Bury Free Press – Town set to celebrate last maharaja of Panjab

Kevin Hurst

Thetford – Norfolk – UK, 16 June 2018. A festival to celebrate the legacy and story of the last Maharaja of the Sikh empire is set to take place next month in Thetford.

The Festival of Thetford and Punjab will explore Duleep Singh, his family and how they have influenced Thetford and the surrounding area to mark the 125th anniversary of his death.

Thetford Town Council has joined up with the Essex Cultural Diversity Project (ECDP), who were awarded a £79,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to organise the festival.

Indi Sandhu, creative director of the ECDP, said: “It is a great collaboration that first came about after the release of the film ‘The Black Prince’, which tells the story of Duleep Singh, we approached the town council about doing something special.

“We originally looked at a one week event, but after the idea of linking it to Thetford River Day it became a two week festival and we have some big names coming.”

Events will include award winning broadcaster, comedian, writer and chef, Hardeep Singh Kohli at Thetford Library, Bend It Like Beckham film director Gurinder Chadha in conversation, a Punjabi cuisine demonstration with chef Paul Singh Babra at the Thomas Paine Hotel and a lecture on Sikh Relics and Artefacts at the town’s Guildhall.

The festival will commence on July 7, with the opening of the Duleep Singh special exhibition at the Ancient House Museum and the unveiling of the painting ‘Casualty of War: Portrait of Maharaja Duleep Singh’ by renowned British Sikh artists, The Singh Twins.

The painting will be on displayed there until December and has been loaned to the museum by National Museums Scotland.

Mayor Roy Brame who will officially open the festival after the unveiling, said: “This festival puts Thetford on an international stage and I for one am greatly looking forward to it.

“I hope the people of Thetford will get behind it as it is going to be a great event and is such great promotion of our town.”

A grand procession through King Street to Butten Island on July 21 will close the festival and feature the UK’s leading traditional Punjbi Dance Troupe Jugnu Bhangra, Folk Dance Remixed, Morris dancers, King Gurcharan Mall Dhol Blasters and Rani Giddha Female Dancers.

Demonstrations of Gatka, Punjabi Sikh Martial Arts, as well as storytelling by Seema Anand, an Indian food stall and henna hand painting will also be part of the finale.

Indi said: “There are similarities and connections between Norfolk and the Punjab, both are very agricultural lands and also share a history of Duleep Singh.

“We hope people from all over will come enjoy what the festival has to offer and learn about these connections as well as the culture of the Punjab.”

Kevin Hurst



The Tribune – Four found guilty of hacking Sikh to death in UK

London – UK, 14 June 2018. Four Indian-origin gang members have been found guilty of hacking a 28-year-old Sikh man to death two years ago as revenge for illicit affair with one of their wives here in the UK.

Gurinder Singh cried out for help as the masked gang chopped off his fingers with knives and swords and went on to attack him with a wooden club and a hammer in Southall, west London, in July 2016.

At the end of a nine-week trial in the Old Bailey court in London this week, Amandeep Sandhu, 30, and Ravinder Singh-Shergil, 31, were convicted of murder.

Vishal Soba, 30, was cleared of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter and assisting an offender. Kuldeep Dhillon, 27, was also cleared of murder by the jury but convicted of manslaughter and intimidation.

Judge Christopher Moss remanded the killers in custody until sentencing on June 22.

Gurinder Singh suffered 48 injuries on his head and body, and two of his fingers were recovered from the scene of the attack the following day.

I think that neither the killers nor their victim are/were very good Sikhs ……


The Hindu – RSS activist murder: ‘Punjab Police officers received threats’ over Scotsman’s arrest

India briefs UK on investigation into role of Scotsman Jagtar Singh Johal in the death of RSS member Ravindra Gosain.

Vijaita Singh

New Delhi, 12 June 2018. Punjab Police officers investigating the alleged role of a Scotsman in the killing of an RSS activist to fan communal violence in the State received death threats targeting them and their family, India is learnt to have told the United Kingdom authorities.

Jagtar Singh Johal (31) was arrested in November last, a fortnight after his wedding, for the murder of RSS member Ravindra Gosain.

The investigations were later handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The agency said Mr Gosain and eight others were killed in 2016-17 as “part of a conspiracy to destabilise Punjab” hatched by Sikh extremist elements and others located in various parts of the world.

A senior government official said the arrest of Johal had become a rallying point for Sikh groups based in the UK. During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to U.K. in April, several members of the Sikh community protested at Parliament Square against the arrest. British Prime Minister Therese May raised the arrest of Johal with Mr Modi. The UK Parliament also debated the absence of consular access to Johal.

