www.rt.com – Why so intolerant, Madrid? Turban wearers ask

Manjinder Singh Sirsa is president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and MLA from Rajouri Garden.

Madrid – Spain, 29 November 2019. Madrid airport officials reportedly asked a senior Sikh pilot to remove his turban despite metal detector clearance, provoking strong reaction from the Sikh community. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee head spoke to RT.

I was attending a family function when I got a call from Captain Simran Singh Gujral, an Air India official who sounded distressed.

He shared how he was being harassed at Madrid Airport, where officials were asking him to remove his turban; they were manhandling him and disrespecting his religious faith despite him passing the metal detector test. He sought my help in that moment.

It was 12:30 am and I immediately tweeted about the situation, seeking help from the country’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar Ji. A few minutes later, I got Captain Gujral’s message that he had been given the go-ahead at the airport but the experience had already left its scars.

Had it been a stand-alone incident, I would have forgotten about it. But such incidents happen so frequently in Europe and the US that I feel like starting a conversation around it.

Why are Sikhs treated in such a biased and racial manner despite them being the leaders in all humanitarian causes? Sikhs are the first ones to offer help to the needy; can we forget how Sikhs were the front-runners in helping the victims of the Manchester and Paris attacks?

Wherever there is a natural calamity, Sikhs reach out very first and serve food/water and medicine without any bias or agenda. If the world recognizes the selfless service of turban wearers, why are some countries still so averse to the people donning these turbans?

The world is full of people who make Sikhism and turbans famous. Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, the first Sikh deputy in Harris County, who was assassinated while doing his duty, was known for his humanitarian contributions to Texas.

He was a unifying figure in the Houston area and even the non-Sikh population mourned his death and came forward to support his family. Recently, we all saw how top leaders of the world adorned the turban as part of the 550th Parkash Purab celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Yet, the people in Europe continue to play their ignorance card when it comes to Sikhs and disrespect the turban. Western culture hasn’t accepted our turban, more because of their racist attitude, and less because of the fear element.

I have been raising my voice against such incidents for the last few years. In 2016 as well, I wrote a letter to the US ambassador regarding an incident of disrespect of the turban and a Sikh boy at a US airport. In the same year, Sikh American actor and model Waris Ahluwalia was barred from a flight for refusing to remove his turban.

The turban is a part of the Sikh identity and asking any Sikh to remove it is racial prejudice. Such incidents are happening a lot these days and it is not at all because of ignorance. First-world countries enjoy looking down on us because of our turban.

Let me share with everyone why Sikhs wear a turban: it is a blessing of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who wanted to promote equality in an era when only nobility wore turbans. So he asked his Khalsa warriors to wear turbans to reflect the fact that a Khalsa (Sikh) believes in equality and respect.

As a devout Sikh, I value my turban more than my life; quoting a famous Shabad “Sir Jaave Ta Jaave Mera Sikhi Sidak Na Jave,” which means that “I am willing to sacrifice my head; but I must not lose my Sikh way of life.” The turban is a way of life for Sikhs and I would be happy to be part of a world that accepts my turban, respects it, and reflects on the emotional commitment of Sikhs’ attire.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/474567-madrid-airport-sikh-turban/

Hindustan Times – Row over Sarna, DSGMC nagar kirtans: PSGPC gives nod to Sarna-led nagar kirtan in Pakistan, ‘ignores’ DSGMC

Anil Sharma

New Delhi – India, 08 September 2019. The Pakistan government has given permission to former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Manage Committee (DSGMC), Paramjit Singh Sarna, to hold nagar kirtan (Sikh religious procession) from Wagah border to Nankana Sahib, birth place of Guru Nanak, in Pakistan.

The procession will be accorded warm welcome, said Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) chief Satwant Singh in a video posted on his Facebook page on Saturday.

Sarna has planned the procession from Gurdwara Nanak Piao in New Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan on October 28. Similarly, DSGMC’s president and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Rajouri Garden, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, has also planned a separate nagar kirtan from Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi to Nankana Sahib on 13 October.

This has been the point of contention for the two separate groups of the Sikh community in the national capital.

“Pakistan government had already given permission to Sarna for holding the procession. The procession will reach Nankana Sahib through Wagah border on October 31.

A meeting of PSGPC and Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) was held with the government of Punjab on August 27. It was decided in the meeting that PSGPC, Sikh sangat and Pakistan government will welcome the procession. Pakistan government will also provide all kind of facility to the sangat of the procession,” said the PSGPC chief.

