International Business Times – Sikh father fights against Christian school’s turban ban on 5-year-old son

The school said his son would have to remove his traditional patka if he wished to enroll

Isabelle Gerretsen

Melbourne, 24 July 2017. A Sikh father has taken legal action against his son’s Christian school in Melbourne after staff banned the 5-year-old from wearing his turban to class.

Melton Christian College said that Sidhak Singh Arora had to remove his traditional patka, one of the five articles of faith Sikhs must wear, if he wished to enroll in September as the school’s uniform policy prohibits students from wearing any type of religious headwear.

The boy’s father, Sagardeep Singh Arora, has accused the school board of discrimination and taken his case to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

“I was very surprised in an advanced country like Australia, they are still not allowing us to wear patka in the school,” he said. “If you’re enrolling a student from a different community, you should allow them to practice their religious beliefs, they should not be forced to abandon their faith.”

“The police and the army allow Sikhs to wear the turban, why not in the classroom?” he asked.

The college’s principal David Gleeson told the tribunal that he was proud of the “neutrality” of the school’s uniform policy. “I think one of the real strengths of the college is that we’re blind to, that everyone is blind to religious affiliations.”

“[Sidhak Singh Arora] identifying himself as something other than the identity of the college and that creates a difference, that takes away the level playing field for himself and other students in the school,” he added.

Gleeson stressed that racial and religious differences between students had “no relevance to the classroom, in the playground, at school events, and that’s because differences are invisible.”

Sikh – Political Prisoner Bhai Harminder Singh acquitted in 2009 Ammunition Recovery Case

Sikh24 Editors

Ludhiana-Panjab-India, 23 July 2017. A Session Court of Ludhiana on July 22 acquitted Sikh activist Bhai Harminder Singh in an ammunition recovery case registered against him by the Ludhiana police in 2009.

Notably, Bhai Harminder Singh was declared proclaimed offender by the Court in this case in 2010. After his arrest in March 2010, he was given bail by the Court in 2015.

Speaking to Sikh24, Bhai Harminder Singh’s legal counsel Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur informed that Justice Anjana acquitted Bhai Harminder Singh agreeing with his contentions. He informed that the Court had conducted a debate on the case during last hearing in which he had cornered claims of Punjab government’s counsel.

Sikh Relief had been financing Bhai Harminder Singh’s family and prison welfare costs when he was in custody.

Earlier, Bhai Harminder Singh had been acquitted in seven other fabricated cases placed on him, including bomb plots at Ludhiana’s Shingar Cinema, Ambala and Patiala.

Sikh Federation UK – Sikhs from across Europe meet in the European Parliament to agree a 2-year strategy for measures to safeguard the Sikh identity before the UK exits the European Union

London, 19 July 2017. Sikh representatives from across Europe met at the European Parliament yesterday and agreed a number of actions aimed at safeguarding the Sikh identity in Europe.

The conference also specifically touched upon the Kirpan issue in Italy, developments of the World Sikh Parliament and the political campaign for establishing a Sikh homeland.

With the UK setting in motion negotiations to exit the European Union the Sikh Federation (UK) convened an urgent meeting of Sikh representatives from across Europe to start developing a strategy in relation to defending the Sikh identity.

It was agreed that similar Europe-wide conferences should be organised by the Sikh Federation (UK) to take place at least every 6 months for the next two years. To aid discussions and develop a strategy countries across Europe were divided into four categories:

* Countries with well established Sikh communities where Sikh identity issues are reasonably well understood by respective governments, but individual cases of discrimination remain e.g. UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

* Countries with secular policies where Sikhs have been experiencing significant difficulties with respect to the Sikh identity in schools and the workplace e.g. France and Belgium.

* Countries with Sikh communities that are growing and been establishing themselves in more recent times and where the majority faith has a important role and stories often emerge of restrictions and fines eg Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

* Countries with governments that have right wing policies and practices where Sikhs need to remain vigilant e.g. Austria and Switzerland.

Using the above groupings the challenges faced with regards to the Sikh identity were explained by representatives from each country. It was clear the challenges faced by Sikhs in each country were different and required a variety of interventions.