‘False campaign’

“Since the arrest of Jagtar Singh Johal, a false, slanderous and orchestrated media campaign has been initiated by militants and their sympathisers as well as radical elements based in Britain and other western countries against the Punjab government and the Punjab police,” an internal note of the Home Ministry said.

“In fact, Punjab police officers have been receiving death threats, targeted at them and their family members, from such elements over the phone, WhatsApp, and various social media platforms,” the note said.

MoS Home Kiren Rijiju is learnt to have told a UK delegation led by minister Susan Williams that all legal avenues were available for Johal and his lawyers to pursue his case.

During one of the meetings, NSA Ajit Doval had suggested that Johal could approach Human Rights Commission, which is an independent body with investigative and judicial powers, to look into allegations of mistreatment.


Sikh24.com – Missing – Alert Issued for Sikh Youth from Birmingham (UK)

Sikh24 Editors

Birmimgham – West Midlands – UK, 12 June 1918. Tarambir Singh Lohia has been missing since Friday 09 June 2018 from 10:30pm. He has now been missing for 5 days, he drives a black Peugeot 208 2017 plate.

Any information regarding Tarambir whereabouts would be really appreciated.

Police appeal reference number for Tarambir is 107 from 10.06.18.

Anyone with details is requested to contact social media or via phone : 07977904719, 07403845029, 07456144101.


Daily Mirror – British Army’s valiant Sikhs who sacrificed their lives for UK set for memorial monument at last

Jaimal Johal, the grandson and son of Sikh soldiers, remembers their hardships as Labour MP Tan Dhesi secures a London spot for monument

London – UK, 10 June 2018. Pushing a badly-wounded captain in a wheelbarrow under heavy fire through no man’s land, the brave lieutenant risked his life to save his superior.

The British assault in the 1915 Battle of Neuve-Chapelle in France ended disastrously, like so many in the First World War, when the reinforced Germans counterattacked.

One soldier called it “a foretaste of hell” with allied casualties totalling 13,000 over three days of brutal combat.

Mercifully George Henderson, the injured captain, recovered and survived the war. His saviour did not.

Shot in the leg during the daring rescue, amputation couldn’t save a hero who died of blood poisoning and gangrene a few weeks later despite evacuation to a Brighton hospital.

Subedar Manta Singh, of 2nd Sikh Royal Infantry, was a turbaned Sikh from the Punjab in India, one of 83,000 killed fighting in the service of Great Britain during two world wars.

More than 100,000 Sikhs were wounded.

Famed as fearsome warriors, some went into battle with chakram circular throwing weapons and talwar curved swords as well as rifles.

An incredible 10 Victoria Crosses have been won by soldiers serving in Sikh regiments.

During the First World War, 14 of the 22 Military Crosses awarded to Indian soldiers fighting with the British went to “the Lions” despite Sikhs being outnumbered by Hindu and Muslim troops in an expeditionary force sent from British-run India to Europe.

From Gallipoli to the Somme, where turbaned cavalrymen lifted despairing spirits, Sikhs were brothers-in-arms with young men from places such as Sunderland, Scunthorpe, Stoke and Swansea

That proud legacy continues today – most conspicuously on Saturday when Charanpreet Singh Lall, 22, a Sikh from Leicester, became the first Coldstream Guardsman to wear a turban in the Trooping the Colour.

Manta Singh’s proud grandson, Jaimal Johal, said ­conditions had been particularly harsh for soldiers used to much warmer weather in India.

“Winter was hard and Indian soldiers didn’t have proper clothing so they suffered. Some of them were just in shorts,” says Mr Johal, 79, a retired sub-postmaster in ­Maidenhead, Berks. He moved to Britain on Boxing Day 1961.

Henderson and Singh were not just comrades but friends whose bond forged in battle carried on in their families down the generations.

Singh’s son, Assa, who was Mr Johal’s father, served with the British Army alongside ­Henderson’s own son Robert. In turn Mr Johal remains in touch with Robert’s son, Ian.

Assa fought in North Africa during the Second World War and in Italy, including at the famous battle of Monte Cassino.

The largely overlooked sacrifice and heroism of Sikh servicemen has long rankled with the 450,000-strong community in Britain but official recognition is finally near to right this wrong.

Victory is in sight for Slough’s new Labour MP, Tan Dhesi, the first turbaned Sikh in the House of Commons.

