BBC News – Scot back in police custody in India over fresh claims

Glasgow, 17 November 2017.  A Scottish Sikh is back in police custody in India, following new allegations against him.

Jagtar Singh Johal, 30, has been in custody for a fortnight. He appeared in court early on Friday and was sent to prison until 30 November.

However, he was returned to court to face new allegations over the death of a Christian priest in 2015.

He has not been charged with any crime and his lawyer claims his client has been tortured by police.

Indian police have accused Mr Johal of financing the purchase of weapons used to kill Hindu leaders, but his lawyer said he is now accused of involvement in the death of a priest in Ludhiana in July 2015.

Mr Johal was taken from a street in the Indian state on 4 November.

His family say he was there on holiday having married in the region in October.

Appearing earlier on Friday, Mr Johal was presented at a lower court in Bagha Purana, Moga.

He entered the court room flanked by half a dozen Punjabi officers.

Prosecutors did not ask for Mr Johal’s police custody to be extended.

During the brief hearing, he was transferred from police to judicial custody after the judge questioned the prosecution about claims the accused was tortured.

A British High Commission official was also in court and met with the accused.

The court also allowed Mr Johal’s mother-in-law and father-in-law to meet him briefly.

‘Concerns of torture’

Campaigners have called for the immediate intervention of the British Foreign Office in the case.

On Thursday about 400 British Sikhs demonstrated outside the Foreign Office in London demanding more be done to help him.

The Sikh Federation said it feared Mr Johal was being targeted over his work highlighting the Sikh genocide in 1984.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Our consular staff in New Delhi have visited a British man who has been detained in Punjab. We have met his family to update them, and have confirmed that he now has access to his lawyer.”

On allegations of torture, the spokesman added: “We take all allegations or concerns of torture and mistreatment very seriously and will follow up with action as appropriate.

“When considering how to act, we will avoid any action that might put the individual in question or any other person that may be affected at risk.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-42023302

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Sikh Federation – British Sikhs move a step closer to get separate Sikh ethnic tick box for the 2021 Census

On 23 October the Sikh community moved a step closer to securing a separate Sikh ethnic tick box in the 2021 Census after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) called an open meeting of stakeholders to update them on progress.

Around 80 or so Sikh representatives from a wide-range of Sikh organisations participated. By the end of the evening the ONS was left in no doubt concerning the level of support for a separate Sikh ethnic tick box with many accusing the ONS of discrimination for ignoring the fact that Sikhs are a legally recognised ethnic group.

In a show of hands virtually all present called for a Sikh tick box in the ethnicity question and to also retain the optional religious question. Only two Sikhs present, both from the Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), dissented with one calling for a Sikh tick box under religion only and the other calling for a Sikh tick box under ethnicity only.

Lord Singh, the head of the NSO, became a laughing stock by ignoring the legal reality by arguing Sikhs were simply a religion and not an ethnic group. At the end he showed he had either totally lost the plot by being the one person calling for a Sikh tick box under ethnicity only or he had made a dramatic U-turn.

The overall conclusion was consistent with what the Sikh Federation (UK) and The Sikh Network have been telling ONS over the last three years. 93.5% of the 4,500+ respondents to the UK Sikh Survey last year stated they wanted a Sikh ethnic tick box and 19 out of 20 preferred to be identified as Sikh rather than Indian or Asian given the choice.

Many in the Sikh community have been saying for over a decade the claims by the NSO that it ‘represents’ 130 organisations is false. In the Census consultation process this has become crystal clear. None of the so-called 130 organisations the NSO claims to represent responded to the ONS consultation or turned up yesterday.

This has much wider implications across government where the NSO and Lord Singh’s standing has declined.

The ONS had completely downplayed the results of the test they carried out earlier this year at 40,000 households in Hounslow and Wolverhampton at previous meetings. The main reason for this was because the Sikh Federation (UK) and The Sikh Network had pointed out a number of shortcomings.

Surprisingly the ONS presented the results from the test yesterday without reflecting some of the caveats. Sikhs from the Sikh Federation (UK) and The Sikh Network were then forced to expose some of the serious limitations of the test.

These included:

An overall response rate lower than expected at 13.4%. The Census is compulsory with the Census 2011 having a response rate of 94%.

Only 4.3% of the respondents were from Sikh households (the target population) and significantly lower than the 10% expected based on the estimated Sikh population in Hounslow and Wolverhampton.

Trying to arrive at a meaningful conclusion on such an important matter based on only 228 responses from Sikh households was totally inadequate.

The test proved too confusing.

