UK Sikh groups want Theresa May to raise concerns about 'Hindu radicalisation' with Indian PM
By Barfi Culture Team
13th April 2018

Sikh groups in Britain have written to Theresa May to raise their concerns of 'Hindu radicalisation' and violence against religious minorities in India.

The two Prime Ministers are due to meet on April 18th during a visit by Modi to the UK.

The PM of India has been embroiled in controversy this week after his ministers were found to have spoken out in defence of several men arrested for the rape and murder of an eight-year-old child in Kashmir. According to police she was targeted for being Muslim as local extremist Hindu groups wanted to drive her tribe out of the region.

The letter to May accuses Mr Modi of "trying to deflect attention away" from Hindu radicalisation by accusing Sikhs of being radicalised.

In 2015, Modi urged David Cameron to take action against Sikh groups allegedly involved in terrorism. But the Indian government offered no evidence for their claims and an academic report by Dr Jasjit Singh last year found no evidence for 'Sikh radicalisation' either.

In advance of Modi's trip, the Indian government has again briefed journalists about Sikh extremism in Britain without providing any evidence.

The letter is being spear-headed by the Sikh Federation UK and supported by the Federation of Sikh Organisations and 200 Gurdwaras around the UK.

Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation UK, said in a press release: "To hide their own failings the Indian authorities are going out of their way to target law-abiding Sikhs in the Diaspora for their long tradition of activism and opposition to human rights abuses."

The letter also raises the issue of Jagtar Singh Johal and a UN-led inquiry into the 1984 Sikh Genocide in India.

The main part of the letter is below.

Prime Minister’s Office
10 Downing Street

10th April 2018

Dear Rt. Hon. Theresa May

Concerns of the UK Sikh community, to raise at the meeting next week with Narendra Modi during CHOGM

When Narendra Modi first came to the UK as Indian Prime Minister in November 2015 the Sikh community following a long tradition of opposing all oppressive regimes and leaders with a dubious human rights record raised a number of serious concerns with the UK Government, MPs and the mainstream media. At Annex A we provide details of some of those concerns with an update.

However, to deflect attention away from these concerns and growing ‘Hindu radicalisation’ it was widely reported in the Indian media, following briefings by Indian officials and to our disappointment that a ‘dossier’ on ‘Sikh radicalisation’ of British Sikhs was on the agenda when David Cameron and Narendra Modi met. This so-called dossier inappropriately maligned certain Gurdwaras, individuals, Sikh TV channels and Sikh organisations in the UK.

Although the UK Government has denied the existence of the ‘dossier’ the high profile arrest of one of those named, Paramjit Singh from Birmingham when he visited Portugal with his family within a matter of weeks of Modi’s visit and a failed attempt to extradite him to India led to significant suspicion on the tactics being deployed by the Indian authorities.

Also the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) funded by the UK Government in response commissioned a project ‘Investigating Sikh Radicalisation in Britain’. This was published in November 2017 and in effect concluded the term ‘Sikh radicalisation’ was totally inappropriate and should not be confused with ‘Sikh activism’ that should be viewed positively. The report concluded ‘there is no threat to the British state or to the wider British public from Sikh activism as there is no conflict with ‘the West’ or with Britain’.

Prior to Narendra Modi’s attendance at next week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) Indian officials appear to have again briefed Indian media to suggest Narendra Modi will again raise the issue of ‘Sikh radicalisation’ when he meets you on 18 April. We hope you will tell him in no uncertain terms that many of the issues reported in the media are internal matters for the UK and British Sikhs who are supported on these issues by UK politicians from across the political spectrum.

Politicians and governments across the globe rightly view Sikhs as vibrant, law abiding, hard working, loyal and responsible citizens that contribute massively to the economies of the countries in which they live and see through such underhand tactics targeting a minority. It is time for such actions to be publicly called out.

Following Narendra Modi’s last visit we were subsequently assured some of these concerns were taken up though diplomatic channels as the UK Government, unlike the Indian regime do not see the benefit of ‘megaphone’ diplomacy, especially given the British colonial past and continued Indian sensitivities. However, following the recent appalling treatment and attempts to undermine the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau for having Sikh Ministers in his Cabinet and being a friend of the Sikh community during his visit to India and the abduction and torture of British citizen, Jagtar Singh Johal, many believe it is now right for Narendra Modi and the Indian regime to be publicly challenged during and after CHOGM.

Narendra Modi should be prepared to respond to some difficult questions about the extreme Hindutva agenda regarding the killing and treatment of religious minorities and Dalits in India and the growth of Hindu radicalisation across the globe. The direction in which Narendra Modi is taking India needs to be checked as a matter of urgency.

We would welcome a meeting with leading Sikh organisations after CHOGM to discuss our concerns. This letter has the support of over 200 UK Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations and is being copied to the leader of the Opposition, the Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, their counterparts and other leading politicians.

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