He has amassed an impressive cross-party alliance demanding a national memorial in a prominent London ­location.

Elected only last year, Mr Dhesi gained Government backing after securing support from every party in Parliament.

Those behind the project include veteran Tory Ken Clarke, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Lib Dems’ Vince Cable, and John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons.

His Commons motion calling for a Sikh monument is the most popular this session, collecting 266 signatures.

He says: “Memorials exist in London for soldiers from the Commonwealth, British India, Poland, African-Caribbean nations and for the Gurkhas but none of a turbaned Sikh soldier.”

He went on: “They fought together, died together and must be memorialised together.

A statue of turbaned soldiers would be a huge statement, a historic and unique addition to the skyline of our capital – indeed the first-ever statue of turbaned Sikhs in any global capital outside of India.

“I believe it would help to promote integration and community cohesion and would show us in a very good light to all, including those millions of tourists who visit London each year.”

Mr Dhesi raised £350,000 of the estimated £1 million cost and is pushing hard for the sculpture to be erected on a main ceremonial route – Whitehall, The Mall or Constitution Hill, between Buckingham Palace and Green Park.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid gave a green light when Communities Secretary by establishing a working group to explore ­potential sites. He said the Government is prepared to chip in towards the cost.

“We are indebted to all those servicemen who volunteered to serve and fought to defend the freedoms we enjoy today,” says Mr Javid in an official statement.

He adds: “That’s why a Sikh war memorial in our capital will honour their sacrifice.”
Soldiers of all faiths have been part of the British Army for well over 100 years (Image: PA)

ITV news presenter and Good Morning Britain political editor Ranvir Singh says a monument is overdue.

“We were not taught in school how much other nations did for the British war effort,” she says. “But now the public are aware of how brave and warrior-like the Sikh soldiers were.

“I want my son to grow up seeing men with turbans remembered and respected for what they did to help him live in a free society.”

A hundred years on from the end of the First World War, it’s frequently overlooked how much of the British effort was multicultural.

There were more than three million soldiers and labourers from what then was the British Empire, including 1.27 million from a colonial India encompassing Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Sunder Katwala, director of the think-tank British Future, says: “Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and white British officers fought together [in] the Indian Army in both world wars, the largest volunteer armies in history.

“Many people are quite surprised to hear the armies that fought a century ago look more like the Britain of 2018 than that of 1918.”

Manta Singh was among a number of Indian soldiers cremated on the South Downs at Patcham. A Chattri shrine commemorates them.

Yesterday Jaimal Johal and Ian Henderson, grandsons of rescuer and rescued at the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle, paid their joint respects at the sacred place.

Mr Henderson, a former Commonwealth war graves commissioner, says: “It wasn’t really the Sikhs’ war but they were loyal.”

Mr Johal added: “They deserve a good memorial.”


Sikh24.com – Letter by UK citizen Jagtar Singh Johal shares details of brutal torture by Punjab Police

Sikh24 Editors

Panjab – India, 10 June 2018. Two pages of a letter by British Citizen Jagtar Singh Johal share gruesome details of his torture by the police in Moga, Punjab. In the letter, Jagtar has shared various details of torture techniques used by the police during the interrogations.

While it was already known that Jagtar Singh was tortured and electrocuted by the police, his first hand account of the torture describe exact techniques that were employed.

Jagtar Singh travelled to India on a valid visa to get married. However, shortly after his marriage, he was abducted by the Punjab police and detained without any valid charges for nearly 220 days.

In his letter, Jagtar writes that after he was taken to Moga, his torture continued for days. “I was struck on my chest and back. Two people would simultaneously hit me whilst others restrained me and watched. Crocodile clips were placed on my ears and I was also electrocuted.”

He adds “police forced me to make recordings in which I had to narrate according to what they were telling me to say” and “blank papers were also forcibly signed” as well as other documents he was not allowed to read.

“It has now been revealed that Indian police officers not only tortured him, but brought in petrol into the interrogation room and threatened to burn him alive,” said Sikh Federation secretary Gurjeet Singh.

“Police officers also threatened to do the same to his family and orders were given to arrest his wife and cousin sister who were with him when he was abducted if he did not make a false confession as they had no evidence against him,” he added.

“We can also reveal the Government of India has failed to respond to an urgent appeal from three high level United Nations experts to investigate the serious allegations of torture of Jagtar.

A joint urgent appeal to the Government of India was sent on 29 January 2018 by the Special Rapporteur on Torture; the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, and the Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.”

