– Nationwide USA immigration raids planned to begin on Sunday

Sikh24 Editors

Washington DC – USA, 13 July 2019. Nationwide Raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin. The final details of this rapidly changing operation, backed by President Donald Trump, have not been released according to two current and one former homeland security officials.

This operation was previously delayed for two weeks, partly because of resistance among officials at Trump’s immigration agency. However, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Ken Cuccinelli said Wednesday that the ICE raids are “absolutely going to happen.”

According to officials, the raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will span over multiple days. The deportations will be “collateral,” meaning “authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.”

Also, ICE agents will be targeting at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered to be deported and will be carrying out this operation in at least 10 major cities.

According to local sources, an Indian restaurant in Washington DC was raided by ICE last week during which several Hindi speaking employees were taken to the Montgomery County jail in Maryland.

Given the prospect of more immigration raids in the DC area, Saldef and Justice for Muslims Collective (JMC) are calling for volunteers to join them for an outreach effort on July 13th and 14th. If you or someone you know needs more information regarding this issue please email us at

As always, we’re on the frontlines. We are making sure that our community’s concerns and needs are being addressed. Whether it’s training and recruiting new volunteers, passing legislation to condemn hate crimes, or holding events such as Know Your Rights forums, we exist to serve you.

Saldef and Justice for Muslims Collective (JMC) Contact Info:
1050 Connecticut Ave. NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
United States of America

Nationwide U.S Immigration Raids planned to begin on Sunday

Dawn – US welcomes increased ‘people-to-people ties’ between Pakistan – India through Kartarpur

Washington DC – USA, 17 July 2019. The USA State Department on Tuesday said that it was “incredibly supportive” of anything that increases “people-to-people ties between India and Pakistan”.

During a press briefing, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus was asked to comment on the Kartarpur Corridor: “Yeah, that was certainly a good news report, wasn’t it? We encourage it,” she said.

“Anything that increases people-to-people ties between India and Pakistan is something that we’re incredibly supportive of,” she added.

Ortagus’ comments follow the latest talks between the two sides, which took place on July 14, on the opening of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims. Pakistan claimed to have made headway on “80 per cent and beyond” issues in the much-delayed second round of talks.

The talks were held at the Wagah border where a 13-member Pakistan team was led by Saarc and South Asia desk Director General and Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal, while an eight-member Indian team was headed by interior joint secretary S.C.L. Das.

The corridor, a peace initiative of the Pakistani government, is being constructed to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The corridor will provide Indian Sikhs visa-free access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.

To work out modalities for the opening of Kartarpur opening, a Pakistani delegation on March 14 visited Attari where a meeting was held with Indian officials.

While the next round of talks was scheduled for April 2 at Wagah, India pulled out of it over reservations that pro-Khalistan activists such as Gopal Chawla and Bisan Singh had been included in Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, a body that works for facilitating Sikh pilgrims.

The Indian Ministry for External Affairs on that occasion had stated: “The next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response.” Pakistan’s FO had then regretted the Indian decision to cancel the meeting. – SFJ lodges defamation case against Indian government in Canada’s Superior Court of Justice

Sikh24 Editors

Toronto – Ontario – Canada, 11 July 2019. The US based pro-freedom Sikh outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ has lodged a defamation case against the Indian government for leveling allegations on SFJ of being a supporter of terrorism and working on the directions of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The move has come in a quick reaction to the India’s step of banning the ‘Sikhs for Justice’.

The SFJ has also sued a mainstream media outlet in this case and has demanded one million dollar penalty charge.

This lawsuit has been filed in the Superior Court of Justice, situated in the Toronto city of Canada’s Ontario province. A firm of lawyers named ‘Stockwoods LLP Barristers’ will represent the SFJ in the Court.

Attorney Nadir R Hassan has said that the Indian government’s statements against the SFJ were extremely defamatory as the SFJ is a respectable human rights body.

On July 10, the Indian government had imposed ban on the US based pro-freedom Sikh outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ (SFJ) which has been campaigning for a referendum in Punjab in 2020. The Twitter account of SFJ’s legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannu has been also suspended on the request of Indian government.

SFJ lodges defamation case against Indian government in Canada’s Superior Court of Justice

The Tribune – India to raise SFJ issue with Canada, UK

New Delhi – India, 11 July 2019. The government has expressed its resolve to curb the banned Sikh separatist organisation, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), by taking up the matter strongly with countries where it is active, especially with the Canadian government, MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar told mediapersons at a press conference here today.

