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Indian Consulate Silenced by Protests at Guru Gobind Singh Seminar

“The Guru’s crown was salvaged from desecration,” remarks Singh after protest

(LOS ANGELES, November 10) An all-day seminar claiming to honor Guru Gobind Singh at Loyola Marymount University was interrupted at the outset when a Singh raised his voice in protest as the event organizers attempted to place a turban on Indian Consul General Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok.

“Dr. Sahota would like to come up and honor Ashokji before we begin,” said the mistress of ceremonies, referring to Harvinder Sahota.

“I protest this activity,” declared Bhajan Singh as Sahota reached for the turban. Speaking to Ashok, he continued, “Guru Gobind Singh is a warrior. You are a coward. You have killed so many people near New Delhi. We are suffering. You are coming here representing the government. You say Guru Gobind Singh is defender of truth. You are, right here, representing untruth. You say Guru Gobind Singh represents equality. You represent caste. You are casteist. you belong to the Hindutva forces. You have no business coming here to represent Guru Gobind Singh. We condemn you for coming here.”

The seminar was co-sponsored by the Consulate General of India, the Indian Government’s Ministry of Culture, and the Sikh & Jain Professorship of Loyola Marymount University. As Singh protested, organizers called security and threatened him with arrest.

“I don’t mind, you can arrest me, but you cannot put a turban,” said Singh. “That’s disgraceful to put a turban on this consul…. Take the turban away!”

The sparsely attended seminar soon broke into disorder as organizers called a break, encouraged the audience to drink chai, and people filtered out. Meanwhile, a few people sat beside Bhajan and tried to physically restrain him. “Don’t touch me,” he shouted. “Take your hands off me.” One woman sitting in the row in front of him reached back and slapped him with a brochure.

Most of the audience appeared to be members of 3H0, a sect founded by Yogi Bhajan and considered by most Sikhs to be a cult. In his protest, Singh referenced sexual abuse allegations leveled against the yogi, who died in 2004.

As security guards and seminar organizers surrounded him, Singh would not be deterred and continued raising slogans of “Raj Karega Khalsa,” “Mulnivasi Zindabad,” and “Hindutva Sikhs Murdabad.”

The week before the seminar, other Sikh leaders spoke out against the Indian Consulate’s participation.

“This November, we remember the 33rd anniversary of the genocide of Sikhs in Delhi by the Indian government,” said Balbir Singh Dhillon, President of West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara. “The genocide was openly orchestrated by the Indian government, but the perpetrators have never been brought to justice. Meanwhile, while we mourn the memory of the greatest tragedy in living memory which our community ever suffered, the same government which organized it has the arrogance to organize a seminar about our Guru.”

Additionally, Jaswinder Singh Jandi, the former president of Fremont Sikh Gurdwara, remarked, “Guru Gobind Singh, like his predecessors, made it his mission to ally with and empower the lowest of the low, especially those treated as Untouchables and known today as Dalits.” Jandi concluded, “When the Hindu nationalists in power in Delhi today are doing everything they can to preserve the caste system and suppress the liberation of Dalits and other downtrodden people, it’s deeply offensive that they would seek to co-opt the legacy of our Gurus.

India Charges American Sikhs With Sedition For Attending Religious Summit

U.S. Sikhs call on Congress to “demand India stop bullying our American Sikh leaders”

(AMRITSAR, November 17, 2015) After mass arrests of organizers and participants in a Sikh religious summit hosted in Punjab, India, authorities have filed sedition charges against several, including four American Sikhs.

A North American Sikh summit representing over 100 gurdwaras and organizations formally appointed five representatives to attend the “Sarbat Khalsa,” a global convocation held on Nov. 10 in the Punjabi city of Amritsar to discuss leadership selection processes and other issues of concern to members of the Sikh religion. Two — Harinder Singh and Resham Singh — now face sedition charges in India for attending the religious congregation. Both are U.S. citizens.

“It’s incomprehensible why peacefully conducting internal religious affairs is treated as a crime by the government of India,” comments Bhajan Singh of US-based Sikh Information Centre. “India’s sedition law is a direct carryover from the colonial-era laws of British India that was originally written and used by the British to silence supporters of India’s independence movement. Now it’s being used to intimidate and control the international Sikh religious leadership.”

Harinder is a prominent voice for human rights in his community and serves as CEO of Sikh Research Institute. Resham is a small businessowner from California, while two other American-Sikhs also slapped with sedition charges by Indian authorities are Surjit Singh, a taxi driver, and Gurbhej Singh, a well-known preacher focused on encouraging Sikh youth to reject drugs, gangs, and follow a religious path. All three work closely with Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritar), a Sikh political party headed by Simranjit Singh Mann, who is also charged with sedition.