The Indian Government has so far refused to respond to the UN experts. A month earlier on May 4, 2018 Sikh Federation (UK) representatives joined Jagtar’s family members in Geneva for a meeting with UN officials to discuss next steps as India had not responded within the three month protocol.

The UN has now made its urgent appeal public in a report to the UN Human Rights Council that will meet from 18 June to 6 July in Geneva. Jagtar’s brother and his MP Martin Docherty-Hughes are due to meet Mark Field, the UK Foreign Minister responsible for relations with India as the UN Human Rights Council starts its 38th session.

Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), who joined Jagtar’s family in the meeting with UN officials last month said:

“The Indian authorities have no evidence against Jagtar that would stand up in court and that is why they tortured him and threatened to burn him alive or shoot him dead in a fake encounter.”

“According to Jagtar’s handwritten note that the UK Government and the UN experts have been aware of for many months they also threatened his newly-wed wife and cousin sister with the ‘same treatment’.”

“We now know that during the torture and death threats to him and his family members the Indian police forced Jagtar to sign blank papers and other documents and make false video recordings saying exactly what they wanted him to say to implicate him.”

“The Indian police then leaked the so-called ‘confessional video’ to the Indian media knowing they had no evidence and this information could not be used in a court of law.”

“The 2,000 page charge sheet only has 12 lines relevant to Jagtar that simply repeat what was in the police confessional video that would normally be inadmissible in court.”

“What Jagtar said on video under police duress can be disproved as inaccurate by those he mentioned he met in 2013 that are still living in the UK or Italy. Although less than two months ago, the Indian police murdered in prison the other person they were trying to connect him with from 5 years ago”.

“Jagtar’s family, the Sikh community and at least 250 UK MPs that have had letters from constituents regarding Jagtar and written to the Foreign Office have waited patiently for the UK Government for the last seven months”.

“In Parliament first the Foreign Office Minister promised MPs ‘extreme action’ against India for torturing and threatening an innocent British national, but in recent months before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London to be attended by Narendra Modi this became we do not believe in ‘megaphone diplomacy’ when it comes to India.”

“We believe these public revelations demand the UK Government take the extreme action they promised MPs or it will show they are too weak to protect an innocent British national from torture and death threats”.

The Indian High Commission in London has refused to comment on the Indian Government’s failure to respond to UN human rights experts and the latest revelations from Jagtar’s handwritten account that was shared with the UK Government and UN human rights experts months earlier.


Euro News – Sikh guardsman first to wear turban at Trooping the Colour

Guardsman Charanpreet Singh Lall 

Emma Beswick

London – UK, 09 June 2018. Guardsman Charanpreet Singh Lall was the first soldier ever to wear a turban during the Trooping the Colour parade in London on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Sikh from Leicester is a member of the Coldstream Guards and wore a black turban with a ceremonial cap star to match the bearskin hats worn by the other soldiers.

Lall was one of around 1,000 servicemen and women who took part in the event to mark the Queen’s official birthday.

He told the BBC he expected it would encourage those from different religions and backgrounds to join the Army.

“I hope that people watching, that they will just acknowledge it and that they will look at it as a new change in history,” he said.

Born in India, Guardsman Lall moved to the UK with his family when he was a baby.

The Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies to mark the official birthday of the British sovereign.

Prince Harry and his new wife Meghan Markle, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were in attendance along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Senior royals including the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall also took part in the event.

Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, did not attend, having retired from public life last year.


Dawn – British High Commission ‘very concerned’ about reports of journalist Gul Bukhari’s abduction

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 June 2018. The British High Commission in Pakistan on Wednesday expressed concern over the abduction of journalist and activist Gul Bukhari, saying it is reaching out to her for consular assistance.

Bukhari, who is a dual British-Pakistani citizen, was abducted by unknown persons in Lahore on Tuesday night. Early on Wednesday, her family confirmed she was home and “fine”.

“We are very concerned at reports of Gul Bukhari’s abduction last night,” the British High Commission said in a tweet. “As a dual Pakistani-British national, the British High Commission is reaching out with consular assistance.”

Separately, UK Member of Parliament Mark Field, who is the minister of state for Asia and the Pacific at the UK Foreign Office, expressed relief that Bukhari, 52, had been released and reiterated the British government’s commitment to freedom of expression.

Issam Ahmed, a relative of Bukhari’s and a journalist with Agence France-Presse, today tweeted a message from Bukhari in which she confirmed her well-being and requested privacy.