The other countries which will be sounded out are the UK and US where SFJ plans to step up its activities.

While the vast majority of Sikhs in Canada share warm relations with India, Ravish Kumar said this fringe group had supported violent extremism in India. The Home Ministry had pointed out that while the SFJ had over 2 lakh online supporters, it was a group of only eight to 10 people and the government had been successful in getting the Twitter handle of its legal adviser Gurpatwant Pannu.

Links on Facebook had also been brought down on India’s request.

Sikh Federation UK – India’s ban on Sikhs for Justice shows it has no respect for freedom of expression and the basic right to self-determination

India’s ban on Sikhs for Justice shows it has no respect for freedom of expression and the basic right to self-determination

London – UK, 11 July 2019. The decision earlier this week by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs to ban Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) from operating in India shows India’s total disrespect for basic human rights and its desire and desperation to silence the Sikh Diaspora.

SFJ is a human rights advocacy group based in North America that has been highlighting human rights violations and the 1984 Sikh Genocide by the Indian state for the last 12 years and has in the last five years been underlining the right to self-determination.

During the 1984 Sikh Genocide and in the decade that followed the Indian State perpetrated what can only be termed crimes against humanity. Following the 1984 Sikh Genocide the rape, torture, disappearances, fake encounters and extra-judicial killings of Sikhs was nothing short of Indian State terrorism.

Not content with its gross violation of human rights for over a decade the Indian authorities turned its attention by killing human rights activists in Punjab like Jaswant Singh Khalra. He was eliminated by Indian police as he highlighted to the global community 25,000 Sikh disappearances, including unidentified bodies and illegal cremations.

The “Sacrificing Sikhs” report published in November 2017 based on around half of the UK Governments own official papers released after 30 years provides evidence the Indian State was active in the 1980s to try and silence the British Sikh voice of opposition and calls for Sikh independence that followed the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

There is little doubt the Indian state would have tried to do the same with other foreign governments like Canada and the USA to varying degrees of success that no one has yet uncovered to the extent as in the UK. The Sikh Federation (UK) has also in recent years become aware of some of India’s anti-Sikh activities in countries like Germany and Switzerland to try and silence Sikh opposition.

UK politicians have confirmed in 2001 the Indian government pressured the UK Government to ban the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF). The ISYF was the main Sikh organisation operating in the Sikh Diaspora highlighting human rights violations by the Indian State and advocating for an independent Sikh State.

The 9/11 act of terrorism was misused by India for its own purposes to push for worldwide restrictions on the ISYF and bans in India (December 2001) and Canada (June 2003).

In the UK Sikhs have successfully lobbied and used the legal process to have the ban on the ISYF lifted in March 2016 and two months later to have all restrictions lifted on the ISYF across Europe. There has been recent talk that Sikhs in Canada may be legally challenging the Canadian government to justify the continued ban on the ISYF.

The US Administration has stood up to the Indian government and never banned any Sikh organisation, but the authorities have been pressured to act against individual Sikh nationalists. What is abundantly clear is the Indian government has been constantly complaining to foreign governments for up to 40 years about Sikhs in the Diaspora raising human rights violations in India and pressuring them not to engage with Sikh organisations and individuals advocating for the right to self-determination.

Instead the Indian authorities have increasingly pushed with foreign governments Sikh groups, businessmen and individuals that are totally silent on criticism of India or who are pro-Indian as Sikh representatives with whom they should engage.

The Indian authorities are increasingly worried about the in-roads being made by Sikhs in the Diaspora into the highest levels of the political arena in countries like Canada and the UK.

They are struggling to understand many of the Sikh politicians have been born in Canada or the UK or lived most of their lives there and are duty bound to respect human rights and act as champions for the minority Sikh community.

As shown with Canada India has gone to extreme lengths in the last 18 months to discredit the current Canadian Prime Minister and exert pressure on the Canadian government to act against individual Sikh activists with a no-fly policy or try and demonise the entire Sikh community through official reports.

With federal elections taking place in Canada in October 2019 the Indian authorities are unashamedly approaching the opposition Conservative Party to change their position on freedom of expression and those campaigning for Sikh self-determination.

