagram: freejagginow

Toronto Star – How Singh can teach a lesson on tolerance

The federal NDP leader need not present himself as a Sikh candidate, or even as the champion of non-white Canadians: those credentials are given. He can frame himself as the champion of all that we have achieved, the defender of that edifice against any who would undermine it, and the advocate of what more remains to be done to build a discrimination-free Canada, writes Robin Sears.

Robin V Sears

Toronto-Ontario-Canada, 28 January 2018. Next year, Canada may face a test of our national foundations, that is our commitment to social inclusion and tolerance. Will this fragile consensus survive the bloodletting of a national election when one of the leadership choices is an ambitious Sikh man, in a time when some partisans would stir the embers of racism?

In the naïve euphoria of a “post-racial Presidency,” how many Americans would have predicted an openly racist American president would follow? The Conservative Party has yet to be persuasive about how deeply it has learned the lessons of its disastrous flirtation with Islamophobic racism.

The Quebec political elite still needs to acknowledge the black crow feathers dangling from their lips.

The ability to set these boundaries of acceptable discourse falls heavily on one man.

In 2019, Jagmeet Singh faces Obama’s choice. Obama did not run as a black candidate, to the chagrin of many black activists, like his hopeless pastor who almost single-handedly torpedoed his candidacy.

He ran first as the candidate of “the outsiders”, by race, by ethnicity, and by class. Later, he became the candidate and the president, of social justice and race. The sequencing was essential to his success.

Jagmeet Singh might consider a similar story arc. He need not present himself as a Sikh candidate, or even as the champion of non-white Canadians: those credentials are given. Until now, even dog whistle racism gets slapped down here.

So Singh can frame himself as the champion of all that we have achieved, the defender of that edifice against any who would undermine it, and the advocate of what more remains to be done to build a discrimination-free Canada.

He can be the candidate who frames the debate on these questions, helping to ensure no one is tempted to whisper against Canadian Muslims, or him, on the basis of his skin or his religion.

Those journalists tempted to use the tragedy of Sikh terrorism to humiliate him should remember this: Singh comes from one of the most persecuted, and discriminated against religions in the world. Thousands of young Sikhs have died in recent decades in circumstances that pass no credible legal test.

Some Sikh zealots, as a result, have taken up arms and dreamed impossible independence dreams. This has been a tragedy for one community, Sikhs themselves. There is virtually no sympathy for the Air-India bombers in the Sikh community here, after all, those who died were predominantly their own children and their parents.

The Star – Sikh immigrant’s story is as Canadian as chaat, dal and paneer

Gian Singh Sandhu writes about journey from hostility, heartache and finding home, and a new approach to confronting racism.

Jim Coyle

Toronto-Ontario-Canada, 27 January 2018. Gian Singh Sandhu recalls the day with a shudder of bone-chilling clarity.

He was 27, newly arrived in Canada from India, landing with his wife and three children in his new home of Williams Lake, B.C.

It was just before Christmas 1970. Snow was knee-deep. It was -30 C. For the five newcomers, Sandhu said in an interview this week, the country was white in more ways than one. It “was like another planet”.

Which is not so very different, he laughs, than how 1970s Canada regarded Sikhs, widely reviled, as were most people of brown skin, as “Pakis,” their turbans and beards a magnet for attacks and venomous hisses to “go home”.

It all sounds to modern ears as outmoded as it is appalling.

After all, Canadians are accustomed to ads for Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi. This is a country with more Sikh ministers in its federal cabinet than India, where Punjabi is the fourth most spoken language, where Jagmeet Singh was elected last year to lead the federal NDP.

In Whitehorse, a clip showing local man Gurdeep Pandher teaching Mayor Dan Curtis (who’d donned a turban for the occasion) some Bhangra dance moves went viral last year. And in Toronto, turbaned Nav Bhatia is the No. 1 superfan of the NBA Raptors.

Still, reaching that status took time for members of one of the world’s newest and smallest religions.

And Sandhu, now 74 and living with his wife Surinder in Surrey, is an engaging guide in chronicling the journey in his book ‘An Uncommon Road: How Canadian Sikhs Struggled Out of the Fringes and into the Mainstream’, to be released this spring.

