The Sikh Council UK urges all Gurdwaras, Sikh organisations and educational institutions to use their voices to speak up against all abuse It is important that we believe the victims of abuse and stand alongside them. The courage of victims and survivors to step forward and share their story so that no other man, woman, or child suffers, should be acknowledged and recognised.

Gurbani tells us, “that truth always prevails.” As a Qaum it is a stark wake-up call when incidents in our community come to light. We have a greater obligation to tackle those who discredit the Khalsa’s Bana and have used their positions to violate and abuse our brothers and sisters. One incident, one perpetrator is one too many.

Through the campaigning and advocacy of organisations such as ‘The Kaur Movement’, a spotlight has been shone to expose horrific cases of alleged sexual abuse in faith settings in the Sikh Community.

In managing allegations and responding to victims of abuse we must step away from cultural taboos and trends that have evolved. It is imperative that as a Qaum we implement and adhere to strict and robust safeguarding measures in light of Gurmat and UK law.

The Sikh Council UK also acknowledges that historic administrations of ours, and other community organisations, have failed to deal with safeguarding concerns in an acceptable manner. The new leadership team is now focused on ensuring safeguarding is treated with the upmost seriousness it requires.

We consider those who are involved in the day-to-day running of Gurdwaras, Sikh organisations and institutions have a moral and legal duty of care, trust and responsibility to ensure that all members of our community are kept safe from any type of abuse.

Should anyone experience abuse, of any kind, within any Sikh spaces or otherwise, we would urge formal reporting to committee members, specialist support groups and/or the police. Furthermore, we urge all parties to take any report or claim extremely seriously and with the appropriate level of protection and discretion.

An urgent review should be undertaken to ensure that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and best practise should be implemented and followed as a minimum standard for all Gurdwaras, Sikh Organisations and institutes.

ਯੂ.ਕੇ. ਦੇ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਵਲੋਂ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਪਾਵਨ ਸਰੂਪਾਂ ਦੀ ਵਿਦੇਸ਼ਾਂ ‘ਚ ਛਪਾਈ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਸ਼੍ਰੋਮਣੀ ਕਮੇਟੀ ਦੇ ਫੈਸਲੇ ਦਾ ਵਿਰੋਧ

ਯੂ.ਕੇ. ਦੇ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਭਾਵਨਾਵਾਂ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਾਵਾ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਸਿੱਖ ਕੌਂਸਲ ਯੂ.ਕੇ., ਭਾਰਤ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਹਰਲੇ ਦੇਸ਼ਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਪਾਵਨ ਸਰੂਪਾਂ ਦੀ ਛਪਾਈ ਲਈ ਪ੍ਰਿੰਟਿੰਗ ਪ੍ਰੈੱਸਾਂ ਸਥਾਪਤ ਕਰਨ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਸ਼੍ਰੋਮਣੀ ਕਮੇਟੀ ਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਬੀਬੀ ਜਗੀਰ ਕੌਰ ਦੇ ਐਲਾਨ ਦੀ ਨਿਖੇਧੀ ਕਰਦੀ ਹੈ। ਯੂਨਾਈਟਿਡ ਕਿੰਗਡਮ ਵਿਚ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਵਧੇਰੇ ਸਰੂਪਾਂ ਦੀ ਜ਼ਰੂਰਤ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੈ। ਯੂ.ਕੇ. ਦਾ ਸਿੱਖ ਭਾਈਚਾਰਾ ਯੂਰਪ ਦੇ ਕਿਸੇ ਵੀ ਹਿੱਸੇ ਵਿਚ ਕਿਸੇ ਵੀ ਤਰ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀ ਲੋੜ ਦੀ ਪੂਰਤੀ ਕਰਨ ਦੇ ਸਮਰੱਥ ਹੈ।

ਅਸੀਂ ਸ਼੍ਰੋਮਣੀ ਕਮੇਟੀ ਨੂੰ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਾਂ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਆਪਣਾ ਐਲਾਨ ਤੁਰੰਤ ਵਾਪਸ ਲਵੇ ਅਤੇ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਨਵੇਂ ਸਰੂਪਾਂ ਦੀ ਛਪਾਈ ਬੰਦ ਕਰ ਦੇਵੇ।

ਨਾਲ ਹੀ ਯੂਰਪ ਵਿਚ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧਕ ਕਮੇਟੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਇਸ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਸਰਵੇਖਣ ਭਰ ਕੇ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਭੇਜਣ ਦੀ ਕਿਰਪਾਲਤਾ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਅਪੀਲ ਕੀਤੀ ਜਾਂਦੀ ਹੈ।

ਸਿਖ ਕੌਂਸਲ ਯੂ.ਕੇ


Sikh Council UK: UK Sikhs oppose SGPC’s decision of Printing Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee ‘abroad’

The Sikh Council UK has been approached by many Gurdwaras to echo the sentiment of Sikhs in the UK by condemning the announcement of Bibi Jagir Kaur, President SGPC to set up facilities for printing saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee in foreign countries outside India. There is no need for additional saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee in the United Kingdom. Any need in mainland Europe can be met by the UK Sikh Community with relative ease.

