The Tribune – Akalis ask Modi to seek UK apology on Jallianwala Bhag massacre

New Delhi – India, 13 October 2018. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask the British Government to tender an apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

In a letter to Modi, party’s senior vice-president Prem Singh Chandumajra said, “I request you on my behalf and on behalf of the people of Punjab to write to the UK Government on this issue and build pressure to take the matter to its logical conclusion.”

He said a campaign had been going on for the past several years in India and the UK in this regard.

“It is high time the Government of India seeks a formal apology from Britain for the heinous crime,” Chandumajra added.

The Centre has already decided to observe the massacre’s centenary at the national level next year.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/akalis-ask-modi-to-seek-uk-apology-on-jallianwala/667848.html

Advertisements

Art Daily – Lion of Punjab treasure leads Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in London

London – UK, 13 October 2018. A gold-thread-embroidered, velvet-clad leather quiver and bow holder almost certainly made for Maharajah Ranjit Singh, Lion of the Punjab, is among a wealth of Sikh treasures to be offered at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in London on Tuesday, 23 October. It is estimated at £80,000-120,000.

Archery played an important role in Sikh military culture. Long after bows and arrows were superseded by more modern weaponry, they retained a ceremonial and symbolic significance, especially among the nobility who would appear in public wearing an embroidered quiver at their side.

It is believed that the Maharajah commissioned a quiver in 1838 to wear at the wedding of his eldest son and heir Kharak; and he appears to be wearing the one in the sale – or one extremely similar to it, in a painting of the same year by the French artist Alfred de Dreaux, now in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Ranjit Singh died in 1839, plunging the Punjab into years of instability which prompted the East India Company to invade and annex the state. At the conclusion of the First Anglo-Sikh war in 1846, the victorious Company acquired the Royal Treasury in Lahore, including the Koh-i-Noor and the Timur Ruby which were sent back to London as gifts for Queen Victoria.

At some point, the quiver passed into the hands of the First Marquess of Dalhousie, Governor General of India 1847-54. The Treasury also served as a workshop making luxury items for the Court and it seems certain that the quiver for sale was produced there.

Bonhams Head of Indian and Islamic Art, Oliver White, said, “This is a wonderful piece from the fabled Treasury of Lahore, and all the circumstantial evidence points to it being the one made in 1838 for Ranjit Singh, Lion of the Punjab, the state’s greatest and most famous leader.

The quiver was made purely for ceremonial purposes, and appears to have been rarely worn. As a result, it is in excellent condition.”

Other highlights of the sale include:

• An important Mughal emerald seal made for, and bearing the name of, Marian Hastings, estimated at £20,000-30,000. Marian Hastings was the second wife of Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of India (1773-1785).
They met and fell in love during a voyage from Dover to Madras in 1769, but Marian was already married and was unable to obtain a divorce until 1777. During this period, she divided her time between her husband and Hastings.
This unorthodox arrangement largely escaped censure and, before and after their marriage in both London and Calcutta they were welcomed in society, where Marian acquired a reputation for her bejewelled appearance.

• The Lockwood Kipling Album, estimated at £100,000-150,000. Compiled by artist, curator and school administrator Lockwood Kipling, father of the poet and novelist, Rudyard Kipling, this collection of 120 photographs provides a fascinating insight into India, particularly the Punjab, in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Kipling lived and worked in India from 1865 until his retirement in 1893, and the album was put together while he was serving as principal of the Mayo School of Art, now the National College of Arts in Lahore (1875-1893), and curator of the adjacent Lahore Museum.

• An important emerald and seed-pearl necklace from the Lahore Treasury, estimated at £80,000-120,000. It was owned and worn by Jindan Kaur, the final wife of Maharajah Ranjit Singh and the only one not to commit Sati or ritual suicide on his death.

As Regent to her five-year-old son Duleep, who was proclaimed Maharajah in 1843, Jindan organised armed resistance to the British invasion but was captured and imprisoned.

Escaping to Kathmandu, she was kept under house arrest by the King of Nepal, before eventually moving to England where she was reunited with her son and her jewellery, including the necklace in the sale.

