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Manjit Singh GK’s encounter with Sikh Diaspora in UK and Indian state’s efforts to contain Sikh nationalist activity

September 20, 2013 | By

Manjit Singh GK on ‘Special Mission’ to UK:

It is learnt that the an eleven member delegation of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee is on a seven day special purpose visit the United Kingdom and Dubai. The delegation led by DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK has reportedly been specially sent by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), also called Badal Dal, led by Sukhbir Singh Badal and his father Parkash Singh Badal with a ‘special task’ to convince the Sikh diaspora, or in the terms of terminology used by Manjit Singh GK and the Badal Dal – to the Sikh separatists, towards (so-called) Indian Nationalist ideology. The delegation has reportedly been accompanied by two Chandigarh based journalists.

DSGMC head confronted in Public debate by the Sikh Diaspora:

As per recent media reports Manjit Singh GK has been confronted in public debate by the Sikh diaspora on the question of abandoning the Anandpur Shaib resolution by the Badal Dal, and on the issues of Human rights violations, appointment of alleged human rights abuser cop Sumedh Saini as Director General of Punjab Police and on the issue of Sikh homeland often addressed as the “Khalistan”.

“I am an Indian Nationalist from the bottom of my heart”, says GK:

In a public debate that was conducted and aired by the Sikh Channel, Manjit Singh GK declared that he was an Indian nationalist from the bottom of his heart. He went on to claim that no one could be more nationalist (Indian nationalist) than a Sikh. He said that ‘separatism’ has no place in Sikhi.

Putting forward many loose arguments GK said that India is in existence because of the Sikh Gurus, and India gained independence because of Sikhs, and India is secure because of the Sikhs; and that Sikhs are the true Indian nationalists.

GK’s Comments and claims about/against Sant Bhindranwale:

He said that Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was a religious figure who was trapped by the Congress in it’s politics. He claimed that no other was more close to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale than him (Manjit Singh GK), but he believes, as he said, that Sant Bhindranwale had no understanding of politics (because he was a religious figure) and was caught up in the political trap by the Congress party.

Security cover provided to Manjit Singh GK in UK:

According to some media reports carried by certain sections of the Indian media that the UK’s West Midland police on September 18, 2013 rushed to provide security cover to Manjit Singh GK in Birmingham following his confrontation with certain sections of the UK’s Sikh diaspora.

According to Times of India (TOI): “[t]hree police officers and an escort vehicle were provided to accompany him following threatening phone calls and emails to TV and radio stations in the UK to stop Manjit’s entry at gurudwaras and not entertain him”.

“There was a specific request from our partner radio channel on impending threat to the Sikh committee head. Such security is often offered to all significant people who may face public scrutiny”, Aqeel Khan, senior police officer of West Midlands Police reportedly said. The security was reportedly facilitated by a private FM channel in Birmingham, which has a partnership programme with the police.

Indian Nationalism v. Sikh Nationalism:

It’s an established fact that India is such a peninsula that is inhabited by multiple nationalities; besides various ethnic, cultural, linguistic and tribal entities. The idea of building single Indian nation is refined idea of Hindu nationalism and the Hindu state, which aims at crushing the distinctiveness of other entities/nationalities. The symbols of Indian nationalism such as slogan of “Vandey Matram”, “Bharat Mata” etc. are clearly Hindu concepts and they have controversial and highly contested origin/history, but Indian state is attempting to force all to adopt these symbols, though historically these symbols were never accepted by various distinct entities inhabiting this country.

Sikhs are one of these distinct nationalities; and they mainly inhabit the northern region of this peninsula though they are spread to the other part of the country as well. Sikhs had established their own state in early nineteenth century that was lost in Anglo-Sikh wars when the British merged the Sikh state with their colony.

Sikh panth is such a social-religious-and-political entity which possesses the necessary characteristics of being a distinct nationality but according to scholars it transgresses the boundaries of such an entity (of being a nationality) as well.

