Lord Singh

Lord Singh expands on concerns about “too much political correctness” regarding grooming gangs

Yesterday evening Lord Singh joined Sikh Youth UK on the Sikh Channel to follow up on his letter to The Times and discuss his belief about “a problem with the Pakistani Muslim community”.

Calling in to the weekly Sikh Youth Show, crossbench peer Lord Singh of Wimbledon spoke with sevadaars (selfless volunteers) of SYUK, along with Sikh Channel TV presenter and Sikh community figure Kam Singh, relaying his belief that Sarah Champion was sacked by the Labour Party for “simply speaking the truth” and “daring to speak up for victims”.

On the show, available to view via the link below, Lord Singh stated on the issue of grooming gangs in the UK,  “If we don’t look at what is happening we will never get anywhere. There is a problem with the Pakistani Muslim community. That is not to say that all Muslims are guilty, that is absolutely wrong. It is a small proportion of Muslims that behave in that way. But if anyone says it they are immediately branded a racist”.

Lord Singh was also damning of the Sikh community regarding perceived hesitations against speaking out about grooming gangs.

“Within our own Sikh community people play to political correctness or political affiliation before they dare say anything. We are Sikhs; we should be honest and speak for truth and justice. I speak up for all sorts of communities because human rights should be respected. It is obligatory for Sikhs not to put their head in the sand.”

Check out the full show here – https://youtu.be/lCoxy-pZFAQ (Lord Singh interview starts from 8.30 minutes in).

Lord Singh

Lord Singh speaks out against grooming gang roots cover-up

Letter from Network of Sikh Organisations slams Labour Party for  “the betrayal of victims, who are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness”.


Lord Singh of Wimbledon commended those “speaking up on a clear trend” of “the conviction of men of largely Pakistani Muslim heritage in sexual grooming cases” in a letter published in today’s Times.

The letter, which came via the Network of Sikh Organisations and was cosigned by six other religious groups, commended Sarah Champion and Amina Lone for highlighting the role of Pakistani Muslim men in cases of sexual grooming gangs, whilst also condemning the Labour Party, who sacked the two former members for speaking out.

Sikh organisations and individuals have openly claimed Sikh girls have been targeted because of their faith for decades, something addressed in the letter, with Lord Singh declaring “For decades, Hindu, Sikh, and Christian organisations have raised concerns about grooming gangs. The latter have plagued our communities, so much so that a BBC documentary on the targeting of Sikhs was aired a few years ago”. This is an issue that organisations like Sikh Youth UKSikh Helpline and Sikh Awareness Society (who cosigned the letter) still tackle to this day.

In the letter crossbench peer Lord Singh goes on to call Labour leadership “weak”, declaring “It’s not racist or Islamophobic to raise a matter of significant public concern” and that “we cannot ignore the race of the perpetrators, but neither can we ignore the fact that victims of sexual grooming gangs are almost always non-Muslim”.

The statement was welcomed by many within the Sikh community, much of whom feel tackling sexual grooming gangs is one of the most important issues of the public in the UK.

For more information or quotes from Sikh organisations named in this article, email Media@SikhPA.com.

Letter in full

Sir, 

We commend Sarah Champion and the Muslim councillor Amina Lone for speaking up on a clear trend in criminality: the conviction of men of largely Pakistani Muslim heritage in sexual grooming cases. Despite being sacked from the shadow cabinet, Champion continues to make a courageous stand (‘Left turns a blind eye to sex crimes, says MP’, Sep 2, ands ‘I’d rather be called a racist than turn a blind eye to child abuse’, Saturday interview). Rochdale, Rotherham, and recently Newcastle are examples of a significant number of convictions, highlighting an obvious pattern. However, it’s not just white girls who fall victim. For decades, Hindu, Sikh, and Christian organisations have raised concerns about grooming gangs. The latter have plagued our communities, so much so that a BBC documentary on the targeting of Sikhs was aired a few years ago. The common denominator is that victims almost always tend to be non-Muslim girls. We are dismayed by the Labour leadership’s weak response. We are not willing to see the betrayal of victims, who are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. It’s not racist or Islamophobic to raise a matter of significant public concern. Smearing those speaking an inconvenient truth is unacceptable. Champion is undoubtedly right that we cannot ignore the race of the perpetrators, but neither can we ignore the fact that victims of sexual grooming gangs are almost always non-Muslim.

