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Sikh activists confirm they were raided by UK counter-terrorism police
By: Barfi Culture Team
Published: 20th September 2018

On Tuesday morning, West Midlands police announced they had raided homes over concerns of 'extremist activity in India'.

Now, as more details trickle out on the raids, Sikh activist groups in Britain say they are deeply concerned.

The raids were conducted across Coventry, Leicester and Birmingham as part of a West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) investigation. Police also confirmed that no arrests were made.

Yesterday, in a follow-up statement West Midlands police tweeted:

"Searches of a number of properties as part of a West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) investigation into allegations of extremist activity in India and fraud offences have now concluded; the investigation continues."

Barfi Culture contacted West Midlands Police for more details but they would not share anything further.

But it has now become clear the raids explicitly targeted Sikh activists in the Midlands and London.

On Tuesday, activist Shamsher Singh tweeted: "Our family home was raided by SO15 officers today. Looking to find clues for alleged money laundering. Our family once again experienced how no space is allowed for those that honour Khalistan's Shaheeds and refuse to compromise their ideals."

This morning, the National Sikh Youth Federation (NSYF), which is partly run by Shamsher Singh, revealed more on social media:



They confirmed that laptops, hard drives and other information were seized too.




The Sikh Federation UK called it an "unfair targeting of Sikh activists".

In an earlier statement its spokesperson Bhai Amrik Singh said they hoped the police were "not doing the dirty work of the Indian authorities".

There are also reports that two pro-Khalistan websites have been taken offline: neverforget84.com and 1984tribute.com. Its not yet clear why they are inaccessible. One says it is "no longer active".

Update 1: The Labour MP Preet Gill, also chair of the Sikh APPG in Parliament, has released a statement.

"There is speculation that the police raids have political motives and targeting those activists who are outspoken on the 1984 Sikh Genocide issue. If this is the case this is totally unacceptable," she said.

"I will be arranging a meeting with the Chief Superintendent and community representatives to discuss the matter further," she added. She also said she would take up the issue with Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Update 2: The Indian Express has learnt that Gursharanbir Singh Wahiwal, a close relative of Jagtar Singh Johal, also had his house searched. He is also wanted in India for being members of the Khalistan Liberation Force.

Punjab police officers told the newspaper that police also searched his brother Amritbir Singh's residences in Coventry.

Why would police raid Sikh homes?


There are two theories circulating amongst British Sikh activists.

The first: that the raids were in connection with the ripping of the Indian flag during Narendra Modi's trip to London earlier this year. The Indian government and some British groups had urged the UK government to act. But this seems unlikely given the scale of the raids.

It's more likely the raids were connected to the arrest of Jagtar Singh Johal in India last year. Indian authorities allege, without presenting any proof so far, that Johal was involved in financing the operation to kill a Hindu nationalist leader in Punjab. They have also long alleged that British Sikhs are funding extremist activity in India, again without proof.

Johal has now been detained in India since November 2017, over 300 days without trial or a full charge.

This story will be updated with new developments


Article published on 20th September 2018 in the World section




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