Representatives of Sikh Council UK and Cranford Community College met today in relation to an issue that arose about the wearing of a Kirpan at the College. The meeting was positive and constructive and clarity was established over misunderstandings between the College and two Sikh students affected by the matter.

Contrary to some reports the students were never excluded and attended the College today wearing their Sikh articles of faith including the Kirpan. Sikh Council UK and the College will continue to work together in further reviewing and developing the existing policy of the College going forward to ensure better clarity and avoid any misunderstandings in the future.

All parties acknowledged the excellent track record of the College in promoting community harmony which has been recognised locally and nationally on numerous occasions. Both Sikh Council UK and Cranford Community College are committed to working in partnership going forward on these matters.

Sikh Council UK Head of Operations Balvinder Kaur said “We are pleased to have resolved the matter and clarify any misunderstandings that had arisen and we look forward to working with the College going forward. The importance of casework around Sikh articles of faith means we all have a responsibility to have due consideration to the facts and be mindful of what is reported on social media”.

Sikh Council UK welcomes the passing of the Punjab Sikhs Anand Karaj Marriages Act 2017 in Punjab Pakistan. The new law was tabled as a private members bill by Ramesh Singh Arora and received unanimous support in the provincial Punjab Assembly in Pakistan.

The law is the first of its kind in the world and provides for the solemnisation and registration of Sikh marriages in Pakistan Punjab. The new law defines a Sikh marriage – Anand Karaj – as being a lawful union between a Sikh male and Sikh female. It provides a definition of a Sikh in accordance with the Sikh Rehit Maryada.

Sikh Council UK Secretary General Jagtar Singh said “This is a historical achievement for the Pakistan Sikh community and I have passed on our collective congratulations and well wishes to S. Ramesh Singh Arora, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Pakistan High Commission in London. It is pleasing to see the law was passed on the same day Sikhs in Pakistan and indeed the world celebrated the 550th Nanakshahi Sikh new-year”.

Enclosure: the text of the new law is attached to this press release for reference

Sikh Council UK welcomes the legal steps being undertaken to seek disclosure of any British link to Operation Blue Star in 1984. Freelance journalist Phil Miller is pursuing a claim before the Freedom of Information Tribunal for disclosure of the files that have not been released under the 30 year rule. Separately Sikh Federation UK is commencing proceedings for a judicial review of the Government’s decision not to agree to an independent enquiry into British involvement in the events of 1984 following the Government recently re-affirming its decision not to institute an independent enquiry.

Sikh Council UK Spokesperson Jagjit Singh said “We have been calling for full disclosure since it was revealed four years ago that the British Government had provided military planning advice to the Indian authorities in the lead up to 1984 attack against the backdrop of seeking to procure defence contracts. We have also maintained that the review undertaken by Sir Jeremy Heywood into the matter was unfinished business and there was a need for a more wide ranging and independent enquiry which the Labour Party committed to in its manifesto prior to the last election and reaffirmed the promise in recent correspondence to Sikh Council UK. Whilst the recent legal processes are ongoing and could be subject to appeals and further processes we repeat our call to the Government to provide the community with the full truth of what happened during that period of history. Whilst the current Government is not responsible for what may have occurred over 30 years ago it does have an obligation to disclose the truth of the matter.”

Sikh Council UK is pleased to report Merlin Entertainments Group has adopted a policy agreeing to Sikhs wearing kirpans at its venues in the United Kingdom. The company is the largest European entertainments group operating in Europe and runs 124 attractions across the world. The company’s venues in the United Kingdom include Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquariums, the Seal Sanctuaries, Legoland, the Dungeons, Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle, Shreks Adventures and the Blackpool Tower.

The London Eye venue is however an exception to the policy and the existing restrictions in place at this site will continue to apply but there is a commitment to revisiting this in the future. The new policy will come into effect from Saturday 17th March 2018 and follows a company review of the carrying of articles of faith into its attractions. The company has stipulated that Sikhs will be able to wear kirpans at the company’s venues subject to its conditions that the kirpans measure no larger than 6” in length in total including the handle and cover, are worn underneath clothing/ out of view and worn securely particularly in relation to rollercoaster rides.