LORD SINGH OF WIMBLEDON, Network of Sikh Organisations; MOHAN SINGH, Sikh Awareness Society; WILSON CHOWDHRY, British Pakistani Christian Association; SATISH SHARMA, National Council of Hindu Temples; ANIL BHANOT, Hindu Council UK; TRUPTI PATEL, Hindu Forum of Britain; ASHISH JOSHI, Sikh Media Monitoring Group.

Huff Post - sant ji headline

Responses to Huffington Post anti-Sant Jarnail Singh article

“The comparisons drawn by TS Sudhir between Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in a recent Huffington Post India article are erroneous at best, and calculated at worst.”
– Harwinder Singh, Naujawani.com. (full post linked below).


Note – we have not provided links to the anti-Sikh articles mentioned in this post to stop the pages from gaining further hits, which could in turn encourage outlets to publish such pieces.

On August 26 Huffington Post India published an article which compared revered Sikh saint Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale with recently convicted rapist and so-called spiritual leader Ram Rahim.

The article highly offended masses of the Sikh community and was also accused of blatant distortion of recent Indian history, specifically the events surrounding the rise of Sant Jarnail Singh which occurred in the 1980s. The article, written by TS Sudhir, was perceived as a typical example of the anti-Sikh rhetoric which Indian media often propagates. Recent examples of this include citing 84 year old hunger strike activist Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa as a “radical”, as well as labeling fabled Sikh school Damdami Taksal as “hardline”.

This week Sikh PA have been speaking directly with the Huffington Post India editorial team to discuss our concerns about the article. Following our discussions we can confirm the following;

  • Huffington Post India will publish a response we are working on with the National Sikh Youth Federation.
  • The original piece now includes a statement from ourselves.

Sikh PA Huff post statement

  • The headline has been changed, removing the comparison to Sant Jarnail Singh.
Huff Post - sant ji headline

The original headline.

Huff post - sant ji New headline

The new headline.

 

What exactly is wrong with the article?

Here we share some posts which specifically detail what is wrong with article.

A Nefarious Comparison

The following is a post by Harwdiner Singh, Senior Editor of Sikh social and political commentary news website Naujawani.com. Harwinder Singh points out inaccuracies in TS Sudhir’s piece, as well as highlighting how the tone of the article is nefariously anti-Sikh.

“The comparisons drawn by TS Sudhir between Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in a recent Huffington Post India article are erroneous at best, and calculated at worst. He takes great pains in his opening ambit to limit the comparisons to “the unholy culture of the politician-godmen nexus in India”. But his selective targeting of the subjects for the article exposes his unashamed blindness towards…”

Read the full post at https://naujawani.com/blog/a-nefarious-comparison.

 

Provocative Headlines can only go So Far…

Check out UK Sikh community figure Mankamal Singh explaining why the article will not impact the status of Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale to the Sikh community.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=888175294662947&id=100004114531945.

 

Ethical Journalism

Harjit Kaur, Sikh activist and Commissioner for Santa Clara County’s Domestic Violence Council in the State of California, made this statement in reference to the article by TS Sudhir.

“Ethical journalism ensures the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity. The article referenced falls short of this standard and the comparisons made are purely to demean and degrade Sikhs and Sikh history, while again stabbing at the raw wounds of 1984 and the Decade of Disappearances that followed.”

 

Ram Rahim is a “Singh”

Here you can see Harjinder Singh, Sikh educator and author, detail how India media coverage has looked to implicate the Sikh faith and community with Ram Rahim. Full thread on his Twitter.

 

Means to complain to Huffington Post

Here Sikh Youth Birmingham provide means for their followers to take complaints directly to Huffington Post.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1787630354598453&id=914482778579886

 

For any questions or further comment on this issue, email Media@SikhPA.com.

dm - sikh gang

Mail Online respond to our questions on inconsistent headlines

Earlier this month the Sikh Press Association began looking into the inconsistency of headlines by media outlets such as The Sun and Daily Mirror, in regards to the use of terms such as “Sikh and Asian”.

Today we can share a response from the Daily Mail managing editors team on this issue.

Firstly, the team who responded wish to make it clear “articles in the Daily Mail are regularly published by Mailonline, but the website generates a substantial amount of content of its own volition. The articles you cite were written solely by Mailonline journalists, though the stories themselves may well also have been covered by the paper in a different wording.”

The responding representative stated, “Mailonline have nothing but respect for the Sikh community, and the tremendous contribution it makes to British life. 

