The Tribune – Anti-Sikh riots*: Delegation meets President over notifying name of SIT member

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 13 November 2018. A delegation of eminent citizens, including former Army chief J J Singh and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, met President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday and requested him to ask the Supreme Court to immediately notify the name of third member of the SIT formed to supervise probe into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases.

Besides Lekhi and Singh, the other members of the delegation included Supreme Court senior advocate Rupinder S Suri, Rajasthan additional advocate general Gurcharan S Gill and former MLA R P Singh.

“The SIT which was supposed to give its report within two to three months is not able to function in absence of a member and we have gone to give the representation to the President of India that there should be an immediate notification to name the member,” Lekhi said.

It the letter, the delegation insisted that he asks the apex court to immediately notify the name of third member of the Special Investigation Team formed to monitor further probe into 186 anti-Sikh riots cases of 1984 mainly in Delhi and other states.

“We, the concerned citizens are making this fervent appeal to you for your urgent intervention as things have indeed come to a very sorry pass,” the letter, signed by Lekhi, Singh, Suri and Gill, said.

The SIT has been empowered to examine afresh evidence in cases, which had even been closed. The constitution of the new SIT, however, was delayed as a former IPS officer refused to be its member.

* These were not riots but state sponsored pogroms, comparable with the November 1938 ‘Kristallnacht’ pogroms in Hitler’s Germany.


Associated Press of Pakistan – Sikh body slams Indian diplomat’s interference as a US state declared ‘Sikh genocide day’

New York – State of New York – USA, 13 November 2018. A Sikh advocacy group has protested to the US State Department against what it called was an attempt by the Indian Consul General in New York to interfere in the state of Connecticut’s legislative process, after it declared November 30 as “Sikh Genocide Remembrance Day” to commemorate the killings of thousands of Sikhs in India following the 1984 assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards. – UK: Mass Sikh Lobby on November 14 to raise important issues

Sikh24 Editors

London – UK, 12 November 2018. The UK Sikhs are lobbying their MPs to put forward several important issues facing the Sikh community to Prime Minister Theresa May on November 14. Five important key issues have been identified, see the above image.

The Sikh Federation UK is urging Sikhs to inform their MPs and ask them to raise the above issues during November 14 Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). PMQs is a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom, currently held as a single session every Wednesday at noon when the House of Commons is sitting, during which the Prime Minister spends half an hour answering questions from Members of Parliament.

“There will be a Prime Minister’s Question event at the House of Parliament in Westminster.

We ask all Sikhs to contact parliament switchboard ‭020 7219 3000‬ to inform their MPs and ask them to be present at The Parliamentary Lobby which will take place between 12.00 – 15.00,” Sikh Federation UK states in a press statement.

“During the Parliamentary Lobby, there will be an opportunity where MPs will be questioned on what they have done in regards to Jagtar Singh Johal’s detainment in India and also question the involvement of the Indian government in regards to the raids which took place by West Midlands police at the house of 5 activists involved with the #FreeJaggiNow campaign,” said Jas Singh.

“From 13.00 – 15.00 there will be an event to mark the 1-year detainment of Jaggi taking place in Committee Room 16. During this time there will be speeches from Redress and Martin Docherty Hughes. This will also provide you with an opportunity to ask your MP to join in and show their support for the #FreeJaggiNow campaign,” he added. – United Akali Dal stages protest outside Sangrur Jail seeking release of Sikh youths who hurled shoe on Sukhbir Badal

Sikh24 Editors

Sangrur – Panjab – India, 09 November 2018. The United Akali Dal leaders headed by general secretary S. Gurdeep Singh Bathinda staged a 24 hour demonstration before the Sangrur jail against illegal detention of six Sikh youths who had hurled a shoe on Sukhir Badal’s cavalcade last month.

The Sikh protesters had staged protest against Sukhbir Badal when he was going to convene a party meeting at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib along with his cavalcade.

Taking on the Police administration for imposing attempt to murder charges on the protesting Sikh youths, the UAD general secretary Gurdeep Singh Bathinda said that no one can murder his rival by hurling a shoe at him. He added that if the arrested Sikh youths will not be released by November 15 then they will intensify agitation.