It is unknown how the cases against the four American Sikhs will proceed as the U.S.-India extradition treaty prohibits extradition for political offenses.

Indian authorities appear to think the post-event, independent actions of Sarbat Khalsa attendees, after the event, qualify as evidence against those charged with sedition. Accusing the “supporters” of the summit of raising “communal and anti-country slogans while going back to their homes after conclusion of event,” the police report alleges speeches at the event “were also aimed at hurting national integrity.”

Disturbed by mass arrests of the Sarbat Khalsa attendees and indignant at India’s sedition charges against U.S. citizens, Sikhs in the United States blame the arrests on Indian interference in their religion.

“Sikhs in India, the birthplace of our religion, are being totally denied any freedom of religion,” says Balbir Singh Dhillon. Now the president of West Sacramento Gurdwara, he was in 1996 jailed by Indian police for three months while traveling in Punjab as a U.S. citizen. Held without charges, it took appeals from dozens of congressional representatives for India to admit he had committed no crime and release him, but he says his memories of being tortured in custody increase his concern for the imprisoned Sikhs.

“The poor families of these innocent men are living in terror not knowing what future awaits their loved ones,” laments Dhillon. “Is it a crime of sedition to be a Sikh in India? I really hope our congressional representatives do their duty to speak out against these false charges and especially demand India stop bullying our American Sikh leaders.”

The Sarbat Khalsa was announced in response to recent and repeated desecrations of the Sikh scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib, as well as dissatisfaction with the Sikh religion’s leadership, and the Punjab government’s suppression of peaceful Sikh protests. As Congressmen John Garamendi and Patrick Meehan wrote in an Oct. 30, 2015 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry: “This desecration prompted hundreds of peaceful Sikh protestors to demand action. Two demonstrators were killed when police opened fire on a crowd of protestors.”

Reports suggest the religious summit drew as many as 750,000 Sikhs from around the world. Bhajan Singh calls it “a million-Sikh march.” The congregation passed thirteen resolutions that included replacing the Jathedars (priests) of its Takhts (sacred seats of authority) with interim appointees, scheduling another Sarbat Khalsa in April 2016 to select permanent Jathedars, agreeing to seek “Vatican-like status” for Harmandir Sahib (the holiest Sikh shrine also known as the Golden Temple), and voicing concerns about several human rights issues.

Lasting a full-day on Nov. 10, the congregation dispersed peacefully, yet the next day the Indian government reacted with mass arrests of Sikh leadership, including clergy, politicians, and even a journalist.

According to news reports, those arrested were initially “preventatively detained” under Criminal Procedure Code sections 107/151, which allow police to detain anyone suspected of intending to breach the peace. After U.S. citizen Ravinderjit Singh Gogi and his hunger-striking father, Surat Singh Khalsa, were detained under the same law in February, six U.S. representatives protested in a letter to Secretary of State Kerry: “The existence and use of these laws, which India has used to restrict freedom of expression and association, is contrary to democratic principles, and specifically to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which India has ratified.”

Along with four American Sikhs and 14 Punjabi Sikhs, authorities in India have registered sedition charges against Sikhs from Italy and the United Kingdom.

India’s sedition law has long faced strong international criticism. Section 124a of the Indian Penal Code, which defines “sedition” as any act or attempt to “to bring into hatred or contempt, or… excite disaffection towards the government.” However, it Amnesty International warned in 2014: “India’s archaic sedition law has been used to harass and persecute activists and others for their peaceful exercise of their right to free expression.” Punishing sedition with up to life imprisonment, Section 124a was infamously used by the British to detain Hindu preacher Mohandas Gandhi; more recently, it has been invoked against people like cartoonist Aseem Trivedi for drawing a cartoon satirizing India’s national emblem and Salman M. for not standing during the playing of India’s national anthem in a movie theatre.

Indian Police Mass Arrest Sikh Media, Clergy, Politicians After Global Sikh Convocation

International Sikh community demands release of all, warning the Indian government wants control over their religion

(AMRITSAR, Nov. 12, 2015) The preventative detention on Nov. 11 of several key Sikh leaders and a journalist by Indian police at the conclusion of a global convocation of Sikhs called “Sarbat Khalsa” is a cause for concern among some who see it as an indication of government interference in their religious affairs that they fear may result in the torture of those arrested.

“As an American citizen traveling to Punjab in the 1990s, I was arrested, jailed, and tortured for three months by Indian police,” remarks Balbir Singh Dhillon, president of California’s influential West Sacramento Gurdwara. “Held without charges, it took 50 representatives from U.S. Congress speaking out to get my release. My prayers are with our recently arrested Sikh leaders, especially after my firsthand experience with the horrors of Indian police custody.”

