LONDON: Over 150 UK Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations have signed a letter to UK Prime Minister Borris Johnson complaining about a Number 10 blunder of completely forgetting to recognise the Gurpurb (Birthday) of Guru Nanak Dev Ji on 19 November 2021. The open letter not only asks for an apology, but also calls for Indian-origin home secretary Priti Patel to be sacked for her “Sikh extremism remarks.”
The letter is being copied to other party leaders and all 650 MPs.
“Within 24 hours of the letter being posted online nearly 5,000 constituents covering over 300 MPs had added their signatures,” said Harnek Singh, National Press Secretary, Sikh Federation (UK).
He said in the email sent out to media that the oversight of Gurpurb is highly embarrassing for Boris Johnson, Number 10, the PMs faith adviser – Jonathan Hellewell, the Communities Secretary and the Faith Minister who all forgot to acknowledge one of the most important days in the Sikh calendar.
“To make matters much worse on the same day Priti Patel, the Home Secretary gave a hard-hitting speech on terrorism in Washington DC. In her address to the Heritage Foundation that we have shared on social media she spoke about banning Hamas in the UK and proscribing four extreme right-wing groups but extraordinarily stated: “Sikh separatist extremism has also caused considerable tensions in recent years.”
The open letter mentions two specific examples where the Sikh community believed Priti Patel demonstrated in “recent years” she is unfit to remain Home Secretary.
The first is the failed extradition in September 2021 of three innocent British born Sikhs to India. The case collapsed on the first morning in Westminster Magistrates Court. In December 2020 Priti Patel sanctioned the extradition the day after Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary at the time, returned from discussions with Ministers in Delhi. District Judge Michael Snow was highly critical of the dubious role played by Priti Patel. The three British Sikhs would have faced torture and the death penalty if they had been extradited to India.
The second is in relation to the wife of Jagtar Singh Johal. Jagtar a British born Sikh who went to India to get married but was abducted and tortured by Indian police is today spending his 5th consecutive Birthday in an Indian jail although no evidence has been presented in court. Legal experts have concluded he is being held in arbitrary detention and the UK Government is duty bound by its own policies to secure his release and return to the UK to be with his family.
“Priti Patel stands accused of blocking any efforts to get Jagtar back to the UK and having open hostility towards the Sikh community. Last year she unashamedly had the audacity to try and deport Jagtar Singh Johal’s wife to India. Priti Patel however failed in her endeavour but exhibited serious misjudgement and bias against the Sikh community,” said Harnek Singh.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) that is leading the campaign and political lobbying against Priti Patel said: “Priti Patel has since she became Home Secretary deliberately gone out of her way to target and smear the minority British Sikh community to appease her paymasters in Delhi. Her actions are deeply offensive and indefensible.”