Meanwhile, the SSP Sangrur Sandeep Garg has said that a special investigation team has been constituted to thoroughly probe the case. “We will take further action as per the findings of the SIT,” he added.

It may be recalled here that an FIR in this concern was registered against around 35-36 protesters including Baba Bachittar Singh and Baba Amarjit Singh by the Sangrur police under different sections on the complaint of SAD (Badal) spokesperson Vinarjit Goldy.

Later, the Police had arrested six protesters including Baba Bachittar Singh, Davinder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Manjit Singh, Gurjit Singh and were falsely indicted under section 307 (attempt to murder).

Huffington Post – A statue unveiled in Birmingham to honour Sikh First World War soldiers has been vandalised

Smethwick – West Midlands – UK, 10 November 2018. A brand new statue of a Sikh soldier, unveiled last week to commemorate the contributions of Sikhs during the First World War, has been vandalised in an incident police say they are treating as a race hate crime.

Graffiti which appeared on the 10ft-high bronze monument displayed the words “Sepoys no more” and a reference to a prominent Sikh military leader killed by the Indian army in 1984.

Sepoys was a term used by the British Indian Army to describe a low-ranking cavalry trooper, many of whom were recruited from the Indian sub-continent to fight for the British in Europe.

The words ‘1 Jarnoil’ (sic) were also scrawled across the monument, thought to be a reference to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a militant religious leader killed during Operation Blue Star.

The Indian military intervention was carried out during unrest in the Punjab region in June 1984.

A thick black strike-out line was also drawn over the words ‘Great War’, which appear alongside the Smethwick monument in gold lettering, making the message appear as if it says “the Lions of 1 Jarnail”.

The statue, which stands opposite the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick on the High Street, was commissioned and paid for by the Gurdwara to honour soldiers from the Indian subcontinent.

It is the first full statue of a South Asian First World War soldier in the UK.

Standing on a 6ft plinth, inscriptions on all four sides include recognition of the centenary of the end of the Great War and the role of Sikhs in the British Army and wider society.

Sikhs made up 20% of the British Indian Army, and 2% of the Indian population at the time and remained loyal to the British Empire after the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

The monument began as an idea from sculptor Luke Perry, after being inspired by his wife’s academic research into World War One and was unveiled on Sunday, November 4.

The incident on Friday took place only days before Remembrance services are due to be held across the country, to honour those who fought for Britain.

A spokesman for Guru Nanak Gurdwara (GNG), which was recently named alongside Stonehenge in Historic England’s list of top ten places of faith and belief, told HuffPost UK: “We are aware of the vandalism that took place on the Lions of the Great War Monument site and condemn this despicable and cowardly act”.

The spokesman said Jatinder Singh, president of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, was “extremely disappointed with the actions of the vandals” but remained resolute.

“There was some vandalism to the back wall overnight which is very disappointing. The graffiti was cleaned off and the matter was reported to the police,” he added.

“Working with the council, we won’t allow this vandalism to undermine the very strong message created by this new monument and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to its unveiling.

“What makes this incident particularly distressing, is the complete disregard and lack of respect for the significance of the statue and inscriptions, installed recently to commemorate the losses felt by many South Asian families who lost their dear ones during the First World War and mark 100 years since the end of the Great War.”

CCTV footage is currently being reviewed and West Midlands Police said officers were working closely with worshippers and management at the temple.

Sergeant Bill Gill, from the Smethwick Neighbourhood Team, said: “We understand that this attack has caused a lot of concern in the community, and we are working to understand the reasons behind it and identify whoever is responsible.

“Officers had already planned to be at the remembrance event which is happening tomorrow at the statue.

“I’d urge anyone with concerns to speak to the officers attending the event.”

Anyone with information can get in touch with the force by calling 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The Tribune – Panel okays inter-faith institute in Guru’s name

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 08 November 2018. The National Implementation Committee with regard to the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak met on Thursday and decided to create an inter-faith institute in the name of the first Sikh Guru.

