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Rishi Sunak Playing Dangerous Politics by Demonizing Sikhs to Appease India: Sikh Federation UK

September 8, 2023 | By

London (8 September 2023): The Sikh Federation UK has alleged that British Prime Minster Rishi Sunak is playing dangerous politics ahead of his meeting with Narendra Modi in Delhi by demonising British Sikh minority to simply appease India.

Rishi Sunak (L) Nareandra Modi (R) | File Images used for representational purpose only

A written statement released by Sikh Federation UK today reads, in verbatim, as follows:-

In recent days it has been reported a large cross-party group of British MPs wrote to Rishi Sunak urging him as the British PM to call on Narendra Modi to “immediately release” campaigner Jagtar Singh Johal when he meets the Indian PM on Saturday. Jagtar Singh has been tortured and been in arbitrary detention in an India jail for nearly 6 years.

Much of the British public will however be totally unaware that Rishi Sunak prior to leaving for his India trip emailed the Press Trust of India where he has demonised British Sikhs who in increasing numbers are legitimately calling for the re-establishment of a Sikh homeland. This naïve, but calculated move by Rishi Sunak is a major blunder as it has back-fired as it is seen as appeasement of India and has even been called out on Indian TV as a “desperate PR move”.

British politicians, especially Rishi Sunak are well aware of Sikh history. This includes the successful existence of a Sikh homeland for over 50 years that the British annexed in 1849 after the two Anglo-Sikh Wars. Many British politicians refer to the loyalty and sacrifice of Sikhs as part of the British army over the next 100 years.

However, virtually all British politicians conveniently forget the significance of the Anglo-Sikh treaties, the massive role of Sikhs in the Indian independence movement and the offer in 1947of a Sikh homeland by Clement Attlee, a Labour British PM. This came before the disastrous partition and the British decision to divide the Sikh homeland between India and Pakistan.

Indian and British politicians are also be aware of the broken promises by Indian leaders to the Sikh minority since 1947 and the discrimination and killing of Sikhs in India, including the 1984 Sikh Genocide where we now know the Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher had a direct role.

Dabinderjit Singh, the Principal Adviser of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“It is shocking to see a British Conservative PM, who himself is from a minority community in Britain being allowed to get away with demonising British Sikhs, especially when his own faith and ideology aligns with the extreme views of the current Indian PM.”

“What is however even more disturbing is the complete silence of UK politicians on all sides in calling out Rishi Sunak when there is such blatant gaslighting against British Sikhs that has been the case since he took office less than a year ago.”

“British politicians should remind Rishi Sunak his first duty as the PM for the UK is to promote British values and defend the democratic rights of its citizens.”

“Rishi Sunak is conflicted, manipulating the situation and conveniently ignoring history by compromising the legitimate rights of British Sikhs campaigning for the re-establishment of a Sikh homeland.”

It is a well-established fact that British Sikhs are law abiding and seen by the public as a role model community. British politicians reach their own conclusions about the Sikh community as they have personal interactions with British Sikhs and regularly visit Gurdwaras. They therefore often appreciate British Sikhs, while maintaining their unique and distinct religious identity, set an excellent example to others of successful integration.

Many know the UK Government led by Rishi Sunak is weak and unable to stand up to the right wing Indian government. Since becoming PM the Indian authorities have been unashamedly exploiting Rishi Sunak’s Hindu identity and family connections with India. Rishi Sunak is all about Indian appeasement at the expense of the British Sikh minority.

British politicians need to recognise the global threat of the Hindutva ideology and the absence of any credible political opposition in India. The Indian government understands Sikh-led opposition in India is a threat. Following the farmers protest they are paranoid and obsessed with support from Sikhs in the Diaspora that they are unable to control.

Many countries are currently reassessing their relationship with India given the Hindutva ideology and political interference abroad. Canada has recognised and publicly called out the interference and paused trade talks ahead of the G20 summit in Delhi.

The same interference and threat of the Hindutva ideology exists in the UK but the government will maintain its silence whilst Rishi Sunak remains in power. We need a strong British PM prepared to publicly lead condemnation of the Indian government’s systematic discrimination and promotion of violence towards religious and other minorities in India.

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