Those arrested in Amritsar and surrounding areas of Punjab include Simranjit Singh Mann (president of political party Shiromani Akali Dal – Amritsar), Mokham Singh (president of political party United Akali Dal), Dhian Singh Mand (newly elected proxy priest of Akal Takht, the Sikh religion’s governing institution), and Surinder Singh (a journalist with Talking Punjab who was providing in-depth, on-location coverage of the Sarbat Khalsa). The Sarbat Khalsa, held on Nov. 10, was called in response to repeated desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, and the resulting massacre by police of peaceful Sikh protesters.

Many other prominent Sikhs involved in organizing the event were also rounded up. None are charged with any crime, as Amritsar Police Commissioner Jatinder Aulakh says they are “under preventive detention.” Dhillon speculates police may have invoked Criminal Procedure Code sections 107/151, which allow police to arrest people they think are “likely to commit a breach of the peace.”

After the law was used in February to detain U.S. citizen Ravinderjit Singh Gogi and his hunger-striking father, Surat Singh Khalsa, six U.S. congressional representatives protested in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry: “The existence and use of these laws, which India has used to restrict freedom of expression and association, is contrary to democratic principles, and specifically to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which India has ratified.”

The Sarbat Khalsa, according to some reports, drew upwards of 750,000 Sikhs. “It was a million-Sikh march,” states Bhajan Singh of Sikh Information Centre. He says, however, that India-based associates of Bhim Rao Ambedkar Sikh Foundation, an international nonprofit of which he is a board member, were prevented from attending the convention, explaining:

“Over 50 BRASF activists were left stranded on their way to the Sarbat Khalsa when the bus company they’d arranged refused service because police had threatened to revoke their commercial licenses if they transported anyone to the convention. It is incredible that perhaps a quarter of a million Sikhs from every part of the earth gathered peacefully despite persistent government harassment. We estimate that perhaps 250,000 more were prevented from attending, not to mention the millions who watched online.”

Announced in September, the emergency convention had two primary goals, according to Manjit Singh Uppal, who traveled to the event from California as a representative of historic Stockton Gurdwara, the oldest Sikh-American institution. “We need to build a system for our representation so that we can hold another Sarbat Khalsa in six months. Also, we need to decide how we can represent the Sikhs all over the world that live outside of India.”

Thirteen resolutions passed by the assembly focus on revitalizing the Sikh religion’s leadership by removing four of five Jathedars (priests) of its Takhts (sacred seats of authority), replacing them with symbolic interim appointees, and calling for a more intensive Sarbat Khalsa on Vaisakhi 2016, a festival in April.

The next Sarbat Khalsa is expected to dwell extensively on the declaration of Resolution 11 that the Sikh community “aspires for Vatican-like status for Harimandir Sahib Complex to ensure every Sikh’s birthright to visit and deliberate at the Akal Takhat Sahib.”

Human rights was a harmonious theme in other resolutions, which denounce police and army officials involved in the Sikh Genocide and declare the Sikh Nation “demands all political prisoners of any movement in India such as Sikhs, Naxalites, Nagas, and others, be released unconditionally.” Invoking the religion’s egalitarian foundations, another resolution “appeals to stop the construction of caste-based gurdwaras and cremation grounds.”

Gogi, the son of 83-year-old hunger-striker Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, who completed his 300th day without food on Nov. 11 despite repeated arrest and force-feeding by police, spoke about his father’s struggle from the convention stage. An American citizen, he was released from an Indian jail in April after repeated letters from Congress pled for him. Detained for two months without arraignment, he also reports being tortured.

“The recent wave of ideological and political pushback by people like Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh shows how India’s downtrodden masses are using every faculty to struggle against a deeply oppressive environment,” suggests Bhajan. “India’s minorities are exhausted by de facto dictatorships, and genocides, and torture, and they are rejecting the Bharatiya Janata Party’s politics of hate.”

India’s ruling party, the BJP, also shares power in Punjab’s state government. After orchestrating a genocide of Sikhs in 1984, India’s other leading party, the Indian National Congress, finds less popularity in the community, although the BJP is similarly accused of genocidal attacks on Muslim and Christians.

The Indian government, under every party, has long faced unresolved charges by international human rights bodies of torture, extrajudicial killings, creation of mass graves, persecution of religious minorities, and other atrocities. Tales of genocide survivors are common among the Sikh diaspora, which includes thousands who claim refugee status. And now the arrest of so many influential Sikhs at the conclusion of the convention is incensing Sikhs outside India.

“I’m really sorry to see a journalist also arrested for reporting on our Sarbat Khalsa,” says Dhillon. “The Indian government is so desperate to keep control over the management of the Sikh religion. The government in Punjab is politicizing our faith. So they arrested all the top Sikh leaders for nothing but to interfere in the operations of our religious institutions. There’s no religious freedom in India, none at all, not like the United States.”