I’m therefore very sorry to hear that you, and the people you represent, are unhappy with the terminology utilised by Mailonline in the below articles. I am also very grateful to you for raising your concerns so directly with us, as it is very important to us to have constructive dialogue with all the communities we serve.”

The response went on to say they adhere to the “Editors’ Code of Practice, under which details of an individual’s race, colour or religion (though not nationality) are to be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.”

With this in mind, the headlines were clarified as such:

The use of “Sikh gang” in an article about passport scams by Afghanistani criminals was because “the fact the defendants were Sikh assisted them in their criminal endeavour”.

The use of “Asian gang” in an article about a sexual grooming gang from a predominantly Muslim background was because Mailonline “have no evidence to show that the gang were all Muslims”, whilst it was also claimed that a quote from one of the arrested groomers stated “‘All white women are good for one thing, for men like me to f*** and use as trash, that is all women like you are worth'” and this “suggested that their choice of women to abuse was based on racial rather than religious considerations, and therefore ‘Asian’ was more relevant than ‘Muslim’.”

Please note, the above statement directly contradicts the findings of groups like Sikh Youth UK, who continually tackle the issue and state that Sikh girls are often targeted by grooming gangs based on faith.

In an article about a Cardiff drug gang made up mainly of native Brits, no mention of faith or ethnicity was used, which Mailonline state was because “the ethnicity and religion of the Cardiff drug gang (on which, incidentally, we have no information) is irrelevant to the story and the case.”

Finally, in labelling self-proclaimed Sikh Harry Athwal a Brit in an article about his heroics after the Barcelona terror-attack, Mailonline stated it was because “His Sikhism is not mentioned by him” during their own interview with Harry Athwal (it was mentioned in his Good Morning Britain TV interview), whilst “His British nationality was deemed to be a detail worth focusing on, given the fact that events occurred abroad.”

This response follows our dialogue with The Sun on the same issue, who stated;
“The Sun recognises the hugely positive contribution that the Sikh community has made and continues to make to British society. Any fears that the Sikh community is being singled out are fundamentally misplaced.”

We were also asked to share stories which The Sun believes show positive examples of when the Sikh faith is referred to;

https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/709276/sikh-tv-presenter-is-riot-hero/

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3818287/lorraine-kelly-grenfell-tower-fire-hope-humanity/

And an example of The Sun providing education on Sikhi;

https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/3323057/vaisakhi-2017-sikh-festival-uk-date/

The Sikh Press Association thank Mail Online for making their justification on these headlines clear. We are glad the lines of communication between our organisations are now open for any future issues with these media outlets.

Cov Gurdwara

Statement on Coventry Telegraph allegations of Sikh “extremism”

Coventry Sikh community figure and media commentator speak on the article which linked Sikhs to support for ISIS.


Yesterday newspaper Coventry Telegraph released an article which associated the Sikh community with “extremism”, and at one point even supporting ISIS.

The Sikh Press Association understands this article was only based on a report on Gurdwara Guru Nanak Parkash by the Charities Commission, as well as quotes from Piara Singh Thabal, a trustee of the Gurdwara. The article centres on allegations of “extremism” by a group of Sikhs trying to take over the Gurdwara “by force”.

In order to put this article into context, the Sikh Press Association wish to clarify some details on the article, as well as sharing statements from Sikhs with a deeper understanding of these issues.

Dawinderpal Singh, a freelance journalist with over 10 years of experience in the world of media, feels the article itself was written without any concern for the Sikh community and with very little research into the issue.

“The Coventry Telegraph seemed to have leapt at the chance to associate the words ‘Sikh’ and ‘extremist’.

“The only information they have provided on what this extremism involved is ‘leaflets with guns on it’. The newspaper has no information on what was written on those leaflets. The charities commission may have stated they felt ‘extremist’ material was in the Gurdwara, but when did they become experts on this topic?

“The fact is, lots of Sikh literature can come with pictures of weapons. To view this as extreme is to be ignorant of the Sikh faith and Sikh history. At this year’s 1984 Sikh genocide remembrance rally in London, which took place the day after the Westminster terror attack, thousands of Sikh men, women and children wore t-shirts and waved flags with guns on them. Were they all extremists?

“Media outlets and institutions like the charities commission need to do more to understand the relationship between Gurdwara committees and the Sikh community. Protests against committees are very common. It is absurd for anyone to take the opinion of a committee and hold that against a community that may be challenging their position of power.”

