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U.K. Sikhs Stress Azadi


The Times of India, Jan. 3, 2003

"Azadi [freedom] is the new buzzword among the younger generation of U.K.-based Sikhs . . . The demand for azadi is being backed by a few Sikh bodies including a recently constituted organisation called Sikh Secretariat (S.S.), which is of the opinion that if rights given to Sikhs by in the Indian constitution were implemented in toto Sikhs would have no need to demand a separate nation with territorial boundaries. The S.S. claims to have begun its initiative from the U.K. where they have been able to list Sikhs as a separate category among ethnic groups on various government forms including employment forms. Earlier there used to be only Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims, said Gurvinder Bir Singh Sodhi, one of the moderators of the British Sikh Agenda prepared by the S.S. The other moderators are Dabinderjit Singh, Gurmukh Singh, and Rajinder Singh Chathwal."
"While talking to Times News Network on Wednesday, Sodhi claimed that a majority of their demands have been acceded to by the British government. Recognition of Sikhs as a distinct ethnic group was one of their major demands. He said that without ethnic monitoring data on Sikhs there could be no reliable way of knowing the extent to which discrimination was taking place against Sikhs, the largest ethnic minority in the U.K. The S.S. has also been critical of the present [Sikh] advisers to the U.K. government. According to Sodhi, Sikhs were being misrepresented in the U.K. by the so called representatives of Sikhs, who he alleged were out of touch with the grassroots of the community."
"The S.S. plans to propagate the demand for Sikh azadi from various platforms at the international level as well as in India, he added. Sodhi also stated that the S.S. would hold a meeting of U.K.-based Sikh organisations to take further legal measures against the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar from charges pertaining to the leading of a mob during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. He argued that if Sajjan Kumar could be acquitted then the Indian government should also announce amnesty to Davinderpal Singh Bhullar who allegedly assaulted Maninderjit Singh Bitta."