The meeting was presided over by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. It was attended by Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore and Punjab Culture Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Punjab BJP president and MP Shwait Malik, former MP and Chairman of National Commission for Minorities Tarlochan Singh, both newly appointed members of Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust, and SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal also attended the meeting.

Tarlochan Singh said: “Besides an inter-faith institute, it has been decided to develop Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala and Bein river.”

Tarlochan Singh said it had also been decided to approach the UNESCO for publication of Guru Granth Sahib in all foreign languages recognised by the UNO. Besides, the state governments would be asked to publish the holy book in Indian languages.

The SGPC president said the Centre should take requisite steps to facilitate religious visits of the Sikhs from India to Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib. Both shrines are located in Pakistan.

Why do we allow BJP leaders on a commission that organises the celebration of Guru’s  birth anniversary ?
Man in Blue – Giani Harpreet Singh faces sharp protest by Sikh masses on Bandi Chhor Diwas

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Punjab – India, 08 November 2018. The newly appointed acting Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh come across a major embarrassment on the pious eve of Bandi Chhor Diwas as soon as he started reading a pre-drafted message.

The Sikh masses strongly reacted to Giani Harpreet Singh by showing black cloths to him and shouting slogans against him as soon as he positioned before the mike to deliver a customary speech.

The wording of the slogans shouted by the Sikh devotees made it clear that there is a widespread anger among the Sikh community about the appointment of marionettes of political bosses on the temporal Sikh post.

It is noteworthy here that the SGPC appointed Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Giani Harpreet Singh was given the additional charge of Sri Akal Takht Sahib by the SGPC on October 22 after relieving Giani Gurbachan Singh.

Giani Harpreet Singh was officially given the charge to head the supreme Sikh institution in a religious ceremony on October 30.

The Shiromani Akali Dal leadership had brought forward Giani Harpreet Singh to calm down the outrage among Sikh masses against the party due to the exoneration of Gurmeet Ram Rahim in 2015 by the former Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh but it seems like all their efforts are going in vain.

CBC News – Meet Private Buckam Singh, one of the first Sikh soldiers to serve Canada

Private Buckam Singh served in combat on the fields of Flanders in 1916

Carmen Ponciano/CBC

Canadian historian Sandeep Singh Brar rediscovered Private Singh’s story when he found his war medals in a British pawn shop and then went on to locate his grave in a Kitchener, Ontario cemetery.

Not every person worth remembering made it into the history books. Each month, the Secret Life of Canada shouts out a Canadian or Indigenous person that has had a lasting impact worth celebrating. These historical figures may not be on money or monuments but their legacies live on.

Private Buckam Singh’s military contributions to Canada weren’t widely known until almost 100 years after his service, but he has since been recognized as the first Sikh man to enlist with the Canadian army during the First World War.

Private Singh volunteered to fight for Canada despite the government’s restrictive immigration policies against South Asian people.

Here are five things we learned about the soldier, whose service and sacrifice we celebrate this coming Remembrance Day.

1) He was unable to immigrate with his family

Singh was born in India and moved to Canada when he was 14 years old. When he arrived in 1907, it was a tumultuous time in the country for South Asian people.

At this time over 98 % of South Asian immigrants to Canada were Sikhs. They became a target of hate groups like the Asiatic Exclusion League.

The Canadian government resisted South Asian immigration, but due to a labour shortage, British Columbia accepted Sikh labourers. Unfortunately the immigration restrictions meant Sikh men like Singh were not allowed to immigrate with their families, a deterrent to discourage their migration.

2) Sikh Canadians were some of the earliest South Asian immigrants

In 1908, the Canadian government passed a law that stipulated all immigrants had to come to Canada by “continuous journey and through tickets from the country of their birth or nationality or citizenship.”

This meant coming to Canada would be almost impossible for most Sikhs, as there were no direct ships that sailed between India and Canada.

Sikh immigration fell from 2,623 people in 1907 to just six the following year, and the impact on the community’s immigration numbers would be felt for the next 40 years.