 

Hardip Singh Khalsa, a respected Coventry based Sikh community figure, is a Kirtani (devotional religious music singer) who is a regular at the Gurdwara in question. In his opinion, the issues in the Gurdwara come down to the current committee ostracising members of the congregation.

“Allegations of pressure from extremists is a huge exaggeration, whilst any relation to ISIS propaganda or ISIS supporters in the Gurdwara is something no one in Coventry except that committee member seems to have seen. It is terrible to see this random allegation make a newspaper.

“The current committee started getting problems from members of the Sikh community after they shutdown educational programs. There is an annual march in remembrance of victims of the Indian Army’s attack on Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) in London every year and it was leaflets of this event which the committee have outrageously labelled as extremist propaganda.

“The real issue is that the committee members – even when prompted with petitions and referred to points in the Gurdwara’s own constitution – have simply shut out any dialogue with other Sikh groups about how the Gurdwara is run. A Gurdwara is meant to be somewhere for education, sanctuary and more, whereas now it is being treated like a venue.”

 

Our involvement in the article

Within the first 30 minutes of the article being released, the Sikh Press Association were in discussion with the editorial team of Coventry Telegraph, in order to get clarity on the allegations made in the article. We discussed the following;

  • The use of the word “extremist/s”, which the Coventry Telegraph stated was used based on the Charities Commission report on the Gurdwara.
  • The links to ISIS, which only came from the opinion of Piara Singh Thabal. We suggested this needed to be verified by those that attend the Gurdwara regularly as sangat (congregation), and we encouraged Coventry based Sikhs to share their opinion on whether ISIS support was seen in the Gurdwara. These quotes from Thabal were later removed from the article.
  • The article URL still linking ISIS to the issue even after the quotes from Thabal were removed. The URL was than changed too.
  • The relationship between sangat and Gurdwara committees being a complex one, and something that regularly results in protests or challenges of committee power by sangat. It was our opinion that a Gurdwara committee member opinion of that nature must be balanced out by the opinion of someone associated with the Gurdwara but unaffiliated with the committee. The Coventry Telegraph have said they plan a follow up/amended version of the article with this in mind.

The article – in its amended form – is still available to view. We remain in dialogue with the Coventry Telegraph on this story and any follow-ups.

 

Photo: JP Asher.

“It was racial profiling” – Sikh man whose house was raided due to tyre “pop” issues statement

Family to proceed with complaint after officers ignored requests to remove shoes before entering room where Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Sikh scriptural Guru) was present.


Photo: JP Asher.

On August 23rd a Sikh family in Hitchin found themselves subjected to a highly aggressive armed raid by local police at their home.

The cause of the raid is alleged to have been a loud pop emanating from the car when a tyre burst.

Sukhi Singh Rayat shared with us a statement (seen below) which details what occurred which has forced the family to make a complaint against the police.

Statement from Sukhi Singh Rayat on the incident of a police raid on his house

On the 23rd August, my family (daughter aged 20, son aged 17 and mother aged 75) and I were on our way to Southall to shop for the Keertan Smagam in Hitchin Singh Sabha Gurdwara. En route to Southall we realised that I had a tyre puncture. Due to this we had to postpone our trip and drive home to call the RAC as soon as possible.

On arrival at home, my son daughter and mother went inside. I remained seated in my car in the drive way on the phone to the RAC. The RAC requested that I looked at the tyres and informed them of what number tyre the car had.

The moment I stepped out of the car I hear someone shout stop, and that was when my whole house was cornered off with seven police cars and 20 police men, 10 of whom were armed. I found myself being pushed against the wall, my hands being cuffed, dogs barking at me and three rifles being pointed at my head, my chest and my feet. I had no idea what had just happened. I found myself being pushed into a police vehicle.

While this was all happening my family were inside. Initially they asked my elder brother to shut the door, which he did. Then at the top of their voices demanded that they all came out of the house one by one. This is when my 17 year old son was violently pushed towards the wall and hand cuffed. Then came my elder brother. Both these two males had two guns pointing at their heads. They stood on the main road outside my house. After us three males were removed from the scene they asked my mother and my daughter to come out of the house. Both of them co-operated with no dispute.

Then they violently raided our house and insulted our religion. We had one request which was repeated three times to the officers about entering our room upstairs, where Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj was, and it was disregarded.