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

“We want to make clear the Indian authorities will never be able to silence the Sikh Diaspora from highlighting human rights violations and our right to self-determination.”

“Banning Sikhs for Justice in India where it does not exist, pressuring foreign governments to take actions against Sikh nationalists and interfering in the Canadian federal elections are signs of desperation by the Indian regime.”

“Sikhs in the Diaspora are increasingly politically active and media savvy and foreign politicians will find it more and more difficult to appease the Indian authorities at the expense of their own Sikh citizens.”

“In the long run India’s actions will backfire as foreign governments will eventually realise they have more to gain from a large independent Sikh State in the Indian sub-continent than from bowing to the blackmail of the Indian authorities.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK) – India’s outcry intensifies after display of pro-freedom attitude by Sikhs and Kashmiris in world cup matches

Sikh24 Editors

London UK, 07 July 2019. The state embedded Indian media doesn’t spare any chance to begin poisonous propaganda against the Sikhs living in developed countries like USA, Canada, UK etc. due to their liberal nature and blunt stand in favor of a sovereign Sikh state.

This poisonous propaganda against the Sikh diaspora has picked a fast pace as compared to the previous years because of Pakistan’s initiative on Kartarpur corridor and the recent manifestation of pro-freedom attitude by the Sikhs and Kashmiris living in Britain during the recently held Cricket World Cup matches.

It is pertinent to note here that a plane carrying a banner with wording “India stop genocide & Free Kashmir hovered over the Leeds cricket stadium in England during a match between India and Sri Lanka.

As per its routine work, the Indian media has now started propaganda that the Pakistani nationals are financially helping the pro-Khalistan Sikhs living in Canada and Britain, and they are also getting help of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI.

This time, the Indian media has used the former Indian Army’s Major General Dhruv Katoch as its mouthpiece to give a base to its propaganda.

Major General (Retired Dhruv Katoch, who didn’t handle any spying agency during his service tenure, has claimed that the Pakistani Muslims are trying to promote pro-Khalistan activities in Britain and Canada but the governments of those countries don’t have anything to do with it.

India’s outcry intensifies after display of pro-freedom attitude by Sikhs and Kashmiris in world cup matches

The Hindu – Stand up for religious rights: Pompeo

Rule of law, importance of civil society will allow Indians to flourish, says USA Secretary of State

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 26 June 2019. USA Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said here on Wednesday that it was necessary to speak strongly in favour of freedom of religion. Delivering a major policy speech at the end of his visit to India, Mr Pompeo emphasised the rule of law and importance of civil society that would allow Indians to “flourish”.

“India is the birthplace for four major world religions. Let’s stand up together for defence of religious freedom for all. Let’s speak up strongly together in favour of those rights. For whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off,” he said at the speech delivered at the India International Centre here.

He pointed out that both India and the USA had regard for ideas such as the rule of law and “respect for human dignity” as important for themselves. He referred to the common heritage of freedom struggle of both nations as an inspiration for both.

“India-USA relationship is based on solid foundation, rule of law and the importance of civil society. These ideals, they allow people to flourish. The Indian people believe in them and Americans believe in them as well,” said Mr Pompeo, arguing that both countries were meant to protect fundamental rights that he described as “inalienable”.

The speech comes just days after the annual report of the State Department pointed out that the actions and inflammatory speeches by members of the BJP at the Centre and various States had led to undermining of rights of the religious minorities. Mr Pompeo said he shared his vision with the Indian leadership during his conversations.

Mr Pompeo had introduced and launched the report on religious freedom in the State Department and had described freedom of religion as a personal priority for himself. The report had pointed out that repeated mob attacks and lynching, however, did not draw high-level political condemnation.

In the policy speech on Wednesday, the Secretary of State referred to the Preamble of the Constitution and how the phrase “We the People” refer to the struggle that led to the creation of the modern Indian state.

He used President Eisenhower’s comments to show that India and the U.S. were separated by thousands of miles of land and ocean but had similarities of conviction and ideas about what democracy should be.

The Tribune – Today’s food is too sweet: Study

New York – State of New York – USA, 25 June 2019. Customers find foods in today’s marketplace to be too sweet, researchers that analysed nearly four lakh food reviews said.

“This is the first study of this scale to study food choice beyond the artificial constraints of the laboratory. Sweet was the most frequently mentioned taste quality and the reviewers told us that human food is over-sweetened,” said study lead author Danielle Reed from Monell Chemical Senses Center in the USA.