The online test of the ethnic group question with a Sikh tick box was also flawed as it failed to recognise many respondents given the previous census options since 1991 have become accustomed to stating their ethnicity under the ‘Asian/Asian British’ category rather than ‘Other ethnic group’ category that came after and contained a sub-option of Sikh.

The only meaningful conclusion from the test is the number identifying as Sikh when adding a Sikh tick box more than doubled from 11.6% to 24.3% highlighting that there is a need for the tick box. This would increase with appropriate publicity and information in Punjabi that would naturally accompany the actual census.

https://sikhsiyasat.net/2017/10/25/british-sikhs-move-step-closer-get-separate-sikh-ethnic-tick-box-2021-census/

Sikh Federation – Cabinet Office Minister needs to improve his understanding of the legal status of Sikhs

London, 11 October 2017. Yesterday Preet Kaur Gill MP challenged the Cabinet Office Minister Rt. Hon. Damian Green in Parliament on the failure of public bodies to monitor Sikhs as part of the Race Disparity Audit. His response showed his lack of understanding of the legal status of Sikhs as an ethnic group as well as a religion.

Preet Kaur Gill the Labour MP from Birmingham, Edgbaston and the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs asked:

“Why have Sikhs, who are recognised as a separate ethnic group in legislation, been excluded from the audit? Will he put that right by ensuring that Sikhs are not further discriminated against and that the 2021 census will include a Sikh ethnic tick box?

Damian Green replied: “Religion is not routinely collected in many of the 130 data sets, so it would be impossible to include. It is not a question of excluding any particular group.”

This demonstrated the Minister who must in the next few months recommend to Parliament the Census 2021 questions does not understand the legal status of Sikhs as not only a religion, but also as an ethnic group.

Watch the relevant clip from the debate using the link below:

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Posted by:
Sikh Federation
<sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk>

Express & Star – Tipton school bans boy from wearing Sikh bangle

An eight-year-old boy has been banned from wearing his Sikh bangle to school as it is considered to be jewellery and against its uniform policy

Richard Guttridge

Tipton, 2 October 2017. Kaiden Singh was told by teachers at Summerhill Primary School in Tipton he would not be allowed to wear his Kara – a silver [steel] bracelet worn by many Sikhs as a symbol of faith and one of the religion’s ‘five Ks’.

The school is now facing a backlash from Kaiden’s parents and The Sikh Federation which insists the pupil has a legal right to wear the bangle.

Headteacher Kerry Rochester said his parents signed an agreement stating they accepted the school’s uniform policy and that a meeting had been planned for this week to discuss the matter further.

Kaiden’s father Sunnie Singh claimed his son was told to remove the Kara when he started at Summerhill last month.

The Sikh Federation has waded into the row and warned the school could be in for a legal battle if it does not change its stance, citing a case in Wales in 2008 when a 14-year-old girl won a High Court discrimination claim after being told to remove her Kara.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation UK, said: “Summerhill Primary School in Tipton may not be aware of the legal ruling. We suggest the school headteacher and governors urgently reverse their decision as legal advise will confirm eight-year-old Kaiden Singh has the legal right to wear his Kara to school.

“If this case ends up in court it could cost the school hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money and also see a few heads role in senior positions at the school.”

Miss Rochester said: “Our school uniform policy does state no jewellery, only ear studs if a child has pierced ears.

“All parents are made aware of this when they send their children to our school. And, as with all parents, Kaiden’s mum and dad signed the school’s agreement form accepting our policies when he started in September.

“We are a bit taken aback by this because we do consider religious items and we had arranged to meet Kaiden’s parents on Wednesday to discuss the matter with them.”

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/sandwell/tipton/2017/10/02/tipton-school-bans-boy-from-wearing-sikh-bangle/#37GYKWig3SMgxi4B.99

Sikh Federation – Political parties need to do much more if Parliament is to be more like the people it represents

London, 25 September 2017. We need many more women in Parliament for it to be more like the people it represents. In the General Election earlier this year the Labour Party increased the number of women MPs by 20 and reached an impressive 45% and close to the magic 50:50.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives went backwards and only have 67 women out of 317. This was one down on 2015.
As we approach the 100th anniversary of when women won the right to vote political parties need to reflect where they stand in terms of the gender equality agenda. We have the highest-ever number of female MPs with the number at 208 and over 200 for the first time. Women MPs however only number 32% overall and women remain under represented.

The main political parties all need to address this, but some have much more to do than Labour. At the current rate of progress it could take another 100 years to get gender equality with the largest party the Conservatives at only 21% being by far the biggest stumbling block, despite having women in key positions, including the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Education.