A pair of Jindan Kaur’s earrings was sold at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in April 2018 for £175,000 (estimate £20,000-30,000).

• The Samsara Collection of Indian Paintings, being sold without reserve comprising 44 miniatures which cover two main schools, Pahari and Rajasthani, from the 17th to the mid-19th centuries, and also some Mughal works.

They depict a range of subjects from episodes in the key works of Hindu mythology – the Ramayana and the Bhagavata Purana, for example, – to depictions of court life characteristic of Rajasthani artists.

http://artdaily.com/news/108258/Lion-of-Punjab-treasure-leads-Bonhams-Islamic-and-Indian-Art-sale-in-London#.W8IIRfZoTIU

BBC News – MP Preet Kaur Gill queries police raids on Sikh homes

Rahil Sheikh BBC Asian Network

The Labour MP has said she wants to know why details of five Sikhs in the UK were leaked to Indian newspapers after their homes were raided by police.

London – UK, 09 October 2018. Preet Kaur Gill said she was told the Indian authorities had no role in the raids carried out on the addresses.

Sikh activists have said they believe the raids were instigated by the Indian government, a claim denied by police.

West Midlands Police counter-terrorism officers searched the addresses in the Midlands and London last month.

The force said it had targeted suspects accused of being involved in extremist activity in India, but no arrests were made.

Since then the names and details of five Sikh activists were published in Indian newspapers, which has sparked claims by Sikh groups in Britain that the Indian authorities were involved in the operation.

‘Horrible experience’

Shamsher Singh, a well-known British Sikh activist, was one of the five whose homes were raided in Birmingham, Coventry and West London. He said the raids left him and his family traumatised.

“The whole experience was really horrible and totally absurd. It was really out of the blue. I don’t really understand it,” he said.

“Things happened to my friends, their children and elderly family members that I never thought would happen in this country”.

Ms Gill, the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, who is the first female Sikh MP elected to the UK Parliament, said there were unanswered questions.

“We’re trying to establish the facts,” she said. “We’re trying to establish why in the Indian media you have one story, while here the West Midlands Police have given out very little information but have actually stated to myself that these raids were not conducted as a result of India requesting this to take place.

Now the information being put out in the public domain is quite contradictory.”

Ms Gill said there were concerns in the Sikh community that any Indian involvement could be linked to the case of Jagtar Singh Johal.

Mr Johal, from Dumbarton, was arrested in India last November and is still being held in an Indian jail without charge, accused of being involved in political violence in Punjab.

“The fear in the community, when I’ve spoken to many of the organisations, is that because there’s been no charge on Jagtar Singh Johal in India, are these raids to try and build some kind of evidence?” said the MP.

“And therefore are they targeted and have they been done in an underhand way, which is something Gareth Peirce, who is representing the five, will be looking at.”

Indian journalist Manoj Joshi said: “The threat of Sikh extremism in India isn’t very serious. But it would be in the Indian government’s interest to keep track of it.

“Because there are areas which are used for fundraising and propaganda so I think it is a legitimate interest of the government in India to at least keep track of this and to tip off British authorities if they think something could become more serious.”

Shamsher Singh said the raids had gone down very badly with Sikhs in the UK.

“I don’t really understand it because can West Midlands Police investigate stuff that happened in India? Are they acting on behalf of the Indian government?

“It’s really confusing at the moment, so we’ve got lawyers, Sikh organisations and Sikh politicians who are trying to work this out and understand what’s happened.

“From what I’ve seen Sikhs are enraged because they think that Sikh activists are being targeted.”

West Midlands Police denied any involvement by the Indian government. In a statement the force said the operation was carried out based on intelligence gathered over a period of time related to terror offences relating to activity in India and fraud offences.

It also said the operation was not directed by either the UK or Indian governments and also denied it was connected to the Jagtar Singh Johal case.

The Indian government has been approached for comment but has not responded.