We urge the SGPC to retract their announcement immediately and cease the printing of any new saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. The Sikh Council UK has launched a survey to gain further information from Gurdwara Management Committees. 

Sikh Council UK

ਸਰਵੇਖਣ/Survey

Sikh Council UK was approached by large sections of the Sikh Community who were concerned around the funding, consultation and processes used in establishing a ‘Guru Nanak Chair’ at the University of Birmingham. Sikh Council UK wrote to the University expressing concerns.

We have received a response from the University. We are now sharing our communication and the universities response (see attached) with the wider community as we remain dissatisfied and concerned. We invite Sikh Organisations and Gurdwaras to come together and engage in an informed discussion to determine our next steps. Please email us your suggestions/concern on this issue at info@sikhcouncil.co.uk and we will be in touch to arrange a virtual meeting.

External/Internal Communications and Engagement Team

Sikh Council UK

Attachments:

  1. Our Email to University 
  2. University of Birmingham Response

Our response to Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report

2421- Please Read/Download Full Statement (PDF) Here

The Sikh Council UK, as the largest representative platform of Sikhs in the UK, is one of many organisations representing minority communities in the UK that is strongly disappointed by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report. Our main concerns are:

The lack of recognition that institutional and structural barriers still exist for many ethnic minority communities in employment, health and education, to name a few. One only needs to look at the makeup or lack of representation of ethnic minorities in senior and decision making roles in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

The report fails to recognise intersectionality and the multiple factors that lead to inequality, for example, the intersection between ethnicity, socio-economic and lack of social mobility.

Whilst we welcome the recommendation “to produce high-quality teaching resources to tell the multiple, nuanced stories of the contributions made by different groups that have made this country the one it is today.”

We strongly suggest this should not be at the expense of ignoring the suffering of millions of individuals during the British Empire. Nor the fact that colonialism involved exploitation of natural resources and minerals from many countries to benefit the British Empire for its rulers, leading to inequality and poverty that still exists in many of the former colonies.

All native men were forced to crawl the Kucha Kurrichhan on their hands and knees as punishment in Amritsar, 1919

The Sikhs are only too aware of the legacy left by the British Empire, in that the Sikh Kingdom that stretched from what is Northern India, parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan was annexed by the British. The British Empire nearly destroyed and replaced our indigenous education system. Treaties that were signed between the British rulers and Sikhs were never honoured, resulting in no restoration of the Sikh Kingdom. Instead, the state of Punjab was split between two nations, India and Pakistan during partition. Since then, the state of Punjab has always been treated differently to all other states by the Central Indian Government,

We welcome the recommendation to use data in a responsible and informed way. However, we are disappointed that there is no mention of communities like the Sikhs that are recognised as both a religious and ethnic group within the Equality Act 2010 but are never monitored for data collection in terms of ethnicity. So, any inequalities or disparities for the Sikh community are never highlighted or addressed.

The Government needs to address the concerns of minority groups appropriately and quickly as including our own community, many are losing faith in the process of state commissioned ‘independent’ research.

Please Read/Download Full PDF statement here

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has passed its second reading in parliament. The Sikh Council UK, as the largest representative platform of Sikhs in the UK, is concerned about the implications this has on fundamental human rights, including the right to protest peacefully.

Membership Secretary Bhervinder Singh said, “Like other minorities, we have safeguarded many of our rights through the democratic means of peaceful protest. A striking example of this is the 1983 protest march at Hyde Park that had over 40,000 attendees during the Mandla Sikh turban case.

Photograph of Key Sikh Leaders in 1983 during the Mandla Sikh-Turban Campaign

The latest and ongoing issue relates to India’s Anti-Farmer laws, which have led to several protests in the UK in recent months. We anticipate further protests to exert pressure on India’s government when lockdown is eased. We strongly oppose these new draconian measures that limit the length of protests, impose maximum noise-levels and prosecute activists for serious annoyance.

For many, this is a harrowing reminder of Britain’s colonial past in which the freedom of assembly was heavily restricted in many places, causing some of the darkest chapters in history, such as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, in Amritsar 1919.”