Labour is leading the way with 45% of their 262 MPs being women. This is largely due to the all-women shortlist policy that divides opinion, but Labour has stood up to the criticism and the numbers prove they were right to take positive action to get change. Labour are followed by the SNP with 34% of their 35 MPs and the Liberal Democrats with 33% of their 12 MPs.

30 years ago prior to the General Election in 1987 it is difficult to imagine that there was not a single non-white MP. In 1987 four non-white MPs, Dianne Abbott, Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant and Keith Vaz were elected and all were Labour.

The situation with ethnic minorities continues to improve with 11 new MPs from non-white backgrounds at the last general election, taking the total to 52, but if the House of Commons is to be representative the number needs to at least double.

Although the number of ethnic minority MPs has improved all the political parties are not doing enough by acknowledging the under representation of BAME MPs is worse than that of women.

Given the trend in population statistics the BAME community is probably now around 15%. Labour are again leading the way with 32 or 12% of their 262 MPs being BAME. The Conservatives are again lagging well behind with only 19 or 6% of their 317 MPs being BAME.

The only other BAME MP is a Liberal Democrat, putting them at 8% (1 out of 12) and slightly ahead of the Conservatives. Although the BAME community in Scotland is smaller, probably at around 6%, sadly none of the 35 SNP MPs are BAME with the one SNP BAME losing her seat last time around.

In fact none of the 59 MPS from Scotland are BAME, although the population numbers would suggest the need for 3 or 4 BAME MPs if Westminster is to be more like the people it represents.

The Labour NEC agreed last week that 46 of the candidates for the 76 key marginals being targeted will be picked from all-women shortlists to deliver gender balance. There is and should be broad support to increase the number of female candidates in winnable seats, however is enough being done for BAME representation.

Some within Labour argue for all-BAME shortlists, but we think this is unlikely to happen and believe there is another solution that has been tested.

Earlier this year the Labour NEC showed immense courage in the face of stiff opposition in taking the extraordinary and controversial step of moving away from the all-women shortlist in Slough by making the shortlist women and BAME given the broader aim of needing to improve both women and BAME representation.

This resulted in the first (male) turban wearing Sikh MP.

If Labour is to form the next government it should emphasise that it is the party that not only talks about gender and racial equality, but delivers on both fronts. If the other main political parties are unable or unwilling to take radical steps, especially the Conservatives, Labour’s record on equality would appeal to women, ethnic minority and younger voters.

In the 21st Century voters rather than wait another 100 years could then throw out any party unable to deliver on equality in the candidates they select at the next General Election that could come as early as next year.

Before the last general election there were no Sikh MPs in the Commons when population numbers suggest there should be seven or eight MPs. Positive action by the Labour leadership now means Sikhs have two MPs – the first turban wearing Sikh MP and the first Sikh woman MP.

The Labour decision on all-women shortlists may be great for female BAME candidates, but lock out of the Commons much needed and excellent male BAME MP candidates.

For example, it appears Kuldip Singh Sahota the former council leader in Telford who narrowly missed out on taking Telford for Labour by 720 votes has been shut out by the all-women shortlist decision.

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

“All the main political parties need to take radical steps to deliver on gender and racial equality. Numbers do not lie. The Labour leadership is showing the way, but should be brave and bold and move to “all-women/BAME shortlists” or it will make it much harder for the likes of the Sikh community to get fair representation.”

Parliament is not just about the Commons. Next month the Lords Speaker’s committee is expected to recommend compulsory retirement for members over the age of 80. Whilst the majority that will be retired will be white men an unintended consequence of the clear out of older members will mean no Sikh representation in the Lords with both Sikh Lords facing the axe.

This would be a damning indictment on the Upper House and political parties who decide on many of those to be in the Lords.

Bhai Amrik Singh, continued:

“Despite the size and excellent reputation of the well-established Sikh community we are hugely under represented in both Houses. It is important for the main political parties to agree and announce next month alongside the reforms their plans on how they will increase Sikh representation in the House of Lords.”

“If the leaders of political parties are genuinely serious about equality and better representation they should work together and nominate the best talent to the ‘other place’ and address the continued under representation in Parliament as a whole.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

www.sikhfeduk.com |sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk |
facebook.com/Sikh Federation UK | twitter @Sikhfeduk

Note: The much smaller Jewish community has 29 Lords (and 15 MPs), the Hindu community that is comparable in size has 18 Lords (and around a dozen MPs) and the larger Muslim community has 17 Lords (and around 18 MPs). The Sikh population is around 1%, but only has two MPs and could soon be without any Lords.