This led to an agreed action that named individuals in around a dozen countries will produce by the end of September the first draft of a standard position paper on the situation in each country to discuss and agree at the national level.

These position papers should set out:

– The specific challenges faced with respect to the Sikh identity and the impact;
– The situation as regards hate crime, including the impact of 9/11 and more recent terrorist attacks and mistaken identity;
– Best practice on what an individual Sikh and the local community should do when faced with a specific challenge; and
– Relevant public organisations at the local, national and European level involved in such matters where relationships need to be developed and those that need to be lobbied.

The dozen or so agreed national position papers would then be consolidated into a Europe-wide report that can be used at the national and European level to highlight best practice.

This report would be the basis for the next Europe-wide conference that would look to invite non-Sikh representatives from relevant organisations and political representatives to agree on a sensible way forward at the national and European level.

Sikhs from Italy representing the National Dharam Parchar Committee gave an historic perspective on the Kirpan issue and the more recent controversial developments.

They provided useful evidence on the lack of iron content of the Kirpan that has been proposed compared to existing Kirpans that made it absolutely clear that Giani Gurbachan Singh should never have even entertained the current proposal.

They also indicated the extremely contentious nature of the individual who has made the proposal for personal gain that Sikhs should shun. It was made clear that no Sikh has the authority to compromise the Gurus gift of the Kirpan and unnecessary restrictions imposed on the Kirpan by any government would always be opposed by Sikhs.

Sikh representatives from the UK, Punjab, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands in turn spoke to unanimously condemn the controversial Kirpan proposal from Italy.

Any Gurdwara or Sikh organisation in Europe that had not yet contacted Giani Gurbachan Singh and the President of the SGPC to condemn the proposal were asked to do so as a matter of urgency.

It was also agreed organisations like the Sikh Federation (UK) should explain to the Italian authorities the inappropriateness of individuals like the one with the Italian proposal who are closely associated with the Indian authorities.

Harpal Singh Cheema, the President of Dal Khalsa, then spoke about the political situation in Punjab and touched upon the much needed and exciting development of the World Sikh Parliament.

The Sikh Federation (UK) proposed a number of actions at country level linked to support for the right to self determination and political campaign for establishing a Sikh homeland, Khalistan. These focused around developing links and collaboration with:

* Well respected and recognised nationalist movements that have credibility in respective countries, such as the Scottish National Party;
* Three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, directly in the UK and France and via respective embassies for these countries and the USA in individual countries, the next conference in six months time would elaborate on links with the other two permanent members, China and Russia that are currently being progressed by the Sikh Federation (UK); and
* Politicians and political parties on the right to Sikh self determination setting out the historic and based on experiences the current case for Sikh independence.

Once again Sikhs from across Europe were grateful for how the authorities in the European Parliament fully respected the right of large numbers of Amritdhari Sikhs to enter Parliament openly wearing their Kirpans despite increased security following several terrorist incidents across Europe, including Brussels.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Sikh – California sikhs join other protests against mob lynchings in India

Sikh24 Editors

San Jose-California-USA, 19 July 2017. On July 16, Sikh activists joined protests to express outrage against the lynchings of minorities in India.

The protest was organized by The Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) in San Jose, as ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected, the killing of minorities via mobs have skyrocketed.

Along with Sikh Activists, several other groups joined the protests, including the Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice. A similar protest is scheduled to take place in New York on July 23.

Protesters held banners against the killings of minority communities, especially Muslims and Dalits in India.

Sandeep Singh, a Sikh activist from the Central Valley said, “Today, we have gathered in San Jose against the RSS who have carried out the killings of innocent people, including the Dalits, Muslims and Christians in India.”

“It is a need of the hour to expose the reality of India, which displays itself as a secular nation, but continues to oppress minorities,” he said.

Other protesters held signs such as “India – Hostage to Hindutva?” and “Beef Ban is Cultural Fascism”.

Sikh Federation UK – Sikh nationalists to develop alliance with nationalist movements across the globe

London, 13 July 2017. The Sikh Federation (UK) arranged for Advocate Harpal Singh Cheema, the President of Dal Khalsa to meet UK Parliamentarians yesterday.