Why had this all happened? It all happened because the police had received a phone call from a passer-by who had claimed that they had seen myself and my son, who was sat in the front passenger seat, have firearms in our hands. This story from this ONE witness changed three times. Initially they saw a gun, then they saw my son make gun gestures, and finally they heard a “pop”.

We are hurt, but more importantly we are angry. We feel as though we are living in a society with institutions that are uneducated, and ignorant towards understanding culture, race and religion. We feel as though this whole operation is an example of racial profiling. The chief constable of north Hertfordshire has said sorry, but quite frankly, sorry is not enough.

Fake Guru tweet - Ram Rahim

Sikh community reacts to “fake Guru” rape conviction

Fake Guru tweet - Ram Rahim

Sikhs around the world have been reacting to the news that famous Indian spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been convicted of rape.

Fake Guru tweet - Ram Rahim

The self-styled Guru has often been berated by the Sikh community for his attempts to portray himself in a similar style to the Sikh Gurus, based on the way he often dresses and his use of the surname Singh. The leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda organisation, which many call a “cult”, has amassed a huge following despite having been involved in countless controversies dating back decades.

Fake Guru tweet - Ram Rahim

Today Gurmeet Ram Rahim was officially convicted of rape based on an allegation dating back to 2002 in a court in the city of Panchkula, with the sentence set to be given on Monday. The tensions around the ongoing case have resulted in mobile data blocks in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Fake Guru tweet - Ram Rahim

The Sikh community seems to have largely welcomed the conviction of Rahim. Although portraying himself as a Guru and believed by hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) to have been a holy-man, Rahim has consistently been accused of many heinous crimes; from forced/unconsented castration, to murder and sexual abuse.

Fake Guru tweet - Ram Rahim

The convicted rapist, accused of murder and forced castrations, is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, he received worldwide condemnation from Sikhs for trying to ridicule the Sikh faith by wearing a turban with a plume that is typically associated with the 10th Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh.

Such a controversial figure, with his history of criminality and corruption, further mocked the Sikh faith by adopting the surname ‘Singh’. There was outcry and condemnation of his attempts to malign the integrity and authenticity of their faith from Sikhs across the globe.

News of the conviction has already resulted in mass rioting from his followers and the deaths of currently five people. The situation across India is likely to remain tense, especially around Punjab which is where the case was heard and many of Rahim’s followers are based, as the Indian Army have been brought in to quell tensions.

Many in the Sikh community also feel the shock at Rahim’s conviction is a sign of how the Indian judiciary system is perceived, with a belief that influential figures are often placed above the law. Rahim’s open support for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had him viewed as a key figure in what is often referred to as “vote bank politics”.

Fake Guru tweet - Ram Rahim

 

For more information or reaction from the Sikh community, contact us via Media@SikhPA.com.

Drayton Manor Sikh issue

Theme park revokes Kirpan ban

Drayton Manor theme park have revoked their Kirpan ban, following negotiations with the Sikh Council UK.

The long-standing ban by the Midlands based theme park was challenged by the Sikh Council UK after a group of Sikhs were stopped from entering because of the wearing of the Kirpan in June this year. Since than, Sikh Council UK have discussed the issue and come to an agreement which stops the park’s discrimination against Sikhs.

The Kirpan is one of the punj kakkars (five Ks) which are five items Amritdhari (initiated) Sikhs are mandated to wear. The small sword is legal to wear under UK law, although private grounds can still choose to whether to allow Sikhs to come on their property with the Kirpan. The Kirpan is worn by thousands of Sikhs in the UK every day, including in schools and parliament.

Kirpan

Kirpan

A statement from the Drayton Manor on the outcome reads;

 
‘I am pleased to advise that we are changing our park regulations effective from Monday 14thAugust 2017 to allow Kirpans when following the below guidelines.
 
It will be our security team that will be conducting the inspections upon guests arriving at the park.
  