Posted by: sikh federation <sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk>

Sikh Federation – Over 25 000 to gather to remember victims of the 1984 Sikh genocide

On eve of General Election legal and political pressure to be increased for independent public inquiry into Margaret Thatcher’s complicity in the 1984 Sikh Genocide and anti-Sikh measures against British Sikh activists.

International pressure to be increased for a UN-led investigation into the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

Renewed efforts to present a case under international law for the establishment of an independent Sikh state, Khalistan to act as a buffer between India and Pakistan.

One minute silence at around 3 pm for all the innocent civilians killed in 1984 Sikh Genocide, in Manchester and last night in London.

The theme of the annual event is Truth, Justice and Freedom.

Truth will focus on the need for a judge-led independent public inquiry into UK involvement in the attack and anti-Sikh measures against the British Sikh community and activists following pressure from the Indian authorities in return for trade.

Further details will be revealed about the ongoing legal action and political campaign for an independent public inquiry to get to the truth of UK involvement.

The Labour Party has committed in its 2017 General Election manifesto to hold an independent public inquiry into the actions of the UK Government.

A senior figure in the Labour Party is expected to address the 25 000 Sikhs gathered in Trafalgar Square a few days before the General Election on 8 June and confirm the inquiry will also address restrictions imposed on British Sikhs in the UK.

Justice will focus on the need for a UN-led investigation into the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

Those gathered for the event will be told using the definition of Genocide in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide 1948 the series of events in June 1984, the killings and disappearances in the months that followed and the systematic and deliberate killing of innocent Sikhs in November 1984, separately and collectively constitute Genocide.

The Sikh Federation (UK) will disclose at the rally in Trafalgar Square they have been lobbying the five permanent members of the UN Security Council for a UN-led inquiry into the atrocities committed by the Indian authorities in 1984.

Freedom will focus on the right to self determination being a basic human right founded in international law and absolutely fundamental to the protection of individual rights.

Those gathered will be told 70 years ago in 1947 and despite a number of extant Anglo-Sikh friendship treaties Britain illegitimately divided the Sikh homeland during the disaster of Partition and created India and Pakistan.

For more than 35 years the Sikhs made substantial efforts aimed at securing greater rights within India. The demands for greater autonomy for Punjab were not only violently rejected by the Indian State but have been crushed with Indian state terror.

India has refused to change its Constitution and have legal safeguards for the culture, language and religion of the Sikhs and lost the right to rely on the territorial integrity argument by oppressing the minority Sikh community.

Those present will be told that following the recent criticism of India at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Narendra Modi-led Indian Government at the UN Human Rights Council that UN member states have an appetite to push for accountability and change.

On 6 June a written submission will be presented to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – UK, US, UK, France, China and Russia. It will be communicated that international law and the experience of the Sikhs over the last 70 years is the basis on which Sikhs have a legitimate demand for an independent state.

The UK Government will be pressed that it has a historic, legal and moral responsibility towards the Sikhs to help through diplomatic means and respect for international law to resolve a conflict that still continues.

There will also be a push for UN rapporteurs and independent experts to carry out independent investigations into the torture, disappearances, false encounters and extra-judicial executions.

Note 1 – 1984 Sikh Genocide

In 1984 up to 150,000 Indian army troops were sent to Punjab, the Sikh homeland, equipped with helicopter gunships and tanks. Punjab was cut off from the rest of the world. 24-hour curfews were imposed, all telephone and telex lines cut, all Indian journalists were expelled and orders to shoot on site were widely carried out.

As the Christian Science Monitor stated on 8 June 1984 ‘the whole of Punjab, with its 5,000 villages and 50 major cities, was turned into a concentration camp’.

Operation Blue Star in June 1984 resulted in over 125 other Sikh shrines being simultaneously attacked on the false pretext of apprehending ‘a handful of militants’ lodged inside the Sri Harmandir Sahib or Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar.

The Indian army unleashed a terror unprecedented in post-independence India. Tanks let loose a barrage of highly explosive shells, which destroyed the Sri Akal Takht Sahib, the temporal seat of the Sikhs.

The timing chosen for the attack was when Sikhs were marking the Martyrdom of the Fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji when it was known tens of thousands of Sikh and non-Sikh pilgrims would be in Amritsar.

Thousands of innocent pilgrims, men, women and children were killed, some shot at point blank range with their hands tied behind their backs with their turbans. An estimated 11,000 pilgrims never returned to claim their shoes.