The five Sikh activists have said they are seeking a legal case against West Midlands Police and Ms Gill said she would raise the issue with Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-45789679

Dawn – Europe’s perplexed Pakistanis

Pervez Hoodbhoy

City of Stockholm – Sweden, 06 October 2018. Pakistani immigrants to Europe tend to get a bad press. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised by my brief encounter in Stockholm three weeks ago with a dozen or so well-settled, ordinary working-class Pakistanis.

Some had migrated from Mirpur (AJK), others from KP and Sindh. Their attitudes and lifestyles challenge the common negative stereotypes of Pakistani migrants in Europe.

Do you speak and read Swedish reasonably well? Are local laws fair and non-discriminatory? Do your children go to Swedish schools and do they have Swedish friends? Can you feel this to be your own country?

Receiving positive responses, I slowly moved on to the most sensitive of questions and held my breath: Would you be okay if your daughter were to date a Swedish guy? Marry him? And, finally, is Sweden where someday you might choose to die and be buried?

Except for the very last question (where some wavered) all other answers were again affirmative. Significantly, these were not well-heeled upper-class folks who readily form a globalised community.

Instead, they were bus drivers, hospital staff, and other blue-collar workers in love with their adopted country. They were trying hard to deal with the us-versus-them binary.

Were such attitudes more common the sickeningly familiar caricature of the backward, anti-freedom, unassimilable Pakistani migrant would vanish. But this wasn’t so clear once I probed further: could you kindly guess how many other Pakistan-Swedes are also largely positive about their new country?

Opinions varied but the consensus was clear — only a minority of first-generation Pakistan-Swedes, like this particular group, is fully at ease. Since they acknowledge getting a fair deal in their new country, what alienates the majority?

Answer: discomfort with the bay hayaee (sexual laxity) of locals and their deen say doori (non-adherence to religion — any religion). As with other Pakistani immigrants in Europe, some stridently reject the core values of their host country and condemn the ‘immoral’ lifestyles of the majority.

Why do Pakistanis enjoying the West’s pluralism stay silent about pluralism within Pakistan?

This unctuous piety is sometimes dubious, it stands against a pioneering research study putting sexuality as a key motivation for young Pakistani men to emigrate.

In his book: Masculinity, Sexuality, and Illegal Immigration, Human Smuggling from Pakistan to Europe, Ali Nobil Ahmad, a fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin, finds the pull of deep-seated psychological forces no less important than the push of economic forces.

After interviewing dozens of young immigrant men from lower-middle-class backgrounds, Ahmad concludes that lure of adventure and libidinal frustration drives even relatively economically secure migrants.

Risking life and limb, they hope to escape a conservative society where every form of contact with women is forbidden, other than a family-arranged marriage, into a world where pleasures of the flesh are tauntingly visible through advertising and the global media.

Parents often marry them off before they depart but the problem doesn’t end there.

The sweet fruits of the Promised Land are enjoyed for a while but long term adaptation to the metropolises of Europe is difficult for many.

Most perplexing is the freedom enjoyed by Western women, with whom liaisons are short term. To shut out their ‘corrupting influence’, families arrange for cousin marriages or import brides. These are routine in Britain’s poorest areas where immigrants have ghettoised.

Growing conservatism and poor schooling in the homeland has made Pakistani immigrants less absorbable globally. As Pakistan steadily becomes less liberal and goes the Al Huda way, the changes are visible in habits and dress. The burqa issue resounds throughout Europe. That welcome for unassimilable immigrants has dried out is unsurprising.

A highly visible trend among Pakistanis is greater immersion in one’s own religious community. Even in North America where Pakistanis are generally wealthier than whites, the social life of most expatriates, the richest ones excepted, organises itself around mosques and Islamic centres.

Toronto, for example, is a city divided among Deobandis, Barelvis, Shias, Bohras, and Ismailis who have built their own places of worship and largely interact only among themselves. Ahmadis have a worship-cum-housing complex spread over 35 acres.

Isolation from the mainstream has extracted a price in the general well-being of immigrants, particularly for Pakistan-origin Brits. Muslim school students, of which a full 40 per cent are Pakistanis, have been documented as underachievers.