  • Upon arrival please notify a staff member if you are wearing a Kirpan to allow for a suitable inspection, please do allow additional time for such inspection.
  • The Kirpan should be no more than 6” in total.
  • The Kirpan should be worn securely under clothes, out of sight and difficult to access
  • The Kirpan should never be drawn from its sheath and a suitable clasp or mechanism to ensure it is not easily drawn should be incorporated.
  • Due to the nature of some of the high speed, vigorous rides within the park. The Kirpan should be strapped securely to the body to ensure it does not move about freely during physical activity.
  • Please note in the interest of public safety, individuals can expect that relevant searches and questions will take place. Non-compliance, or failure to follow the guidelines will result in refusal on the premises and park.’
partition line

How the 1947 Partition of Panjab still impacts Sikh activism

By Ranveer Singh

Across the globe today, national borders typically reflect ethnic, linguistic, and sometimes religious divisions.
Take Europe: countries like Italy and Spain are largely home to people who speak Italian and Spanish. Similarly, in places such as Croatia and Hungary the predominant ethnicity is Croatian and Hungarian, respectively. For many across South Asia however, it is a different story altogether. These nations are largely defined by the idiocies of colonialism, and not by the heritage of its indigenous people. The region of Panjab is an obvious case.
The partition of Panjab in 1947 initiated one of the harshest and most enduring ironies of decolonization. It is estimated that up to 18 million people were displaced and two million killed in the sectarian violence that followed.
The power broker behind the partition of Panjab was the departing British, whose exit was clumsily improvised. The hastily-arranged decision to split Panjab triggered a perilous era of economic, social and religious subjugation within the region.
As preceding rulers of Panjab and natives to the land, the Sikhs were actively engaged in fighting to remove the British, who had taken official occupation of Panjab in 1849. The activism was no surprise, as the Sikh mandate to acquire political power can be traced back to the Sikh Gurus themselves, who not only exercised sovereignty but also made it an integral part of the Sikh movement. Love for freedom and justice had become basic elements of the Sikh psyche and the soil of Panjab is soaked with the blood of Sikh martyrs; a testament to the continued movement to protect Sikh sovereignty.
However, in many ways 1947 signalled an inevitable turning point for the Sikhs, as the effects of the colonial encounter, which overtly began in 1849, coupled with the intrusion from their Indian counterparts, wreaked havoc on their political aptitude. Sikh psyche had endured wave-after-wave of attack during British occupation of the region. Now armed with a foreign notion of activism, the colonised Sikhs resorted to placing hopes of liberty and freedom in the hands of another.
Many insist that it was the promises made by the likes of Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru which convinced the Sikhs to throw their lot in with the Indians. Both Master Tara Singh and Baldev Singh, two prominent leaders of the Sikh community, were influenced by the politicking of Indian leadership into believing the best solution for the Panjabi-Sikh populace scattered across Panjab was to join India.
Whether the decision to throw their lot in with the Indians came through betrayal or blunder, is an irrelevant matter of opinion. The harsh reality remains that it was a clear deviation from the polity of the Khalsa Panth that was prevalent under Banda Singh Bahadur’s Sikh Republic of 1710, and the sovereign states of the Sikh Confederacy that followed in the 18th Century.
It is imperative to remember that following the creation of India, both Sikh members of the Constituent Assembly refused to sign the Constitution. They declared vehemently that “the Sikhs do not accept this Constitution. The Sikhs reject this Constitution Act.” In subsequent years, all the personal laws of the Sikhs were abolished and eventually replaced by Hindu statutes, such as the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955.
The words of renowned Sikh academic and scholar Prof Puran Singh proved true when in 1932 he had predicted a bleak prophecy of civil turmoil. He wrote “self-government in India means Government by the very few cunning and aggressive people who, once put in possession of the authority, would twist all letters of law and constitutions to their individual wills and make them work on the communal or the so called religious bias”.
Under the guise of democracy and secularism, the social, historical and geographic wounds of Panjab caused by the barbarity of colonial policies were ripped open for Sikhs by Indian legislation.
For the next 30 years Sikhs attempted to initiate various movements to preserve their identity, language and culture. During this time Panjab was reduced to a mere fraction of its size, with river water diverted to neighbouring states. The capital, Chandigarh, fell under the direct control of Central Government. The efforts to agitate for civil rights were compromised because the mode of activism, fell largely within the constraints of Indian law and not from a position of sovereign authority.
The futility of their actions is best exemplified when we attempt to draw a parallel with someone like Banda Singh Bahadur. How absurd would it sound if we were told he tried to petition the Mughal government for civil rights or led protests against their injustice and called for them to recognise his rights? For him, and many others that followed, the mandate from the Guru was clear; acquire political power and establish Khalsa Raj.
By the early 80s, a concerted effort was made to realign Sikh psyche with the Guru’s mandate. The Sikhs became astutely aware of the pitfalls of placing all hope in the Indian establishment, no matter how democratic the system appeared.
Inevitably the declaration for a separate Sikh homeland was made on 26 April 1986. Despite efforts to suppress Sikh political activism in Panjab, the resolution passed in 1986 received unanimous support and remains the political mandate of the Sikh people. Today, some of the largest gatherings amongst the Sikh diaspora are made in support of that resolution with protests usually taking place every year in the month of June. The show of solidarity not only commemorates the fallen freedom fighters of the Sikh movement but also reaffirms the calls for an independent Sikh homeland.
It was Guru Nanak who first openly criticised and challenged those indulged in corruption and it is He who advocates that a person in authority should honour his/her office and do so conscientiously.
Sikhs took inspiration from the writings of the Guru, for example (when referring to the Pathan administration) He writes “the ruler administers justice if his palm is greased”. The Sikhs understood that the whole paraphernalia of government in India was corrupt and people at every rung of the establishment indulged in such acts.
Today an informed Sikh recognises that their liberty will only truly arrive when they exercise the sovereignty bestowed upon them by the Guru.
This was the example set by illustrious Sikh leaders from the pre-colonial era who acquired and exercised political power.  Sikh rulers such Banda Singh Bahadur who founded the first Sikh Republic or Nawab Kapur Singh and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, to name just two leaders from the sovereign states of the Sikh Confederacy. The same traits were found in rare gems such as Bhai Maharaj Singh and the Babbar Akali from the late 19th century and early 20th century, who swore their allegiance to none other than the Khalsa Panth. They were staunch anti-colonialists and understood the need for Sikhs to re-establish political power to fulfil the requirements of the House of Guru Nanak.
In the years leading up to 1984, Sant Jarnail Singh, Bhai Fauja Singh and their Sikh compatriots became the most recent in a long line of illustrious leaders to have rekindled the spirit of Sikh sovereignty from centuries past. From the way that they dressed to the manner of their speech, they seemed to challenge the effects of colonialism that had engulfed so many of their contemporaries. Having pledged their allegiance to the House of Guru Nanak, they encouraged Sikhs to re-enter Anandpur, if they were to truly liberate themselves and deliver on the Guru’s mandate.
The Khalistan movement seeks to challenge the religious and political domination of the Indian establishment, which undermines the moral fabric of a society envisaged by Guru Nanak. As such the events of 1947 carry no less, or no more significance, than the events of 1849 when Panjab was annexed by the British, or the events of 1716 when Banda Singh’s Republic met a brutal end. These episodes from history merely serve to remind Sikhs of their duty to deliver on Guru Nanak’s mission of emancipating society from the clutches of totalitarianism, no matter what the odds.