The first meeting was with Alison Thewliss the Scottish National Party (SNP) MP for Glasgow Central who earlier this week also became one of the six Vice Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs.

The issue of self determination was discussed and an invitation was extended by Harpal Singh for SNP politicians to visit the Sikh homeland.

The Sikh Federation (UK) mentioned that a series of conferences on self determination would be organised across the globe on the rise of nationalist movements around the world and further details would be given at the European Parliament event next Tuesday.

Harpal Singh spoke about his experience of having spent some 15 years in prison without trial or successful conviction in the USA (10 years) and India (5 years) and the torture he witnessed and experienced in jail in India.

Sikh Federation (UK) representatives explained what happen in 1947 and how killings and human rights abuses by the Indian authorities for the last 40 years and a lack of justice had legitimised and turned a demand for greater autonomy in 1he 1970s to a popular demand for Sikh independence in the 1980s.

Later the group were joined by Preet Kaur Gill, the newly elected Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston and new chair of the APPG for British Sikhs.

A number of other issues were discussed with Alison Thewliss and Preet Kaur Gill in relation to Scotland such as a separate ethnic tick box for Sikhs in the Census in Scotland, a site for a monument in Glasgow (or Edinburgh) to recognise Sikh sacrifices in the First World War, an independent public inquiry linked to the 1984 Sikh Genocide and a Code of Practice for the five Kakaars and Sikh turban in Scotland, issues that the Sikh Federation (UK) discussed with Nicola Surgeon the leader of the SNP in April 2015.

The group also briefly met John Spellar, the Labour MP for Warley who first became an MP in 1982 and has been a leading figure for several decades in raising the full range of human rights issues impacting on Sikhs, especially in Punjab.

Others the group were introduced to included Kezia Dugdale, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party where the above issues in relation to Sikhs and Scotland were also discussed. The group briefly met Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the newly elected Labour MP for Slough as they were leaving Parliament.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Posted to Sikh News Discussion by
Sikh Federation <>

DNA India – HC judge recuses from hearing plea against Sajjan Kumar

New Delhi, 10 July 2017. A Delhi High Court judge today recused himself from hearing a plea seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail granted by the trial court to Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Justice A K Pathak listed the petition moved by a Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the killing of three Sikhs, to another bench. “Not before me. List it before another bench on July 13,” the judge said.

The SIT has sought cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to Kumar by the trial court on December 21 last year in a case of killing of three Sikhs.

While granting relief to the former MP on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and a surety of the like amount, the trial court had asked him not to leave the country without permission and to cooperate in the probe.

The court was informed that the cases filed against Kumar falling under the jurisdiction of Janakpuri and Vikaspuri police stations in west Delhi, were lodged after delay of over 30 years as the complainant was “scared” to name the accused due to his “powerful” position.

The agency had submitted that since his name had cropped up during the SIT probe, he needed to be interrogated and his custody was necessary as he has to be confronted with the evidence in the matter.

It had said that as per complainant by one Harvinder Singh, Kumar was seen leading a mob on the fateful day at around 11 AM. While the complaint in Janakpuri pertains to the killing of two Sikhs, Sohan Singh and his son-in-law Avtar Singh, on 1 November 1984, the other relates to Gurcharan Singh who was burnt and injured on November 2, 1984.

As per the complaint, Gurcharan, who was half burnt, remained bed-ridden for 29 years. He died three years ago.

SIT, which was set up in February 2015 on the direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs to re-investigate the closed case, had said it had filed a detailed status report of the ongoing investigation before the trial court. – Sikhs for Justice: We are determined to continue campaign for Referendum 2020

Sikh24 Editors

New York, 9 July 2017. After activists of the Referendum 2020 campaign were charged under sedition charges by the Punjab government, the organization Sikh for Justice has in turn blamed the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for terrorizing common masses of Punjab.

Sikhs for Justice has been actively putting up posters for Referendum 2020 in Punjab. Speaking with Sikh24, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the legal advisor of the human rights body said that Punjabi masses have depicted immense enthusiasm towards campaign for Sikh Referendum 2020 campaign.

