Sikh Council chaos: mass resignations from UK's top Sikh body over accusations of take-over
By Barfi Culture Team
27th April 2019

The UK's largest umbrella body of Sikh groups was today left in tatters after mass resignations from its General Assembly.

68 delegates making up about thirty gurdwaras and organisations tendered their resignation today in protest at recent events.

They said they expected their letter to be read out today at a meeting of the Sikh Council due today in Southall.

Those resigning claimed the body was under "undue influence" from the Sikh Federation UK, a Birmingham-based lobby group, and the Sikh Council UK had effectively become its mouthpiece.

Full letter
We will not be attending the General Assembly meeting of Sikh Council UK called by you in Southall today and expect you will read this letter out to all colleagues.

We are writing to formally tender our resignation and disaffiliation from Sikh Council UK.

This is a decision we have reached with a heavy heart and after several months of attempting to reach a resolution on a way forward for the Sikh Council UK following the last six months of turmoil. We have repeatedly raised our concerns and attempted to pursue dialogue with you but unfortunately all our efforts have remained fruitless with some of the Board of Jathedars point blank refusing to meet with members of the Sikh Council UK Executive Committee in recent weeks.

We have the following specific concerns:

- There has been a total violation of the Sikh Council UK constitution, operating procedures and code of conduct in matters relating to the leadership transition, calling of meetings, sharing of information and behaviour at meetings

- Despite repeated complaints being raised there has been an abject failure to deal with serious concerns including the actions of two senior Sikh Council UK members, [name redacted] and [name redacted], that lead to false information being shared with Government Ministers and politicians bringing the Sikh Council UK into disrepute.

- There is a disproportionate and undue influence in the affairs of Sikh Council UK by members of one unaffiliated organisation, Sikh Federation UK, to the extent that the Sikh Council UK is now viewed as simply a voice for Sikh Federation UK.

We have over a period of time attempted to resolve these matters internally but matters have now reached a stage where we do not consider there is a way or a will to address our concerns and we are unwilling to continue with our membership of Sikh Council UK.

As part of formal disaffiliation from Sikh Council UK we anticipate a full refund within 2 weeks of all monies we and our respective delegates have paid to Sikh Council UK.

UPDATE: the Sikh Federation UK sent this preliminary response:

i. The resignation letter and its timing along with your article was simply designed to disrupt the General Assembly. In that respect it failed to achieve its objective.

ii. Those engineering a letter showing resignations wanted to retain all senior positions or to have an election and voting rather than selection as stipulated in the constitution.

iii. The method of selection chosen was to apply for a specified role by a deadline and in the absence of unanimity at the General Assembly for a prayer or Ardaas to be conducted and names drawn randomly for each role (parchee system). Those resigning disagreed with this approach, refused to apply and demanded specific positions for specific people. They also called a rival meeting on the same day as the General Assembly in Slough, but cancelled in the morning and then issued the resignation letter.

iv. We are not a Birmingham-based lobby group. We are a national organisation (the HQ has always been in Southampton) that has more than 20 branches across the UK with local membership and leadership as well as a national leadership. The total membership and supporters are more than 10,000 Sikhs in the UK. Our formal local structure allows for extensive links to Gurdwaras with local members and supporters involved in voluntary work (seva) in over 100 Gurdwaras. We also have links with at least 30 national specialised Sikh organisations.

v. Some of those resigning have taken this step to hide their own failings and avoid disciplinary action for breaches of the Sikh Council UK Code of Conduct that had started for around half a dozen.

List of resignations in letter (some has since recanted)

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