Concerned over the increasing number of racial attacks on Sikhs in foreign countries, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to form a three-member sub-committee to go into the nature of and reasons behind such attacks and suggest measures to curtail them.
The panel will be formed in the next few days in consultation with scholars of Sikh history, religion and literature. The decision was taken at a meeting of prominent SGPC members with Sikh scholars and heads of various Sikh religious groups at the Golden Temple complex here on Thursday. SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar presided over the meeting.
Though the meeting was called to solicit the views of Sikhs settled abroad, very few turned up. A majority of those present were principals and staff members of educational institutes run by the SGPC besides historians and research scholars of Guru Nanak Dev University and other universities and colleges of Punjab.
9/11 terror strike and hate crime
Presiding over the meeting, Makkar said cases of hate crime or racial attacks on Sikhs began after the 9/11 terror strike in the US and have since been on the rise. Besides being physically assaulted, Sikhs were subjected to racial abuse at public places, and at times gurdwaras were also targeted, he added.
“Due to our appearance, especially our turban, we are often associated with groups indulging in violence. Despite out best efforts to explain our separate identity there has been no let-up in hate crime cases,” he added.
A resolution was passed unanimously authorising the SGPC to take the lead in checking hate crime against Sikhs. The resolution called upon all Sikhs to forward their suggestions to the Sikh body.
Speakers felt Sikhs had not done much to create awareness about their distinct identity. Another resolution called for hiring scholars and historians to write a simplified version of the history of Sikhs. This should be translated into foreign languages and made available in all countries with a sizeable Sikh population. The resolution also called for printing pamphlets explaining the distinct identity of Sikhs.
A couple of NRI Sikhs gave an economic angle to the racial attacks. They claimed that locals felt economically insecure in front of the hard-working and prosperous Sikhs.
Appeal to Centre
Another resolution called upon the Centre to take up the issue with countries where cases of hate crime occurred. Unfortunately, the government had not done much, the resolution added. ‘The issue can also be taken up at the diplomatic level with other countries. The Indian embassies had not shown interest in taking up the issue with the governments concerned,” the resolution added.