According to Jago Punjabi, the arrests were planned at a Nov. 10 meeting hosted by Punjab’s Chief Minister, Parkash Badal, with key cabinet ministers and the president of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (the managerial body for the Sikhs set up by the British Empire under its colonial “Gurdwara Act of 1925”), all of whom consulted with Punjab’s Advocate-General, Ashok Aggarwal, and senior police officers about the legality of preventatively detaining Mann and other Sikh leaders.

“The world should not stand by silently as peaceful Sikhs are being arrested, tortured, and killed in Punjab for protesting government interference in their religion,” concludes Bhajan.

He adds, “Congress, especially, has a duty to keep a protective eye out for the many Sikh-Americans who are returning from the Sarbat Khalsa. And as a patron of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, I call on those representatives to talk about issues like this which so deeply concern the global Sikh community. Religious freedom in India is on the brink of a cliff not just for Sikhs, but for all the country’s religious minorities, who are at risk of a terrifying amount of violence from the State and its associates.”

U.S. Citizen Jailed in India Beaten at Court as Family in California Pleads for His Release

“Silence of the U.S. authorities is deafening,” says Sikh community of Ravinderjit Singh’s imprisonment

(STOCKTON, April 13, 2015) Ravinderjit Singh Gogi, a U.S. citizen from Central California, has been jailed in Punjab, India since February 26, but despite repeated appeals from his family, local community leaders, and a human rights group, the U.S. government has so far failed to even acknowledge his detention.

Harsimran Singh Hundal, a community leader from Turlock Gurdwara, says Sikhs have a duty to bring Gogi’s case to the attention of local congressional representatives. “We are pleading with Sikh-Americans to do their seva by calling their congressperson today, especially Gogi’s representative, Congressman Jerry McNerney. Please appeal for the immediate release of this innocent, suffering, imprisoned American.”

Gogi is charged with India’s Criminal Procedure Code sections 107/151, which allow police to arrest a person if they think he is “likely to commit a breach of the peace.” Although Gogi did not actually breach the peace, police used the law to arrest him under suspicion alone after he visited his father, Surat Singh Khalsa, in the hospital. Khalsa was engaged in a hunger-strike for the release of Sikh political prisoners when he was arrested and forcibly admitted to the hospital.

On Monday, Gogi’s sister Sarvinder Kaur, also an American citizen, reported from Punjab that she witnessed police beating her brother while he was waiting in a detention cell for a court hearing. Gogi, who was in chains at the time, was reportedly shoved into the cell and beaten on his neck and back with fists. His attorney, Gurjinder Singh Sahni, states Gogi now has severe bruising, is suffering intense pain in his neck, and is seeking medical attention.

“The silence of the U.S. authorities is deafening,” says Bhajan Singh, Founding Director of US-based Sikh Information Centre. Singh has been urging Gogi’s representative in U.S. Congress, Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton), to appeal for his constituent. “The poor guy is suffering as we speak, but the Sikh Congressional Caucus, the American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, and all of the several influential Sikh-American civil rights groups have not spoken one word on Gogi’s behalf. The State Department also remains mute.”

Sikh Information Centre has coordinated with Organization for Minorities of India and the leadership of Turlock, Stockton, and West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwaras to sponsor two press conferences calling for Gogi’s release.

On March 6, Gogi’s 16-year-old son, Sahib, spoke at a press conference in Lathrop, his father’s hometown. McNerney’s office was informed of the event but said they were unable to attend. At the event, Sahib stated:

“The freedom and the liberties that we have here aren’t exactly the same in other countries. That’s kind of what we’re worried about…. I have to stay up at night time for extra, till a long period of time, trying to talk to the embassy, trying to get them to free my dad.”

On March 12, West Sacramento Gurdwara and Stockton Gurdwara hosted a joint press conference in West Sacramento to call for Gogi’s release. Balbir Singh Dhillon, president of West Sacramento Gurdwara, explained how he was similarly unjustly detained in Punjab in 1996, saying: “I went to visit all the holy places in India and Pakistan. Police were looking for me. I was sent to jail for three months, in prison, in Punjab. There was no bail.” Balbir was released only after over 50 US congressional representatives signed a letter to the US State Department that pressured India to admit it had no proof he committed any crime.

Steve Macías asks: “Why is this American citizen abandoned by his government?” A community activist who helped organize the March press conferences, Macías added: “Mr. Ravinderjit Singh Gogi has been jailed for nearly two months, he is being beaten by police, and his family reports the conditions of his detention are utterly inhumane, with rancid food and 200 prisoners packed into cells designed for fifty.”