The crux of the Indio-Sikh conflict is that the modern Indian state, at it’s heart, is a Hindu state which denies the existence of the Sikhism as a distinct religion and the existence of Sikhs as a distinct people; presents Sikh Panth as one of the groups of Hindu society; which means that it rejects the existence of the Sikhs as Sikhs, and in doing so Indian nationalism is used as prime tool.

Badal Dal’s position in Indo-Sikh conflict:

Badal Dal is main group emerged out of Sikh political party called Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). In the post militancy (mid-1980s-mid-1990s) era Badal Dal openly allied with the Indian state to gain power in Punjab. The Badal Dal has formed three governments in Punjab since 1997, current one is second in a row.

Badal Dal’s position in Indo-Sikh conflict is clear from the deeds of it’s government and words of it’s leaders. From the appointment of human rights abusers as chief of police in Punjab to making attempts to bring Sikhs under the grab of Indian nationalism, Badal Dal is making every effort to ensure the Indian state that it shall fulfil it’s (Indian State’s) agendas if it (Badal Dal) is kept in power in Punjab.

Containment of Sikh nationalist activity in Punjab:

Indian state is making all efforts to contain Sikh nationalist activity in Punjab and elsewhere in India, which is evident from the false charges of Sedition being registered against the Sikh nationalist leaders and groups in Punjab.

Badal Dal is playing a pro-active role in containing the activities of Sikh nationalist groups and keeping the Sikh nationalist leaders behind the bars.

On certain occasion theSikh nationalist feelings in Punjab becomes visible among but that happens only when the Indian state attempts to take such steps that puts extreme pressure on the Sikh masses. One such incident was the attempts of Indian state to execute Sikh political prisoner Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana in March 2012.

Except these special incidents the Sikh nationalist activity remains largely contained by the Indian state.

Attempts to contain Sikh diaspora activism:

The Sikh diaspora is quite powerful in terms of resources – be it human resource or the knowledge resource that are very useful in ethnic conflicts. Through Badal Dal the Indian state is attempting to contain the Sikh diaspora activism.

Previously the Indian state was attempting directly to contain the Sikh diaspora activism but such attempts, that were mainly retributive or were aimed to act as a deterrent – such as so-called “blacklist” of the Sikhs, were not of much success. Rather many of the sections of the Indian state have now started thinking that these lists actually worked as accumulator of “anti-India” (what they call it) feelings amongst the Sikh diaspora sections.

Working through the Badal Dal is more suitable situation for the Indian state because firstly it pulls Indian state out of visible scene; secondly, it tends to divide the Sikhs; thirdly, the image of pro-India Sikhs (elected through the Indian election process, which is a highly manipulated process) is used to demonise the nationalist Sikhs.

Sikh diaspora must keep itself united & vigilant:

Recently, Badal Dal leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Dr. Daljit Singh Cheema and Sikandar Singh Malooka faced tough times in Canada when they tried to hold an “Akali Conference” in Toronto; in wake of strong resentment from the Sikh diaspora sections Badal Dal’s Canada leaders had to declare that no conference would be held in Canada; and further that they had arranged a private dinner that was mistakenly declared as “Akali Conference” by Badal Dal’s Cananda president.

It is notable that resentment towards the Badal Dal is so strong in the Sikh diaspora sections of the Sikhs of United States of America and Canada that Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal had to cancel his visit to the US. Whereas, Sukhbir Badal had to cancel his visit to Canada twice.

Therefore in our opinion it is not so simple that DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK was confronted by the Sikh diaspora sections with blunt questions, and in return Manjit Singh GK clearly showed his (and Badal Dal’s) alignment with the Indian state. It’s part of the conflict, and both sides were playing their part, one in the favor of Sikh nationalism and other in the favor of Indian nationalism.

Sikh diaspora sections must understand that Indian state’s efforts to contain their activism are going to be more serious and focused in future, therefore, it is must for the Sikh diaspora to have coordination and unity to defend the attack and offend the attackers in this invisible war-fare.

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