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'Justice for Kamlesh Bahl Campaign'

Hindu leaders expressed support for Dr Bahl, who accused Law Society of racial bias.
PTI | By UK Bureau, London
PUBLISHED ON AUG 25, 2004 04:36 PM IST

Hindu leaders from national and regional organisations launched the 'Justice for Kamlesh Bahl Campaign' on August 8, at Bhaktivedanta Manor ISKCON temple in Watford amidst the presence of leaders from national and regional organisations.

Special prayers were chanted and a fire sacrifice was offered for Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Krishna. Community leaders expressed hopes to consolidate the support of the British community for the long drawn battle between Kamlesh Bahl and the Law Society, whom she had accused of race discrimination in removing her from her position as vice president.

Speaking at the launch, CB Patel, Chief of the Patrons Council of the Hindu Forum of Britain and publisher of Asian Voice – Gujarat Samachar said: “This campaign is not just about Kamlesh Bahl. It is about saving the self-respect of all British Hindus. We urge all Hindu organisations to back this fight for justice.”

Gauri Dasa, Spiritual Commissioner of the Hindu Forum of Britain and President of Bhaktivedanta Manor said: “We found that Kamlesh Bahl strictly follows the principles of Bhagvad Gita, the holy book in the Hindu tradition. Therefore, we support her wholeheartedly in the belief that her actions, karma, will lead to the path of righteousness known as dharma.”

Last week, Lord Justices Gibson, Latham and Kay of the Court of Appeal on July 30, 2004, decided that Dr Bahl could not be offended by an earlier statement by Betts of the Law society that the Employment Tribunal had found to be racist. While describing an altercation between Dr Bahl and a member of staff, Russell Wallman, Betts described Dr Bahl’s behaviour as if  “it was confrontational and it felt as if there was a culprit going to be found and blame was going to be apportioned and hands were going to be chopped off".

The Court ruled that this did "not indicate racism or display racial overtones in relation to a black Asian Hindu". The Court disagreed with the comments of Dr Bahl’s barrister that racists do not distinguish between Hindus and Muslims when they call all Asians by the denigrating term, ‘Paki’.

Hindu leaders in Britain had expressed shock last week and said the judgement had wider implications on the community since they believed it implied that race crime was not established by the intention of the perpetrator but by the race of the victim.

Referring to the judgement against Kamlesh Bahl last week, OP Sharma, President of the National Council of Hindu Temples said, "Her case suffered a setback due to people who did not understand our culture and feelings. Although we have mighty people against us, we will continue to fight this injustice since it is a fight for the principles of Dharma or righteousness."

Other community leaders who spoke at the launch included Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain, Kishore Ruparelia, Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK, Natubhai Shah, President of Jain Samaj of Europe, Arjan Vekaria, Chair of Hindu Aid, Rami Ranger, Secretary of the Punjabi Society for British Isles, Sudarshan Bhatia, Assistant Secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples and Manoj Ladwa, Solictor.

Community leaders are now planning the next stage of the campaign to raise awareness of wider issues affecting the Hindu community in Britain.

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