Sikh Council UK Chair of Community Safety Ravjeet Singh said “We welcome the decision of Merlin Entertainments Group to adopt a new policy on kirpans. We will monitor developments and continue to work with the company to try to find an agreeable solution for the London Eye. Overall this is a positive development and builds on the policies adopted at other leisure industry venues over the past year under existing frameworks following consultations with Sikh Council UK. This remains a key priority area for Sikh Council UK and is work in progress in which we continue to make representations including on keeping restrictive conditions to a minimum including on size. We encourage any Sikhs facing difficulties wearing their kirpans or other kakkars to get into contact with Sikh Council UK at the earliest opportunity.”

Merlin Entertainments Group Head of Security Eric Dench said “Merlin Entertainments Group recognises that patrons attending its venues come from diverse communities and faiths and we are pleased to adopt a policy on the wearing of kirpans by Sikhs following a review of the carrying of articles of faith at our venues. The policy underlines the company’s commitment to respecting the importance of the kirpan to Sikhs and it provides clarity to all concerned about the arrangements going forward. We are grateful to Sikh Council UK for their assistance and will continue to work with them in the future”.

Sikh Council UK has welcomed the Point of Order in Parliament by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP today detailing the race hate attack on Ravneet Singh outside Parliament last week. He mentioned the importance of the turban to Sikhs and called on the authorities to bring the perpetrator to justice. Tanmanjeet Singh also highlighted concerns with the omission of Sikhs from the Government’s Hate Crime Action Plan.

Sikh Council UK Secretary General Jagtar Singh said “We welcome Tanmanjeet Singh’s Point of Order in the House of Commons today. It is important that hate crimes are accurately recorded and monitored to effectively tackle the issue. We will be making representations to the Government in connection with the review of the Hate Crime Action Plan to address Sikh concerns and to further support the accurate recording and monitoring of hate crimes against Sikhs”.

Sikh Council UK has today raised its concerns with the Metropolitan Police following the attack on Ravneet Singh. The attack, which took place on Wednesday in the Parliament estate whilst Ravneet Singh, CEO of EcoSikh, was waiting to enter the Portcullis House to see MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi. A man shouted ‘go home Muslim’ and attempted to remove his Dastar (turban).

Sikh Council UK Chair of Community Safety Ravjeet Singh said “The Dastar is of huge religious significance to a Sikh and it is shocking this attack took place at the centre of our democracy. Sikh Council UK has taken up the matter with the Met Police structures and we look forward to progress with the criminal investigation”.

He added “This case is another illustration of Sikhs facing attacks where the perpetrators are motivated by Islamophobia. It is important that hates crimes like these are logged appropriately with the police authorities and Sikh Aware UK, the monitoring platform for the hate crime for the Sikh community in the UK. Sikh Aware UK was established in partnership with leading community organisations last year and can be accessed on

Sikh Council UK has today called on the Foreign Secretary to meet with the family of Jagtar Singh Johal and to raise the case again with his counterpart in India. This follows the Indian authorities today seeking a further three months to detain Jagtar without charge and confirmation of allegation of torture having been relayed to the British consulate authorities by Jagtar.

Sikh Council UK Chair of Indian Subcontinent Affairs Gurdial Singh Atwal said “It is now three months since Jagtar Singh Johal was arrested and he remains in detention without charge and today the National Investigation Agency has sought another three months to hold Jagtar and others without laying any charges. We understand Jagtar Singh has informed the British consulate authorities in India he was tortured by the Punjab Police in the days following his arrest, but the Indian authorities continue to deny British consular staff private access or to arrange an independent medical examination. We are now calling for this matter to be escalated and pursued at the highest level and for pressure to be exerted on the Indian Government similar to British Government intervention in other cases”.

He added “In the past week we saw the release of a report by the human-rights body REDRESS challenging the British Government for not doing enough to support victims of unjust imprisonment and torture in foreign jails. Whist it is acknowledged and appreciated that regular consulate visits have been maintained in the past couple of months it is concerning that not a lot appears to have happened despite the allegations of torture having been relayed to the authorities by Jagtar Singh.”

Sikh Council UK has joined the calls from Sikhs in India and across the world for the immediate arrest of Jagdish Tytler following the release of video footage appearing to be of a sting operation in which Tytler confessed to involvement in the anti-Sikh killings in Delhi in 1984 and mocked the campaign for justice for the victims.

The footage which it is reported was anonymously handed into Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee was released by President Manjit Singh GK yesterday and shows Tytler referring to involvement in the killing of a hundred Sikhs but saying in provocative terms the only thing happening was enquiry upon enquiry, nothing would happen (to him) and he refers to his links in the judiciary. He also refers to offers of political office given to him by the Indian Congress Party and of a media campaign targeting his son.

