– Sikh Community Protests Outside Indian PM Modi’s Business Event in USA

Don’t invest in Modi
chants and placards as business event takes places in Virginia USA

Sikh24 Editors

Washington DC-USA, 26 June 2017. While the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a select gathering at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner earlier today, hundreds of Sikh rights activists were present displaying placards reading “Don’t Invest in India”, outside the hotel.

The rally focused on the atrocities of the Modi administration, whose practices have killed Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and other minorities living in India.

“Since religious freedom functions at the core of American values, we have asked the members of the Congress to stand against the persecution of Sikhs under Modi regime,” said attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ.

“Sikhs in India are targeted for campaigning to restore their separate religious identity and their inalienable rights to self-determination.”

Further awareness rallies will take place, particularly today, when Modi meets POTUS Trump at a summit at the White House.

Last week, SFJ representatives met with dozens of U.S. Congressmen, Senators and their staffs in an effort to urge the establishment of a Congressional delegation visit to Punjab to assess, report and apprise the U.S. Congress of the recent spate of human rights violations against the Sikh community.

In support of efforts to establish such a delegation, SFJ issued a full memorandum to every member of Congress. – High school denounces student’s offensive tweets about Sikh man on flight

Benjamin Fearnow

Posted with permission from International Business Times

USA, 27 June 2017. A public school in the Indianapolis area has denounced the “offensive, racially insensitive” Snapchat posts a student sent about a Sikh passenger aboard a flight to Indianapolis.

The student at Eastern Hancock High School posted a Snapchat that circled the Sikh man wearing a turban and read, “Never mind I might not make it to Indy.” The post began gaining traction online after Simran Jeet Singh, a religion professor at San Antonio’s Trinity University, began sharing the post on Twitter and ridiculing the student.

An additional post from the student read, “Please god just let the man sleep,” as it showed the Sikh man resting his head. Another read, “Update I’m still alive J” and yet another post showing the man in a turban read, “Ok he just walk to the back of the Plane then to front then to his seat” before showing several shocked emojis.

The tweets received thousands of replies – the majority of which criticized the captions.

“As a Sikh who flies frequently, I’m no stranger to the uncomfortable stares and misguided fears people have of me,” read Singh’s first reply. “I try to live my life by the Sikh maxim, ‘Fear none, frighten none.’ I think about this teaching often when I travel,” he later tweeted.

According to the Sikh Coalition, there were more than 300 cases of violence and discrimination against Sikhs in the United States in the first month after the 11 September 2011 terrorist attacks.

The group says cases of profiling, bigotry and backlash are still commonplace in everyday American life. In 2012, an Army veteran shot and killed six people in a Wisconsin Sikh temple.

And in May, a 32-year-old Sikh man, Jagjeet Singh, was killed outside a California grocery store, allegedly his refusal to sell cigarettes to men without identification.

The school posted the following message on its Facebook page on Saturday:

“Eastern Hancock School officials have become aware of offensive, racially insensitive posts on social media recently made by one of our students.

Eastern Hancock administrators and staff do not condone, nor can we justify this type of behavior for any reason,” Eastern Hancock County Community School Corp. posted Thursday on Facebook. “As an educational institution, our priority is to prepare students to become successful members of a diverse world community.”

The school, which is about 35 miles east of Indianapolis, added that it is “seeking legal advice for avenues to address the student’s unacceptable behavior in accordance with national and state law, and local policy.”

Although posts on Twitter and Facebook must be deleted manually, Snapchat posts automatically disappear unless they are screen-grabbed and shared by recipients, as was the case in this incident, school officials said.

The screenshots had thousands of retweets on Twitter within just hours of the Thursday incident. It prompted the #FlyingWhileBrown hashtag, which pointed out Americans’ difficulty in understanding the difference between Muslims and Sikhs while also criticizing the overtly racist commentary.

“Once information is out in cyberspace it cannot be called back, nor contained,” Eastern Hancock Schools said. “Unfortunately, this incident, which may have been intended to be amusing, is not only deeply offensive, it has done considerable damage to many individuals.”

