Sikhs in Scotland, a prominent body representing the community in the UK, has hit out at the Indian government for spreading ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’ surrounding the failed Gurudwara visit by Indian High Commissioner in London, Vikram Doraiswami. Sikhs in Scotland said that Gurudwaras in the UK were not places for ‘for foreign governments and ambassadors to conduct official business.’
In a series of tweets, the Sikh body wrote, “Modi’s India is becoming extremely illiberal & anti-democratic. A Gurdwara is a safe, sovereign space for Sikhs. The recent killing of #HardeepSinghNijjar in a Gurdwara car park has been linked to Indian Govt by @JustinTrudeau – the UK Govt must support Canada and protect Sikhs.”
It added, “The Sikh Gurdwara is open to all respectful worshippers however there is no right for foreign governments and ambassadors to conduct official business. Unlike in India, the UK protects Sikhs to a right to peacefully object, protest and have their voice heard.”
This was after a controversy erupted over a video, which showed Doraiswamy being forced out of a Gurudwara in Scotland. The Indian government had reportedly raised the matter with the British government. In its statement, the Indian High Commission in London had said, “On September 29, 2023, three persons– all from areas outside Scotland–deliberately disrupted a planned interaction organized by the Gurudwara Committee for the community, the High Commissioner and the Consul General of India. This interaction was to discuss community and consular issues.
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It added, “The organizers included senior community leaders, ladies and Committee members, and a member of the Scottish Parliament. They were threatened and abused by these elements. In an effort to prevent any potential altercation, the HC and CG decided to leave the premises shortly upon their arrival.
“One of the non-local extremist elements attempted to violently force open the HC’s car door – a matter that will require suitable police consideration. It is due to the quick reaction of one of the organizers, who physically intervened at the car door, that a bigger incident was avoided.”
The statement concluded, “The High Commission of India has reported this disgraceful incident to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Metropolitan Police. Multiple community organizations including the organizers have formally regretted the incident and have urged the authorities to take action against the culprits.”
Reacting to the media coverage surrounding the controversy, Sikhs in Scotland said, “The protesters, who are all British and live in Scotland, stood peacefully and expressed objections to @VDoraiswami. He remained safely in his car at all times. He chose to drive away from the Gurdwara and did not stay to answer Sikh community’s legitimate concerns.”
It added, “This visit was not publicly communicated to the membership by the Exec Committee. It was ill-timed, insensitive and served the agenda of the Indian State, not the interests of British Sikhs. Local members are asking questions of the Committee to account for their actions.”
The latest controversy in the UK comes days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sensationally told his country’s parliament that India was behind the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. Trudeau’s statement had evoked angry reaction and a firm denial from India.