Over 225 UK Gurdwaras confirm ban on Indian govt officials

LONDON (Monitoring Desk): More than 225 Gurdwaras in the United Kingdom have confirmed backing for restrictions on Indian government officials, denying them platform to express their views.

The Federation of Sikh Organisations (FSO) made the announcement and said that the boycott was increasing across the Europe and North America.

It said that over 225 UK Gurdwaras had confirmed by the end of January 2018 with the FSO that since 1984, they have never let Indian government officials speak from their Gurdwara stages or given them any form of recognition and they had no plans to change their stance.

On January 31, the Sikh Council UK, following a meeting of its executive committee, also put out an official statement supporting the restrictions in UK Gurdwaras, after the Akal Takht, the supreme authority in Amritsar, announced backing for restrictions.

The Sikh Federation said that the list of Gurdwaras will not be made public because Indian media and government agencies will single out the Gurdwara administrations and will target them in the UK as well as in India.

“The Indian authorities have been shocked with the united and co-ordinated action by Sikhs across the globe and in desperation resorted to a number of underhand tactics that can now be exposed. First came the repeated misinformation by the Indian authorities, their supporters and agents of a ‘total ban’ on Indian government officials from entering Gurdwaras to try and cause confusion,” said a spokesman.

“Some, who originally condemned the ban, were forced into a U-turn after they realised they had been hoodwinked through false propaganda by the Indian authorities. Then came efforts to show that Indian High Commission officials in London and some of its consulates were defying the restrictions.”

It was revealed on Tuesday that on January 6, a day before the restrictions were discussed by the FSO, an Indian High Commission official spoke at Guru Nanak Sikh Academy in Hayes. Sikhs groups said that Indian government tried to create division of Sikh groups through fake news and offers of bribes.

They said that Indian High Commission officials have been holding talks with dozens of Gurdwaras across the UK encouraging Sikhs to go against each other.

“The Indian authorities have developed personal links with certain individuals in specific Gurdwaras and know the restrictions will never apply to all UK Gurdwaras or other venues, the Gurdwara may be responsible for,” the Sikh Federation said.

“UK Gurdwaras number around 270 in total, however, the Indian authorities have been going to extreme lengths to show their defiance. For example, one very small Gurdwara was approached by one of the Indian consulates to allow them to do an Akhand Paath. They said they would also provide their own Kirtani Jatha and were willing to pay £2,000 a month for the next 12 months.”

Bhai Amrik Singh, the chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “UK Gurdwaras have shown massive support for restrictions on Indian government officials if they visit Gurdwaras. Sikhs across the globe have shown their unity in standing up to the Indian authorities. The misinformation, fake news, bribes and threats by the Indian authorities stand exposed and demonstrates their desperation.

“In the UK, we have a duty of care towards members of Gurdwara Management Committees and deliberately not published a list of Gurdwaras backing the restrictions. This has allowed us to outmanoeuvre and embarrass the Indian authorities, their supporters and agents who now look foolish,” Singh added.