Jasveer Singh: Rishi Sunak Becoming UK PM Would Be A Dangerous Outcome For Sikhs
"A man whose family has previously been shown to bend at the will of Modi’s BJP government is a dangerous proposition for British Sikhs, considering our existing history with the Conservatives..."
July 12, 2022 | 4 min. read | Opinion
The race for the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, after Boris Johnson’s exit, is bringing forward many reasons why each of the candidates should not get the position. The current favourite for the role Rishi Sunak is not exempt from this.
His voting record, which is described as “generally against human rights” by some, is concerning to many. Others have expressed reservations about having the fourth Oxford and private school-educated Prime Minister in a row. However, for Sikhs, there is one main reason to be concerned about Sunak possibly moving into 10 Downing Street, and that is his connection to India's problematic elite.
This concern is not far-fetched when put into the context of recent India-UK collusion against British Sikh activism. Someone with direct family ties into India's elite sitting at the head of the UK government will only exacerbate the issue.
Only three months ago Boris Johnson said he was looking into the unsubstantiated threat of “Khalistani extremism" in the UK. That came after Priti Patel spoke on alleged “Sikh extremism” in November 2021, which she said after unsuccessfully targeting the West Midlands Three for extradition to India, where they would have faced the death sentence.
The recent disproportionate targeting of Sikhs includes the 2018 #5SinghsUK raids, which were carried out due to "diplomatic pressure" according to Indian sources. The fishing expedition into Sikh activism ended with the Counter-Terror Unit targeting one activist, with a trial dangling over his head still to this day, for a breach of Charities Commission rules while running an organisation that was not a charity. That was all that came out of five raids and months of examining laptops, phones, and documents, some of which still have not been returned.
This government’s Anti-Sikh bias was shown again just this week when the Sikh Human Rights group revealed that they have evidence that MP Damian Hinds has been warning people about the unfounded threat of “Sikh extremism” in the UK. Hinds is the Conservative government’s Minister of State for Security and Borders.
All of this has come during a period of rule by the Conservative government. As an aside, it was the Conservatives that oversaw British involvement in the Battle of Amritsar. The coziness this government has with their BJP counterparts in India is deeply concerning. The BJP is a Hindu nationalist government, led by Narendra Modi, a man who was once banned from entering many Western countries for his involvement in anti-Muslim massacres when he was head of the state of Gujarat. Organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all flagged raising Hindu extremism against minority groups in India under the increasingly autocratic BJP.
With this in mind, the most worrying part of Sunak's ties with India is the direct influence of Modi on his family. Much has been made of Sunak's incredibly rich in-laws, most of which came to light due to his wife's non-domestic status which allows her tax exemptions in the UK.
The status of Sunak’s Murthy in-laws, whose money comes from software, means their word carries weight, and that is why Sunak's father-in-law Narayana Murthy's comments about "fear in the minds of (the) minority in India” under the BJP landed heavily upon Modi. In response, the family business, tech firm Infosys, was soon targeted. Their charity arm was threatened by Modi's government with deregistration for violating funding laws, something which they insisted they did not do. Regardless, the pressure saw Infosys cave and Murthy was soon singing the praises of Modi's government and has not repeated any criticisms since.
If these Modi links were not enough, the Murthy's are also cozy with the Ambani clan, headed by Mukesh, the notorious figure believed to be behind the Indian government's callous push for the three farming laws which led to the biggest protest in history last year. Sikhs were the face of that movement.
Whilst Sunak himself has not been directly behind any of the UK targeting of Sikh activism, that is likely because his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer did not require him to be so. For anyone wondering where his loyalties may lie in such situations, Sunak was vocally supportive of the UK's most Anti-Sikh politician, Priti Patel, when she was being exposed for "bullying" her office workers. He called Patel "kind" and said the two have worked together "closely". Patel is an open supporter of the Hindu extremist outfit RSS and has not yet explained her anti-Sikh comments and actions in recent times.
Concerns about Sunak’s line-towing ties to India’s current government do not mean British Sikhs believe other options for Prime Minister – such as Penny Mordaunt or Kemi Badenoch – will not oversee continued collusion between India to target Sikh activism. Priti Patel herself may eventually step into the leadership race, whilst Indo-Mauritian contender Suella Braverman would also stoke fears given her position against human rights advocacy. Braverman is from Harrow, the part of West London that is viewed as the Gujarati equivalent to the mini-Punjab of Southall. Harrow’s MP Bob Blackman is a notorious mouthpiece of the BJP, evident from his regurgitation of Indian government Anti-Farmers’ Protest propaganda in the UK.
Nevertheless, the thought of Sunak as the UK PM should be worrying for British Sikhs. A man whose family has previously been shown to bend at the will of Modi’s BJP government is a dangerous proposition for British Sikhs, considering our existing history with the Conservatives, and that is why we all should oppose Rishi Sunak landing the role.
Jasveer Singh hails from Southall, UK, and is the Senior Press Officer of The Sikh Press Association, a position he has held since 2015. In this role, Jasveer works across all sectors of media supporting Sikh organisations and individuals on panthic endeavours. Jasveer previously worked as a freelance journalist which included stints with Sky News, Super Fight League, and more. You can find Jasveer on Twitter at @Jazzthejourno.
Baaz is home to opinions, ideas, and original reporting for the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora. Support us by subscribing. Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @BaazNewsOrg. If you would like to submit a written piece for consideration please email us at email@example.com.