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Sikh businesses commit to provide massive £500m injection into Pakistan Gurdwaras as Imran Khan led government make positive overtures to UK Sikhs

Sikh businesses commit to providing massive £500m injection into Pakistan Gurdwaras as Imran Khan led the government to make positive overtures to UK Sikhs

London – 10 June 2019

Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari the Chairman of the Pakistan Tourism Board and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan met Sikh community representatives at The Rembrandt Hotel in London on 10 June 2019.  The meeting was to discuss religious tourism projects in Pakistan following the historic laying of foundation stones for the Kartarpur Corridor on either side of the border in November 2018.

 

 

 

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Pakistan also announces wide arrangement for the celebration of Gurpurab

Around 100,000 Sikhs from Canada, US, Malaysia and other countries also want to visit Pakistan. Photo:tribune.com.pk

In Lahore, the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) decided this year to grant visas to 10,000 Sikhs from India to participate in the 550th birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak. Pakistani officials have given a green signal to Shiromani committee, the largest representatives of Sikhs, and other small groups to take part in the celebrations. After mutual consultation, the two bodies decided that the number of pilgrims, in accordance with the 1974 Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, will be increased from 3,000 to 10,000. Further, there will be no restrictions on the number of Sikhs coming to Pakistan from other countries.

Pakistan will issue visas to the Shiromani community and other groups, according to the quota. All such groups will provide a list of pilgrims to EPTB; no other individual apart from these will be granted a visa. Approximately 100,000 Sikhs want to visit Pakistan from India, Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia and several other countries. However, making preparations for and ensuring the security of all attendees on such a large scale is not possible, said an EPTB senior official while speaking to Express-News. However, the final decision on the matter rests with the government and the federal interior ministry.

Although Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday is in November later this year according to the Roman calendar, the Sikh community will celebrate the occasion according to the Nanak Shahi calendar in November 2019. Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousuf has already announced plans to issue a memorable coin commemorating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

 

The Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha) London supported by Peter Virdee organised the event where several significant announcements were made by Sayed Bukhari.  Many of the Sikhs that spoke congratulated the Pakistan government for the stand taken regarding not only the establishment of the Kartarpur Corridor but also other measures being taken for the 550th Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Sayed Bukhari made a series of specific commitments regarding visas for religious reasons, including the possibility of visas online and visas on arrival.  However, after being pushed on this issue during a question-answer session he said he would ensure the establishment of tourism desks in Pakistani embassies and dedicated staff to facilitate visas for those taking part in Yatras in Pakistan later this year.

He also made a specific commitment on connectivity whereby high standard free buses would connect all the main Gurdwaras in Pakistan.  Several speakers also made comments about the Pakistan authorities needing to ensure the preservation of the rich religious and national heritage of the Sikhs rather than allow renovation by some that have little or no appreciation of preservation.

A Pakistani journalist made a generous gesture of donating land for the Pakistani authorities to build accommodation near Kartarpur.  However, this was overshadowed by Peter Virdee making a huge financial commitment by announcing the setting up of a trust under the name of Guru Nanak Dev Ji  رحمة الله.  He said the Peter Virdee Foundation and other business people he had discussed the project with were prepared to inject a massive £500m.  He said money was not an issue for the Sikh community as they were prepared to lay down their lives for their Gurdwaras.

The announcement concluded an excellent event with speakers alongside Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari including Peter Virdee, Gurpreet Singh Anand, Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), Preet Kaur Gill MP, Neena Gill MEP, Lord Suri, Sukhjeevan Singh, the Spokesperson for the Sikh Council UK, Dabinderjit Singh, Manvir Singh Bhogal and Justice Anup Singh.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

www.sikhfeduk.com |sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk | facebook.com/Sikh Federation UK | twitter @Sikhfeduk

 

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The Sikh Federation (UK) is by far the largest, most prominent and influential campaigning Sikh organisation in the UK that leads to political engagement for the British Sikh community.  The organisation is often referred to as the first and only Sikh political party.  The Sikh community in the UK and throughout the diaspora look to the organisation for leadership and direction.

