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Jasveer Singh: Priti Patel's Problematic History Of Anti-Sikh Activities
Over 150 Sikh organizations have now come together to demand UK Home Secretary Priti Patel be sacked for her anti-Sikh rhetoric and activities
February 9, 2022 | 4.5 min. read | Opinion
Video footage discovered by the Sikh Federation UK showed UK Home Secretary Priti Patel claiming “Sikh separatist extremism has also caused considerable tensions” in Britain, speaking at a Heritage Foundation event in November 2021. The baseless claim was said as Patel discussed potential terror threats to the British public. Here Sikh Press Association Senior Press Officer Jasveer Singh explains why 150 Sikh organizations have now come together to demand Patel be sacked.
Never before has any individual become the focus of a campaign that has united so many within the UK Sikh community as Priti Patel has done.
From public support for the RSS, to helping the Indian government attempt to extradite three British Sikhs, Patel is clearly aligned with anti-Sikh efforts and her reign as the UK Home Secretary for the Conservative Party proves it.
The disdain much of the UK Panth has for Patel is not unique to Sikhs.
Her role in the Windrush scandal has made her very unpopular among the British Caribbean community. Her callous take on dealing with refugees has upset various groups. And her actions against women’s protests have left her with little support even among her own gender.
Yet, the over 150 organisations that have co-signed a Sikh Federation UK letter demanding Patel be sacked for her comments on so-called “Sikh separatist extremism” highlights a particularly strong concern among UK Sikhs about her ability to damage the community.
The letter itself is unequivocal in its demands regarding Patel, stating she has “warped” views of British Sikhs, and that she is “conflicted” due to her “connections and appreciation of the right-wing BJP government”.
Many would say the Sikh campaign against Patel has been a long time coming.
Sikhs were initially galvanized against Patel after her open praise for the HSS, a UK branch of famously anti-Sikh Hindutva group the RSS, in 2014. An ITV News documentary which exposed the promotion of “hatred and extremist views” of the HSS a year after Patel’s open letter of support to them only reaffirmed these concerns among Sikhs, especially given the gleeful way she fronted a government welcoming party for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016. However, the threat of these connections still did not seem to register with the general British public as much as it did with Sikhs.
General views on Patel turned more negative when in 2017 Patel was forced to resign as International Development Secretary for the Conservatives after it was discovered she was having private unofficial meetings with ministers and lobbyists of Netanyahu’s Israel. Nevertheless, that was far from the end of Patel. Within 18 months she was made UK Home Secretary by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where her notoriety really took off.
Within a short period, as Home Secretary, Patel was overseeing an attack on the rights of people from all angles. It began with her firm anti-immigration and anti-refugee policies, first motioned in 2019, which later included considering sending illegal immigrants that land on British shores to be imprisoned on a remote island.
Next came Patel’s dangerous policing reform bill, which included “anti-protest” policies. At this point, UK Sikhs began raising serious concerns about Patel’s role with the government. The practice of seeking justice that is part of Sikhi has manifested itself in the form of regular protests led by British Sikhs. There have been at least four national Sikh protests called in the UK in 2022 already, and we are only in February.
Of course, Patel’s role in India’s extradition attempt of three British Sikhs certified the view she pushes an anti-Sikh agenda aligned with Modi’s government. This became especially apparent after the case was dismissed in court and world-renowned human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce and Labour MP Taiwo Owatemi questioned Patel on how she allowed the extradition attempt to get so far when it had no evidence behind it. Patel avoided even attempting to answer these questions.
Real collaboration to oust Patel came in the last six months when she motioned the Nationality and Borders Bill, which included the right of the British government to revoke the citizenship of anyone applicable to have citizenship in another country without informing them – thus impacting nearly all British Sikhs. This prompted some Sikh organisations to be part of a conglomerate of minority representative groups opposing the Bill. Nonetheless, even this collaboration paled in comparison to what has happened in the last week.
On January 31 the video of Patel’s mention of “Sikh separatist extremism” was unearthed and shared first by Sikh Federation UK. This seems to be the final straw and has prompted a serious Sikh campaign to have the Home Secretary sacked, as noted by respected social commentators in the UK.
Claims of the threat of Sikh extremism in the UK are not new, with many countering that using such baseless language bafflingly equates peaceful Sikh activism with legitimate examples of local extremism such as white supremacy or Islamic fundamentalism.
As a peer-reviewed study by respected academic Dr. Jasjit Singh found, any form of so-called “Sikh radicalism” in the UK poses no such threat to the public. When surveyed, even the British public felt they had witnessed more extremism from Christians and animal rights activists than Sikhs. Sikhs actually ranked the lowest of all categories in the poll.
Sikhs across the world are aware that the narrative of “Sikh extremism” nearly always revolves around “separatism”, or support for self-determination and Khalistan - the movement which most seems to concern the Indian state as it continues to uphold a fascist regime. It is those aligned with this fascist regime of the Indian state who are usually behind the “Sikh extremism” allegations as well.
Clearly based on her actions, that includes the current UK Home Secretary, which is why so many UK Sikhs want her sacked.
Read the letter in full and have your Sikh organisation cosign it here.
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.
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