The book is the tale of an immigrant’s arrival in a strange new world, of hostility and insult, of persistence through ups, downs and heartaches, and, finally, of security and finding a place to call home.

In that sense, it is as a story as Canadian as, oh, chaat, dal and paneer.

For Sikhs in Canada, now numbering almost 500,000, largely in BC and Greater Toronto, “it’s been quite a challenging history, no question about it,” Sandhu said in an interview.

The first Sikh settler in Canada was said to be Captain Kesur Singh in 1897. In the early 1900s, Sikhs began arriving in British Columbia, working in logging, lumber mills and farming.

At first, only men were allowed, the better to ensure they left the country. Politicians said openly and proudly that they believed Canada to be “a white country”.

“My God, those early folks really fought the challenges,” Sandhu said. “They must have had determination that an average person cannot even imagine.”

In 1914, the Japanese steamer Komagata Maru was turned back from Vancouver along with the more than 300 prospective immigrants, most of them Sikhs, on board. (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized in the House of Commons in 2016 for that outrage, a measure Sandhu said “was huge within the community.”)

For much of the 20th century, Sikhs, a small and visible minority, endured the racism endemic in society. Progress came in small steps. Then, in the late 1960s, the federal Liberal government opened the doors to diversity with changes in immigration regulations.

For that, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau remains, for generations of Canadians like Sandhu, the man who made it happen. And as it happens, Sandhu met Trudeau before he was in Canada a year.

It was during a visit by the Queen to Williams Lake on the royal tour of 1971.

“I was new to the country, and here comes the prime minister’s entourage and he stops the car on seeing my turban, and on a few of the people standing beside me. You wouldn’t believe it! He stops the car, gets out of the car, walks over to me and said: “Sat sri akal (a Punjabi greeting).

“And I thought, Wow!”

For Sandhu, the most difficult challenges for Sikhs came, globally, after the Indian army’s attack on the Golden Temple in 1984 and, after the retaliatory assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi, the slaughter of Sikhs across the country and the fury and rifts it caused in the diaspora.

He was at the heart of a rupture in Williams Lake between moderate and fundamentalist Sikhs and allegations of spies from India and competing factions in gurdwaras.

As something of a born-again Sikh, baptized and taking up the visible articles of faith in his late 30s, Sandhu’s support for an independent Khalistan as president of the World Sikh Organization of Canada even got him blacklisted from India.

“Our goal was always to speak up for those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t dare, for fear of reprisal and persecution,” he writes in the book. “If their voices were raised in favour of the formation of an independent Sikh nation, it was, and would be, our duty here in the West to aid them.”

For all that, it was after the Air India disaster of 1985, when the bombing of a plane leaving Canada killed 329 people, most of them Canadians of South Asian descent, that times were most difficult, Sandhu said.

“The Sikh community basically came under the cloud of suspicion, every one of us,” he said. It “pushed us more to the fringes than anything else could have done. Working our way back into the mainstream was a big challenge”.

The consequence of insecurity and threat is often a retreat into insularity. The trouble with that is the community is not able to make itself known.

Sandhu recalls being told once, across a table, that with his turban and beard he looked like Iran’s late Ayatollah Khomeini.

“I almost fell out of my chair. I said, tell me what I have done wrong?

“He said, ‘You haven’t taught me who you are.”

“That was a question that needed to be answered. So education is what takes a lot of fear of the unknown away.”

Now, when racism arises, it can be handled from a new position of belonging and confidence, he said. Rather than retreating the question becomes “how do I find a resolution to this, how do I really educate those people?”

Through the 1990s, there were court challenges in Canada for the right to wear the turban in the RCMP and to carry the ceremonial dagger known as a kirpan, two of the five “Ks” practised by observant Sikh men [and women].

Sandhu, who has visited India after the lifting of the ban against him in 2016, said his book is the story of a “despised other” growing into a political force and becoming fully incorporated part of the Canada.

In this country, having Hockey Night in Canada broadcast in Punjabi is a powerful symbol of that belonging.

“Seniors who did not understand hockey before when they saw kids watching it, now they are glued onto the TV,” he said. “It’s amazing. That’s what I call mainstream.”