Operation Woodrose was launched concurrently by the Indian army in the countryside when tens of thousands of Sikhs, overwhelmingly young men aged 15-35, were detained for interrogation and subsequently tortured and many killed.

According to Dr Sangat Singh, Joint Intelligence Committee, about 100,000 youth were taken into custody within the first 4 to 6 weeks of the operation and that many of them were not heard of again. The operation continued for another 8 to 10 weeks and ended in September 1984.

For 33 years UN rapporteurs and independent experts as well as Amnesty International have been denied access to Punjab to investigate widespread allegations of torture, disappearances, false encounters and extra-judicial executions.

In November 1984 we had the systematic killing of an estimated 30,000 innocent Sikhs across India. Most were burnt alive in 18 states and in over 130 cities across India. Sikhs on public roads were burnt alive, dragged out from trains and lynched on the railway platforms and set on fire.

Property worth millions was looted and destroyed. Hundreds of Sikh women were gang raped by goons, police officers and civil administrators. Small children were ruthlessly killed by pulling their legs apart while their mothers were being raped. More than 300,000 Sikhs were displaced and rendered homeless.

Hundreds of Gurdwaras and the living Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh scriptures was burnt and desecrated in a systematic and planned way across India.

Note 2 – UK involvement and calls for an independent public inquiry

There was widespread shock in January 2014 when papers released under the 30-year rule revealed that the UK Government had directly assisted the Indian authorities in helping to plan the Indian army assault on Sri Harmandr Sahib that led to the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister immediately asked the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to carry out an internal review. However, before the report was published and presented to Parliament with unprecedented speed, concerns were publicly expressed about the narrow terms of reference for the review.

In particular the review had inherent limitations as it only examined files and documents available from December 1983 through to June 1984.

Cabinet papers in the months before December 1983 when defence-related sales to India were discussed were ignored. Similarly, Cabinet papers from November 1984 were brought to the attention of the Cabinet Secretary and clearly showed the British cabinet were under pressure from India with respect to trade of £5bn.

Details of the specific British military advice given in February 1984 have not been revealed, nor has the reason why the UK Government agreed to advise the Indian government on how to attack the Sikhs’ holiest shrine.

More recent disclosure of Cabinet Office and Foreign Office papers show how India continued to use potential arms sales to force the UK Government to try and curb activities of British Sikhs and further SAS support was offered by Britain to the Indian authorities immediately after the June 1984 massacre of Sikhs.

Of considerable concern is information looked at by the Cabinet Secretary in January 2014 remains deliberately withheld and is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings. The lack of openness strongly suggests they have something incriminating to hide and are worried about the reaction of Sikhs across the globe.

The 2014 internal review has been proved to be incomplete and unsatisfactory. It has now been revealed deliberate omissions were needed to safeguard Britain and India with respect to the treatment of Sikhs and many questions remain unanswered including the extent to which Parliament was misled in 1984 and 2014.

The legal and political campaign for an independent public inquiry to get to the truth of UK involvement continues. In June 2014 the Scottish Parliament voted for the UK Government to conduct an independent, fair and transparent inquiry.

The Labour Party has committed in its 2017 election manifesto to hold an independent public inquiry into the actions of the UK Government around the time of the June 1984 Indian Army attack on Sri Harmandr Sahib and the systematic killing of Sikhs in India in November 1984, as well as into restrictions imposed on British Sikhs in the UK.

The Labour leader in the election campaign said: “this is our opportunity in this manifesto to elect a government that is absolutely serious about uncovering the truth of what went on their on that terrible occasion.”

Note 3 – UN-led inquiry into the 1984 Sikh Genocide and independent investigations of widespread human rights violations in the Sikh homeland

The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in late December 2014 referred to what happen to the Sikhs in November 1984 as ‘Genocide’ and that ‘justice would be meted out to the victims only when the perpetrators of the crime are punished’ and ‘that until these persons are punished, victims will not get relief’.

33 years later there have been no independent inquiries in India into what happen in June 1984 or what followed. India’s judicial system and ten commissions have failed to bring justice to the victims of November 1984.

After nearly 33 years the organisers and perpetrators of the Sikh Genocide roam free, instead they have been promoted and held positions of power.

Using the definition of Genocide in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide 1948 the series of events in June 1984, the killings and disappearances in the months that followed and the systematic and deliberate killing of innocent Sikhs in November 1984, separately and collectively constitute Genocide.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are being lobbied for a UN-led inquiry into the atrocities committed by the Indian authorities in 1984 and for UN rapporteurs and independent experts to carry out independent investigations into the torture, disappearances, false encounters, extra-judicial executions and use by the police of criminals, goons, gangsters and smugglers to impersonate Sikh ‘militants’, widely known as Black Cats.

