Thursday, 2 December 2021

Sikh groups ban entry of Indian officials to Gurdwaras worldwide


LONDON: After the United Kingdom and Canada, 96 gurdwaras in the United States have banned the entry of Indian officials. The decision was made and announced by the Sikh Coordination Committee East Coast and the American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The Indian government authorities are deeply troubled by worldwide restrictions on their activities inside Gurdwaras after a coalition of Sikh organisations announced that Indian officials will not be allowed to use platforms of Gurdwars for their activities – over activities against the interests of Sikhs and promotion of extremist violent Hindutva groups.

The Sikh Federation (UK) proposed a worldwide ban on Indian Government ‘officials’ from visiting hundreds of Gurdwaras in the diaspora in any official capacity and by Monday evening almost 100 Gurdwars had confirmed that they have placed ban on Indian government officials from taking part in “activities” inside Gurdwaras.

Gurdwaras are places of worship and dissemination of community wide information and are the main Sikh institutions where millions of Sikhs gather each week. In the UK hundreds of thousands of Sikhs go to Gurdwaras each week and the ban could extend to over 100 Gurdwaras, including many of the largest Gurdwaras in the country, and its understood that Sikh groups want the ban to be extended to every Gurdwara in the country. At the weekend the Federation of Sikh Organisations (FSO), of which the Sikh Federation (UK) is a leading member, discussed the declaration and it was decided that eight regional Gurdwara Councils across the UK and organisations like the Sikh Council (UK) are also to be approached to encourage Gurdwaras who are members to become signatories to the declaration. Sikh groups have announced that Indian officials are welcome to attend Gurdwars for prayers but they will not be allowed to use the platform of Gurdwaras to advance the interests of Narednra Modi’s government and views of extremist Hindutvagroups.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “Sikhs in the diaspora are fed up with Indian Government officials and their agents increasingly interfere in our institutions and Sikh affairs, undermining of Sikh campaigns for greater rights and internal matters for the Sikh community.

In Germany in recent years we have seen the authorities to their credit collect evidence, make arrests and prosecute agents reporting to Indian government officials on Sikhs who are German citizens.

“The latest tactic by the Indian authorities of targeting Sikhs from the Diaspora when they visit the Sikh homeland as demonstrated by the case of British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal has broken the camel’s back.”

Gurdwaras in Canada started this initiative of the ban that has spread to other parts of Canada. Contacts in 15 other European countries have suggested a similar ban can be imposed in many of the 100 or Gurdwaras in mainland Europe. When this is combined to Gurdwaras from Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the diaspora Indian government officials could be facing a ban in over 300 Gurdwaras.

Dabinderjit Singh said that aim of restricting Sikh officials was to maintain harmony and the well-being and safety of the UK Sangat because Indian govt was involved in distortion of Sikh history and the teachings of the Sikh Gurus by promotion of the RSS and Hindutva ideology; condemn the recent abduction, torture, unfair treatment and illegal imprisonment of Jagtar Singh Johal, an innocent British citizen who recently went to Punjab to get married.

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