Muhammad Anwar, a social scientist and author of British Muslims and State Policies argues that Pakistani-Brits generally have education achievement levels lying at the low end of all ethnic minorities in Britain.

On the other hand, immigrants who share values with the host country can rise high. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and home secretary, Sajid Javid, are obvious examples. Expectedly, wealthier, upper-class Pakistanis are familiar with Western cultural mores.

Educated in top-notch schools, they find the West hospitable. This year, as every year, thousands will make their way to universities across North America, Europe, and Australia. Others will rely on immigration sponsorship by family members who are already citizens.

Most, whether wealthy or poor, will try their hardest to never return home and many will succeed in becoming first-generation immigrants. Some dream of wealth, others of personal fulfilment. Still others want to escape a suffocating social and physical environment. Most will be preoccupied in making a new life for themselves.

But exceptions aside, such as the few I met in Stockholm, Pakistani immigrants to the West don’t insist on changing things back in the homeland.

That Pakistan needs to end discrimination against its ethnic minorities, women, and non-Muslims is heard but rarely, and that too only from Baloch, Sindhi and Kashmiri nationalist groups.

One could have expected broader participation because immigrants benefit from open pluralist societies that, by law, must treat all citizens equally. This, of course, is why Pakistanis choose to immigrate.

If first-generation immigrants lack activism, perhaps the second generation will compensate some day. When such voices for justice are heard loud and clear, and if they are joined by immigrant communities from other countries in demanding changes back home, multiple noxious xenophobic movements in the West will collapse like a pricked balloon. Let’s hope.

The author teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1437173/europes-perplexed-pakistanis

Southern Daily Echo – Langar Week is coming to Southampton between October 1 and 7

An international Sikh awareness week is coming to Southampton next week. Langar Week, which runs between October 1 and 7, will provide free meals for all across the city.

Aaron Shaw

Southampton – Hampshire – UK, 27 August 2018. The week is an annual campaign highlighting the free-food service concept of Langar through a variety of events. Southampton Sikh Seva charity group said they were hoping to teach more people about the practice.

Langar translates as ‘communal kitchen’ and is the practice of providing free food for all, regardless of faith, gender, age or status. It was started more than 500 years ago by the first guru of the Sikhs, Guru Navek Dev Ji.

Southampton Sikh Seva said: “We look forward to serving the local community and teaching them about this practice. Anyone is welcome to a Gurdwara. Where there are Sikhs, no-one should go hungry.”

Above Bar Church will be open to all between 6pm and 7.30pm on October 1, and at various other locations throughout the week, including Bargate, London Road and Shirley High Street.

https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/16906667.langar-week-is-coming-to-southampton-between-october-1-and-7/

The Asian Age – British Sikh woman harasses Hindu ex-boyfriend with beef,

Amandeep Mudhar had pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment and was handed down a two-year sentence.

New Delhi – India / London – UK, 27 September 2018. A British Sikh woman was handed down a two-year suspended jail term by a UK court for launching a campaign of racist abuse and harassment against her Hindu ex-boyfriend and his family over a period of five years, including posting beef through their door as an attack on their faith.

Amandeep Mudhar had pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment and was handed down a two-year sentence at Swindon Crown Court in south-west England on Tuesday.

“Most people from religious backgrounds seek to find a common ground on what they share, be it a faith in god or human nature. Not from you: your behaviour was unrelenting, provocative and extremely frightening,” said Judge Robert Pawson during the sentencing hearing.

The court was told of Amandeep Mudhar orchestrating a series of attacks on the unnamed family of her former boyfriend, including abusive and threatening phone calls and attacks on social media.

The court was told that the 26-year-old had a brief relationship with the man, which was “never fully intimate”, over a few weeks in 2012.

But after he ended the affair citing cultural differences, Amandeep Mudhar and her family launched into the attacks which included threats of rape against his sisters and mother and also to blow up their home and cars, the local daily ‘Swindon Advertiser’ reported.

Prosecutor Sue Cavender told the court that after 2015, she was made subject to a harassment warning by the police and a civil injunction brought by the family, which prevented her from contacting them.