Published in the journal of Physiology and Behavior, the study examined 393,568 unique food reviews of 67,553 products posted by 256,043 customers over a 10 year period to gain real-world insight into the food choices that people make.

To identify words related to taste, texture, odour, spiciness, cost, health and customer service, the researchers used statistical modelling programme and computed the number of reviews that mentioned each of these categories.

The focus on product over-sweetness was striking as almost one per cent of product reviews, regardless of food type, used the phrase “too sweet”.

When looking at reviews that referred to sweet taste, the researchers found that over-sweetness was mentioned 25 times more than under-sweetness.

The researchers found that sweet taste was mentioned in 11 per cent of product reviews, almost three times more often than bitter.

World Sikh News – From Panjab to Diaspora, Sikh leadership in sham­bles

Published 3 months ago – Jagmohan Singh
25 June 2019

As the World Sikh News completes two years of its presence on the internet, we focus on the working in the Sikh world. On the eve of the elections in the Punjab, with deep anguish, we present an analysis of the political canvas of the Sikhs, the Sikh leadership in Panjab and the Diaspora. We will soon follow up with detailed analyses of Sikh social and religious forums.

As India goes to the hustings, the Sikh leadership from Punjab to the hustings, the Sikh leadership from Punjab to the Diaspora is in utter shambles. There is no organisation or individual worth the salt who can lead the situation and take the community forward in these trying times.

The religious, political and religio-political leadership, the traditional and revolution-inclined parties are all in limbo, waiting in the wings for a miracle to happen or a leader to descend from the skies. No party or leader, individually or collecively has framed the Sikh agenda and thrusted down the throat of the political parties contesting the elections.

Once upon a time, the Akali leadership was considered the Sikh leadership. Over the decades, they became Punjabi leadership in name to feed their pseudo-secular stance but in effect they are always at sea, not knowing which side to lean on. Today, the Badal Dal leadership is swinging between the Panth and the BJP, but doggedly pursuing their selfish and feudal politics.

Sikhs in the Congress have been voted to power many a time in the past but they have never qualified nor have been accepted as Sikh leadership by the Sikh population. They do not deserve to be so called, any­way. The present leadership certainly does not deserve to be called Sikh leaders.

For the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Panjab begins and ends in Sangrur. Though the party raises Sikh issues, the leadership is found wanting on many fronts. The Bharatiya Janta Party, through some nouveau-riche Sikhs has made inroads into the political fibre of Punjab, with active connivance and support of the Badal Dal, but they can never dream of being liked or accepted as Sikh lead­ers.

As for the Aam Aadmi Party, neither the party nor the leadership has any pretence of being Sikh leaders and they have still to make up their minds whether they want to align with the people of Panjab or their wavering leadership in Delhi.

The Taksali Akali Dal wants to be holier than thou and is heavily banking on the leftovers or break­aways from their parent party. They are still making up their mind whether they want to be pro-Panjab and pro-Panth or simply anti-Badal.

The Panjab Ekta Party is an attempt to be secular yet pro-Panjabi. The party leadership is still evolving and so far has only been able to break away from its parent Aam Aadmi Party.

The Lok Insaaf Party is testing the waters as it expands from Ludiana to around the state with their efficient management approach and provoking political mannerisms. Much water has to flow down the Sutlej till the leaders become Sikh leaders of the state and beyond.

Long ago, the Bahujan Samaj Party concluded that the 13 Parliamentary seats of Panjab do not have much significance in the larger scheme of things as it is Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar which decides who will get majority in the house of 543 mem­bers. The party has very little interest in the Punjab.

The Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and some extreme left versions continue their ‘botched politics’ of increasing the numbers of their vote count, without making an impact, but certainly siding with the State as opposed to Sikh interests.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee leadership has sold its body, mind and soul to the Bharatiya Janta Party. It would be naive and stupid to expect anything from them.

The Panjab Bachao Morcha of the Chandigarh club is devoid of innovative ideas and continues their anti-Badal rant. It has still to come to terms with what the revolutionary Chandigarh poet Gajinder Singh said years ago, “change and revolution does not come about over endless cups of tea in the comfort of drawing rooms.”

