United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

United Sikhs announces bail for detained Shillong Sikhs

Two Sikhs detained by police during the anti-Sikh violence in Shillong, India, have been released on bail after the intervention of international Sikh charity United Sikhs.

Anil Singh, 24, and Bittu Maci, 36, were detained by police in the state of Meghalaya after the targeting of the minority Sikh community in Shillong at the end of May.

Rumours following the harassment of a Sikh woman by a bus driver claimed that Sikhs in Shillong had murdered members of Khasi community in revenge. A mob of over 200 people attacked the Gurdwara there, with local authorities disabling phone-lines, cutting internet access and imposing a curfew to try and restore calm.

Bittu was detained on 31st May, with Anil’s detention coming five days later. They have had no contact with their families for the duration of their detention.

United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

The Sikh community in Shillong is also battling the government over proposals to relocate the Sikhs living in the Punjabi Lane area of the city.

Mejindarpal Kaur, Legal Director at United Sikhs said: ‘We are pleased by the court’s decision to approve bail for Anil and Bittu. Working in tandem with local officials and community leaders, we will continue to seek justice for the Sikh community, who are still under pressure of losing the homes bestowed to their forefathers two centuries ago.’

Supreme Court Advocate Girdhar Govind added: ‘This was a great team effort to release these young Sikh men who were detained on false charges. We thank UNITED SIKHS for their service to humanity through this victory.’

United Sikhs continues to work with the Sikh community of Shillong. Volunteers have been regularly present in the area since the violence in May and continue to address critical needs of the Sikhs including physical and mental health provision. United Sikhs have met with local officials including Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner P S Dkhar, and Superintendent Davis N.R. Marak, Assistant to Director General of Police S B Singh.

Click here for a video of interviews with Anil and Bittu’s families


French Sikhs make Global Appeal for Dastaar Struggle as Macron visits India

The Representative Council of French Sikhs (Conseil Représentatif des Sikhs de France) has today issued a global appeal to change a French regulation which constrains the wearing of the dastaar (turban) for Sikhs there.

The plea specifically asks the Sikh Kaum (community) to take this issue up wWhatsApp Image 2018-03-09 at 13.14.15ith the French government while French President Emmanuel Macron visits India from 9th to 12th March 2018.

A French government regulation in 2006 banned all head coverings, including the dastaar, on French ID pictures. This means that Sikhs are forced to take passport, driving license, public transport and student ID pictures with their dastaar removed. Removing the dastaar in public is a humiliating act for a Sikh. The dastaar is not a hat – it is a crown, given as a gift to a Sikh by their Guru which represents each Sikh’s sovereignty and royal status.

Many Sikhs believe the dastaar presents no identification problems as it does not in any way cover the face. Governments across the world permit ID pictures of dastaar wearing Sikhs. Because a Sikh always wears their dastaar in public, it has led to the ironic situation of a French Sikh’s ID picture looking less like how a Sikh appears in public, causing rather than preventing identification problems. The images included in this article are examples of a French Sikh’s ID pictures, where he has been forced to remove his dastaar.

Despite numerous pleas, including to the United Nations, the French government has maintained this stance, which many Sikhs feel is a degrading erasure of Sikh identity. Thousands of dastaar wearing Sikhs fought in both World Wars on French soil, defending the liberty that their descendants are denied today.

You can read the statement from R.G. Singh, President of the Representative Council of French Sikhs in full below:


WhatsApp Image 2018-03-09 at 13.14.15(1)

Global Appeal to the Panth

Paris, 9th March 2018

We appeal to the Panth to taken notice of the situation of Sikhs in France. The Dastaar Struggle is still on the table. Even after the success in the United Nations, the situation of Sikhs in France has not change at all. Each time, a French Sikh wants to apply for an Identity document, we are asked to remove our Dastaar on the picture. We need the support of Sikhs around the world, what is happening today in France can spread throughout Europe and hire in all Western countries.

Unfortunately, the Sikh Identity is not safe in France. We still have problem with French administration. The French Sikh community is struggling for their identity in French society, the Government regulation of 2006 on ID picture, in which they forbade all head cover such as Dastaar, is erasing the Sikh Identity in the French society. Even after the visit in 2012 in New Delhi of the former French President F. Hollande, this issue was not resolved.

Sikhs and France have a great shared history, friendship between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and King Louis Philippe 1er, to the French love in the province of Kapurthala. It is important to remember these strong historical connections that strengthened the French-Sikh friendship. This same friendship will occur during the Great Wars in France. The Dastaar was not an issue to defend the Freedom in France, today a duty of memory is required.

This year, even a single bus card (Navigo Card) requires a picture without Dastaar, Sikh turban. It is a humiliation every time we have to present a card to present our self. You can be French, British, Indian, to get a Navigo Card you will have to produce a picture without Dastaar on the desk! Passport, ID card, European License Card, Health Card, Student Card, Public Transport Card, Student Card, Sikhs are forbidden to wear their Dastaar.

We urge the Panth to take up these issues with the French official, especially during the visit of French President in India from 9th to 12th March 2018.

Safeguarding the Sikh Identity is a duty for each of us.

Contact information :

Conseil Représentatif des Sikhs de France
(33) 6 50 45 11 07

For further information on this story contact: media@sikhpa.com