The much-awaited meeting between the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and pro-radical Sikh Council of the United Kingdom on Thursday appeared to have reached some common ground at the Smethwick Gurdwara.
The meeting generated huge interest among Sikhs here as this gurdwara has always championed the cause of Sikh radicals who have been demanding a separate homeland in India.
People closely associated with the DSGMC have been suggesting to the body not to participate in the meeting for its anti-separatist stance against the hardliners. They feared that once the DSGMC delegation led by Manjit Singh GK reached the gurdwara, they would be subjected to humiliation.
The radicals appeared to have come prepared to take on GK who, only a day before, had said on a Sikh channel that Bhindranwale never demanded a separate state for Sikhs.
GK later told HT that he was prepared for the “humiliation”. “Had I not gone to the meeting, the entire purpose of the visit to win over the hardliners would have been defeated,” he said.
When the meeting began, Gurmail Singh, secretary general of the Sikh council, the supreme body of around 300 gurdwaras in the UK, told the DSGMC delegation that there were various grievances the Sikhs in the UK had been nursing against India and the Punjab government for years, which the latter never tried to address.
GK admitted there had been a huge disconnect between the Indian diaspora living in the UK and other countries and probably no serious effort had been made to reach out to them by the Indian authorities.
“I have been specifically sent by SAD president Sukhbir Badal to bridge this gap so that the Akali government could press the Centre to resolve their problems,” he told the council.
Gurdial Singh Atwal and Gurinder Singh Josan of the council said Sikhs were unhappy with the Punjab government for putting them in the blacklist because of which they were unable to visit India for more than three decades.
The council attacked the Punjab government for appointing Sumedh Singh Saini as the DGP and for giving ticket to the wife of former Punjab police official Izhar Alam from Malerkotla in the assembly polls.
The council said they were not against the Badals, but they had to prove that they were sympathetic to the problems of Sikhs living abroad. “We will cooperate if Badals show us results,” said the council.
‘Not to take up arms’
Joga Singh and Kuldip Singh Chaheru of the council said though they would continue to fight for Khalistan, they would not take up arms. “We are not terrorists. Asking for a separate state is our right and we will continue to strive for it under the framework of law,” they added.
‘No comment on Khalistan’
Soon after its meeting with the DSGMC delegation, the Sikh Council clarified that the council, as a matter of policy, “doesn’t comment on the issue of Khalistan or engage in a discussion relating to the topic”. “The Council is based on pluralism and its primary purpose is to deal with issues affecting living in the UK,” said a statement issued by council spokesman Gurdial Singh Atwal, chair of Indian Sub-Continent Affairs Committee, Sikh Council.