LONDON: Britain’s leading Sikh group Sikh Federation has accused Conservative peer Lord Rami Ranger of working for the interests of Hindutva Bhartiya Janata Party-led Indian government at the cost of rights of Sikhs and their legitimate demands.
The Sikh Federation intervened after a row broke out on social media between the first Sikh female Member of Parliament and the Shadow International Development Secretary Preet Kaul Gill MP and Conservative Party’s Lord Raminder Ranger.
In a tweet, Rami Ranger claimed that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn’t support Khalistan.
He wrote: “Today, I spoke with the British Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP who categorically assured me that British govt does not support Khalistan movement. Thank you PM.”
Responding to his claim, Labour MP Preet Kaul Gill wrote in reference to the demands of Sikhs for a separate homeland of Khalistan that “the principle of self-determination is prominently embodied in Article I of the Charter of the United Nations”.
The Member of Parliament from Birmingham Edgbaston added: “It is positioned as the first right in the twin Human Rights Covenants (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] and [ICESCR].”
Gill further clarified that even if Boris Johnson made this claim, he was not above the law. She said: “Not sure what your referring to. I for one am very concerned about the divisive nature of your tweets. The PM is not above the law and it’s clear you don’t understand human rights or the principles of the UN declaration.”
The Sikh community in the UK has responded with a lot of anger against the irresponsible statement made by Lord Ranger since he implied that the prime minister and in essence, the British government did not believe in the right to self-determination of the Sikh community.
Criticising this statement, the Sikh Federation of the UK lashed out at Lord Ranger in a public statement which stated: “This guy (Lord Ranger) is the biggest joke & embarrassment in UK politics! Complete Government of India (GOI) chamcha & a laughing stock in the @Conservatives! Self-determination is a basic human right enshrined in international law & article 1 of the @unitednations charter! Get back in your hole Rami Ranger!”
Preet Gill MP further asked Lord Rami Ranger if he had ever raised voice for the kidnapped Sikh activist Jagtar Singh Johal. She asked: Did you raise the case of Jagtar Singh Johal?
Lord Rami Ranger didn’t respond but hundreds of Sikh activists joined the debate and called for the release of Jaggi from Indian prison. The Scottish national Sikh blogger known to supporters as Jaggi, has now been held by Indian authorities for nearly 1,000 days over alleged involvement in the killings of right-wing Hindu leaders and the funding of a now-proscribed group.
The police arrested him while he was visiting India. Preet Gill has been praised by young Sikh activists for raising voice for the release of Jaggi – a popular demand amongst nearly two million Diaspora Sikhs in UK, Europe, Canada and USA.
Hours earlier, Britain’s first turban wearing Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi expressed support for the people of Occupied Kashmir by praising an article on the plight of Kashmiris by famous Indian writer Arundhati Roy published in The Guardian on August 05 – a year after Modi regime revoked Article 370.
While sharing the link, the MP from Slough said: “A very hard hitting, fascinating and thought provoking piece by renowned Indian author Arundhati Roy, weaving geo-political considerations into what’s happening on the ground. Well worth a read. What you see isn’t always what’s actually there.”
The Khalistan movement is a Sikh nationalist movement for an independent homeland for Sikhs arising in the aftermath of systematic discrimination against the Sikh community in India. The movement was at its peak in the 1980s but has continued to inspire Sikhs in India and across the world to strive for an independent homeland, free from the fascist Indian government.