However, she breached that with a social media message two minutes before it expired, saying to one of his two sisters “now watch what happens”, the report said.

Amandeep Mudhar then enlisted the help of a friend, 30-year-old Sandeep Dogra, to send numerous “offensive” Facebook and Instagram posts directed at the family. As well as threats to kill them and rape them, one of the comments branded them “fat, like your elephant god”.

The duo also went to the temple the family frequented, where they harassed the man’s parents, the report said.

In another incident, a parcel of beef was put through the door of the family home which, being Hindus, they found very upsetting, the prosecution said.

In victim impact statements, the man’s two sisters said they had suffered great stress for many years because of the harassment and one of them claimed that Amandeep Mudhar even got another child to bully her six-year-old son at school as part of her campaign of abuse.

Amandeep Mudhar and Sandeep Dogra had both pleaded guilty to harassment but avoided time behind bars as they were handed down two-year suspended jail sentences, which refers to a deferred custodial sentence on strict conditions.

She also faces a six-month curfew, during which her movements will be curtailed. She has also been directed to complete 100 hours of unpaid community service, attend rehabilitation days and pay 750 pounds towards legal costs.

The judge also imposed a restraining order banning Amandeep Mudhar and Sandeep Dogra from contacting the family, going to the roads they live on or the temple they visit.

“I hope this sentence draws a line in the sand and there will be no repetition. You have been warned, both of you,” the judge said.

Amandeep Mudhar’s lawyer highlighted her difficult childhood, during which her mother treated her harshly, and Sandeep Dogra’s lawyer said that he became involved after he felt the victims had racially abused his mother.

The court was told that they both had been shunned by their local community after the details of the case had emerged earlier this year.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/270918/british-sikh-woman-harasses-hindu-ex-boyfriend-with-beef-jailed.html

The Tribune – Granthi who inspired troops on Western Front

A century after World War I, novel tells the tale of long-forgotten Sikh cavalry officer

Vikramdeep Johal, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 24 September 2018. On December 31, 1915, Risaldar Major Amar Singh made an impassioned speech in Punjabi to his fellow Sikh cavalrymen in front of British officers. An experienced granthi (priest)*, he chose an auspicious occasion, Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary, to spur the soldiers to rout the “tyrannical” Germans in World War I.

“We have vowed before our Gurus that we shall never hesitate to sacrifice our lives in the holy war. This is the only way in which we can be called true Sikhs,” he declared. The assembly, sanctified by the presence of Guru Granth Sahib under a silk canopy, was held in a town hall-turned-makeshift gurdwara in the French township of Doullens.

Amar Singh’s address was translated and recorded in a scrapbook by Captain Tom Westmacott (1876-1951), who was born in Bihar and was familiar with Indian languages. The latter’s war diaries form the basis of the debut novel by his granddaughter, Vee Walker. Published by UK-based Kashi House, ‘Major Tom’s War’ was launched in London on Thursday.

Walker tells The Tribune, “Amar Singh’s role as a leader of the Sikhs on the Western Front and a courageous and dignified Risaldar Major cannot be underestimated. He was respected by troops of all faiths.

By December 1915, his Sikh brethren, horsemen fighting dismounted, had already had their baptism of fire. He would have understood the importance of boosting the morale of his men.”

The novel also features other Sikhs who were part of Westmacott’s regiment, the 38th King George’s Own Central India Horse. Risaldar Harnam Singh was the British officer’s self-appointed protector, while Dafadar Arjan Singh served as his groom during the war.

“These men were my grandfather’s comrades-in-arms and he greatly loved and respected them. Hundred years after the end of WWI, I wanted to tell their story,” says Walker, a museum and heritage consultant who resides in Scotland.

Both Amar Singh and Arjan Singh survived the war. The former was granted the title of ‘Bahadur’, besides a pension and a chunk of land; the latter was awarded military honours too. The name of Harnam Singh, who succumbed to injuries in August 1916, is engraved on a panel at the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial in France.

Walker hopes that the novel will help her get in touch with relatives of the Sikh soldiers. “I would love to meet the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these brave men one day,” she says.