The All India Sikh Students Federation which was once the leadership bank of the Shiromani Akali Dal is now bankrupt; the defunct body has a lineage of sycophants and way­ward activists. They are not leaders and they have no organisation to lead, it is torn apart into so many groups that the body is totally defunct. No­body can lead the body, how will they lead the community?

The Bargari Insaf Morcha shamelessly has now got nothing to do with Bargari, no Insaf is sought and the Morcha has fizzled out. In their love for politics, they do not attend court hearings of top police personnel incarcerated for Bargari and Behbal Kalan police firings and then let off on bails. This morcha has been the biggest let down of the decade for the Sikhs, particularly those who expected the moon.

The Panthic Coordination Committee, working since the last decade has proffered no Panthic agenda; there is no coordination and the committee exists only on paper.

The Sikh Sewak Army, professedly non-political, but has not moved an inch on the ground to change the functioning of the SGPC. Unless it catches the bull by its horns, sweet-mouthings in the media will not fetch results.

On the side­lines, those who do not directly participate in the elections yet claim to be religious and religio-political leaders have failed to show initiative and dash.

The religio-political leadership of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is too content to serve langar to candidates and supporters of the Badal Dal and wherever possible send employees in mufti as volunteers of the party. There is hardly any dividing line between the party and the SGPC, prompting the Sikh Sangat to paint both with the same brush.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee leadership has sold its body, mind and soul to the Bharatiya Janta Party. It would be naive and stupid to expect anything from them.

The Takht Harmandar Patna Sahib Committee and the Takht Hazur Sahib Nanded Committee is always ready to be manipulated either by the government of the day or by the SGPC. So engrossed in their own worlds, it is a far cry for them to pro­vide leadership to the community on any front.

The Chief Khalsa Diwan, throwing the idiom, wisdom, vision and historical work of its founder Bhai Vir Singh to the winds, is now a ‘private limited company’ of Amritsar-based rich Sikhs, who are engaged in changing the course, nomenclature and ownership of the properties of the organisation. For them Sikh leadership as an issue ceased long back.

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the Damdami Taksal have lost their political voice. They are either silent or aligned to some individuals here and there.

The Gurmat Missionary Colleges selectively become ‘religious’ and ‘semi-political’ or ‘political’ depending upon canddate and the times. Their leadership is too barricaded and without a world view of the Sikhs or the Sikh world. They are so engrossed in ‘pro­tecting’ the religious dictum as per their thinking that they end up creating more divisions than bridging those already there.

For the political forums in Panjab and elsewhere dedicated to up­hold the sovereignty of the people of Punjab, the elections in Punjab offer no ground for work. So they think.

The Dal Khalsa cadres are on a three-month sabbatical, free to pursue any political party or person of their choice, as the party has taken the stand of not contesting any elections under the Indian dispensation.

The Sikh Federation UK, the American Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the ‘June 1984 groups’ and the World Sikh Organisation of Canada would hereto­fore take keen interest in the religio-political developments in Panjab. Not anymore.

Now Sikhs are left to fend for themselves. These bodies are too entrenched in their own political canvasses to worry about the Panjab, except a human rights violation here and there. The same is the situation with other groups in other coun­tries.

The Diaspora bodies in all the countries where Sikhs now have sizable numbers and those numbers are increasing with the flight of Sikhs from the Panjab, these bodies are more concerned about local problems and their solutions.

The Sikh Referendum 2020 team in the Diaspora is desperately waiting for 2019 to pass. If you want to believe them, in the year 2020, notwithstanding whatever kind of referendum they will be able to manage, all problems of the community will be solved.

Sikhs will be in the seventh skies and Sikh sovereignty which we lost on 29 March 1849, will be restored in the year 2020. Does their leadership look, speak and function like Sikh lead­ers?

The can­di­da­ture of Paramjit Kaur Khalra has given a lit­tle fil­lip to the Di­as­pora Sikh bod­ies to iden­tify with hu­man rights as an agenda.

Oth­er­wise from UK to Canada to Aus­tralia to the US, they would have re­mained silent spec­ta­tors, first al­low­ing things to hap­pen with­out in­ter­ven­tion and then ru­ing that ‘look this is hap­pen­ing in Hindu In­dia.’ Re­gur­gi­ta­tion is their forte.

The Pak­istan Sikh Gur­d­wara Par­band­hak Com­mit­tee will do well to fol­low the trail of Sikh her­itage ex­perts and look af­ter the huge spec­trum of Sikh legacy wast­ing by the day in that coun­try. It will do well to look af­ter the eco­nomic needs of the poor­est of the poor Sikhs in Pak­istan and Afghanistan.

