ENCOURAGING FEEDBACK ON SIKH FEDERATION (UK) ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING by Sardar Gurjeet Singh, National Press Secretary, Sikh Federation (UK)

ENCOURAGING FEEDBACK ON SIKH FEDERATION (UK) ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

London – 20 March 2017

In the third week of September every year, the Sikh Federation (UK) holds its’ annual National Sikh Convention.  The origins of the Convention can be traced back to 1984 and for many years the convention has been continuously held at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Sedgley Street in Wolverhampton.
The Convention has organised in the same month that mainstream political parties hold their annual party conferences.  As the Sikh Federation (UK) is popularly described as the first and only Sikh political party in the UK this Convention is deemed by many politicians from across the political spectrum as the annual party conference for British Sikhs.
The September Convention where the mainstream media has often reported over 10,000 Sikhs take part provides an opportunity to look back at achievements and progress during the year and set out the future strategy of the organization.  Politicians and representatives of other Sikh organizations in the UK and other parts of the globe often speak at the Convention.     
Yesterday the Sikh Federation (UK) held its first ever Annual General Meeting (AGM) with around 150 delegates and supporters from 8 of the 12 regions in the UK and around 20 towns and cities.  It was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the Sikh Federation (UK) successful legal challenge to have the ban lifted on the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) as well as the Sikh New Year. 
Judging by the response and feedback to the four hour AGM it is set to become a permanent feature in the calendar on the third week of March each year for Sikh Federation (UK) branches, members, and supporters.   Those that sent apologies or were unable to be present will no doubt want to attend next year when they hear about the AGM from other delegates or watch highlights of the AGM on KTV (Sky 858).  
The AGM provided as an opportunity to share with delegates in confidence the direction of travel and plans for the organization in a number of areas, listen to messages from those in Punjab with political links with the Sikh Federation (UK) and have an interactive question and answer session.
Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“We have had fantastic feedback about our first AGM.  This will be a permanent event in our calendar in the third week of March each year.  As word gets out we are convinced we will have more delegates next year and Sikhs from more regions, towns and cities across the UK will want to take part.  Sharing information not in the public domain with our members and interaction through the question and answer session will be developed to make the AGM even more rewarding.”
Delegates were told forcing the UK Government through legal action to lift the ban on the ISYF in the UK almost a year to the day and lift all restrictions on the ISYF in Europe in April 2016 given the pressure from the Indian authorities had been a huge achievement by the Sikh Federation (UK).  Since this all happen after the infamous Modi visit to the UK in November 2015 the Indian authorities regarded this as a major victory for the Sikh independence movement. 
Those present were told the leading role of the Sikh Federation (UK) in pushing for an independent inquiry regarding UK involvement in the events in 1984 and what followed with the help of a researcher and KRW Law has substantially raised the political stakes and worldwide profile of Sikh Federation (UK) activities.    Further legal action and publicity are inevitable and the current UK Government are increasingly realizing this issue will simply not go away.
Progress was provided on other issues in the Sikh Manifesto, such as a separate ethnic tick box in the Census 2021 and related matters, such as the Sikh Federation (UK) challenge of the hate crime action plan where we have established Sikhs were deliberately snubbed by specific references to Sikhs being taken out by Number 10.  We are now also aware the Prime Minister’s annual race audit she announced in August 2016 is expected to highlight a major data gap in central government as they are not collecting any information on Sikhs, although Sikhs are legally recognized as a race.
A number of Sikh Network representatives were present to talk about the impact of the findings of the UK Sikh Survey on different parts of government.   Other issues in the Sikh Manifesto such as a site in central London for a permanent monument to recognize Sikh sacrifices in the First World War and a Code of Practice on the 5Ks and dastar were touched upon. 
Delegates were told about the work of the Your Seva charity and the exciting opportunities offered by KTV (Sky 858) in providing an opportunity to regularly raise awareness on issues and the work of the Sikh Federation (UK), Sikh Network and Your Seva.
Video messages were recorded and provided specifically for the Sikh Federation (UK) AGM from contacts in Punjab.  These included Harpal Singh Cheema, President of the Dal Khalsa and its former President Harcharanjit Singh Dhami.  Sikh youth leader Bhai Mandhir Singh spoke specifically about the Khalistan situation and the leading role that can be played by Sikhs in the diaspora.  Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur gave an overview of the situation of all Sikh political prisoners. He has been co-ordinating the legal campaign and made clear that virtually all temporary releases to date have been secured through unrelenting legal action.  Clarification was given that the various assurances made by Modi almost 18 months ago after the infamous meeting with Sikhs in the UK in November 2015 have proved to be empty promises. 
Bhai Harjinder Singh the son of former Akal Takht Jathedar and Sikh revolutionary leader Shaheed Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, the founder of the Bhindranwale Tigers Force of Khalistan made a special appearance and was presented with a siropa and seva by the Sikh Federation (UK) leadership.
 
Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)
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