Note 4 – Sikh homeland, Khalistan is the only solution

Self determination is a basic human right founded in international law on which other human rights depend. The UN Human Rights Committee has stressed that the right of self-determination is absolutely fundamental to the protection of individual rights.

The UK Government working with other permanent members of the UN Security Council has a historic, legal and moral responsibility towards the Sikhs to help through diplomatic means and respect for international law to resolve a conflict that still continues.

India has lost the right to rely on the territorial integrity argument by oppressing the minority Sikh community and has failed to respect the political and human rights of the Sikhs in the Indian Constitution. Demands for greater autonomy for the Sikhs have been violently rejected and crushed with Indian state terror.

International law is the basis on which Sikhs have raised the demand for an independent state. The classic mechanism for implementing the right to self-determination is the use of a plebiscite.

The Sikhs have not of course been offered the opportunity but it is interesting to note that the former UK Indian High Commissioner, Kuldeep Nayar has admitted that if, after the horrors of 1984, the Sikhs were given a plebiscite they would have gone for an independent state.

Sikh Federation – Tens of thousands of Sikhs from across the UK will gather today in Trafalgar Square

Tens of thousands of Sikhs from across the UK will gather in Trafalgar Square in a show of defiance to terrorists to remember the tens of thousands of Sikhs who lost their lives in 1984 and innocents killed and injured in the last few weeks in Manchester and London.

London 4 June 2017. Over 25,000 Sikhs were due to gather in central London on Sunday 4 June to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the June 1984 attack on the Sri Harmandir Sahib Complex, often referred to as the Golden Temple Complex.

Sikhs were to gather in Hyde Park between 11am and 1pm followed by a remembrance march through central London before holding a massive freedom rally in Trafalgar Square between 2-5pm.

Having discussed arrangements for the Remembrance and Freedom event with the Metropolitan Police last night and this morning we have come to an agreed decision that the event will continue to show defiance to the state terrorism of 1984 and the current terrorist threat across the globe.

In recognition of the policing and security situation in London following the terror attacks last night we have however decided that the event will be a static event in Trafalgar Square form 12 noon to 5pm as a remembrance march in the circumstances is not appropriate.

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

“The massive gathering today in Trafalgar Square sends a strong and powerful message of defiance to all terrorists. No one will stop us remembering the tens of thousands of Sikhs who lost their lives in 1984”.

“We are grateful for the police support and cooperation. Trafalgar Square today will become a focal point for all freedom loving people. It is also be an opportunity to remember and to stand shoulder to shoulder with the innocents killed and injured in the last few weeks in Manchester and London”.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Sikh Federation – Labour resurgence expected to lead to several Sikh MPs

London, 25 May 2017

With less than two weeks of campaigning remaining before the General Election on 8 June it appears to be a clear two-horse race between the Conservatives and Labour in England.

If the trend of a national Labour revival continues alongside effective local campaigns the possibility of four Sikh MPs, three Labour and one Conservative, in two weeks time remains high.

In Wales the first two polls showed clear Conservative leads and indicated they were on course for a historic electoral breakthrough. The first was at the very start of the campaign and gave the Conservatives a ten point lead in Wales.

The most recent one following the resurgence of Labour conducted straight after the Conservative manifesto launch had Labour with a ten point lead. A projection of these figures would see Labour winning all its current seats in Wales and gaining Gower from the Conservatives.

The national opinion polls before the Manchester terror attack showed Labour had more or less halved the gap due to the popularity of some of the policies in the Labour manifesto and doubts and criticisms of controversial aspects of the Conservative manifesto.

All polls were before Theresa May’s embarrassing social care U-turn on a policy that was deemed by many as politically toxic. If the trend in polls continues over the next two weeks England could follow a similar pattern to that in Wales.

According to Labour candidates their manifesto compared to the Conservatives has given them all a boost. Labour’s education policies, limiting class sizes, extending free childcare and ensuring schools are properly resourced have been universally welcomed.

The abolition of tuition fees, the cap on rents and scrapping zero hour contracts have also struck a chord with many students, younger people and parents.

Bhai Narinderjit Singh, the General Secretary of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Given the latest U-turn many simply do not trust the Conservatives, whether this be health, social care, education or immigration.

No one yet knows the full damage of Conservative policies on older people with scrapping the triple lock on pensions, removing the winter fuel allowance and forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes, despite the apparent U-turn.