The State Department must intervene immediately, warns Bhajan Singh, who says: “I fear for Gogi’s safety and even his life if the government continues to ignore the desperate plight of this unjustly imprisoned American citizen. Congress already missed the chance to act against the severe persecution of minorities in India by failing to pass House Resolution 417 in 2014 despite broad bipartisan support for the resolution.” House Resolution 417 proposed the U.S. Congress “denounce harassment and violence against religious minorities” in India, but even with 51 cosponsors it was denied a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Riverside Students Gathering in Honor of Murdered Activist Hear “Genocide in India Has Not Stopped”

Jaswant Singh Khalra’s work to expose genocide commemorated on 18th anniversary of his disappearance

(RIVERSIDE, September 9, 2013) Over the weekend, students and families gathered at Gurdwara Sahib Riverside to hear Navkiran Kaur Khalra commemorate her father’s legacy alongside three more speakers at “Remembrance of the Disappeared” seminar. An emerging theme was genocide against minorities by the Indian state continues and the way to honor murdered human rights activist Jaswant Singh is to speak the truth louder.

The program began Saturday evening. About 75 percent of the audience were youth who listened intently as Navkiran Kaur detailed her father’s work. They were horrified as she told how Jaswant Singh Khalra was disappeared and killed by Indian police in September 1995 after he exposed India’s secret genocide of Sikh youth in Punjab. She challenged young women in particular to speak out by documenting and reporting human rights abuses.

Jaskaran Kaur, co-founder of Ensaaf, began with a short video of the group’s work in Punjab to fully document the Sikh genocide by going village-to-village to create an accurate count of the dead and disappeared. She emphasized to the generations of the future that proper education is key to effecting change in international forums and media.

Pieter Singh transfixed the young Sikhs present in a talk about two martyrs — Jalil Andrabi of Kashmir and Jaswant Singh Khalra of Punjab. He pled with his audience to understand that Khalra and Andrabi both died for reporting the truth, saying: “Genocide in India has not stopped — the architects of genocide have been promoted to the highest halls of state, where they remain, and disappearances continue.” The best way to honor the legacies of Andrabi and Khalra is, he concluded, to: “Do what they did. Speak the truth.”

After three speakers, the students broke into separate groups to rotate through three separate classrooms for an interactive workshop about human rights and how Sikh youth should be involved. Students were especially encouraged to remember Khalra’s words: “The Khalsa was inaugurated to protect human rights — the human rights of the world.”

M. R. Paul of Organization for Minorities of India wrapped up the evening by stressing the importance of minorities uniting to face their common oppressor — the Indian state.

On Sunday, Devinder Singh of Ujjal Didar Singh Memorial Foundation commenced proceedings with an eloquent presentation of a poem dedicated to Khalra’s sacrifice. The Sangat then watched, with rapt attention, a recording of Khalra’s last public speech, in which he said: “And that special gift, which the Guru possesses, is the gift of martyrdom.”

Next, Navkiran Kaur spoke about her father’s legacy and the history of the Khalra family, from her great-grandfather Harnam Singh’s involvement in the Ghadar Movement all the way to her father Jaswant Singh’s last speech, given in Canada in an attempt to interest an international audience in the genocide happening in Punjab. She spoke powerfully about his subsequent kidnapping and murder by police in Punjab.

M. R. Paul spoke next, explaining the importance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to the whole sub-continent of India. He detailed incidents throughout Sikh history where Sikhs stood up against oppression of themselves and others, emphasizing that Sikhi is founded on bringing freedom to the “lowest of low born.” He reminded the Sangat that Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, champion of the lowest of India, desired to become a Sikh and built Guru Nanak Khalsa College (Mumai) to instill Sikh principles in young people.

Jeewan Kaur, a fiery orator of just seven years, gave a rousing recital of “Kavita,” a poem about the importance of Kesh and Dastaar. The Sangat responded with jakaras of bole so nihaal. After that, Jaskaran Kaur showed a short video about Ensaaf’s work in Punjab to document the victims of genocide. She then spoke about how the work is presently going full swing.

Finally, Pieter Singh spoke briefly about what Sikhs in the USA can do to take action to stop human rights abuses. He stressed the importance of visiting congressional offices to tell them the truth about oppression in India, which he said includes not just Punjab, but also Kashmir, Odisha, Gujarat, Manipur, and other regions where state terrorism flourishes. He said Sikhs should tell their representative in Congress two things: “First, genocide is happening in India. Second, because of it, the USA should end foreign aid to India.”

The Riverside Sikh Sangat and Gurdwara Sahib Riverside Committee all participated enthusiastically, giving generously of their time and resources. Bhajan Singh Bhinder of SIC smoothly coordinated the event. Jatinder Singh and the Riverside Khalsa Academy were instrumental to making the seminar a success. Sponsoring groups included Ensaaf, Jakara Movement, Sikh Information Centre, and Organization for Minorities of India, who all expressed gratitude to Gurdwara Sahib Riverside for its hospitality.