Archival resources related to her book, which is expected to be available in India next month, can be accessed on www.majortomswar.com

Poignant letter from France

On July 17, 1917, Risaldar Major Amar Singh wrote a letter from France to Dafadar Lal Singh, a relative/acquaintance based in Amritsar district. Written in Gurmukhi verse, it sums up the colossal tragedy of the Great War:

“What news can I give you but the following:
Many bridegrooms whose thoughts were with their wives have passed away
Many other men have struggled with death like fluttering pigeons
Their widows are weeping, since nothing but sorrow remains for them on earth
Many who were met by the cannon’s blast have passed silently beyond, as one sails away in a ship.”

These lines, written a year after Amar Singh lost his comrade Harnam Singh, figure in David Omissi’s book ‘Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldiers’ Letters, 1914-18’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999).

Keeper of the faith [bold]

They sat again and watched as Risaldar Major Amar Singh opened the beloved book (Guru Granth Sahib) and gently started to fan the chaur over its pages… ‘Gentlemen,’ he began, softly, but in a voice that penetrated to the back of the hall and deep into every heart, ‘Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Sri Waheguru ji ki fateh.

All of you know whose (Guru Gobind Singh) anniversary it is today, what the task is before us and what is the real function of holding such a gathering as this.’

From ‘Major Tom’s War’ (Kashi House, 2018)

* Sikhism has no priests, a Granthi is more like a Protestant Minister, who reads the Book, explains the texts and as is the case in Sikhi often sings the texts as well.  Granthi comes from Guru Granth (Teacher Book) which is the highest authority in the Sikh way of life. Man in Blue

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/granthi-who-inspired-troops-on-western-front/658410.html

Sikh24.com – How does the Indian media know who was raided? – UK Sikh home raids story update

An Indian newspaper claims West Midlands Police gave out confidential information, something they deny.

Read on for more, including quotes from the National Sikh Youth Federation, Sikh Press Association and MP Preet Kaur.

Op/Ed 22 September 2018. Members of the Sikh community are questioning how Indian media have gotten hold of details about police raids on UK Sikh homes earlier this week, after outlets named two individuals allegedly impacted.

Concerns have arisen about how the outlets may have gotten hold of such sensitive information after West Midlands Police were said to have been the source of the information, something which they have denied to the Sikh Press Association.

For both legal and ethical reasons, the Sikh Press Association will not repeat the identity of the individuals nor the publications which divulged their name.

Somebody described as ‘a top Punjab police officer’ has been quoted by an Indian media outlet as saying: ‘We have received confirmation from WMCTU [West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit] that the residences of both […] and […] were searched. There was, however, no confirmation on any arrests yet.’

However, on Friday afternoon West Midlands Police confirmed to the Sikh Press Association its policy of only naming individuals once they have been charged. According to Sikh PA sources, it is against British police protocol to name anyone involved in a case unless they have at least been arrested and it is of public interest.

During one of the raids, which occurred across the Midlands and in London, property of a National Sikh Youth Federation activist was confiscated. Electronic items such as laptops and hard-drives were seized by officers.

The group has warned that ‘sharing NSYF information with Indian security forces investigating “extremist activity in India” places the lives of associates and their family members in direct danger of further harassment, torture, and extrajudicial murder’, based on the long history and current actions of Punjab police and Indian authorities which involves torture and fake encounters murders.

A further statement from the National Sikh Youth Federation addressed the issue of the leaked name:

‘This information makes it abundantly clear that Indian state security forces have not only instigated UK police actions, but are also abusing international legal mechanisms by circumventing the procedures of the UK police and their own integrity to vindictively target Sikh activists by leaking information to the Indian media.

‘The National Sikh Youth Federation is deeply concerned that the personal data and legally privileged information of Sikh activists will be shared with Indian security forces placing the lives of Sikhs in Indian-Occupied East Punjab in extreme danger.

‘If it wasn’t clear before it should be absolutely clear now that the primary motivation of the Indian state is to silence Sikh dissent by presenting long standing Sikh political grievances with the Indian regime and support for Khalistan as extremism and terrorism.’

