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Jaskaran Sandhu: Exploring Lord Rami Ranger's Brazen Attacks On Sikhs
Ranger is seen by many in the UK Sikh community as the personification of Indian nationalist attitudes which wants to only subjugate Sikh activism and more
May 12, 2022 | 5 min. read | Opinion
There are only a few people that attract the ire of Sikhs quite like the UK decision-maker and staunch pro-India actor, Lord Raminder Ranger CBE. He was nominated for a life peerage and a seat in the House of Lords in 2019.
From suggesting that the 1984 Sikh Genocide was the fault of Southhall Sikhs to regularly proclaiming the Sikh Gurus worked for the unity of India, his takes on Sikh history, issues, and causes are more often than not ludicrous and false.
His commentary comes in between regular praise of Modi and loud subservience to the Indian right-wing, especially as it pertains to the Sikh community, as well as regularly attempting to malign anything that could be perceived as Khalistani.
Watching his baffling online outbursts over the years has made him a curious figure for folks like myself watching from abroad. Who exactly is this man and how much power does he actually have to influence UK-Indian relations as it relates to the Sikh community?
Ranger’s father was allegedly assassinated for opposing the formation of Pakistan before the partition of India in 1947. This apparently happened right around when Ranger was born but the impact on him is clear. He has since released a biography of his father, Nanak Singh, titled Don’t Break Up India.
Ranger claims to be Sikh, however, he also happens to be a founding member of the Hindu Forum of Britain. He often blurs the line between Sikhi and Hinduism, leaning into, for example, Hindu nationalist rhetoric that Sikhs are part of the Hindu fold and therefore also “Indians”.
Ranger sits at the helm of Sea, Air & Land Forwarding Ltd and Sun Mark Ltd, which is the only company in Britain that has won five consecutive Queen’s Awards.
He has apparently used his success to position himself as the voice on Sikh affairs in the UK. Ranger seems to believe his success in business means his perspective should hold extra weight in other areas as well. His money amplifies his voice through politics, with reports suggesting he has donated at least £1.3 million to the UK Conservative Party over a decade.
In 2019, the Conservatives finally appointed Ranger as a member of the House of Lords. There were accusations that Ranger’s title had come as a result of the “cash for peerages” scandal, in which supporters of the Conservatives received titles and appointments in return for hefty donations.
A year before the appointment, In 2018, he was a guest at the infamous Presidents Club Dinner where waitresses were harassed, although he claims not to have known such actions were happening. That did not stop Ranger from picking up his very own harassment allegations. In 2021 a work tribunal hearing ruled that Ranger had “victimised and harassed” a female employee.
Despite these embarrassing findings and clouds of suspicion over his political appointment, Ranger has continued to position himself as a celebratory figure among UK Sikhs. He has even guest lectured at The Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies, University of Wolverhampton, enjoying what appears to be a close relationship with the academic institution.
Just this week he suggested, through the little-known British Sikh Association (BSA) of which he is the Chairman, that Sikhs should be “rejoicing in his success”. This kind of self-pump is common from Ranger, who likes to remind people how successful he is as if it should validate any opinion he holds.
Funny enough, the BSA and Ranger were found to be interacting with, tagging, and engaging anti-Sikh troll accounts that were later suspended for unleashing a disinformation and manipulation campaign against Sikhs. The report exposing the depth to which the campaign operated against Sikhs was even covered by the BBC. The fact Ranger and BSA were interacting with such accounts, even if they did not know they were fake trolls, exposes their problematic positioning and relationship with actual Sikh organizations, leaders, and actors.
The reality is Ranger has become an ever-growing outcast within the Sikh community, gaining notoriety within local community and political spaces.
Amongst the most brazen example of his abusive outbursts is a recent tweet threatening violence against Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall Gurdwara’s Harmeet Singh Gill.
Gill is a well-known voice from the Gurdwara committee and often explains why, like many Gurdwaras the world over, Southall Singh Sabha allows local Sangat support for figures such as Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale and the Khalistan movement within their Gurdwara.
This has attracted the rage of Ranger, who likes to falsely present support for Khalistan as a merely fringe element within the community.
In this example, Ranger replied to a nearly one-year-old tweet from the official Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall handle which referenced Khalistan with a video of Indian police brutally beating Muslim men and the ominous words “You too could get similar welcome Harmeet Singh Gill”.
The Gurdwara has reported the now-deleted tweet to London's Metropolitan Police Service and has requested that an investigation be open. Given a well-known history of Sikhs facing genocidal violence from Indian authorities, and the ominous relevance of the Jagtar Singh Johal issue, Ranger’s threat is particularly chilling.
Recent statements from Priti Patel and Boris Johnson, both of whom are Conservatives, about Sikh “extremism” in the UK, may show the impact within the party of the Lord’s regular cries about Sikh Khalistani “militants”.
In the end, Ranger is seen by many in the UK Sikh community as the personification of Indian nationalist attitudes which wants to only subjugate Sikh activism, destroy ideas of Sikh sovereignty, and incentivize subservience to the state of India.
Protected by a status he may have paid to get, Ranger continues to push a false narrative of widespread Sikh support for the Modi and Hindutva regime while belittling or outright threatening dissenting voices. It is no surprise then that he has become an absolute outcast within the Sikh world.
Jaskaran Sandhu hails from Brampton, Canada, and is the co-founder of Baaz. He is a Strategist at the public affairs and relations agency State Strategy. Jaskaran also previously served as Executive Director for the World Sikh Organization of Canada and as a Senior Advisor to Brampton’s Office of the Mayor. You can find Jaskaran on Twitter at @JaskaranSandhu_
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