U.S. Congress Urged to Blacklist Gujarat Chief Minister Modi for U.S. Travel

“Architects of genocide have no right to cross the borders of the United States,” say Sikhs

(SACRAMENTO, August 10, 2013) Sikhs in Northern California launched a campaign on Friday seeking assistance from local congressional representatives in obtaining a U.S. visa denial for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, arguing that “architects of genocide have no right to cross the borders of the United States.”

The campaign began with delivery of a 9-page letter to the only Indian-American in U.S. Congress, Representative Ami Bera (D – Elk Grove), who recently expressed interest in expanding California’s economic relationship with Gujarat. The letter details concerns about Modi’s human rights record, including his recent eviction of Gujarati Sikh farmers from their landholdings, and states: “We also urge you to make prosecution for genocide a priority above and beyond discussion of economic partnership…. Partnering with terrorists like Narendra Modi is contrary to the principles on which the United States of America was founded.”

“Sikh farmers dwelling in Kutch, Gujarat are the most recent targets of state-sponsored communal violence by the Modi administration,” said Bhajan Singh Bhinder, director of Sikh Information Centre, the group coordinating the campaign to deny Modi a visa. “To make way for centrally-planned Special Investment Regions, as they are called, Modi is kicking Sikhs off soil over which they have toiled for 50 years. Five thousand Sikh families are being robbed of their homesteads because the Modi government thinks it can create a better economy than these small business-owners. Nothing is crueler than evicting these farmers from land transformed into fertile soil by their sweat and blood.”

The campaign, beginning with Bera, will also approach Doris Matsui (D – Sacramento), Jeff Denham (R – Modesto), Tom McClintock (R – Roseville), Jerry McNerney (D – Stockton), and Mike Honda (D – San Jose), among others. Bhinder emphasized the campaign will also urge all other minority advocacy and human rights groups to initiate similar campaigns in their spheres of influence.

The letter to congressional representatives articulates three requests: 1) “We urge you to work for denial of a visitor’s visa for Narendra Modi and seek a permanent ban on his entry into this great nation”; 2) “We ask you to take the first step to combatting violent extremism in India by seeking removal and punishment of violent extremists like Modi who are currently sitting in the nation’s highest political offices”; 3) “We request you use all the good graces of your office to seek restoration to Gujarat’s dispossessed farmers of the land stolen from them by the government.”

Narendra Modi, who hopes to become India’s next Prime Minister, has recently indicated interest in traveling the U.S. to drum up support for his bid. He was denied entry to the U.S. in 2005 due to his orchestration of the Gujarat Genocide, an anti-Muslim pogrom occurring just four months after he first took office. An estimated 2,000 Muslims were massacred by rampaging Hindu mobs armed with addresses of Muslim-owned homes and businesses. Police joined in the violence. Post-mortem reports indicate police employed execution-style killing techniques of a shot to the chest and a shot to the head against scores of innocent Muslims. Several witnesses were told by police: “We have no orders to save you.”

Harvard professor and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen last month warned that Modi “generates concern and fear among minorities,” saying he would like “a more secular person” to be Prime Minister. Such fears were elevated in 2010 by Sanjiv Bhatt, a former police officer turned whistleblower. Bhatt testifies he was present at a February 27, 2002 meeting at Modi’s home, hours before the riots began, at which time Modi ordered police to cooperate with the rioters.

An investigation by Human Rights Watch in 2002 arrived at similar conclusion. HRW’s senior South Asia researcher Smita Narula said: “What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising, it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims. The attacks were planned in advance and organized with extensive participation of the police and state government officials.”

“Ami Bera has long-standing support from the Sikh-American community,” said Bhinder. “We welcome him to continue in the tradition of other South Asian congressmen like Dalip Singh Saund, the son of Stockton who was the first Sikh to serve in the hallowed halls of this great nation’s capitol. Sikhs played a crucial role in Bera’s election and we are counting on him to lead the way in defending human life and liberty above all else.”

German Consulate Promises Bhullar Family Opposition to Death Penalty

Brother of Professor Bhullar Seeks Germany’s Aid to Halt Imminent Hanging by India

(SAN FRANCISCO, April 18, 2013) The German Consulate in San Francisco promised the brother of condemned Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar that the German government opposes the death penalty in all circumstances during a meeting on Thursday.

“Konsul Stephan Boehm was very reassuring,” said brother Tejinderpal Singh Bhullar after the meeting. “My mother Upkar was unfortunately feeling poorly and unable to accompany us. Her spirits will be lifted by the Konsul’s promise to swiftly transmit our request for Germany to withdraw her ambassador to India unless Davinderpal is freed.”

