DALITS IN THE UK RESPOND TO THE DEMAND FOR A PUNJAB REFERENDUM

For the Punjab problems, Sikhs are partly to be blamed for. In sixties, they launched many agitations, Punjab Bandh and went to fast unto death for Punjabi Suba. What they ended up with division of Punjab into Himachal, Haryana and Punjab. Sikhs were happy that they would have Sikh majority in Punjab and their permanent government Just to improve their chances of getting elected, they ditched the genuine demands of the Punjabi people. Since the division of Punjab in 1966, no non Sikh became a Chief Minister of Punjab. Not only Sikh but Jat Sikhs apart from Giani Zail Singh remained as Chief Ministers. In Sikh politics one caste is dominating. Now they are asking for an Independent Sikh state, did they ever consult other people living in Punjab? They don’t consider that Dalits exist in Punjab? Why can’t they contest elections in Punjab on their agenda of Khalistan? They will know their power base. Their referendum only talks about the Punjab in India but more than half the Punjab territory is in Pakistan. Are they going to include Himachal and Haryana in the game and will they include Punjab territory on the Pakistan side?  They should spell out openly.

Even after seventy one years of Independence, Dalits are routinely discriminated and numerous atrocities are inflicted upon them not only in India but also in Punjab. Sikhs have used them as their vote bank but the conditions of Dalits have worsened during the Akali regime. Even in the United Kingdom, Sikhs have sided with Hindus and opposed the Dalit legitimate demand to include caste discrimination into the British law. In their new scheme of Khalistan, how can they be trusted that they will do a justice to Dalits? That is why a number of Dalit organisations in the UK issued this Joint Statement. – Arun Kumar

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Joint Statement from Dalit organisations in the UK, on the call for `Referendum 2020′ – a campaign by a UK-based organisation for a separate Sikh State in Punjab, India.

The organisations listed at Annex A reject the campaign for Referendum 2020:

1. Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), collectively referred to as Dalits, are one of the largest minorities in India. They are:  regular victims of oppression and bonded labour,  many suffer from social and economic deprivation  their houses are burnt to the ground,  their women are abused, raped and paraded naked,  and men and women are murdered routinely on daily basis.

2. We have issues with the Indian and Punjab authorities for their slow or lack of action against the culprits – many of them whom are released on bail and continue to intimidate.

3. We condemn the false cases lodged against human rights activists and their frequent incarceration. We believe our problems can be best solved in a secular democratic united country, India.

4. SCs/STs make a sizable proportion of the Punjab. Not only are they the indigenous peoples of India and the region, they make up to 35% of the population that live in the Punjab, many of whom follow their own version of Sikhism after being shunned from Sikh places of workshop due to caste discrimination.

5. We question and doubt whether the Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities in the UK who have social and economic links with Punjab have been consulted on the proposed Referendum.

6. Dalits are a diverse people, and we value our traditions and cultural freedoms that are enshrined within India’s Constitution. We believe a secular Government is best placed for the people of India and especially for the diverse communities of Punjab. The last thing the Punjabis want is a religiously dominated State that cannot be guaranteed to provide basic human rights for all its people.

7. We Dalits in the UK who have social and economic connections with Punjab, do not support any separatist movement that threatens the unity of India. We therefore do not support the Sikh separatists’ Khalistan Movement and the Referendum 2020 that will cause unrest and division in the UK.

8. A national and international alliance of all organisations opposing these activities will be convened.

11 August 2018

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Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance
Anti Land Grab and Forced Displacement of People
Asian Rationalist Society, Britain
Bhagwan Valmik Gyan Nath Ashram Birmingham
Bhagwan Valmik Sabha Bedford
Bhagwan Valmik Sabha Birmingham
Bhagwan Valmik Sabha Coventry
Bhagwan Valmik Sabha Oxford
Bhagwan Valmik Sabha Southall
Bhagwan Valmik Temple Wolverhampton
British Asian Christian Concern
Central Valmik Sabha UK
Dr. Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford
Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK
Indian Workers Association GB
Kanshi Radio Ltd
Kanshi TV
Ravidassia Community Centre, Hitchin
Shri Guru Valmik Sabha International
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK (SGRS-UK) and is the voice for all Shri Guru Ravidass Temples in the UK:
– Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Bedford,
– Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Birmingham – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Bradford – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Coventry – Shri Guru Ravidass Temple Foleshill, Coventry – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Darlaston, – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Derby – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha, East Ham – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Glasgow – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Gravesend – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Erith Kent – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Leicester – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Luton – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Northampton – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Southall – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Southampton – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Strood – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Strood, Medway – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Walsall – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Willenhall – Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha Wolverhampton