Indian police say they pressured UK into raids on Sikh activists, despite denials
By Barfi Culture Team
24th September 2018

Last week, after UK counter-terrorism officers raided the homes of several Sikh activists, they were quick to deny any pressure from Indian officials.

In a meeting with the Sikh Council over the weekend, police officials reassured said the operation was "based on intelligence gathered in the UK", not Indian intelligence.

But this claim has been directly contradicted by Indian police officers in statements to Indian media. So why many Sikhs remain unconvinced.

Ravinder Singh, chair of the charity Khalsa Aid, summed up a frequently heard view among British Sikhs last week.

"British government will never admit to any foreign cooperation in such cases. Just as they covered their involvement in the 1984 attack on Darbar Sahib," he tweeted.

What are Indian officials saying?

1) Not long after the raids were conducted, Punjab Police told the Indian Express:

"We have received confirmation from WMCTU (West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit) that the residences of both Gursharan (Singh Wahiwal) and Amritbir (Singh) were searched. There was, however, no confirmation on any arrests yet."

Both men are wanted by Punjab Police. How does the Indian media know who was raided? – asked the Sikh Press Association.

2) On Sunday the Hindustan Times also quoted a Punjab Police official, saying: "The raids were the result of diplomatic pressure created by India on the UK. Gursharanbir was the key conspirators of targeted killing cases and is an accused in the cases being investigated by National Investigation Agency (NIA). Gursharanbir has provided weapon training to the killers at a shooting range in Dubai."

"It would be interesting to see of UK allows extradition of Gursharanbir," the official added.

West Midlands police said no arrests had been made.

3) The Tribune in Punjab is also reporting that Indian police shared their "footprints" with UK authorities to "build a case against (Gursharanbir Singh Wahiwal) for participating and promoting terror activities in India".

"These include his (Wahiwal's) arrival at the Mumbai airport allegedly on his brother’s passport in 2009, just before the assassination of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat chief Rulda Singh in Patiala, and his presence in Dubai in March 2015, where he is accused of training sharpshooter Ramandeep Singh alias Canadian and Hardeep Singh Shera in the basement of a mall," said a senior officer.

The officer goes on to say: "We have received names of five Sikhs whose premises were searched in the UK and some computers and other material seized from there. Further investigation is on and we are hopeful of a strict action against them for promoting terror activities."

What are Sikh organisations saying?

The allegations by Indian police are strongly disputed by the men in question as well as British Sikh groups such as the Sikh Federation UK.

"The raids appear not to have been based on evidence-based intelligence, but have been carried out to demonstrate to the Indian authorities the UK is willing to help take actions against Sikh activists," it said in a statement over the weekend.

It added: "Following comments of Punjab Police officers the Sikh community and lawyers are in no doubt these raids are linked to a search for evidence against Jagtar Singh Johal."

Johal, arrested in November last year, has been held by Indian authorities for over 320 days without charge or trial. His MP Martin Docherty-Hughes is asking for a meeting with the new Foreign Secretary.

If Punjab Police has strong evidence linking him (and others) to terrorism or violence, why haven't they produced it yet? That's the question many British Sikhs are asking too.

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