Sikh Council UK Chair of Indian Subcontinent Affairs Gurdial Singh Atwal said “This footage is shocking but not surprising in the brazen and contemptuous attitude of Tytler and other Indian politicians and the culture of legal and political impunity within which they have operated over the past 33 years. We note Tytler has reportedly denied it is him in the video footage but then again he has been denying his role in the anti-Sikh pograms in Delhi despite clear eye witness evidence implicating him in orchestration of the killings.

He added “Tytler’s comments in the video footage are a confession of his involvement in the killings and we are calling upon the relevant authorities to arrest him forthwith. We note with interest the video footage was handed in anonymously to the Sikh community in Delhi a week after Tytler himself publicly revealed that Rajiv Gandhi the then newly appointed Prime Minister travelled around the streets of Delhi with Tytler on 1st November suggesting the orchestration in the killings went all the way to the top to the Prime Minister personally. We call upon all Sikh institutions and organisations in Delhi and Punjab to pursue a renewed campaign to uncover the full truth behind the state-sponsored killing of Sikhs in 1984 and deliver justice to the victims.”

Sikh Council UK representatives attended the official launch of the campaign led by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi for a memorial in London to commemorate the sacrifices of Sikh soldiers in the world wars and pledged to support the various work streams involved in the project.

Tanmanjeet Singh launched the campaign before a packed committee room in Parliament. An impressive £375,000 was committed in pledges from members of the community present during the event including a number of Sikh Council UK members. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid attended on behalf of the Government and pledged to get behind the campaign including helping set up a working group, finding a suitable location in London and helping provide additional funding towards the project.

A large number of other MPs attended and spoke at the event including leaders of all the main opposition parties including Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), Nigel Dodds (DUP), Vince Cable (Liberal Democrats) and Liz Saville-Roberts (Plaid Cymru). Letters of support were also read out from Ian Blackford (SNP) and Caroline Lucas (Green). Other notable attendees included Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. The proceedings were presided over by the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow.

Sikh Council UK Secretary General Jagtar Singh said “I congratulate Tanmanjeet Singh on an excellent campaign launch and the support and financial commitments that have been secured in a short space of time. Many MPs spoke of his enthusiasm and commitment to this cause and I commend his leadership in uniting everyone behind this project. There were many moving and heartfelt speeches referencing the overwhelming and disproportionate contribution and bravery of Sikh soldiers to this country during the wars and it will be a fitting tribute to recognise their sacrifices as we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War this year. Sikh Council UK is committed to extending all support to Tanmanjeet Singh and a number of our members will be working within the project team.”

On Saturday 27th January 2018 Sikh Council UK executive committee delegates held a meeting at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Coventry and debated the recent decisions of Gurdwara management committees across the world including a number of Gurdwara members of the Sikh Council UK to publicise the placing of restrictions on Indian government officials from speaking from their Gurdwara stages and being given any recognition.

It was noted that publicising the restrictions on Indian officials made public the longstanding and ongoing restrictions that have been in place in many Gurdwaras in the UK and other countries across the Indian diaspora arising from longstanding and outstanding concerns of human rights violations of Sikhs and other minority communities in India and state interference in community matters. It was also noted the restrictions did not relate to anyone including Indian officials attending Gurdwaras for prayer in individual capacities.

Sikh Council UK executive committee delegates unanimously resolved to oppose any interference in internal Sikh affairs, doctrines and practices by any outside body or state and agreed it is within the prerogative of Gurdwara management committees to make decisions based on Sikh protocols and norms within the framework of the Sikh Rehit Maryada on who to invite or not invite to speak from or be given any recognition from Gurdwara stages. The delegates welcomed the recent clarification in this respect from the Akal Takhat the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs and agreed the publicising of the restrictions on Indian officials in Gurdwaras was an appropriate response to outstanding and ongoing community concerns.

It was noted that the Gurdwara stage is an important Sikh community platform and Gurdwara management committees are mandated to ensure its use accords with Sikh beliefs and traditions including the coupling of the spiritual with the temporal. Resistance to state tyranny and defending human rights and the freedom of expression are fundamental Sikh tenets and historical Sikh traditions and it is entirely appropriate for these matters to be raised within historical and contemporary contexts from Gurdwara stages.