The Guardian – British Sikh couple take legal action after being advised not to adopt

Sandeep and Reena Mander say they were told they were unlikely to succeed as the only children in need were white

Kevin Rawlinson

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead-Berkshire-UK, 27 June 2017. A British Sikh couple are bringing a legal case, claiming they were advised by an adoption agency not to apply because of their “cultural heritage”.

Sandeep and Reena Mander said they had wanted to adopt a child of any ethnic background.

But they were told that, as only white children were in need, white British or European applicants would be given preference, meaning they were unlikely to be selected.

Instead, the Berkshire-based couple allege, they were advised to try to adopt from India, a country with which they have no close links.

“Giving an adopted child, no matter what race, the security of a loving home was all we wanted to do,” Sandeep Mander said.

“What we didn’t expect was a refusal for us to even apply for adoption, not because of our incapability to adopt, but because our cultural heritage was defined as ‘Indian/Pakistani’,” he told the Times.

Adoption agencies are allowed to prioritise on the basis of race in order to match children to prospective parents of the same ethnic background. But the government has also said that a child’s ethnicity should not be a barrier to adoption.

In 2012, the then education secretary, Michael Gove, told an audience in London: “One particularly sensitive element of the matching process is, as you all know, matching by ethnicity. Which is much more complex than simply race.

“I won’t deny that an ethnic match between adopters and child can be a bonus. But it is outrageous to deny a child the chance of adoption because of a misguided belief that race is more important than any other factor.

“And it is simply disgraceful that a black child is three times less likely to be adopted from care than a white child.”

The Manders are applying to Slough county court, seeking a declaration that the policy should allow them to adopt. They are being represented by the law firm McAllister Olivarius and their case is supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

On Monday, the law firm’s senior partner, Ann Olivarius, told the Guardian that too little attention had been paid to the best interests of children in need of adoption.

“It is very odd when you have children in great need and who are desperate for a home. This couple seem the best candidates for parenthood you would want to know.

“They do not see racial divides, they just have so much love in their hearts and want to raise a family.”

To place them lower on the list than another family because of their background suggested that the authorities had “lost the plot, we have lost what is important”, she said.

David Isaac, chair of the EHRC, said: “There are many children who are waiting for a loving family like Sandeep and Reena to help give them a better life. To be denied this because of so-called cultural heritage is wrong.”

The Manders said they had been trying to conceive for about seven years, and had gone through 16 IVF sessions, before deciding to try to adopt.

They attended introductory workshops organised by their local authority, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and its adoption agency, Adopt Berkshire.

They said their case was first taken up by Theresa May, who is their local MP, during her time as home secretary.

“Mrs May was shocked and was very helpful. Her office wrote letters but nothing happened,” Sandeep Mander said.

“When prime minister, she sent further letters and involved the then minister for children and he suggested we take legal advice.”

The couple have been approved to adopt from the US, which is expected to cost them about £60,000.

Adopt Berkshire’s website says children in need of adoption “will reflect the racial, cultural and religious backgrounds of the populations within the areas from which they originate”.

It adds that the authority will seek prospective parents of a similar background to the child, though they would not keep children waiting to “achieve a direct match”.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead did not respond to a request for comment. – Canadian Sikh Group Seeks Investigations into 1985 Air India Bombing

Sikh24 Editors

Toronto-Ontario-Canada, 24 June 2017. In a press note issued on June 23, the Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar (SADA) Canada said that it favours the demand for a new Commission to inquire the 1985 Air India bombing.

“We stand in solidarity with the victims and families of the 1985 Air India bombing to demand a new Commission of Inquiry aiming to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Sukhminder Singh Hansra stated in the press note.

“While there were arrests and a lengthy court drama, the authorities were never able to bring the people who funded and executed this horrific terrorist attack to justice,” said said Sukhminder Singh Hansra president of SADA Canada.
“Previous investigations and inquiries by the federal government have sought to identify gaps in Canada’s security and intelligence system, but scarce little has been done to truly identify the killers.”

On June 23, 1985, 329 innocent people, most of them Canadians, lost their lives in the worst-ever terrorist attack in Canadian history. In 2006 the federal government called a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the bombing.