At the meeting, Tejinderpal presented Konsul Boehm with a 4-page memorandum documenting the persecution of the Bhullar family by the Indian State and India’s failure to observe due process in prosecuting Professor Bhullar after his illegal deportation from Germany in 1996. Additional sections identified Amnesty International statements in 2003, 2011, and 2013 condemning Bhullar’s death sentence verdict and asserted the Indian Police have a history of lawlessness based on statements from US Congressman Dan Burton, the US State Department, and human rights sources.

Tejinderpal was accompanied by a 5-member delegation of Sikh-American leaders and human rights activists including Siri Pritam Khalsa, Manjit Singh Brar, and Jesse Kang, and Bhajan Singh Bhinder and Pieter Singh from Sikh Information Centre.

Tejinderpal and his mother, Upkar, who reside in California, claim that Indian Police began targeting the Bhullar family in the 1990s to punish Professor Bhullar’s political involvement. Balwant Singh, his father, was arbitrarily disappeared by police in 1991, along with his uncle Manjit Singh Sohi and two cousins. The cousins were later released, one with a leg amputated through torture. The father and uncle were never seen again.

“Professor Bhullar stands not only for the Sikhs,” said Bhinder. “He is here as a poster boy of the oppression of the Indian state, the oppression against all minorities of India, the killings of Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs. We will not rest until the victims of state terrorism in India see justice roll down like waters.”

The meeting on Thursday morning was followed that afternoon by a rally outside the San Francisco Indian consulate of nearly 500 supporters of freedom for Bhullar. A delegation of Sikh-Americans met with the New York German Consulate, also on Thursday, after which thousands of Bhullar supporters took to the streets in pouring rain.

Bhullar Family to ask US German Mission to Recall Ambassador to India

Pleads for German aid in stopping imminent Davinderpal Singh Bhullar hanging

(SAN FRANCISCO, April 17, 2013) In a last ditch effort to rescue the Indian death row convict Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, his family in California will meet with the German Embassy to request Germany immediately recall its Indian ambassador to protest violations of due process of justice resulting in Bhullar’s imminent hanging.

Bhullar is accused of the 1993 bombing of All-India Youth Congress offices. He insists he’s innocent, pointing to the total lack of evidence and the 1991 killing of his relatives by Indian Police. Fearing a similar fate in police custody, he sought political asylum in Germany in 1995. He was deported to India in 1996. A Frankfurt court later ruled this illegal since German law forbids extradition of persons facing torture or death.

Because the extradition was illegal, Bhullar’s mother and brother will ask Germany to take action in a meeting at the San Francisco German Consulate (1960 Jackson Street) at 10:30 AM (PST) on Thursday. US citizens living in California, they insist Bhullar is only the family’s latest victim of state terrorism. They plan to ask Germany to sever diplomatic relations with India unless Bhullar is freed.

A rally demanding India free Bhullar is scheduled to take place outside India’s San Francisco Consulate on Thursday at high noon. Similar rallies are scheduled around the world, including outside New York City’s Indian Consulate. A Sikh delegation is also scheduled to meet with the New York German Consulate (871 United Nations Plaza) at 2 PM (EST) on Thursday. A rally in London on Tuesday drew thousands to Downing Street, where supporters of Bhullar have been camping since April 11.

Police began targeting the Bhullar family in 1991 to punish their political involvement, said mother Upkar Kaur and brother Tejinderpal Singh in an interview. The father, Balwant Singh, was arbitrarily disappeared by Indian Police, along with an uncle, Manjit and two cousins. The cousins were later released after suffering extreme torture requiring amputation of one’s leg. The father and uncle were never seen again.

After his deportation, Professor Bhullar was imprisoned without trial until 2000. He was denied access to an attorney during his initial imprisonment and trial. Of 133 prosecution witnesses, not one identified him as guilty. He was convicted to death solely on the basis of a confession signed with a thumbprint. Bhullar disowns the confession, saying he was tortured and ordered to thumbprint a blank page.

Tejinderpal is glad at the chance to meet with the German Embassy. He says, “My brother is an innocent man who was framed in criminal cases for organizing rallies against extrajudicial killing of Sikhs in Punjab.” He shakes his head, expressing frustration mixed with hope. His family has suffered since 1991, he notes, when his father and uncle were disappeared by Indian police. He has strong words, saying:

“First the Indian State killed my father extrajudicially. Now my brother is being murdered through judicial process. Both are innocent victims of a vampire government. Our family has been devastated. But we still stand strong with the Sikh nation.”

Upkar is more downcast. As she speaks, she weeps at the though of losing her oldest son, saying: “Davinderpal has suffered on death row for 18 years for speaking against the Indian State’s destruction of our family and our Sikh community. He saw police murder his father and my sister’s husband for nothing. While the sons of Punjab are bled by Delhi’s tyranny, we pray for justice, peace, and liberty like we find in USA.”

