March 17, 2015 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London: A press release by the Sikh Federation UK says [o]n 16 March the Times of India carried another article on the Sikh Manifesto. So-called liberal Sikhs have questioned the need for the manifesto to touch upon grooming and forced conversions.
Prof Pritam Singh, Dilbagh Singh Chana, Mahender Singh Dhaliwal and even Lord Indarjit Singh who should know much better, appear not to have a clue what is happening in the real world.
They need to read the June 2013 Home Affairs Select Committee Report: ‘Child sexual exploitation and the response to localised grooming’ and follow the news in the last 5 years on localised grooming.
The Home Affairs Select Committee report commenting on the ‘scale and prevalence’ of child sexual exploitation stated ‘the growth of the internet, and in particular social media which are popular among children, has created a new form of ‘stranger danger’, in the form of on-line grooming, and awareness has been raised about the need to keep children safe online.’
Localised grooming, the subject of the Home Affairs Select Committee report, has been recognised only very recently, in the wake of the Operation Retriever case. This took place in Derby in 2010 and involved 13 defendants who had worked together. They were jailed in total for up to 22 years for 70 offences. These were the first prosecutions for Child Sexual Exploitation.
The Times of India should find more reliable academics that Prof Pritam Singh who said that this ‘may have been an issue a decade ago’ and this ‘did not deserve to be on the community’s agenda’. They should talk to younger Sikhs, younger academics and those on the front line tackling grooming and forced conversions and not a group of out of touch old men with an average age that may be in the 80s.
Last Monday the UK Government held its first roundtable meeting with Sikh representatives where child sexual exploitation/grooming was one of three items featured on the agenda. They have asked for a further meeting later this week or early next week specifically on this issue suggesting those who have produced the Sikh Manifesto (the Sikh Federation (UK) and Sikh Network) are more in touch with the issues that matter today to the Sikh community and UK Government.
Also before the Times of India incorrectly suggest the 1984 Sikh Genocide may be of less importance they should also report on the one-hour meeting last Thursday with Hugo Swire, the UK Foreign Minister who deals with India where the only subject on the agenda was 1984.
Similarly Sikhs belonging to the Sikh Network met with the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) last Friday and raised the issue of the permanent monument in Central London to recognise Sikh sacrifices in the First World War. Others were raising issues with Ed Milband, the Labour Party leader, the next day at the conference in Birmingham. The Sikh Federation (UK) supported by the Sikh Network is showing it has the resources, skills and people on the ground to actively engage with politicians across the UK.
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