The Commission’s final Report, Air India Flight 182: A Canadian Tragedy, is a damning indictment of actions taken before and after the tragedy. On the 25th anniversary, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians for the institutional failings and the treatment of the victims’ families thereafter.

“We’re calling upon the Trudeau government to offer up more than apologies,” added Hansra. “We want justice for the victims and families and the community who is suffering from such stigma for the past 32 years.

Demanding justice shouldn’t be seen as a political football to be avoided for fear of dropping the ball. We need courage from our leaders to dig deep, help us find the truth and bring real healing to us all,” the press note states.

“The Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar Canada will continue lobbying federal members of parliament on the need for a new Commission of Inquiry until action is taken.”

The Times of India – 300 Sikh pilgrims head to Pakistan for Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 25 June 2017. As many as 300 Sikhs will leave for Pakistan to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 28 even as Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) cancelled its plan to send the jatha (group of pilgims) to the neighbouring country after the Union government refused to take responsibility for their security.

Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society president Harpal Singh Bhullar told TOI on Saturday that Pakistan high commission had issued more than 300 visas to Sikhs going to Pakistan in jathas sent by various Sikh bodies, including Khalra Mission Committee, Nankana Sahib Sikh Yatree Jatha and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee besides their society.

He said SGPC should have sent its jatha to Pakistan respecting sentiments of Sikh devotees.

Earlier, in wake deteriorating relations between the two countries, SGPC was informed by the Indian government that the jatha could go to Pakistan at its own risk. To this, president Kirpal Singh Badungar had objected and had demanded that the matter be taken up with the Pakistan government at a diplomatic level.

Meanwhile, according to the programme chalked out by Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) the bhog of Akhand Path will be performed on June 29 at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore. The Sikh devotees will also visit other historical Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan before returning on 7 July.

Bhullar said the Society had demanded from ETPB to allow Sikh devotees to visit memorial of Bhai Mani Singh, situated inside the Lahore fort. – Canada: Palbinder Kaur Shergill is the first turbaned Sikh woman judge of provincial Supreme Court

She has represented the interests of the Canadian Sikh community in many cases, including on the right of Sikh students to wear the kirpan in schools.

Vancouver-British Columbia-Candada, 24 June 2017. Indian-origin Palbinder Kaur Shergill on Friday became the first turbaned Sikh woman judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada. Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould announced the appointment on Friday under a new judicial application process that was introduced in October last year.

Shergill has been appointed with immediate effect, as sitting Justice EA Arnold-Bailey retired on May 31. She has represented the interests of the Canadian Sikh community in many cases, including one dealing with the right of Sikh students to wear the kirpan in schools.

Welcoming the decision, World Sikh Organisation President Mukhbir Singh said, “The appointment of Justice Shergill is another milestone for the Sikh community in Canada. It is a matter of great pride that today we have the first turbaned Sikh appointed to the judiciary in Canada.”

Shergill migrated to Canada with her parents from Rurka Kalan in Jalandhar at the age of four. She grew up in Williams Lake, British Columbia, and received her law degree from the University of Saskatchewan and now lives in Surrey.

A news release by the department of justice, Canada, said that before being appointed Supreme Court justice, Shergill practised as a lawyer and mediator with her law firm. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2012 and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service.

Justice Shergill has been involved with many legal and non-legal organisations, including the Cabinet of Canadians, the Trial Lawyers Association of BC, and the Canadian Bar Association, said the news release.

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The Times of India – Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee drops plan of sending ‘jatha’ to Pakistan

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar, 22 June 2017. After the Union government’s refusal to guarantee safety of Sikh devotees in Pakistan, the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has cancelled its scheduled ‘jatha’ (group of pilgrims), which was to leave for the neighbouring country to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 28.

However, other Sikh bodies are sending their representatives, stating it was the Pakistan government’s duty to provide security cover to the visiting pilgrims.

Talking to TOI on Tuesday, SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar said, “It’s the duty of the Indian government to ensure the safety of Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan. Our government should have taken up the issue with Pakistan through diplomatic channels. It appears as if Sikh lives are not important for the central government.”

Badungar said SGPC had written letters to both the Prime Minister and the Union external affairs minister, but to no avail. He said the Centre had conveyed that the ‘jatha’ could go at its own risk.

