All Indian embassies and consulates around the world are demanding and collecting details of Sikhs in their areas, especially in countries where Sikh community has a considerable presence. This was revealed when an email came from the office of the Consulate General of India in Hamburg, Germany, which made public the details of Sikh migrants in the country.
However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has claimed that the collection of data was an effort to help the Sikh community worldwide as there have been complaints of persecution of Sikh minorities in some countries.
Europe-based lawyer and activist Dr Manuvie made the email from office of Consulate General Of India, Hamburg, public on her Twitter handle on Wednesday night and asked piercing questions to the Hamburg Consul General of India Madan Lal Raigar. Several other Twitter users also raised strong questions about the move and criticized it.
Hamburg vice-consul Gulshan Dhingra had on October 19 sent out an email from the official account linked to the CGI office, titled “Data of Sikh Diaspora residing in the 4 North German States.”
According to the email, “The ministry is in the process of compiling the data of Sikh diaspora residing in Germany.” The recipients of the email were urged to “compile a list with the names and addresses of Sikhs living in your area for onward transmission to the ministry” by October 21, 2020.
Later, CGI Raigar told reporters that the letter had been withdrawn as it had created an unnecessary controversy and also sent an official version of MEA on the issue.
Dr Manuvie had questioned the CGI on official Twitter handle @IndiainHamburg for sending the email as ‘high priority’ one and flagged the issues of data protection and legal issues involved in such data collection in Germany, which has strict privacy laws.
“The government, through its embassies/consulates abroad, periodically updates data regarding Indian diaspora to carry its reach-out efforts towards them with good intentions to help them out in need/distress situations; and never to harm or hurt sentiments of the community at large. This is done for the entire Indian diaspora (irrespective of race, region, religion, etc.),” according to the MEA explanation.
“This was not done selectively by the Indian consulate in Hamburg only but it was a reach out effort world-wide by all Indian embassies and consulates abroad, in general, and, more emphasis was in the countries where presence of Sikh diaspora is substantial,” the statement said and added “It is regrettable, sad and unfortunate that the issue has been blown out of proportion unnecessarily to ignite sentiments of the diaspora.”