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PTT SERIES ON OUR SIKH BROS: SIKH GENOCIDE IN INDIA BY MANWINDER SINGH GIASPUR & REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE OF SIKHS IN JUNE OF 1984 BY SIMRAN JEET SINGH

PTT SERIES ON OUR SIKH BROS: SIKH GENOCIDE IN INDIA BY MANWINDER SINGH GIASPUR & REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE OF SIKHS IN JUNE OF 1984 BY SIMRAN JEET SINGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE OF SIKHS IN JUNE OF 1984

 

 
 
 
 
DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF JUNE, SIKHS AROUND THE WORLD COMMEMORATE A RECENT HISTORICAL EVENT: OPERATION BLUESTAR OF 1984, A GOVERNMENT-SANCTIONED MILITARY OPERATION THAT RESULTED IN COUNTLESS CASUALTIES AND THE DESTRUCTION OF ONE OF THE MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT GURDUARAS, THE DARBAR SAHIB OF AMRITSAR (I.E., THE GOLDEN TEMPLE).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sikhs constitute one of the many persecuted minority communities in India, and their commitment to standing for justice has made them a regular target of oppression for centuries.
Approximately one decade prior to the massacre of 1984, Sikh leaders of Punjab drafted the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, a document that called for a social revolution within India, demanding rights for oppressed minorities such as women, lower castes and impoverished communities. The resolution also demanded increased state autonomy, guarantees of constitutional rights and equality of citizens regardless of caste, religion or gender.
In the face of government resistance, the Sikhs raised the banner of the Dharam Yudh Morcha, threatening to protest peacefully until the federal government acknowledged the Anandpur Sahib Resolution and implemented change. They made their voices heard through campaigns that blocked off streets (rasta roko), railways (rail roko), canals (nahar roko) and work (kam roko). These protests threatened the economic and social stability of the country, and this played a major role in the Government’s decision to attack the core of the Sikh community. The government employed popular media to project Sikhs as being anti-national and secessionist, and used this as a pretense for the military operation in the theo-political capital of the Sikh tradition.
On June 1, 1984, the Indian Government launched Operation Bluestar, a full-scale assault on dozens of gurduaras around the Sikh homeland of Punjab. While coordinating attacks on these centers for worship and learning, the Government focused its attention on the most venerated and historically significant of gurduaras — the Darbar Sahib.
The invasion of the Indian Army was by no means a spontaneous reaction to the threat posed by protesting Punjabis; rather, the Indian Military prepared and simulated this operation for several months prior to its execution. The army’s assault included the deployment of tear gas, army tanks and 70,000 troops. Observers have widely speculated that the timing of the attack was also carefully selected to coincide with the first few days of June, a moment during which Sikhs around the globe commemorate the martyrdom of their fifth Guru, Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan is celebrated for many reasons, including his role as the architect of Darbar Sahib, and Sikhs flock to this site in Amritsar every June to honor his contributions.
As in years past, on June 1, 1984, Sikhs were filling the complex to pay their respects when Indian military forces arrived and placed them under siege. A deliberate and calculated massacre ensued, perpetrated by a government against its own citizens. Anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew explains the purpose of the invasion: “The Army went into Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”