The reaction of Indian media towards the raids has prompted criticism from the Sikh Press Association, for both a lack of evidence and non-use of important facts in regards to allegations of ‘Sikh extremism’ in the UK.

Sikh Press Association senior press officer Jasveer Singh said, ‘It is incredibly worrying to learn that Indian media outlets are citing British police forces as a source of information that should not be available to them.
Are these Indian outlets just speculating and using West Midlands Police as their cover? If so, West Midlands police must publicly condemn them, and should do so with full support of the UK government.

‘On the Indian media’s side, we should not expect much. There is a proven history of anti-Sikh propaganda that is spewed out from various outlets, all of which lack evidence, context, and are usually clearly biased against Sikh activism.

The best example of this is the 2015/16 Sikh extremism fake dossier scandal, the outcome of which no Indian outlets, bar Sikh Siyasat, covered. In regards to the raids, whilst Indian media accuse the UK of harbouring Khalistani extremists, a peer reviewed CREST approved report which clears suggestions of this nature goes unmentioned by them.

Even when reaching out to our Indian media contacts, we get messages back (see image below) which say journalists there are under government pressure not to cover stories which may expose their wrongdoings. The only thing we can do is ask UK media not to follow suit and republish their hyperbolic content.’

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/09/22/op-ed-how-does-the-indian-media-know-who-was-raided-uk-sikh-home-raids-story-update/#.W6j3ApdoTIU

Huffington Post – Anti-Terror police raid British Sikh separatists over ‘extremist activity’

Five properties were targeted in dawn searches.

Amardeep Bassey

Birmingham – Coventry – West London – UK, 22 September 2018. Anti-terror police have carried out a series of raids on British Sikhs, seizing cash and electronic devices as part of an investigation into alleged extremism.

West Midlands Police Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) carried out multiple searches on this week, swooping on five properties in Birmingham, Coventry and West London.

Up to 70 officers took part in the co-ordinated operation, targeting suspects accused of being involved in “extremist activity in India and money laundering”, but no arrests were made.

Huffington Post UK understands an army bomb disposal squad was called to the Coventry address, after a number of fireworks were discovered at the residential property.

The Sikh Federation UK, a pro-Sikh independence organisation, accused Special Branch officers of abusing an elderly resident and said the operation was “politically motivated” and a “waste of money and resources.”

The dawn raids came a day after the federation held a convention in the West Midlands in support of an independent Sikh homeland in India called ‘Khalistan’.

A spokesman claimed the operation was an “unfair targeting of Sikh activists” and said it hoped the police were “not doing the dirty work of the Indian authorities”.

He added: “Britain is being used by the Indian government to crack down on so-called Sikh extremism in the UK, for which there is no evidence.

“The raids were simply a fishing expedition to disrupt legitimate campaigning by Sikhs in the UK. Britain is pandering to India for trade favours in a post Brexit world and this is an example of appeasement.”

Britain and the West Midlands region in particular has been the nerve centre for the Sikh separatist movement since 1984, when the Indian army launched an assault on the religion’s holiest shrine the Golden Temple in Amritsar in Punjab, India, in an attempt to flush out armed disaffected Sikhs.

Months later, the then-prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by Sikh bodyguards, sparking riots across the country which saw thousands of Sikhs killed by angry Hindu mobs.

British Sikhs formed the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) soon after, but found it proscribed in the UK under anti-terror laws until 2016, when in an unprecedented move the ban was lifted.

Shamsher Singh, of the National Sikh Youth Federation, told Huffington Post his home in Hayes, London, was one of the addresses targeted by detectives.

Singh, 31, said: “They knocked on the door and appeared quite apologetic when they said they’d been told to search for money which I was being accused of laundering.

“They found no cash, but took all my computers and electronic devices which contain years of my research.

“There is no Sikh terrorism or extremism. We are simply exercising our legitimate right to self determination enshrined in the UN charters.

“British authorities are acting like lackeys for the Indian government who are trying to defame and demonise Sikhs in the UK.