Sources informed that following the estranged relations between the two nations, intelligence agencies had suggested that the Centre curtail the visit of Indians to Pakistan for security reasons.

According to a programme chalked out by Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), after the arrival of Indian ‘jathas’ on June 28, the bhog of Akhand Path would be performed on June 29 at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore. The Sikh devotees will also visit other historical Sikh gurdwaras before returning on July 7.

The president of Bhai Mardana Yadgar Kirtan Darbar Society Harpal Singh Bhullar said the security of Indian devotees had never been an issue in Pakistan.

Stating that providing security to the Indian ‘jatha’ was the responsibility of the Pakistan government, and even during the worst of relations between the two nations, the neighbouring country had been providing a high standard of security to pilgrims from India. “It’s also a matter of Pakistan’s reputation at the international level,” he said.

Agreeing with Harpal, Nankana Sahib Sikh Yatree Jatha president Swaran Singh Gill said there should not be any doubt on security in Pakistan. “For a ‘jatha’ of 3,000 pilgrims, there are over 10,000 security personnel at every gurdwara, and on the route taken by the visiting groups,” he said.

Both of them opined that the SGPC should send the Sikh ‘jatha’, keeping in view the sentiments of pilgrims. – SGPC to launch ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’ from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on July 1

Sikh24 Editors

Talwandi Sabo-Panjab-India, 19 June 2017. The Apex Sikh body Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is going to launch a ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’ from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on July 1.

SGPC general secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla held a meeting with SGPC appointed Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Giani Harpreet Singh and other SGPC members in this concern. The meeting attendees deliberated upon the preparations for the ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’.

Interacting with media on this occasion, SGPC general Secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla informed that the SGPC president Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar and other renowned Sikh preachers will also take part in the ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’.

He further informed that an Akhand Path Sahib in this regard will be commenced at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on June 29 and will be culminated on July 1.

“Our main goal is to start a grassroots movement to re-ignite Sikhi spirit throughout Punjab. We want to touch each and every Punjabi Sikh and bring them into Sikhi fold,” he told Sikh24.

Chawla asked upon Sikh organizations to provide assistance to the movement to make it successful. “We will be providing more details about the Lehar in the coming days,” he said.

Baba Buta Singh (Vice-President of SGPC), Bhai Mohan Singh Bangi (SGPC member), Bhai Amrik Singh Kot Shamir (SGPC member), Bhai Gurpreet Singh Jhabbar (SGPC member), Bhai Navtej Singh Kaoni (SGPC member), Bhai Paramjit Singh Khalsa (SGPC member), Bhai Jagjit Singh (Manager of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib), Bhai Jagtar Singh (Head Granthi, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib), Bhai Charanjit Singh, Bhai Kulwinder Singh, Bhai Surinder Singh Mander etc. prominent among the meeting attendees.

New Indian Express – Featuring the sorrow of the bereaved

Thiruvananthapuram, 18h June 2017. Teenaa Kaur’s “1984, When the Sun didn’t rise” is about the experience of three women on the 1984 Sikh Massacre.

It depicts the pain and suffering that the women survivors had to undergo following the brutal murder and killing of their husbands by neighbours.

The women were newly married and had small children at the time of the event.

The entire documentary is centred around the experience of the women rehabilitated in a colony for the victims of the 1984 riots. But no amount of money or support from the Government has been able to compensate their loss of loved ones and the struggle they had to put up over the years as told by each one of them.

Some lives have not been able to recuperate after their children turned to drugs and lack of opportunity to study and get good jobs.

Archival footage of the political and social events in the 80’s and interviews with one of the prime accused in the massacre is used to portray in its entirety the events that marred the lives of thousands of Sikhs.

ITV News – Bradford Sikh Temple [Gurdwara] overwhelmed by Grenfell Tower donations

Bradford, 18 June 2017.

A Sikh Temple [Gurdwara] in Bradford says it is overwhelmed by the number of donations it has received following an appeal for the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.

At least 58 people are now confirmed or presumed dead after the devastating fire last Wednesday.

The Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara only started collecting on Thursday but has taken hundreds of bags of clothes and toiletries, as well as cash donations from the whole community.