3) He was wounded twice

Despite the forced separation from his family due to restrictive immigration policies, Singh enlisted to fight in the First World War in 1915. He would become a member of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. He as one of just nine Canadian Sikhs to fight in the war.

Singh was shipped out very quickly. He served with the 20th Canadian Infantry Battalion in the battlefields of Flanders in 1916, and was wounded twice in separate battles.

4) He was treated in the hospital run Doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Injured from a gunshot wound, Singh was treated at a hospital run by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, the physician who would go on to write one of the most famous wartime poems: In Flanders Fields.

By 1917, as he was waiting to be sent back to the frontline, Singh developed tuberculosis. He was admitted to the a Canadian-run military hospital and underwent surgery to remove fluid from his lung.

5) He was laid to rest with full honours, but never saw his family again

Singh was sent back to Canada to recover after his surgery. After arriving in Halifax, he made the long train journey to try to recover in Ontario. Sadly, he succumbed to his tuberculosis on August 27, 1919, in Kitchener, Ontario.

He had no family or community around him.

Singh was buried by the Canadian military with full honours and laid to rest at Mount Hope Cemetery in Kitchener. His grave is one of the only resting places of a Sikh Canadian soldier from the First World War. – Jagmeet Singh hopes Canada will recognize inhuman carnage of Sikhs as genocide

Sikh24 Editors

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 03 November 2018. Jagmeet Singh, who heads the National Democratic Party in Canadian Parliament, has released a statement on the 34th anniversary of the 1984 Sikh genocide.

In his statement, Jagmeet Singh has expressed hope that the House of Commons in Canada and the Canadians will soon recognize the inhuman carnage carried out by the fanatic Hindu mobs in November-1984 as genocide.

Wording of his statement is as follows:

“From November 1st to 4th, Canadians and Human Rights Advocates will mark the 34th anniversary of the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

Sikh men were burned alive. Women were subject to unthinkable sexual violence and children were murdered in gruesome fashion.

Many, including, former Indian Supreme Court Justice, G T Nanavati have pointed out that state resources were instrumental in these premeditated killings.

That is why I join and express my solidarity with the thousands of Canadians that live with this pain as survivors and bearers of inter-generational trauma.

It is also why efforts for healing and reconciliation must be prioritized.

Unfortunately, the statement from a member of the Liberal government to mark today’s solemn anniversary did not do this.

By referring to the tragedy as “riots” the Liberal Government contradicted and undermined the spirit of reconciliation.

Truth-telling is a prerequisite to justice and the naming of these crimes is instrumental to the healing and reconciliation process for those impacted.

In this spirit, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh and as well as the Delhi Assembly and the Ontario Legislature have recognized these atrocities as genocide.

It is my hope that the House of Commons in Canada and this government will do the same.

The path to reconciliation will not be easy, but for the victims and survivors, today we remember”.

The Hindu – Sculpture unveiled in UK to honour Indian soldiers

Millions from South Asia fought for Britain in the world wars

London – UK, 05 November 2018. A sculpture in honour of Indian soldiers who fought during the First World War was unveiled on Sunday in the town of Smethwick in the West Midlands region of England on Sunday.

Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick had commissioned the Lions of the Great War monument, which depicts a turbaned Sikh soldier, to honour the sacrifices made by millions of South Asian service personnel of all faiths who fought for Britain in the world wars and other conflicts as part of the British Indian Army.

“We are very proud to be bringing this memorial to honour the sacrifice of brave men who travelled thousands of miles to fight for a country that wasn’t their own,” said Jatinder Singh, president of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick.

The 10-foot bronze statue was unveiled in Smethwick High Street to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in November 1918, also referred to as the Great War.

The monument was part of a collaboration between the gurdwara and the local Sandwell Council.

“It’s so important we remember the sacrifices made by people for our country, said Councillor Steve Eling,” Leader of Sandwell Council.

“When I realised more than 1.5 million Indian soldiers had been sent to the First World War, I just could not understand why their contribution had been ignored for so long in this country,” said Luke Perry, the artist who designed the statue.