The Diaspora miserably failed in its assessment of the Aam Aadmi Party in the last elections, funding the party to the teeth and giving false high hopes of political power to their Sikh candidates, with many waiting in the wings to become the Chief Minister of the state.

In the present times, in the Diaspora and within Panjab has emerged a string of social media warriors who spare no opportunity to pick up Sikh issues and raise their voice against injustices by the state or union government.

They relentlessly expose the political renegades in the community. They are happy in their cocoons and would not like to become leaders of the Sikh community.

The religio-political leadership of the Jathedars, recognised by the SGPC to those recognised by the Sarbat Khalsa has miserably failed to provide direction to the existing parties or to anyone else. They are too involved in pursuing their own agendas only.

In the sixties of the last century, Pettigrew wrote her path-breaking analysis of politics in Punjab in her book Robber­man Noble­man and said that politics in Panjab is everything about ‘palty­baazi’. The group is more important than the Panth. The stance of the group is more important than the cause. The party is more important than Panjab. The party leaders are more important than the Sikh masses.

Out of the political party sphere, no individual has either aspired or volunteered or worked to shake the old foundations of the political systems in Panjab and prove Irish anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew wrong.

In such times, with such a situation, what will happen? Nothing. No individual or party from the present sphere has the capacity, capability and vision to nurture and throw up Sikh leadership. As has happened in the past and as it stands, there will be a major up­heaval in the Indian subcontinent and some kind of Sikh leadership will emerge. Will it be ready to take the situation head on and guide the destiny of the community?

The freedom and the opportunity that the West provides to the Sikhs settled there should enable them for a more benevolent, visionary and effective interaction with the Panjab and Panth and not limit only to religious dogma and dictum.

Many of these groups and individuals have the interest of the Panth and Punjab at heart. However that is not enough. The context and perspective has to change. Repeating the same dialogues, the same arguments, yearning for funding is not going to help. The huge monster of Indian democracy cannot be wished away or fought with merely sloganeering and crying hoarse.

Soul-searching, adoption of new technologies, adaption of new world political thinking, developing Sikh leadership from amongst the youth from scratch, giving up old hyperbole, stopping to drum discrimination, engaging with the people of all castes, class and shades, reorienting the teachings of the Gurus and making it part of our lives and changing the social and religious fibre to be more inclusive and visionary.

All this needs to hap­pen and hap­pen fast.

From Punjab to Diaspora, Sikh leadership in shambles

The Hindu – Foreign governments have no right to question India on religious freedom: MEA

India is proud of its ‘secular credentials’, says spokesperson Raveesh Kumar

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi – India, 23 June 2019. Foreign governments do not have the right to criticise India’s vibrant democracy and dedication to rule of law, said the Ministry of External Affairs on June 23 after the USA State Department’s annual report on religious freedom pointed out India’s failure to protect minority communities.

“We see no locus standi for a foreign government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

The report sets the backdrop of the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that begins on June 25. The Hindu reported earlier that the report was released by Mr Pompeo himself and he referred to the issue of religious freedom as a “deeply personal” priority.

The State Department’s 2019 Report on International Freedom referred to multiple instances where the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre and various State governments of the Bharatiya Janata Party took steps that hurt the Muslim community.

The official spokesperson, however, maintained that India was proud of its “secular credentials”, saying, “it is widely acknowledged that India is a vibrant democracy where the Constitution provides protection of religious freedom, and where democratic governance and rule of law further promote and protect the fundamental rights.”

Protect minority rights

Apart from the murders and lynching by cow vigilante groups, the report pointed out that there were several attempts to undermine minority institutions and change names of cities that reminded of the pluralistic nature of India. In this regard, the report highlighted the change of the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj.

The MEA did not answer if the report and its observations about India’s failure to uphold and protect minority rights would feature in talks with Mr. Pompeo during his visits here between 25-27 June.

The report implicated the BJP and several of its leaders for making “inflammatory speeches against minority communities”. It made specific mention of the NRC in Assam and targeting of the Muslim community in the State.

We all know that the State Department’s report is correct, but it is somewhat strange to see such a report from a country whose president is himself in the habit of making ‘inflammatory speeches’.
The Man in Blue