 

Ranveer Singh is a member of the National Sikh Youth Federation and also a regular contributor to news opinion site Naujawani. For more from Ranveer Singh you can follow him on twitter.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-18 at 17.41.44

Spanish Sikhs speak on Barcelona terror attack

Sikh español habla sobre el ataque terrorista de Barcelona. Vídeo aquí:

A native Spaniard and Amritdhari (initiated) Sikh today called for unity between the Spanish and Sikh communities, in the wake of yesterday’s terror attack in Barcelona.

Partapdev Kaur, who works as head of translations for Sikh educational organisation Basics of Sikhi, spoke out in condemnation of the attack, whilst also dispelling the commonly made mistaken association between the Sikh identity and terrorism. See the video above for her full statement. Learn more about the Sikh faith in Spanish here.

The sangat (congregation) of Barcelona Sikh Gurudwara Gurdarshan Sahib Ji (Sikh place of education and worship) also came together to condemn the attacks and offer their support to locals, stating “for anyone who is having a hard time, the Guru’s house is open to come to at any time”, offering food, water and shelter. Barcelona’s Sikh Gurudwara Gurdarshan Sahib Ji is adjacent to where the terror attacks took place, with the Carrer de l’Hospital road it is on being cordoned off by the police straight after the attacks.

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Sikhs of Barcelona went out today to show solidarity with the local community, following yesterday’s terror attack.

Respected Sikh community figure of Barcelona Gagandeep Singh also addressed the people of Catalan in their native tongue, condemning the attack and again offering support from the local Sikh community. Both videos can be seen below.

For more information, images, quotes or interview opportunities, email Media@SikhPA.com.

Sikh speaks in Catalan on Barcelona terror attack

Statement in Punjabi by Sikh Gurudwara Gurdarshan Sahib Ji sangat