Sandhu remembers what he told an immigration officer who asked why an Indian air force officer would want to come to Canada in the first place.

“My answer was, Canada is a place, from what I have read, that provides opportunities to everyone.”

Now, after a career as a successful lumbering entrepreneur, an active life serving his community and as a member of the Order of British Columbia, he still believes that.

“I am so grateful. I am so indebted. I would say to God, ‘I made the right move at the right time’. This is my home.”

CBC News – National Legion issues policy reminder after Sikh man told to remove turban

Tignish Legion says staff will get more training after being ‘caught off guard’ by turban

Steve Bruce

Tignish-Prince Edward Island-Canada, 22 January 2018. The Sikh man who was told by staff at the Royal Canadian Legion in Tignish to remove his turban last week says he’s pleased with how the Legion has responded to the incident.

The president of the Tignish Legion, Stephen Gallant, has publicly apologized to Jaswinder Singh for what Gallant says was an unfortunate misunderstanding. He said staff didn’t realize the smaller head covering Singh was wearing that night, was in fact a form of a turban called a patka.

The Legion president told CBC on Friday that staff will receive more education and training, aimed at preventing a similar incident from happening again.

“I really like this,” Singh told the CBC on Sunday. “If they educate their staff about their own rules and the different religions, then they won’t do this kind of thing to anyone else.”

National Legion hopes incident ‘was an anomaly’

While many Legions across Canada don’t allow hats and other head coverings out of respect for veterans, the organization’s national policy is to make an exception for members and visitors wearing a head covering for religious reasons.

A spokesperson for the Legion’s national office says when word got out about the Tignish incident, an email was sent out to leadership across the country reminding them religious head coverings are allowed.

“While we are hopeful this incident was an anomaly, a detailed reminder of our policy was sent by the Legion’s Dominion Command to provincial command leadership across the country on Friday,” Nujma Bond said in an email.

Bond added that the policy relating to turbans in Legions was created as far back as 1986. “It was recommended that Provincial Commands be advised that access (to Legion branches) should not be denied because of a turban. This recommendation was passed and became a policy,” Bond wrote.

‘We belong to one human race’

Gallant said it’s too early to say what additional training staff will receive.

Singh said his hope is that staff will learn how to respond better to patrons if they make racist remarks inside the legion.

In response to the incident in Tignish, the national office of the Royal Canadian Legion has sent out an email, reminding legion leadership across the country of the policy on religious head coverings.

Singh said after he refused to take off his turban, some patrons gave him the middle finger and told him to “go back to your country.”

“If someone’s making racist comments, they should stop them,” Singh said. “They should educate those people as well that ‘no, racism is not a good thing’. We belong to one human race. If we leave religion behind, we’re all humans.”

The Tribune – Harinder Kaur Malhi is Ontario’s first Sikh woman minister

Lawmaker had moved 1984 ‘genocide’ motion last year

Toronto-Ontario-Canada, 18 January 2018. Harinder Kaur Malhi, who had moved the 1984 Sikh “genocide” motion in the Ontario Assembly in April last year, has been given a Cabinet berth, making her the first Sikh woman minister in the Canadian province.

The 38-year-old daughter of Canada’s first turbaned MP Gurbax Singh Malhi was sworn in as Minister of the Status of Women here today.

The decision to elevate Malhi was taken by Premier Kathleen Wynne. Ontario goes to the polls in June.

Malhi represents the Punjabi-dominated “riding” (constituency) of Brampton-Springdale in the Assembly, whose members are called MPPs (members of Provincial Parliament).

She joins another Indo-Canadian woman minister, Dipika Damerla, in the Ontario Cabinet.

It is being speculated that because of her “genocide” motion, Malhi can help her Liberal Party retain Sikh votes which may drift to the New Democratic Party (NDP), which has elected Jagmeet Singh as its national leader.

After her “genocide” resolution, many in the Sikh community view her as the champion of the cause in the community. Her party may also benefit from her father’s huge hold over Sikh voters.

As a member of the Ontario Assembly, Jagmeet had also introduced a similar motion on the anti-Sikh riots, but it failed. He was also denied visa to visit India in 2013.

Brampton, on the outskirts of Toronto, has the second largest concentration of the Sikh community in Canada after Surrey (British Columbia).

