Sunday, 31 May, 2009


Sikh diaspora vie to preserve identity
Rajesh Deol
Sunday, May 31, 2009, 12:00 [IST]
Sikhs, a minority in India constituting about two per cent of its population, have always been conscious about their identity and religion. The Sikh diaspora abroad entertains similar concerns.
There is an old joke that potatoes and Sikhs are found everywhere in the world. This may not be an exaggeration given the presence of Sikh diaspora in every nook and cranny of the globe.Estimated to be well over 35 lakh worldwide, the enterprising and hard-working Sikh diaspora is fairly conspicuous in the demographic construct of the UK, Canada and the USA and play an important role in the economic, social and political life in their adopted countries. In the UK and Canada, several Sikhs have been elected to the national assemblies, besides several others becoming heads of city councils. In the USA, Sikhs are big entrepreneurs and businessmen.Sikhs, a minority in India constituting about two per cent of its population, have always been conscious about their identity and religion. The Sikh diaspora abroad entertains similar concerns and has been at the forefront of several battles to safeguard separate Sikh identity in the new cultural milieu. The Sikhs in Britain, Canada and US have fought to wear their symbol of religious faith, especially turban, at workplace. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police allowed Sikhs into the force after a protracted legal battle. The Sikhs are now part of the police force in the UK, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Holland, Tanzania etc. Sikhs in Britain fought against wearing of helmets citing turban as their article of religious faith and won. They are fighting a similar battle in France where the government banned wearing of turban in French schools. A Sikh girl recently fought and won her legal battle against British authorities for wearing a bracelet, one of the five essential symbols of Sikh faith.A Sikh student fought a protracted legal battle in Denmark after he was arrested with a “Kirpan” (small knife slung across chest) at the airport.In the wake of 9/11 in the US, Sikh diaspora has often become victim of hate crimes as they have been confused with radical Islamic groups because of their turbans and flowing beard. The younger generations of diasporic Sikhs though, are shedding the Sikh symbols by shaving off hair and beard in an attempt to assimilate with local populations.Gurdwara, the Sikh temple, has played an important role in the social and political life of the Sikh diaspora. There are over 200 gurdwaras in the UK, home to the largest Sikh diaspora numbering over five lakh, and over 100 in Canada and the USA - where Sikhs number over four lakh. During the Sikh separatist movement for a new homeland, Khalistan, gurdwaras abroad became important sites for political organisation. Often, gurdwaras were also sites of bloody tussles for their control between the pro and anti-Khalistan groups.After the Khalistan movement petered out, the control of most of the gurdwaras abroad has been restored to moderate Sikhs. However, separate sect gurdwaras have appeared at many places as in Punjab, which are often source of conflict between the radical Sikhs and the sect followers. Besides the recent Vienna incident, such skirmishes have occurred in the UK and North American gurdwaras too. From the economic point of view, the Sikh diaspora has played a huge role in the economy of Punjab through their remittances.

Saturday, 30 May, 2009


Displaced Sikhs in Pakistan
May 30, 2009 3:24 AM
Posted By Khalsa Aid Blog
I landed in Islamabad, Pakistan at 4 am today (Fri 29th may) and was greeted with a very warm and loud “Sat Sri Akal Sardar Ji" by one of the Pakistani officials at the airport. The official at the passport control asked me about my visit to Pakistan and I told him that I was from Khalsa Aid and had come to assess the situation of the refugees at Panja Sahib; he wished me the best of luck and stamped my passport. After clearing immigration checks I was out in the arrivals area of the airport where again I was greeted very warmly by the Pakistani members of the public.

I had about 4 hours of sleep and was feeling very tired from the long flight (18 hours travelling) and headed straight to Panja Sahib Gurdwara to meet the Sikh refugees. There were 4 of us in a tiny old car which had a windscreen that was about to shatter anytime. The car had no AC and the temperature outside was 45C degrees, if I opened the windows I felt the intense heat hitting me (and plenty of dust too) and if I kept the window shut it felt like as if I was in an oven. After seeing a guy who had just been killed in an accident on the main road we reached Panja Sahib Gurdwara.