Sikh-Americans Hail US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as “Truth-teller”

Call Hagel “right on the money” for saying Afghanistan is India’s “second front” against Pakistan

(SACRAMENTO, March 8, 2013) Recently revealed remarks made by newly confirmed US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggest India’s involvement in Afghanistan is part of a wider strategy to secretly destabilize Pakistan. Hagel’s comments, made in a 2011 speech at Cameron University in Oklahoma, are earning him praise from Sikh-Americans.

In the speech, Hagel said: “India … has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side…. The tense, fragmented relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been there for many, many years.”

Elaborating on Hagel’s assertion, Bhajan Singh Bhinder of US-based NPO Sikh Information Centre said, “If India’s policy of promoting domestic terror is to be used as a yardstick, then Hagel is right on the money. He clearly recognizes historical realities. Afghanistan was the only country to oppose Pakistan’s membership in the United Nations. India is encouraging continued tension because it sees influence in Afghanistan as a hedge against Pakistan. The underlying philosophical purpose is that Afghanistan was once ruled by Brahmins, who still fantasize about restoring both Pakistan and Afghanistan to the fabled akhand Bharat.”

Afghanistan was indeed controlled by the Brahmin Shahi dynasty until its Muslim conquest in the 11th century. Proponents of Hindutva (an ideology viewing non-Hindus as foreign to Hindu) like senior BJP leader LK Advani advocate creation of “akhand Bharat,” an undivided India uniting Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Afghanistan.

Former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott dealt extensively with Advani in the late 1990s. Talbott records in his autobiography how Advani “mused aloud” about reuniting Pakistan and other Indian neighbors into a “single South Asian ‘confederation.'” Talbott says Advani was not alone in his views, writing: “Many Indians … regarded the idea of Pakistan not just a mistake but as an insult to the idea of India.” In his own autobiography, Advani declared: “Sindhi Hindus … still cannot accept the absurdity of Sindh’s separation from India.” Sindh, Advani’s birthplace, is Pakistan’s second most populous province.

In 2009, then NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal warned “increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India.” With strong US encouragement, India has poured over $1.5 billion USD into Afghanistan’s infrastructure since 2001. Former Indian ambassador to the US Lalit Mansingh recently cited the financial aid as reason for India to be given broader control of Afghanistan after US troop withdrawal in 2014, protesting: “The peace plan seems to give primacy to Pakistan’s role and nothing to India despite the fact that India has invested a good deal of money for aid and reconstruction in Afghanistan.”

“India’s support for Afghanistan is based not in neighborly love,” said Bhinder, “but in a Hindutva strategy for creating the undivided India yearned for by upper castes. They have no qualms about funding and instigating violence to achieve that goal. These malicious tactics were used in 2007 when the Samjhauta Express was bombed by Hindu terrorists just one day before Indo-Pakistani peace talks about Kashmir. Before that, we saw the same tactics in Chittisinghpura, Kashmir in 2000 when Indian soldiers massacred 35 innocent Sikhs before kidnapping five innocent Muslims, killing them in a false encounter, and blaming them for the massacre. In 1982, Indian State agents used the same pattern to spark sectarian conflict between Hindus and Sikhs by planting severed cow heads at a Hindu temple in Amritsar.”

In November 2008, Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasand Purohit, an actively serving Indian Army intelligence officer, was arrested for a September 2008 bombing in Malegaon, Maharashtra which killed seven. Mumbai’s Antiterrorism Squad leader Hemant Karkare, the arresting officer, swiftly also tied Purohit to the February 2007 bombing of Samjhauta Express, which killed 68. Both attacks were perpetrated under the auspices of Abhinav Bharat, a group Purohit founded in 2007 for “propagating a Hindu Rashtra [nation].”

Karkare’s investigation additionally linked Purohit to Indian Army Colonel S. S. Raikar, commandant of the Bhonsala Military School, where Army and Intelligence Bureau officers provided weapons training and RDX explosives to Hindu supremacists. Purohit was additionally implicated in the 2007-08 killings of Adivasi Christians by Hindu rioters in Karnataka and Odisha.

On November 24, Karkare further identified Pravin Togadia, General Secretary of the VHP, a Hindu supremacist group, as a funding source of Abhinav Bharat. The following day, Karkare was murdered in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Subsequently, the ATS dropped its investigation of Hindu supremacist terror ties.

Bhinder continued: “Minorities in India such as Adivasis, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs are used as pawns in the Brahminist’s expansionist agenda. Their strategy is a complex one of subterfuge, misdirection, and false flag attacks to create division, destabilize society, pit one minority group against another, and justify draconian suppression, including violence against Pakistan and neighboring countries. That’s why we are so proud of Secretary Hagel’s role as a truth-teller in recognizing and calling out India’s similar power play in Afghanistan. We hope he continues to pursue the truth.”