I am no fan of the previous Gurdwara pardhan Himmat Singh Sohi, I am no fan of the present pardhan Gurmail Singh Malhi nor of committee member Harjit Singh Sarpanch or Virendra Sharma MP. I have lived in West London for about 13 years and I know that there are excellent people in the local Sikh community. Why are these not elected as MP, or member of the Gurdwara committee ?
Man in Blue
Chandigarh, 25 April 2017. There is a different fervour to snap general election campaign in Ealing-Southall this year with Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall, passing a resolution seeking expulsion of incumbent Member of Parliament, Virendra Sharma, from the Labour Party of Britain.
This resolution is a result of a social media messaging controversy involving some committee members of the gurdwara. Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall, is the largest gurdwara out side India with about 10,000 registered members. The controversy has become a talking point in the local Sikh circles.
Sharma on his part says that the campaign against him is politically motivated and is being stirred up by a small number of people driven by religion and the regions they come from. He insists the protests don’t represent the community’s feelings.
He had also written to the gurdwara’s general secretary, apologising for sharing a What sApp message that was against the gurdwara’s management committee.
It is alleged that during the annual Southall Baisakhi Nagar Kirtan earlier this month, Sharma passed on messages on social media that were allegedly defamatory and malicious that targeted some of the gurdwara management committee members, including its president Gurmail Singh Malhi.
Expressing concern during a specially convened executive committee meeting, gurdwara vice-president Harjit Singh Sarpanch said, “It is more serious because it has been done and being done by a public person like Sharma in collaboration with his supporters to spread hatred in the community”.
Sarpanch alleged that Sharma was not capable of representing the diverse people of Southall and Ealing and that he had been dividing communities.
“This is an act of political criminality. He has sent messages on WhatsApp relating to me and my colleagues’ personal matters. He must be suspended as an MP by the Labour Party”, claimed Manjit Singh Buttar, the gurdwara general secretary, who is also a Councillor in the London Borough of Hounslow.
The management committee has since passed a resolution planning to take action against Sharma.
The executive committee unanimously condemned “malicious, conspired, character assassination on the day of Nagar Kirtan to cause maximum harm to the reputation and character of our key committee members.” It was also resolved that the case be reported to the police and further civil action be initiated as per legal advice.
It was also decided that the committee would report the matter to the Leader of the Labour Party calling for action to expel Mr Sharma MP from the party as well as to approach the Speaker of the House of Commons requesting him to take appropriate action against him.
Sharma said, “The argument with Buttar and the gurdwara is all product of a misunderstanding. There is no real conflict between us and I have offered to meet with everyone concerned to clear up the issue.”
The April 20 letter written to the gurdwara general secretary by the MP, a copy of which has been provided to TOI, Sharma said, “On the 9th April I received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number.
This message contained numerous allegations about a number of highly respected members of our local community and people I consider to be pillars of society. I will not waste space on the scurrilous rumours and gossip in the message, but I told the sender that it was wrong to make such allegations anonymously…”
He added in the letter that when the first accusations were followed by further accusations, he shared the number and message with very few friends to try to ascertain the identity of the sender.
“In doing so I realise that I spread the gossip further and I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for this, and any accidental credence I lent the allegations, this was not my intention,” he said.