However, the Sikh Council UK welcomes the tightening of child protection laws through this legislation which will amend Section 21 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This means the definition of a person in a ‘position of trust’ will now include sports coaches and religious leaders, making it illegal for people in these categories to engage in sexual activity with any under 18s (including those over the usual age of consent, 16 years old).

We commend the hard work of the NSPCC, Sarah Champion MP, Chair of the APPG on Safeguarding in Faith Settings and Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Vice-Chair of this APPG and the Chair of the APPG on British Sikhs.

 

Sikh Council UK pays tribute and prays for the family and loved ones of Sarah Everard. We urge the UK Government to use this bill and other opportunities to immediately tackle the rising issue of violence against young girls and women.

-END –

Surjit Singh Dusanjh

Spokesperson, Sikh Council UK

Manmagun Singh Randhawa

Assistant Spokesperson, Sikh Council UK

Read/Download PDF Here

The Sikh Council UK expresses concern over rising community tensions in the UK due to events in India. We feel that India’s current domestic policy endangers the communal harmony between different communities of Indian origin in the UK, especially minorities like the Sikhs.

Since the onset of the farmers’ protest, there has been a campaign led by the Hindu nationalist government in India to demonise the protestors. Propaganda by India’s ruling party falsely suggests that this is a Sikh/Punjab driven agitation. The truth is that the protest consists of Indian citizens from different states with diverse religious, cultural and political views. This has led to religious tension in India, we feel this could trigger similar unrest in the UK.

Generally, Sikhs and Hindus of Indian origin have lived together peacefully in the UK. However, in recent months, there has been an increase in anti-Sikh hate rhetoric from supporters of the Hindu nationalist government in India. Many supporters of the farmers’ protest, including climate-activists, journalists and UK parliamentarians have been subjected to hateful online abuse containing racial and sexual undertones. We urge anyone receiving hate-crime to report this to the police immediately.

Last week, UK based group, ‘Inspiring Indian Women’ sparked outrage through an inflammatory tweet: “Punjab needs to be cleansed of lots of cobweb. They forgot the massacre after Indira”. This has led to resignation of its patron Virendra Sharma MP who is also the chair of Indo-British All-Party Parliamentary Group.

In Australia, a right-wing Hindutva group allegedly threatened to lead a march past a Gurdwara that could have led to violence. As there is some indication of lockdown coming to an end here in the UK, we are fearful that we will see a series of protests and counter-protests on this divisive issue that may collide.

Gurpreet Singh Anand, Secretary General of SCUK said, “The anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in November 1984 are a traumatic memory for the Sikh Community. Social media has been plagued with reminders of the Sikh Genocide and allusions to a repetition of ‘history the Sikhs have forgotten’. We have seen the dangers of inciteful propaganda in the USA. This behaviour is a threat to the cohesive social fabric of Britain, it must stop.”

India’s ruling party, the BJP make no secret of their ‘IT Cell’. There is evidence to suggest a similar international syndicate network and we fear the UK is being targeted to propagate Hindu Nationalist extremism known as Hindutva. The Sikh Council UK has written to the High Commission of India, London to urge them to condemn ‘Hindutva’ hate-crime conducted by people of Indian origin in the UK.

Read/Download Full Statement Here

There is global outrage in response to India’s handling of the farmers’ protests. From the onset of this historic movement, there has been a direct campaign to malign and demonise the farmers. Sadly, state-favoured media, politicians and various influencers have contributed to a dangerous narrative that harbours religious tension and polarity. An extremely offensive manifestation of this is the gathering of anti-social mobs outside Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib which marks the spot Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Jee (our ninth Guru) laid his life to deliver the Hindu faith from an existential crisis. Despite this, farmers from all parts of India are continuing to join and strengthen their collective voice against the anti-farmer laws. 

Last month, the Sikh Council UK issued a ‘red alert‘ that was undersigned by over 180 Gurdwaras and Sikh Organisations that forewarned further violence. A survey conducted simultaneously showed that 93% of the UK Sikhs’ felt that human rights violations would increase’. 

Sadly, this has proven to be true. The Sikh Council UK has verified the following reports emerging from the ground:
 

  • Attacks on protest sites by gangs enabled to do so by the police which passively observes criminal activity 
  • Some members of these mobs have been identified as allies of India’s ruling party, the BJP. 
  • Clear use of disproportionate force by the police, deliberate provocation and desecration of Sikh religious articles, including the dastaar (Sikh Turban) and Kesh (hair). 
  • The removal of water, electricity and essential supplies to some protest sites. 
  • The suspension of internet and communication services 
  • The arrest of independent media personnel, especially those involved in investigative journalism.  
  • A increasing number of missing persons amongst the protestors
     

The above demonstrates the state is actively breaching the protestors’ fundamental human rights and is complicit in criminal activity. 

