The National Sikh Youth Federation calls for Lemington & Warwick Gurdwara committee members to issue an apology and resign.
The National Sikh Youth Federation join Panthic Jathebandia in welcoming the news that Bhai Gursharan Singh and Bhai Kulvinder Singh, highly respected members of the Sikh community, who were wrongfully arrested, have been acquitted by a unanimous decision at Birmingham Crown Court.
The case relates to a protest at Gurdwara Sahib Leamington & Warwick On Sunday 11 September 2016, against the longstanding corruption by the incumbent management committee.
Unfortunately, the committee refused to engage in dialogue with the Sikh activists who had organised the protest to address serious allegations of fraud, mismanagement and circumvention of Panthic Maryada. The committee further attempted to violate the authority of the Gurdwara Sahib by calling the British Police with fabricated claims of physical assault and possession of firearms on the part of the Sikh activists.
We condemn the heavy handed response by Warwickshire Police who mobilised armed units and helicopters in spite of clear evidence that their presence was inappropriate and unnecessary. Further the police violated civil liberties and used mass arrests to silence the protestors resulting in 55 arrests with zero convictions.
We commend the Sikh activist who remained steadfast in their protest, remaining at the Gurdwara until the Sangat had arrived. Sikh activists remained composed despite facing threats and verbal abuse from members of the Gurdwara management committee.
We support calls made from the Sikh community across the UK for the management committee of Gurdwara Sahib Leamington & Warwick to stand down issuing an apology to the Sikh activists, and most importantly to the Sangat for bringing a Sikh institution into disrepute.
As an educational organisation that engages with young diaspora Sikhs we are cognisant of the impact poorly handled situations such as this and the resulting sensationalist reporting can have on perceptions of young Sikhs and Sikh activists..
Committee members are in a position of authority and need to behave much more responsibly. We call on the Sikh Council to investigate their member body and make a formal public call for the committee to apologise and step down. Further we call on the Sikh Council U.K. to put into place measures to ensure that British Police have a point of contact outside of Gurdwara committees so that they can more effectively understand the role of Gurdwara committees and respond to developing situations in a measured, appropriate and calm way.
The National Sikh Youth Federation (NSYF) is an educational organisation and think-tank based in Southall, U.K