He also appealed in the video to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), jathedars of five Takhts (five temporal seats of Sikhs), and DSGMC to join the Sarna-led procession.

Satwant Singh, however, did not mention a word about the procession being organised by the DSGMC though it is scheduled on 13 October, much earlier than the procession led by Sarna.

On Saturday, Sarna was in Amritsar. He showed a copy of permission from Pakistan government and said, “Only we have permission from Pakistan government to hold the procession while Sirsa has been fooling the Sikh sangat.

I will complain to the jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh, for taking action against Sirsa, who has not received any nod from Pakistan government regarding his procession.”

Earlier, during the SGPC’s nagar kirtan, which was taken out from Nankana Sahib in Pakistan on August 31, a confusion had erupted on 30 August in the neighbouring country over the procession’s permission when ETPB feigned ignorance about Sikh institutions, SGPC and DSGPC, saying they had no official communication about the procession.

However, on 31 August, the Pakistan government gave permission for the procession but not before heated arguments ensued between officials of the ETPB and heads of the SGPC and DSGMC.

Taking to HT, Sirsa said, “Sarna is playing into the hands of Pakistan just to defame Indian government. He has not followed the proper procedure and had not sought permission from Indian government. We are the one following the rules and regulations. We have applied through our government and we are expected to get the permission within next few days.”

“When Sarna was president of DSGMC, it had applied to Union home ministry for taking out a similar procession in 2005. We have followed the same rules. When we had taken out the procession from Nankana Sahib on August 31, the same procedure was followed,” he added.

He said, “Sarna has not taken permission from Indian government and he might face obstacle in taking out the procession to Pakistan. And it may give Sarna a chance to defame Indian government.”

https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/row-over-sarna-dsgmc-nagar-kirtans-psgpc-gives-nod-to-sarna-led-nagar-kirtan-in-pak-ignores-dsgmc/story-yCWfet1WZfWEPIBKKLQYyM.html

The Tribune – Manjinder Singh Sirsa: Centre has agreed to probe Kamal Nath’s role in ’84 riots

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 15 June 2019. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjinder Singh Sirsa today claimed that the Home Ministry agreed to ask the SIT to investigate afresh case against Madhya Pradesh CM and Congress leader Kamal Nath for his alleged involvement in the anti-Sikh riots.

The SIT was constituted by the Home Ministry to investigate closed cases of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He said the name of Kamal Nath was deliberately not mentioned in the FIR (601/84) registered on November 1, 1984, for killing two Sikhs in Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib.

Addressing the media, Sirsa said the DSGMC approached the SIT for FIR against Kamal Nath, but due to technical problems the FIR was not lodged. Now the Centre had agreed to initiate an inquiry.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sirsa-centre-has-agreed-to-probe-nath-s-role-in-84-riots/788507.html

The Tribune – Management board of Takht Patna Sahib – Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Commission

Board meet of Patna Sahib Takht on controversial Jathedar today

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 04 March 2019. The management board of Takht Patna Sahib may take a significant decision pertaining to controversial Takht Jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh in its meeting scheduled for March 5.

Giani Iqbal Singh had withdrawn his resignation hours after submitting it to the general secretary of the board, M S Dhillon, and continued to perform his duty as Jathedar of the Takht.

While the seven-member committee, constituted by Akal Takht to probe allegations levelled against Giani Iqbal Singh has submitted its report, it was being viewed that this could be the base to initiate any move by the board.

It has been learnt that the three members of the committee had gone to Patna to record Giani Iqbal Singh’s statement over the charges against him, yet the latter refused to comment while asserting that he had already quit the position.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/board-meet-of-patna-sahib-takht-on-controversial-jathedar-today/738099.html

Sirsa likely to be new president of DSGMC

Syed Ali Ahmed, Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 04 March 2019. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee’s (DSGMC) executive board members election is to be held on 09 March and Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who has been serving the committee as general secretary for the past six years, is likely to be elected as president.

He will be the first Jat DSGMC president in the history of the Delhi Gurdwara Act, sources said.

Sirsa, who is BJP MLA from Rajouri Garden, is also national spokesperson for the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and considered to be close to the party high command, Sukhbir Singh Badal, sources said.

According to the sources, he has created history by defeating SADD president Paramjit Singh Sarna, former president of the DSGMC twice. He gained popularity by helping people in his assembly as well as his DSGMC ward Punjabi Bagh.

Senior leaders in the Delhi unit of the SAD are of the opinion that Sirsa’s quality is that he never lingers the work. He helps everybody without giving second thought. Another thing that moves round-the-corner that if he is elected president financial condition of the DSGMC will be improved much.