PM Narendra Modi has a troublesome past stained by the bloodbath of the 2002 Gujrat Riots. This only compounds our present concerns. Today, in his national radio broadcast, PM Modi has incited hatred amongst his supporters (known as bhakts‘)  by falsely claiming desecration of the National Flag on January 26th. This deliberate recklessness leaves us in no uncertainty as to the intentions of the Indian state.  

We urge immediate international intervention and unbiased coverage by the world press. In light of recent events, Gurdwaras are considering bans on Indian diplomats and politicians visiting Gurdwaras in an official capacity in the UK.

We are certain that the immediate actions of the Indian Government will shape Sikh attitudes for generations. Farming is intrinsic is to the Sikh community; the threat to Indian agriculture affects us disproportionately. Sikh history has a proven record of resilience against tyranny. We call for our community both on the ground and in the diaspora to remain vigilant. 

 

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Whilst we’re all worried about the new stains of COVID19, there is a worrying financial strain on our religious institutions, many of which may not be able to recuperate.

Sikh Council UK, the largest representative platform of Sikh Gurdwaras and organisations, surveyed member Gurdwaras – the results are worrying. Sadly, for a chance of survival, without a miracle, Gurdwaras will have to stop their aid projects to the wider community.

See our report here

 

This SCUK COVID19 Guidance 070121 definitive document is produced as a collaboration between the Sikh Council UK and the Sikh Doctors Association.

It takes effect (legally) from 6th January, 2021.

Official Government guidance

In the event of any conflict between any applicable legislation (including the health and safety legislation) and this guidance, the applicable legislation shall prevail.

For the full Government guidance, please visit :

National lockdown: Stay at Home – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship from 2 December – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Tier 5 will remain in place until February 15th 2021, when it will be reviewed.

 

Who is this guidance aimed at?

This guidance is of a general nature and should be treated as a guide.

It is primarily advice to gurdwara management committees on how to currently manage covid-19 risk to ensure a safe, covid-secure environment in which the sangat can access the Gurdwara.

It also contains advice for the sangat on how to visit the gurdwara safely – this two way responsibility is vital, as the management alone cannot ensure covid-19 risk is minimised.

 

Why are Gurdwaras open in lockdown?

The Government, along with its advisory Task Force, produces guidance which is based on the most robust evidence available, the expertise of the chief UK scientists and doctors and Faith leaders. Once released, it is legally enforceable under the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The Prime Minister announced a blanket lockdown for the whole of England, under Tier 5 rules. This lockdown differs to the first lockdown in March 2020.

Tier 5 guidance allows Gurdwaras to remain open, subject to strict risk management and controls. This guidance will detail how to stay open safely, as the norm.

Why the change?

The UK is under the increasing grip of the new variant in the SARS Cov-2 virus:

  • It has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new coronavirus variant is spreading and causing the majority of new cases.
  • Scientists have confirmed this new variant is 70% more transmissible than the previous virus, meaning MORE PEOPLE will get infected MORE EASILY.
  • This is confirmed today with the highest daily death rate of 1,041 deaths against a backdrop of over 60,000 new daily cases.
  • The number of covid-19 patients in hospital is 40% higher than the peak in the first wave. The NHS is at severe risk of being overwhelmed.

 

What is the new system in operation?

The Government have replaced the previous lockdown with a revised 5-tier ‘traffic light’ system in May 2020:

What should the Gurdwara do?

General hygiene and safety advice remains the same as in previous guidance. But enforcement needs to be stricter, with:

  • Hand washing – essential with soap for 20 seconds, as the 3rd mutation spreads more via touch/contact
  • Social distancing at 2m minimum being vital.
  • A face covering must be worn inside the Gurdwara – a legal requirement.

It may help to have an authoritative letter displayed at the entrance, signed by the Pardhaan, stating that mandatory rules are enforced at the Gurdwara and the overriding priority is safety of the sangat. Wearing a mask is primarily to help others, by spreading less potential infection. The covid marshalls can reserve the right to deny entry to the Gurdwara by non-compliant individuals to maintain safety of the majority.

Each individual Gurdwara is strongly advised to apply this guidance with reference to its own specific circumstances, including its size and type of activities, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.

It remains the responsibility of the Gurdwara Management Committee to ensure that it carries out a risk assessment in relation to safety of each function during the current pandemic of COVID-19.

Management committees are advised to appoint a dedicated, informed covid-19 team with a senior covid-19 lead. They may seek the advice of their local covid-19 expert and adopt best governance.

