Thursday, 14 July 2005
30th asaarh (Samvat 537 Nanakshahi)
London—The Metropolitan Police admitted that the Sikh community is particularly vulnerable to backlash crimes in the aftermath of the London bombings because of their visibility and that this is a police concern.
"Please be aware that this is not seen as a Muslim issue and all faiths including the Sikh faith and community are seen as equally if not more vulnerable than Muslims, often because they are living in smaller pockets of London and other cities," said Commander Rod Jarman, who is in charge of community issues for developing a long term response to the London bombings.
This assurance was given during a meeting on Tuesday called by representatives of the Sikh community after a Sikh Gurdwara in Kent became the first victim of a backlash attack last weekend.
"We had written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, requesting a meeting because we were concerned at the lack of public reassurance for the heightened need for vigilance for the security of the Sikh community and its places of worship," said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS director, who chaired the meeting.
Minutes of Meeting (doc: 63 KB)
Harjinder Singh of the Sikhs Care Society Heathrow emphasised, "The chances of a 7th Day Adventist being seen as a follower of Osama bin Laden are very low, but the chances are very high of a Sikh being misconstrued as such. Consequently, Sikhs do need to be singled out for extra protection."
Satnam Kaur of the British Sikh Women Organisation said," We are not saying that we should be singled put for any other reason other than that there are more Sikhs who wear Turbans than there are Muslims who wear Turbans. Therefore Sikhs need extra protection because the chances are greater for a Sikh to be a victim of a backlash crime."
Surinder Singh of the Sikh Secretariat pressed on, "Could it be said that the Sikh community is specifically vulnerable?" Superintendent Robert Tucker replied that the Sikh community "is one of the particularly vulnerable communities and that every incident against members of the community should be reported, for example knocking off a Sikh's turban."
Commander Jarman said it was the Borough Commander's duty to make a Sikh as safe as any member of the public taking into account that Sikhs are particularly vulnerable. Commander Jarman said that every Sikh Gurdwara should contact their Borough Commander and seek this reassurance. If there are any problems in achieving this, he should be notified. Commander Jarman suggested Harmander Singh of the Sikhs in England be a middle ground between the borough people and the police.
Harjinder Singh said: "We do not doubt the commitment of the officers we met today to the safety of all inhabitants of London, but we still feel that the people who attacked the Erith (variously called Bexley, Belvedere or Kent ) Gurdwara woke up the police to the fact that there are these people called Sikhs who are more vulnerable."
"In the aftermath of the backlash suffered by Sikhs to 9/11, we have been having a series of meetings with a senior officer of the Met Police, David Vannes, (who has since retired) who was fully aware of the vulnerability of the Sikhs. It is a pity that it needed an attack on a Gurdwara to get us 'in the picture' this time round."
Detective Inspector Parmjit Kaur gave a briefing on steps being taken to investigate the petrol bomb attack on the Erith Gurdwara and the security measures instituted with the co-operation of the Erith Gurdwara management.
Assistant Chief Constable, Robert Beckley, said he was very willing to facilitate similar meetings between the police in the counties and the Sikh community and the Sikh Gurdwara management.
Mejindarpal Kaur notified the police that several Sikh organisations had collaborated to set up a hate crime incident report facility. Dabinderjit Singh said, "A decision will be taken as to how and what information would be passed on to police taking into account any need to protect confidentiality."
Others present at the meeting were Harpreet Kaur of Voices for Freedom, Meerat Kaur of UNITED SIKHS , Gurdip Singh of the Met Police Sikh Association and Superintendents Adrian Rabot.
To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.
UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.
UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.
Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.
We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.