West Midlands police defends Sikh anti-terror raids and presence at Gurdwaras after tensions
By Barfi Culture Team
16th November 2018

West Midlands police released a long statement today defending itself from criticism over recent-anti-terror raids, and rising tension with some Sikh activist groups.

The statement also focused on a recent confrontation with some Sikhs at a Gurdwara in Walsall.

What the police say

This is the full statement from West Midlands Police

"On 18 September, detectives from WMCTU, supported by colleagues from across the country, searched six properties in Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester and London. Three of the premises were searched for items related to terrorism offences. Three of the premises were searched for items related to fraud offences."

"WMCTU works closely with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies but maintains operational independence from any form of political interference. The decision to undertake these searches was to secure and preserve evidence, the decision was not directed by either the UK or Indian Government. The searches were not part of a joint investigation with either the Indian authorities or any other country and only UK police staff were involved in the searches."

"The searches were part of a long-term investigation by WMCTU into suspected terrorist offences in the UK relating to activity in India, as well as fraud offences."

"Terrorism is an act involving serious violence, serious damage or serious risk to the public which is designed to influence a government (including foreign governments) for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause. Therefore, West Midlands’ residents suspected of supporting individuals or organisations who are seeking to carry out serious violence overseas, as part of a political or ideological cause, may be committing terrorist offences within the UK. These offences will be investigated by WMCTU."

"As a result of the searches, a large quantity of material was seized, much of it relating to digital media such as mobile phones, computers, and storage devices. These items are being examined as the investigation continues."

"To date, no arrests have been made and the investigation remains on-going."

"WMCTU and West Midlands Police do not investigate lawful protest groups. Nor do they investigate people because of their political, religious, racial or ideological beliefs. They only investigate those who are prepared to commit serious violence, serious damage or cause serious risk to the public because of their political, religious, racial or ideological beliefs."

"The recent searches have understandably had a significant impact on the families affected and local communities – police have sought to limit this impact as much as possible."

"Last week West Midlands Police attended a recruitment event at a Gurdwara in Walsall, during this event one member of the public had a heated discussion with an officer – following this, it was decided the best course of action was for WMP to leave the event. West Midlands Police has excellent relationships with its communities this includes the Sikh community and officers continue to be welcomed into Gurdwaras and other religious buildings."

What some Sikh groups say

Some Sikh groups are angry with WMP after the counter-terrorism raids in September 2018. They say the WMP is working with Indian intelligence to target Sikhs, after such claims surfaced in Indian media.

But not everyone has endorsed that view. Privately, many say that the claims in the Indian media may merely be Indian police trying to take credit for raids they had little to do with.

Neither Tan Dhesi nor Preet Gill MPs have accused UK police of colluding with Indian intelligence. Moreover, the Sikh Council UK has remained conspicuously quiet on the controversy. Neither as any UK Gurdwara released a statement banning police officers.

We reached out to Birmingham MP Preet Gill MP for a statement but her office has not responded yet.

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