 

Who can attend the Gurdwara?

Whilst all sangat is welcome, compliance with the gurdwara rules is vital – this needs to be displayed on the entrance doors, signed by the Pardhaan.

Those who are clinically vulnerable, or shielding, should avoid going to the gurdwara. See link for detail: Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Remember, you may have covid-19 without any symptoms. If you have been in contact with any covid positive person, please isolate at home and DO NOT VISIT THE GURDWARA for 10 days.

If you have symptoms of covid-19, go for a covid test. DO NOT VISIT THE GURDWARA until you have recovered (minimum 10 days away).

 

Numbers attending Gurdwara and sitting in Diwan

Communal worship is still allowed in all tiers.

For Gurdwaras, this means that normal diwans can take place (akhand path, katha, kirtan and dhadis etc).

Do continue to broadcast services online for those who need to stay at home or are able to mark the event at home to avoid large gatherings

However we stress that Gurdwara Management Committees should take into account and include:

  • Limit sangat members entering and sitting in darbar sahib – should be decided on the basis of the capacity of the Gurdwara hall following an assessment of risk. The hall capacity number must be displayed on the entrance to the hall.
  • For Gurdwaras with multiple halls and multiple programmes, please be aware of the impact of one programme on another. Stagger timings of programmes if you can.
  • Try and minimise cross interference of moving sangat from hall to hall and cross gatherings within the Gurdwara.
  • A key risk time is the sangat leaving en masse after bhog. This must be specifically managed as it has a knock on effect at the degh area, stairs, corridor and jora ghar.
  • Covid marshalls (sevadar) must monitor likely pinch points and busy areas (such as entrances, exits, foyer). Consider a formal rota to ensure cover.
  • People should sit in darbar sahib with a minimum 2m social distancing – floor markings are advised.
  • One-way routes should operate clearly inside the hall, with a separate exit.
  • Good ventilation in the hall (open windows, keep doors open)
  • Hand sanitizers should be made available.

Ensure there is ongoing monitoring of the numbers within the diwan hall.

Kirtan

As communal worship is allowed in all tiers, this means that Kirtan is allowed. As such, there is no restriction in doing safe Kirtan in the Gurdwara. Examples of

good practice:

  • Kirtani Jatha to observe social distancing on stage if possible,
  • Set up rope barriers separating stage and Sangat from Kirtani Jatha
  • 4m distance between kirtani jatha and the front sangat

Guidance on suggested principles of safer singing can be found on: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-suggested-principles-of-safer-singing/covid-19-suggested-principles-of-safer-singing

Langar

There is no restriction on serving langar in the tiers

Langar is part of communal worship, in the principles of ‘Pangat and Sangat’. However a careful risk assessment must be carried out when preparing and serving Langar.

We recommend as per the government guidance for cafes, langar is provided as direct service to those seated in pangat, to avoid queuing and touching of utensils, and if possible use disposable utensils. Please see our previous guidance for examples of good practice that Gurdwaras already have in place.

However in Tier 5, as the third mutation is particularly transmissible by touch and contact, there is an absolute need to have the strictest system in operation for considering if Langar to be consumed at the Gurdwara:

  • Covid marshalls at the entrance to langar hall to control sangat flow
  • Sangat to be seated on the floor, at least 2m apart and all facing one direction
  • A minimum langar offering is advised
  • No talking or grouping allowed in the langar hall
  • Adequate ventilation in place
  • Increased cleaning of the hall in line with the turnover of sangat

An alternative is for langar to be prepared and then given to Sangat as “take-away” to be consumed at their premises (homes).

Meeting other people in the Gurdwara

You cannot meet anyone inside the Gurdwara outside of your bubble. No standing in corridors, or chatting or close body contact (such as shaking hands).

Anand Karaj

Wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations are not permitted to take place.

 Where possible, a wedding can only take place in exceptional circumstances, for example, an urgent marriage where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover.

Weddings are restricted to 6 people for weddings being done in exceptional circumstances.

No food or drink should be consumed as a part of the event.

Please refer to: COVID-19: Guidance for wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Funerals

Funerals must have no more than 30 people attending for all  tiers.

There are no changes in numbers. But, no food or drink should be consumed as a part of the event.

Please refer to previous SC UK funeral guidance.

Test and trace

Gurdwaras can consider participating in the Test and Trace system by keeping a temporary record of visitors for 21 days (this is not compulsory). We do recommend that consent is taken. NHS Test and Trace may request your help in contact tracing and in the investigation of local outbreaks.

You can also display official NHS QR code posters so that those with the mobile app can scan if they choose.