In a sweeping move, Sikh Gurdwara committees across Canada, US and UK have passed unanimous resolutions to bar officials representing India from using the Gurdwara premises to conduct any kind of activity in their official capacity. Across the board, the complaint is that Indian Consular officials interfere a plenty in the lives of Sikhs while propagating an agenda to undermine the autonomy of Sikh institutions and organizations. Along with the ban on Indian officials, US Gurdwaras have also forbidden the members of Shiv Sena and RSS from entering their premises. It has been explicitly communicated that if any official wishes to pay a visit in his or her personal capacity, the Gurdwaras as always will welcome them.
To many this might seem an impetuous move, but exasperation amongst the Sikh bodies has been simmering for long now. In Canada for instance, Indian officials have been allegedly used as tools by the Indian state to severely undermine the recognition of the Sikh genocide motion passed by the Ontario legislature. The proponents of the genocide motion have been regularly intimidated using tools such as black listing and this is generally done by gaining access to Gurdwaras on the pretext of conducting ceremonies.
This doesn’t end here, as reported by me earlier, there were numerous reports of Indian High Commission in Ottawa meddling with Canadian politican, Jagmeet Singh’s affairs as well where it tried to influence voters against him. Singh claimed that many of his donors backed out at the last moment alleging pressure from the Indian government and that some Hindu organisations in Canada (backed by the RSS) openly campaigned against him. It is widely believed by the Sikh diaspora that RSS is consistently using the Indian missions to sabotage religious and political prowess of Sikhs, especially in Canada and US.
In UK, an added factor played a part in this decision making. The widely reported torture and confinement of Scottish citizen Jagtar Singh ‘Jaggi’ by the Punjab police has irked the UK Sikhs like it hasn’t in the past many years. Even after months of police and judicial remands, the Indian investigation agencies haven’t been able to charge him with anything though reports of extreme affliction and forced coercions have been flowing consistently to UK.
Indian government’s interference in the NRI Sikh affairs isn’t unfounded. After its forced death around 1992, the Khalistan movement has been kept alive by Sikh secessionists settled in Canada, US and Europe. Certain Gurdwaras in these countries proudly display images and hoardings indicating the desire to have an independent Punjab by the year 2020. It is worth mentioning that western democracies do not demonize or prosecute such freedom of expression because in their law books this doesn’t amount to sedition. India on the other hand has a staunch belief that such activities should be nipped in the bud and in their quest of doing so, India has often ended up painting the entire NRI Sikh community with the single brush and these days, tagging them collectively as Khalistani terrorists is a common discourse on twitter and in the editorials.
Sikhs of independent India have had kaleidoscopic experiences. On one hand they were celebrated as a progressive and marshal race with much fanfare, while on the other they were killed like rats by state sponsored goons. They were fortunate to enjoy the biggest farming gains during the green revolution but then they were later killed in cold blood by the likes of KPS Gill in the very same fields. During this dark period, Sikhs in the number of lakhs left Punjab for safer pastures in North America and Europe and since then have made those foreign lands their homes. These Sikhs have not forgotten that justice has escaped them and their brethren back home. When an Indian official, while ignoring their pain and agony, gives an insensitive speech in a Gurdwara, which these Sikhs built and are managing from decades using their hard earned money, it hurts them, and why shouldn’t it?