S.M. Sikri, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, elaborates by describing Operation Bluestar as a “massive, deliberate and planned onslaught to the life, property and honor of a comparatively small, but easily identifiable minority community.”
Eyewitnesses tell a story different than that of the Indian government published in the “White Paper on the Punjab Agitation.” Devinder Singh Duggal was responsible for overseeing the Sikh Reference Library and recalled that the Army fired on the complex for several hours starting around 12:30 p.m. on June 1. The next day passed relatively peacefully as the military lifted the curfew and allowed large numbers of Sikhs to enter the complex. After filtering innocent civilians into the complex, the Army again sealed the exits to Darbar Sahib, cordoned off the borders of Amritsar, and imposed a strict curfew.
At approximately 4 a.m. on June 4, the Army assault re-commenced and continued unabated for more than 48 hours. Survivors vividly recall seeing piles of dead women and children on the ground as an armored carrier and eight tanks entered the complex in the early morning of June 6. Army officers announced from inside the tanks: “Please come out. God’s blessings are with you. We will help you reach home absolutely safe and sound.” Survivors testify that those who came out in the open were shot down at sight.
Brahma Challeney of the Associated Press of America reported that a large number of innocent Sikhs were brutally murdered — some officers used the Sikhs’ turbans to tie their hands behind their backs, while other officers made rounds among the captives and executed each at point-blank range. The Indian Government has denied these statements, but eyewitness testimonies and post-mortem reports have invariably corroborated these accounts.
In order to conceal the extent of its assaults and grave human rights violations, the Indian government broadened its exile of all media outlets by barring access to organizations offering humanitarian aid. Social interest groups such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Reporters were denied entry into Punjab, and as a result were extremely limited in their abilities to evaluate and respond to the atrocities of Operation Bluestar.
The number of civilians murdered in Operation Bluestar remains unknown. While the most conservative estimates place the number of casualties around 675, independent and reputable sources estimate a minimum of 10,000 casualties. Joyce Pettigrew reports that a senior police officer in Punjab assessed the number of casualties as closer to 20,000.
The Committee on Human Rights openly criticized the unjust attack against innocent Sikhs, particularly when there were no allegations against them:
The most disturbing thing about the entire operation was that a whole mass of men, women, and children were ordered to be killed merely on the suspicion that some terrorists were operating from the Golden Temple [i.e., Darbar Sahib] and other Gurdwaras. Thus such a major military attack resulting in the massacre of largely innocent people was undertaken on mere suspicion which had been created by the statements of police and the government themselves.
The violation of human rights in 1984 is not just a Sikh issue — it is an issue of minority rights in India. Countless minority groups have been targeted and oppressed in the 65 years since the independence of India, and the continued denial of justice perpetuates the marginalization of these groups. Until there is accountability for these human rights violations, minority communities will continue to feel isolated and aliened. And as long as this continues, Sikhs across the globe will continue to stand up against these injustices.
This essay has been adapted from the latest edition of Gunisha Kaur’s book on human rights violations in Punjab, ‘Lost in History: 1984 Reconstructed.’
MORE: Human Rights Violations Sikhism India Sikhism Human Rights Golden Temple Sikh Massacre Operation Bluestar Anti Sikh Violence Sikhs in India