Malhi’s motion in the Assembly read:

“That, in the opinion of this House… should reaffirm our commitment to the values we cherish, justice, human rights and fairness, and condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth, justice and reconciliation.”

The motion was passed by 34-5 votes in a House of 107 members.

India had rejected it, calling it a “misguided motion based on a limited understanding of India, its Constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process.”

Meanwhile, Kathleen Wynne was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper: “The knowledge and skills they bring to these roles will be crucial as we continue our work to create more fairness and opportunity for the people of Ontario.”

“In a changing economy, our plan is about making sure everyone has a fair shot at getting ahead,” she said.

“That’s why it is also important to me that this updated Cabinet continues to reflect both the diversity and the geography of our province,” Wynne added.

The Indian Express – At literary conference, NRIs condemn move to ban Indian officials from gurdwaras in US, Canada

Speaking to The Indian Express, Mahinder Deep Grewal, 76, a poet, said that gurdwaras should be kept out of politics and it is not right to ‘ban’ anyone.

Divya Goyal

Ludhiana-Panjab-India, 17 January 2018. A two-day international conference on ‘Immigrant Literature’ kicked off at Gujranwala Guru Nanak Khalsa College in Ludhiana Tuesday with an aim to promote literary works of Punjabis settled abroad.

At the conference, the NRI community strongly condemned the ‘ban’ imposed on Indian officials and diplomats by some gurdwaras in US and Canada, and also said that sacred gurdwaras should be kept out of politics. They added that Indian government officials too should refrain from using them as platform to promote government policies.

However, they maintained that no one can be stopped from entering a gurdwara which is against principles of Sikhism. They further expressed that despite various campaigns to make Sikh turban acceptable, racism and discrimination was still deep-rooted in those countries.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Mahinder Deep Grewal, 76, a poet, said that gurdwaras should be kept out of politics and it is not right to ‘ban’ anyone. “Some gurdwaras in US and Canada are indulging in politics and dividing Sikhs.

Gurdwaras should be kept out of all this,” he said. Recently, at least 30 gurdwaras from Canada and 96 from US ‘banned’ Indian diplomats and officials saying that they should not interfere in the lives of Sikhs there.

Sukhi Bath, 60, founder of Punjab Bhawan in Surrey (Canada), said that four gates of gurdwaras are always opened for all and it is against teaching of the Sikh Gurus to ‘ban’ anyone.

“We live in a very well-mannered country Canada which has multi-culturism as its biggest strength. There can be different opinions which should be respected. Humanity stands supreme and banning someone from gurdwaras is completely against Sikhism. It is high time that this gurdwara politics should stop from both sides.”

The NRI community also opened up on several issues related to Punjabi diaspora including hate crime, racism. Grewal added, “I do not wear turban when I am in the United States. I have started wearing cap. Once I was walking down a street with my family at San Diego and someone shouted ‘Hey, Look Laden is going.

They compared me to the terrorist Osama Bin Laden because of the turban. I and my family were in shock for many days. My little granddaughter asked that what if someone kills me. Since then my son has strictly told me not to wear turban there.

He too has chopped his beard and doesn’t wear turban. Government there is trying to create awareness saying Sikhs are not terrorists and wearing turban is normal but still many people there think we are terrorists. Pictures of Sikhs serving langar at Golden Temple are also shown to convince them.”

Jarnail Singh Sekha, 84, an eminent Punjabi novelist from Surrey in Canada said that his works got actual recognition after he moved abroad and started writing about problems of immigrants there.

“I started writing immigrant literature and got response in Canada. My novel Khet Mazdoor is based on how immigrants work as laborers initially in foreign countries. I myself worked as a laborer first,” he said.

“I do not go to any gurudwara there. Guru is in my heart. It is because both gurdwara managements and Indian officials are indulged in politics. They use place of worship for politics and propagating their own ideologies and dividing Sikhs,” he said.

Nobody is banned from Gurdwaras in Canada and the USA, everybody is still welcome to enter the Gurdwara as members of the sangat. People should inform themselves first before making public statements !
Man in Blue

At literary conference, NRIs condemn move to ban Indian officials from gurdwaras in US, Canada