On being contacted by Sikh24, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu said that the campaign for Sikh Referendum 2020 was entirely peaceful and democratic which adheres to the international laws and treaties of the United Nation’s charter. He further said that the sedition charges could not halt them from continuing campaign in Punjab.

Expressing determination to continue campaign for the independence of Punjab via referendum, Pannun informed that he has written a letter to the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh in which he has made it clear to him that the SFJ’s campaign was aimed at liberating Punjab from Indian occupation and since they don’t recognize the authority of the Indian Government and the Constitution, the charges of sedition against them were extraneous.

Meanwhile, SFJ’s India based activist Gurpreet Singh, who was arrested on July 6, was sent to 14-day judicial custody by a Court of Mohali on July 7.

Delhi based Sikh activist Ajmer Singh Randhawa who recently contested the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee elections under ticket of the Sikh Sadbhawna Dal asked why activists of Sikh for Justice were being charged while other prominent Khalistani leaders living in Punjab were not being rounded by the police.

In a tweet, Randhawa challenged Captain Amarinder Singh to arrested S. Simranjit Singh Mann of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) as he was also propagating an independent Punjab.

The Statesman – Vigilante killings will damage India’s economy: Yashwant Sinha

New Delhi, 5 July 2017. In strong disapproval of the recent spate of lynchings in the name of cow protection, veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has said the such incidents create a bad image for the country abroad and serve as disincentive for foreign investments.

“My view is that all such incidents, and certainly a clutch of such incidents, create a bad image of the country. Not only within country but also abroad,” Sinha said in an interview.

“I am relating it to economic activities and I am saying that it has an adverse impact on the economic activities. As far as lynching per se is concerned, you know unfortunately in our society, such lynching has been going on. It is not always communal,” he said.

He recalled the December 2012 gang rape of a young woman in Delhi and said while he was giving a talk on the Indian economy in Germany, the first question he was asked was about the horrible rape and murder.

“Similiarly, if people feel that it is mob justice, the governments are not in control, it will be a disincentive for not only foreign investments but all investments of any kind in the country,” the former BJP minister said.

Asked about the pattern of such incidents targeting Muslims and Dalits, Sinha said it was a “question of interpretation” and cited BJP President Amit Shah’s claim that there were more lynchings earlier.

“I am not privy to those, I have not compared the figures. But the point I am making is that it certainly is a very unwelcome trend and should be stopped as quickly as possible.”

Sinha’s remarks came as the incidents of killings, particularly related to beef-eating or cow slaughter or harming the bovine have increased in the last three years since the BJP government came to power in 2014.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an address last week condemned the vigilante killings, saying cows must be protected but within limits. “Do we get the right to kill a human being?” he said. “Is this devotion to the cow? Is this cow protection? This cannot be the path of respected Bapuji,” he said, referring to Mahatma Gandhi.

“Today, when I hear that in the name of the cow someone has been killed, I say the law should take its course; human beings have no right to take the law into their hands.”

According to an analysis of IndiaSpend, a data journalism initiative, out of 63 cases of mob justice of lynchings recorded since 2010, 61 took place under the BJP government.

Twenty-four out of the 28 people killed in the attacks were Muslims. During the first six months of 2017, there were 20 cow or beef-related attacks.

On June 7, a man was attacked in Dhanbad of Jharkhand on suspicion of transporting beef to an Iftar party. Two cases of lynching over cow slaughter rumors were reported last week.

In May, some traders were thrashed in Malegaon, Maharashtra for allegedly storing beef. Before that, two more men, Abu Hanifa and Riazuddin Ali, were killed for allegedly stealing cattle in Assam.

In March this year, suspected cattle traders Mohammed Majloom and Azad Khan were killed in Latehar in Jharkhand. Days later, Mohammed Shalik, 19, was tied to a pole and beaten to death, reportedly over a romantic relationship with a Hindu girl in the same state.

There were several other incidents in the name of cow, including the murder of Pehlu Khan, a cattle trader, who was killed by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan’s Alwar.