There was a lot of security at the door to the Gurdwara Sahib and we all got searched.I was met by Sardar Sarung Singh who is the representative of the refugees in the Gurdwara Sahib. We went to the Darbar Sahib to pay our respects to the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and noticed that there were at least 30-40 people sleeping on the floor and few people reading from the Gutkas.I was told by Sarung Singh that there were approx 3000 people taking refuge in the Gurdwara Sahib. I walked around and spoke to a few of the people there and heard the same heart breaking tales of sadness and how they all missed their homes.

I was also told that the Sangat was very disillusioned by the lack of any support from the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). The Dehli Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee ( DSGMC ) has so far given RS32000 for the health clinic which is at the Gurdwara Sahib.The DSGMC also met the Senior Pakistani Officials to seek permission to send relief worth RS 2 CRORE , I asked Sarung Singh what this relief consisted of or when it was coming, he told me that he has no idea and Mr Sarna of DSGMC has not contacted him since their visit on the 23rd of May. The refugees are feeling very let down by the mainstream Sikh organisations and they are hoping the global Sikh Sangat will not just forget about them and leave them to "rot ". The Pakistani Gurdwara Prabandak Committee is providing the daily Langar for the refugees at the cost of RS25000 a day.

I have arranged a meeting with Sardar Sarung Singh for tomorrow (30th May) to see how Khalsa Aid can assist them. I have already been informed that the clinic needs to stock up on medicines and I will follow this up with the clinic doctor. I was mobbed by a lot of people on the way out who were worried that we will forget about their plight but when I told them I was returning the next day they were shaking hands and smiling On the way back from the Panja Sahib I was totally knocked out and I slept on the shoulder of my local contact Tahir, I felt embarrassed but he was ok about it. I woke up at a police checkpoint with a policeman all excited and reaching into my window. He kept saying how the Sikhs are a great people and invited me for a cup of tea at the checkpoint. I shook the policeman's hand and thanked him for his kind words.

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Thursday, 28 May, 2009


KZF claims responsibility for Vienna attack; Babbar Khalsa condemns killing
Sarabjit Pandher
— Photo: AP Sant Niranjan Das, who was injured in the shooting incident in Vienna, undergoing treatment in a hospital there.
CHANDIGARH: Even as the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) claimed responsibility for the Vienna incident that sparked violence in Punjab, the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) has condemned the killing of Sant Rama Nand of the Dera Sach Khand.
According to information posted on its website, the London-based Akash Radio said the KZF has claimed responsibility for the Sunday’s attack in Vienna.
Claiming that it had received an e-mail, it said the message, written on the KZF’s letterhead, was signed by one Ranjit Singh.
The KZF is said to have claimed that the incident occurred because “these people did not heed to the warnings that they should not disrespect Guru Granth Sahibji by sitting parallel to Sri Guru Granth Sahibji; letting people bow before them in the Guru Sahib’s presence and committing various unacceptable anti-maryada (Sikh code of conduct) acts. As they continued to commit such sins, the KZF was forced to take this action.”
The Babbar Khalsa International, which figures on the U.S. list of terrorist organisations, has condemned the killing of Sant Rama Nand.
Akash Radio claimed that the BKI chief Wadhawa Singh Babbar said in an e-mail that the entire Sikh Panth regretted the attack on Sant Niranjan Das and Sant Rama Nand.
The e-mail said:
“Everyone knows that this attack was not done by the Sikh Panth. Indian agencies are behind this attack; and they are trying to split the Ravidasiya community from the Sikh Panth. The Khalsa Panth will continue to cherish this relationship formed since the times of Guru Nanak Devji.
“The Khalsa Panth requests the Ravidasiya community to maintain peace. The Khalsa Panth will always stand by the Ravidasiya community and will not let the Indian agencies succeed in their mal-intensions.”