Sikh officials barred from entering gurdwaras in Canada, US and UK

What flagged the ban?

Diaspora

January 13, 2018

/ By / New Delhi



In what is an ongoing aftermath of the Operation Bluestar, Sikh officials have been barred from entering gurudwaras in a formal capacity.

Sikh religious organisations in Canada, the United States of America (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) have barred Sikh officials from entering gurdwaras (Sikh place of worship) for formal visits.

The ban, which was first applied in Canada and later in the US and the UK, has now spread to over 100 places of Sikh worship in these countries.

The decision was first taken in Canada’s Ontario “keeping in mind the interference of Indian consular and Indian government officials in the lives of Canadian Sikhs.” “The presence of these officials makes members of the Sikh community uncomfortable due to their agenda of undermining the autonomy of Sikh institutions and organisations. It is our obligation to ensure the safety of the congregation, and accordingly we have arrived at this decision,” read the press note released by the gurdwara management committees to explain the decision.

The development comes as a setback to the Indian High Commission in Canada for it has in recent years been making attempts to improve ties with the Sikh diaspora in Canada, which had been affected since Operation Blue Star in 1984.

“Total 116 gurdwara management committees had participated in a teleconference and 96 of these gurdwaras had confirmed agreement to the proposal to bar entry of Indian officials in gurdwaras, along with representatives of RSS and Shiv Sena,” Sikh Coordinator East Cost and American Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee representative, Himmat Singh was quoted by the Indian media.

The remaining gurdwaras couldn’t confirm due to technical glitches in teleconferencing, Singh claimed. “We have been getting emails of many gurdwaras and numbers will increase further,” he said.

The Sikh Coordination Committee East Coast (SCCEC) and American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (APGC) affirmed that 96 gurdwaras in the US have barred the entry of Indian officials. The ban applies to kirtans (singing of devotional songs), or religious processions, as well.

The ban is only on Indian officials visiting in a formal capacity, and no individual is barred from coming in for personal reasons, the authorities have cleared.

“This step is being taken not to restrict access to the Guru, but rather to ensure that the Gurdwara Sahib remains independent from the interference of corrupt officials who represent a government that for the last four decades has committed genocide against the Sikh community and has never had positive intentions in dealing with Sikhs as a separate nation of people,” read the released statement.

Operation Bluestar remains an unresolved issue for many Sikhs, particularly for those from the diaspora who lost their families in this 1984 trajectory, which saw Indian troops storming the Golden Temple and leaving hundreds of Sikhs dead.

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