In her message, Bukhari thanked her family, colleagues, civil society activists, journalists and others “for coming together in solidarity in concern for my well being last night”.

“I am well, and would request privacy at this stage,” she was quoted as saying.

According to sources, Bukhari was on her way to the Waqt TV studio on Lahore’s Fatima Jinnah Road (Queen’s Road) for a talk show when the vehicle she was travelling in was intercepted by unknown persons. She was subsequently abducted on Sherpao Bridge in the Cantonment area. Her family had reported her missing to the police.

Punjab Police said Bukhari had not been detained by its personnel.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent organisation working to promote press freedom worldwide, had expressed alarm over Bukhari’s disappearance and called on the police to ensure her prompt and safe return.

A vocal critic of the military, Bukhari is a journalist and activist who has worked in broadcast and print for several media groups in Pakistan. Bukhari is presently a contributing op-ed writer at The Nation and was set to appear as an analyst on Waqt TV show ‘2vs2’.


Yorkshire Evening Post – Photos show fire damage to Leeds mosque and Sikh temple as police investigate hate crime arson attacks

For pictures of damage see link below.

Leeds – Yorkshire-and-Humber – UK, 05 June 2018. This is the damage caused to two places of worship in Beeston after arsonists set fire to a mosque and a Sikh gurdwara in the same night. Both crimes took place at around 4am on Tuesday morning, when the Beeston Central Mosque on Hardy Street and the nearby Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha on Lady Pit Lane were targeted.

A flammable liquid was used to ignite the front doors of both buildings, which sustained minor damage. Police are linking the incidents and are treating them as hate crimes. The mosque committee’s secretary, Amjid Hussain, said the attack ‘would not divide us’ especially during the month of Ramadan.

Detective Inspector Richard Holmes, of Leeds District CID, said:

“We are treating both these incidents as linked given the closeness of the locations and the similar times that they have occurred. “While our investigation is still at a relatively early stage, we do believe these premises have been specifically targeted as places of worship and we are treating both incidents as arson and hate crimes.

“We are currently carrying out extensive enquiries, including checks on CCTV in both areas, and we would like to hear from anyone who has witnessed any suspicious activity or seen any person or vehicles in the areas around the time these incidents have occurred.

“We would also like to hear from anyone who has any other information that could assist the investigation. “Clearly we will always treat incidents of this nature very seriously and will be doing everything we can to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”


The Tribune – Two ‘radicals’ held in Batala

Were working at behest of Canada, UK handlers, say police

Ravi Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service

Batala – Panjab – India, 02 June 2018. The police on Saturday arrested two suspected Sikh radicals, operating allegedly at the behest of their foreign handlers, including Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a Canada-based organisation.

The arrests of Dharminder Singh, alias Commando Singh, and Kirpal Singh that came days before the 06 June anniversary of Operation Blue Star were announced by IG (Border) Surinder Pal Singh Parmar and Batala SSP Opinderjit Singh Ghuman at a joint press conference.

The IG said the SFJ had been spearheading the separatist ‘Sikh referendum-2020’. “The organisation has been trying to enlist the support of radicals and gangsters for the referendum aiming at liberating Punjab from the Indian Government,” said Parmar.

The radicals were arrested from Dharminder’s house in Harpura Dhandoi village of Batala district.

They were also involved in “torching liquor vends” at the village on May 31, he said. Apart from Pannun, the other foreign handlers had been identified as Paramjit Singh Pamma and Maan Singh (UK) and Deep Kaur (Malaysia), the IG said.

Both Kirpal and Dharminder admitted that their handlers got in touch with them through social networking sites and were paid money to carry out secessionist activities like spray painting ‘Sikh referendum’ posters and also setting afire liquor vends and other government properties ahead of the Blue Star anniversary.

Dharminder Singh also had a stint with the Territorial Army and before he left it in January 2016, he had become well-trained in handling firearms, which was part of his training regime.

Several spray paint bottles, posters of ‘Sikh referendum’ and two revolvers were recovered from the duo. A case under Sections 307, 438, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC has been registered at the Rangar Nangal police station.

A Qadian resident, Ravinder Singh Raju, is also being questioned for his links with the radicals. The officials said they would divulge the details of Raju’s involvement later. During interrogation, it was revealed that Pannun had also asked the duo to put up referendum posters during the recently held IPL matches in Mohali.

The IG said: “The arrests fly in the face of repeated assertions by Pannun and others that they were not funding any terror activities in Punjab.”

Another thin story about two ‘radicals’ armed with two revolvers, spray-paint and posters