The state of the NHS, waiting times in A&E and schools facing crippling cuts and class sizes soaring is what has dominated on the doorsteps.”

“Theresa May was under fire for her policies and making the social care U-turn when campaigning ground to a halt with the terror attack. It is too early to know what if any impact there will be with local campaigning resuming today. There is no doubt the Manchester terror attack has cast a dark shadow over the general election campaign.”

Currently Tanamnjeet Singh Dhesi who is defending a 7,306 Labour majority in Slough is set to become the first turban wearing Sikh MP in the Commons. Unfortunately the feedback on the ground is there are concerns about how the race card is being played, but the continued resurgence of Labour should ensure a comfortable victory.

If the Labour resurgence continues Preet Kaur Gill the Labour candidate in Birmingham Edgbaston who is defending a majority of 2,706 (6.5%) and running an excellent local campaign should also be elected.

She said: “There has been a fantastic reaction of voters on the doorstep in Edgbaston who like Labour’s policies on protecting the NHS. Waiting lists, waiting times in A&E and treatment of junior doctors has been raised again and again.

Voters also recognise and appreciate our plans for transforming social care and addressing homelessness in Birmingham. I have been able to reassure voters and explain why securing a strong independent local Labour voice from Edgbaston on health and education is crucial.”

“I have confidence in the people of Edgbaston putting faith in someone local with a track record of delivery. It is clear from the hundreds of voters I have personally met since I started the campaign that local issues are extremely important and they have made clear they want someone like me to represent them that they know, can relate to and trust.”

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

“We are quietly confident history will be made in two weeks time and we will have our first turban wearing Sikh MP in Tanmanjeet and Preet will become the first Sikh woman MP. They are both hard working and run excellent campaigns. Preet in particular has had tremendous local support.

She is a great listener and the feedback we have been getting is despite the national position people in Edgbaston want someone local they can trust.”

In Wolverhampton South West with Rob Marris having stepped down for Labour Paul Uppal for the Conservatives is expected to easily overturn a Labour majority of 801 (2%) and return after a gap of two years.

The result in Telford is expected to be tight where Kuldip Singh Sahota, the former Labour leader of Telford & Wrekin Council is hoping to overturn a Conservative majority of 730.

Telford was traditionally a Labour stronghold. From the time it was created in 1997 until the election two years ago, it had always returned Labour MPs. So it was one of the biggest upsets of the 2015 election when Lucy Allan took the seat for the Conservatives with a slim majority.

Despite the Conservative lead in opinion polls Kuldip Singh Sahota could spring a surprise if he can get voters to focus on local issues, such as keeping open the accident and emergency unit at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

The race card is also at play in Telford, but whoever can motivate undecided voters to turn out and vote is probably the one that will win.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Sikh Federation – International community must recognise and respond to increasing threat and challenge of extreme Hindu nationalism in India

From: Sikh Federation (UK) sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk
To: sikh_news_discussion@yahoogroups.com

Right wing Indian politicians, cricketers and Bollywood stars join in abuse and fail to distance themselves from rape and death threats against dead army man’s daughter, 21-year old Gurmehar Kaur for her stance on peace and free speech

London, 1 March 2017. The Sikh Federation (UK) following the abuse and threats targeting 21-year old Gurmehar Kaur has written to the five permanent members of the United Nations and appealed to the international community to recognise the increasing threat and challenge of Hindutva.

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

“The international community and governments across the globe need to come together and recognise and stand up to the rising threat of extreme Hindu nationalism being openly promoted by the ruling establishment in India.”

“Indian politicians and officials appear to be able to intimidate and silence many individual governments with its threats, often linked to trade with India. Only countries like the United States and China are strong enough and prepared to openly criticise those running India, but it requires a collective effort to tackle the rising threat.”

“If the international community does not respond and extreme Hindu nationalists are allowed to literally get away with murdering minorities and those that stand up to them while they simply watch, this will become an international problem that could easily get out of control.”

“The BJP ruling party has now been allowed in the last three years to get away with supporting extreme actions by right wing Hindu groups.

Today a 21-year old Sikh student is not only being intimidated and ridiculed, but openly threatened with rape and murder. Those hounding her are being protected and encouraged by those with power and influence. She is standing up for peace and free speech while governments are choosing to coward away and be silent.”

Gurmehar Kaur, an English literature student and an ambassador for Postcards for Peace, a charitable organisation that helps eliminate any form of discrimination has reportedly left Delhi, after receiving threats of rape and murder.