Now the question before the committee members is who will be general secretary of the committee. A rumour moves round-the-corner that Harmeet Singh Kalka is likely to be elected as general secretary. During previous tenure he was vice-president, the sources said.

At present, Kalka is serving the committee as working president.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sirsa-likely-to-be-new-president-of-dsgmc/738256.html

The Tribune – Don’t meddle in gurdwara affairs, SAD warns BJP

Threatens to ‘sacrifice alliance’

Aditi Tandon, Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 30 January 2019. The Shiromani Akali Dal on Wednesday threatened the ruling BJP of a potential breakdown of alliance if it didn’t stop interfering in the management of gurdwaras.

Akali Dal spokesperson and party lawmaker from Delhi Manjinder Singh Sirsa issued a statement here slamming the BJP for installing its own people at Takht Hazoor Saheb, Nanded, and said “the sanctity of our shrines is more important to us than positions and alliances.

If the BJP doesn’t stop interfering in gurdwaras, we will not hesitate in sacrificing our alliance.”

The Akali Dal recently petitioned BJP chief against the inclusion of three central government nominees in the management of Patna Sahib Gurdwara.

The BJP ally in Punjab is now agitating an amendment to the related laws in BJP-ruled Maharashtra, which seeks to instal a president at Takht Hazoor Saheb, Nanded.

Sirsa cited the 1959 pact between Master Tara Singh and then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to say the agreement was that the Centre won’t interfere in Sikh religious affairs.

“Sikhs across the world are agitated with this attempt of the BJP Government to capture our gurdwaras. We don’t want MP, MLA positions. We don’t want alliances. In the path of religious duty nothing matters more to us than our service to the Panth. We are constrained to warn the BJP against this interference,” Sirsa told The Tribune on Wednesday, aggravating BJP’s persisting ally troubles.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/don-t-meddle-in-gurdwara-affairs-sad-warns-bjp/721208.html

NDTV – Controversy over Jagdish Tytler in front row at Sheila Dikshit’s takeover

Jagdish Tytler has virtually been a persistent embarrassment for the Congress, which has been pummeled by the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party and other parties over allegations of shielding its leaders accused in the anti-Sikh riots.

New Delhi – India, 16 January 2019. As Sheila Dikshit took charge as Delhi Congress chief today, the presence of 1984 riots-accused Jagdish Tytler at the event became controversial. Mr Tytler, 74, was seen in the front rows, which provoked criticism that the Congress was “again rubbing salt into the wounds of Sikhs”.

“Why should he not come, we are privileged to have him here,” Ms Dikshit said in a comment that was instantly attacked.

Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, an ally of the ruling BJP, said: “Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi, Tytler was their right hand man. It is a clear signal to Sikhs of the country.”

Another leader of her Akali Dal, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, said the Congress deliberately had Mr Tytler in the forefront to intimidate 1984 witnesses. “The Congress wants to send a message to the witnesses that the party high command supports Tytler and nobody should even try to testify against him,” he said.

Mr Tytler, a former union minister, has been a persistent embarrassment for the Congress, which has been pummelled by the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and other parties over allegations of shielding its leaders accused in the anti-Sikh riots.

At least 3,000 people were killed in the violence that erupted in the aftermath of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.

Mr Tytler argues that the charges against him have not been proved. “What can a man say when the Court has given a verdict. You also mention my name. Why? Is there an FIR? Is there a case? No? Then why do you take my name? Someone said that and you believed it,” he told reporters indignantly.

But he has been accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of inciting a mob that killed three persons. The CBI later tried to close the case but the court has not accepted it.

Mr Tytler became a minister in the Manmohan Singh government in 2004 but had to quit as the 1984 riot allegations kept dogging him.

The allegations came back to haunt the party after another riot-accused leader, Sajjan Kumar, was sentenced to life in jail in December by the Delhi High Court, which cancelled an earlier court order letting him off.

Mr Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were both accused by riot victims of leading mobs and goading them to target Sikhs in Delhi.

Kamal Nath, another Congress leader whose name has come up in witness accounts, faced protests after he was picked by party president Rahul Gandhi as Madhya Pradesh chief minister.

In April last, Mr Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were asked to leave the stage before Rahul Gandhi’s arrival for a protest fast at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat in Delhi.

They were ordered to sit below, with ordinary Congress workers.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/at-sheila-dikshits-takeover-front-row-seat-for-jagdish-tytler-sparks-row-1978467