India Today – Pro-Khalistan group dares BJP workers to remove Azadi Hi Hal posters

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has put out a statement as a direct threat to Bhartiya Janata Party if they try to remove such hoardings or pose any hindrance in their movement.

Manjeet Sehgal

Chandigarh, 3 July 2017. A day after India Today reported that pro-Khalistan groups are putting up banners in parts of Punjab calling for referendum on independence from Indian State by 2020, Sikhs For Justice has threatened BJP.

SFJ has put out a statement as a direct threat to Bhartiya Janata Party if they try to remove such hoardings or pose any hindrance in their movement.

“BJP will face serious consequences if they remove the Referendum 2020 hoardings,” SFJ spokesperson Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said in a statement .

The banners carry a life-size portrait of slain Khalistan militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale with the Golden Temple complex in the backdrop. These posters have been put in towns, Dhanaula in Barnala, Rajpura, Fatehgarh Sahab and Banur near Roopnagar among others.

Some private buildings were also spotted with posters carrying messages like, Azadi hi hal (Independence is the only solution) on Saturday night.

Pulling up the Amarinder Singh government for inaction, the BJP workers had vowed to take these posters down themselves on Sunday.

We are not scared of them

Reacting to the threat given by the pro-Khalistan SFJ, BJP secretary Vineet Joshi said that the party is not afraid of the separatists who do not even have supporters in Punjab.

“Sikhs For Justice is funded by Pakistan and has no office in Punjab. This blacklisted group is speaking the language of Pakistan and by putting referendum hoardings is trying to disrupt peace. We are ready for any sacrifice and will not let any divisive forces to launch anti-India propaganda,” Vineet Joshi added.

As locals feigned ignorance over the posters coming up in their vicinity, even Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) distanced itself from the controversy. “We do not believe in politics of religion and do not support the idea of Khalistan. We are against such people who try to divide Punjab, which has seen black days and will never forget them,” Bhagwant Mann said.

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said, “There are some fringe Khalistan groups who are indulging in acts like this for cheap publicity. They should keep in mind that they cannot fool the people of Punjab who know the value of peace and paid heavy price to regain it. Law will prevail and we are taking necessary steps to deal with such elements.”

The News – ‘Travesty of logic’ to link Jhadav’s case with civilian prisoners: Pakistan

Islamabad, 2 July 2017. Pakistan on Sunday said that it was “travesty of logic” to link the case of RAW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav with civilian prisoners.

“Indian attempt to equate Commander Jadhav’s case with civilian prisoners and fishermen is a travesty of logic,” the Foreign Office said in a statement here.

The FO remarks came a day after the two countries exchanged a list of prisoners lodged in each other’s jails.

According to the list Pakistan shared with India, at least 546 Indian nationals, including nearly 500 fishermen, are in various jails serving prison terms across country.

“Commander Jadhav is a serving Indian Naval officer and sent to Pakistan by its intelligence agency RAW for espionage, terrorism and subversive activities which resulted in loss of many innocent lives and damage to property,” the FO said.

It said Pakistan remains committed to the implementation of the 2008 Agreement on Consular access, which stipulates the exchange of comprehensive lists of nationals of each country in the other country’s jails twice a year on January 1 and July 1.

Pakistan has implemented the bilateral consular agreement in letter and spirit and is committed to ensuring that humanitarian cases are not held hostage to politics, it added.

“We expect India to reciprocate through action rather than rhetoric,” it said.

The Foreign Office said that five Indian nationals who completed their sentence were repatriated on June 22.

“In contrast, 20 Pakistani civilian prisoners who have completed their sentence still await repatriation, while consular access to 107 Pakistani fishermen and 85 civilian Pakistani prisoners is also pending,” it said.

It said that two juvenile Pakistanis, Ali Raza and Babar Ali, who inadvertently crossed the border in July 2016, despite orders of the Indian courts, were repatriated after a year’s delay on 5 June 2017.

“Indian humanitarian claims appear contrary to reality in view of the impossible conditions imposed for medical visas for Pakistani patients,” it noted.

Under the directive of the prime minister, arrangements are being made for such treatments/operations to be carried out in Pakistan, it added.