“We need to build our own Sikh institutions to counter this campaign of disinformation from the Indian government which is clearly leaning on the UK authorities to try and silence us.”

He said he believed the raids were connected to an ongoing Indian police investigation into Scottish Sikh activist Jagtar Johal, who has been held for almost a year without trial in Punjab for allegedly funding the murders of prominent Hindu politicians in the north west Indian region.

Two websites associated with Johal were taken down just hours after this week’s police operation.

Birmingham Edgbaston MP Preet Kaur Gill, the first female Sikh to sit in the Commons, said she had “serious concerns” about the raids and that she planned to take up the matter directly with Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

She told Huffington Post: “There is speculation that the police raids have political motives and targeting those activists who are outspoken on the 1984 Sikh Genocide issue.

“If this is the case then it is totally unacceptable.”

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “Searches of a number of properties as part of a West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) investigation into allegations of extremist activity in India and fraud offences have now concluded; the investigation continues.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/anti-terror-police-raid-british-sikh-separatists-over-extremist-activity-in-india_uk_5ba398c1e4b0375f8f9a9604

Sikh Federation UK – Khalistan Administration declared with follow up event at the United Nations

London – UK, 17 September 2018. Yesterday was a historic day when the Administration for running Khalistan was declared in principle at the 35th Annual International Sikh Convention with Sikh representatives from over 15 countries present.

The Convention organised by the Sikh Federation (UK), often referred to as the first and only Sikh political party, attracted in excess of 10,000 Sikhs at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Willenhall in the West Midlands.

Sikhs from the UK came from over 100 towns and cities with over 200 UK Gurdwaras represented. Alongside a number of resolutions relating to Punjab was the in principle announcement of the Khalistan Administration with the sole aim of freedom and re-establishing a Sikh homeland.

The timing of the announcement of the Khalistan Administration is critical given expected developments in the Indian sub-continent. It follows numerous meetings over a number of years with different governments where Sikhs live and those in positions of influence at the United Nations.

At meetings at the UN earlier this year it was suggested only when the Khalistan Administration was in place could serious negotiations begin with other nations to gain backing for a Sikh homeland.

Sikh representatives have been told many countries are extremely worried with both the Hindutva direction of travel in India and the rise of the Islamic State. It is believed to only be a matter of time before there is a serious clash that could ultimately result in the break up of India and Pakistan as we know them now.

A Sikh homeland would then definitely be in the equation and the Khalistan Administration and a negotiating team therefore needed to be in place. Details relating to the Khalistan Administration will be provided at an event in three to four months time to be held at the United Nations.

Yesterday the proposed structure was however shared with a 101-member Khalistan Advisory Board of recognised Khalistani activists across the globe. Those making up the Board will be made known at the UN event and will be the public face of the Khalistan Administration..

An essential component that will maintain the heartbeat of the Khalistan Administration will be a 51-member Executive Team that will draw up detailed plans for all aspects of the administration, including the legislature (Khalistan Parliament-in-Exile); judiciary (Supreme Court, Chief Justice, Court of Appeal) and departments that will run the sovereign Khalistan state. Names of the 51-member Executive Team will largely remain anonymous.

The third element will be a 21-member negotiating team drawn from the 101-member Khalistan Advisory Board and 51-member Executive Team to represent the Khalistan Administration in negotiations with member states and with those at the United Nations.

A working group is being established to make all arrangements and preparations for the event at the United Nations in three or four months’ time.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Sikh representatives from different countries that discussed the Khalistan Administration proposal at the Convention believe it the single biggest practical step in the formation of a Sikh homeland in the last 25 years on the political stage.”

“In April 1992 the Sikh leadership in Punjab prepared and signed a submission to the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali demanding UN intervention and an independent State for the Sikhs and a year later came the Amritsar Declaration.”

“Different governments where the Sikh diaspora are active and those at the UN have advised there now needs to be a Khalistan Administration and a negotiating team in place as soon as possible.”

“Following the in principle declaration of the Khalistan Administration yesterday we aim to get all structures in place within three months so our negotiating team is ready to begin discussions on all aspects of a Sikh homeland.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)