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During the first week of June, Sikhs around the world commemorate a recent historical event: Operation Bluestar of 1984, a government-sanctioned military operation that resulted in countless casualties and the destruction of one of the most historically significant gurduaras, the Darbar Sahib of Amritsar (i.e., The Golden Temple).
Sikhs constitute one of the many persecuted minority communities in India, and their commitment to standing for justice has made them a regular target of oppression for centuries.
Approximately one decade prior to the massacre of 1984, Sikh leaders of Punjab drafted the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, a document that called for a social revolution within India, demanding rights for oppressed minorities such as women, lower castes and impoverished communities. The resolution also demanded increased state autonomy, guarantees of constitutional rights and equality of citizens regardless of caste, religion or gender.
In the face of government resistance, the Sikhs raised the banner of the Dharam Yudh Morcha, threatening to protest peacefully until the federal government acknowledged the Anandpur Sahib Resolution and implemented change. They made their voices heard through campaigns that blocked off streets (rasta roko), railways (rail roko), canals (nahar roko) and work (kam roko). These protests threatened the economic and social stability of the country, and this played a major role in the Government’s decision to attack the core of the Sikh community. The government employed popular media to project Sikhs as being anti-national and secessionist, and used this as a pretense for the military operation in the theo-political capital of the Sikh tradition.
On June 1, 1984, the Indian Government launched Operation Bluestar, a full-scale assault on dozens of gurduaras around the Sikh homeland of Punjab. While coordinating attacks on these centers for worship and learning, the Government focused its attention on the most venerated and historically significant of gurduaras — the Darbar Sahib.
The invasion of the Indian Army was by no means a spontaneous reaction to the threat posed by protesting Punjabis; rather, the Indian Military prepared and simulated this operation for several months prior to its execution. The army’s assault included the deployment of tear gas, army tanks and 70,000 troops. Observers have widely speculated that the timing of the attack was also carefully selected to coincide with the first few days of June, a moment during which Sikhs around the globe commemorate the martyrdom of their fifth Guru, Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan is celebrated for many reasons, including his role as the architect of Darbar Sahib, and Sikhs flock to this site in Amritsar every June to honor his contributions.
As in years past, on June 1, 1984, Sikhs were filling the complex to pay their respects when Indian military forces arrived and placed them under siege. A deliberate and calculated massacre ensued, perpetrated by a government against its own citizens. Anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew explains the purpose of the invasion: “The Army went into Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”
S.M. Sikri, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, elaborates by describing Operation Bluestar as a “massive, deliberate and planned onslaught to the life, property and honor of a comparatively small, but easily identifiable minority community.”
Eyewitnesses tell a story different than that of the Indian government published in the “White Paper on the Punjab Agitation.” Devinder Singh Duggal was responsible for overseeing the Sikh Reference Library and recalled that the Army fired on the complex for several hours starting around 12:30 p.m. on June 1. The next day passed relatively peacefully as the military lifted the curfew and allowed large numbers of Sikhs to enter the complex. After filtering innocent civilians into the complex, the Army again sealed the exits to Darbar Sahib, cordoned off the borders of Amritsar, and imposed a strict curfew.
At approximately 4 a.m. on June 4, the Army assault re-commenced and continued unabated for more than 48 hours. Survivors vividly recall seeing piles of dead women and children on the ground as an armored carrier and eight tanks entered the complex in the early morning of June 6. Army officers announced from inside the tanks: “Please come out. God’s blessings are with you. We will help you reach home absolutely safe and sound.” Survivors testify that those who came out in the open were shot down at sight.
Brahma Challeney of the Associated Press of America reported that a large number of innocent Sikhs were brutally murdered — some officers used the Sikhs’ turbans to tie their hands behind their backs, while other officers made rounds among the captives and executed each at point-blank range. The Indian Government has denied these statements, but eyewitness testimonies and post-mortem reports have invariably corroborated these accounts.
In order to conceal the extent of its assaults and grave human rights violations, the Indian government broadened its exile of all media outlets by barring access to organizations offering humanitarian aid. Social interest groups such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Reporters were denied entry into Punjab, and as a result were extremely limited in their abilities to evaluate and respond to the atrocities of Operation Bluestar.
The number of civilians murdered in Operation Bluestar remains unknown. While the most conservative estimates place the number of casualties around 675, independent and reputable sources estimate a minimum of 10,000 casualties. Joyce Pettigrew reports that a senior police officer in Punjab assessed the number of casualties as closer to 20,000.
The Committee on Human Rights openly criticized the unjust attack against innocent Sikhs, particularly when there were no allegations against them:

The most disturbing thing about the entire operation was that a whole mass of men, women, and children were ordered to be killed merely on the suspicion that some terrorists were operating from the Golden Temple [i.e., Darbar Sahib] and other Gurdwaras. Thus such a major military attack resulting in the massacre of largely innocent people was undertaken on mere suspicion which had been created by the statements of police and the government themselves.

 
 

The violation of human rights in 1984 is not just a Sikh issue — it is an issue of minority rights in India. Countless minority groups have been targeted and oppressed in the 65 years since the independence of India, and the continued denial of justice perpetuates the marginalization of these groups. Until there is accountability for these human rights violations, minority communities will continue to feel isolated and aliened. And as long as this continues, Sikhs across the globe will continue to stand up against these injustices.
This essay has been adapted from the latest edition of Gunisha Kaur’s book on human rights violations in Punjab, ‘Lost in History: 1984 Reconstructed.’

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