She lost her father, Captain Mandeep Singh in an attack in 1999 when she was just two years old.

On Friday, she mounted a rather simple protest against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s (ABVP) violence at Ramjas College last week. ABVP is the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swamayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

She posted a picture of herself on a social media site holding up a placard that read: “I am a student of Delhi University. I am not afraid of the ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me.” Her post incited extreme reactions from the ruling establishment.

Rape and death threats have been made against her, but shockingly she has been ridiculed and trolled by celebrities like cricketer Virender Sehwag and mocked by Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda. One of the RSS’s top intellectuals, Rakesh Sinha, ludicrously said that Gurmehar Kaur was “trolling” her dead father.

The Union government rather than engaging with the serious issue being raised has resorted to bullying Gurmehar Kaur, with Minister Kiren Rijuju asking, “Who’s polluting this young girl’s mind?” BJP MP Pratap Simha outrageously compared Gurmehar Kaur to India’s most-wanted terrorist, Dawood Ibrahim.

The rise of Hindutva that started in the 1980s is not restricted to the ruling party and unleashed powerful forces.
Today, even cricketers, wrestlers, actors and social media users propagate its basic ideas. Foreign governments will be forced to respond as the Modi government in a more significant and worrying move has reached out to persons of Indian origin in foreign lands, making them a part of his political rhetoric.

Every time Modi holds a gala in New York or London with foreign politicians sucking up to him and gets American or British Hindus to support him. This overseas support is seen as approval for his Hindutva policies.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Sikh Federation – UK Governent condemned on handling of application to have ban lifted on International Sikh Youth Federation

Sikh Federation (UK) representatives who made the application praised by leading lawyer

London, 22 December 2016. David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in the last of his six annual reports released earlier this month into the operation of the Terrorism Acts has heavily criticised the UK Government on its handing of the application to have the ban removed on the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF).

The UK’s outgoing terror watchdog David Anderson QC in his damning 142-page report states: “It is . . . important that:

– Applications for deproscription are promptly handled, and statutory time limits respected.

– Deproscription must follow automatically, without regard for discretionary factors, if the statutory test (“is concerned in terrorism”) is not met.

– When an application for deproscription is refused by the Secretary of State, the fullest possible reasons are given so that the organisation in question can properly assess the prospects of appeal.

– Persons should not be put to the expense and uncertainty of resorting to the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission (POAC) unless the Government is prepared to defend its judgement and has the evidence confidently to do so.”

In his final report after six years in the influential post, David Anderson QC states: “None of these standards appears to have been met in the case of the application made on behalf of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) in February 2015.”

Last year he reported the application was not determined until almost three months after the expiry of the 90-day statutory time limit and the decision letter refusing the application for deproscription gave no detailed reasons, and none were provided on further request.

In a damning indictment he has pointed out that “remarkably, the Government presented no evidence to POAC in favour of its own positon. Indeed it elected not to defend the case in December 2015, on the final day appointed by POAC for the submission of such evidence.

Given the opportunity to state in Parliament whether new evidence had come to light by December 2015 . . . the Government declined to do so.”

David Anderson QC has made clear: “Without resorting to legal action, the ISYF would remain a proscribed organisation today” despite the complete absence of evidence. “The ISYF was fortunate to have both the resources to take the case to POAC, and sympathisers willing to put their head above the parapet. This will not be true of other organisations.”

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

“The leadership of the Sikh Federation (UK) were the ones who decided to challenge the UK Government and prove there was no evidence to retain the ban on the ISYF.”

“We were confident of a victory as we have discovered increasing evidence in the last two years under the 30-year rule of how the Indian authorities have in effect been using promises of trade since the mid-1980s and ‘blackmailing’ the UK Government to take wholly inappropriate and extreme anti-Sikh measures.”

“Many of these measures have been through the British intelligence services and police who have been working hand in glove with their Indian counter parts. We will do our best in 2017 to stat to reveal the truth behind the Anglo-Indian conspiracy against the Sikhs.”

“The actions taken collectively by the British and Indian authorities against the minority Sikh community are a complete disgrace given the huge contribution and sacrifices by Sikhs for freedoms in both the Indian sub-continent and Europe.”

“The words of the Prince of Wales today on the persecution of religious minorities are equally relevant to the Sikhs in the UK and India.”

“Ever since the ban in March 2001 we have kept in close contact initially with Lord Carlisle of Berriew CBE QC who held the position of terror watchdog for nine years and David Anderson QC for the last six years. As leading lawyers familiar with the politics they have understood and sympathised with our position.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)