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         2011 census statistics | England and Wales 

        Total census Sikh population:  430,020

No. of Sikhs who identified themselves as Sikhs under ethnicity:  83,362

No. who identified themselves as Sikhs under both religion & ethnicity:  76,500

No. Sikhs who identified themselves under ethnicity only:  6,862

      % Sikhs who do not want to be identified by religion 6,862/430,020: 1.6%*

The 2011 census results show that 98.4% of Sikhs in 2011 were happy to be identified by religion.

Comment:

The above statistics show that the 2011 census accurately reflected the Sikh population. This effectively destroys the Sikh Federation UK’s (SFUK) case of under-representation. Facts and figures however mean nothing to the SFUK anxious to downplay our religious identity and show Sikhs as a tribe or sect needing state protection. Their staggering response is now to suggest without any evidence, that the true population of Sikhs is as much as 800,000.**Nearly twice the census figure, suggesting some 370,000 beings, so-called ‘ethnic Sikhs’ are wandering around refusing to be identified under ethnicity.

Dr Jhutti-Johal an academic from the University of Birmingham supports our position when she concludes, ‘It is difficult to see what additional benefit that data collected through a Sikh ethnic tick box would bring. ONS research has already suggested that the existing Sikh religion tick will capture virtually all Sikhs in the UK.’[i]

Whist previously boasting that Sikhs lead other communities in home ownership, in a classic example of double-think SFUK have since claimed Sikhs face discrimination in housing.[ii] They contradict themselves. In the 2016 UK Sikh Survey, The Sikh Network (their sister organisation) suggested, ‘92% of Sikhs are owner occupiers the highest for any group in the UK’.[iii]The 2014 British Sikh Report made a similar point, ‘In terms of wealth and assets, home ownership is very high amongst British Sikhs with 87% of households owning at least a portion of their home’.[iv] Why the U-turn by SFUK?

Worse still the legal action against the Cabinet Office was brought by the Chair of the SFUK, namely Amrik Singh Gill (on behalf of SFUK), the owner of apparently more than 100 properties, who was recently described as a ‘rogue landlord’ and fined more than £50,000 for housing tenants in overcrowded and substandard conditions.[v] We have asked the SFUK to confirm or deny if their Chair Amrik Singh Gill was the subject of the fine and gave them an opportunity to comment on the decision, we did not hear back from them. The phrase, ‘physician heal thyself’ comes to mind.

The SFUK are now seeking permission to appeal the High Court decision against them,[vi] with Gill as the appellant on behalf of the SFUK.[vii] Neither Gill nor, the SFUK represent the view of the majority of British Sikhs who are content with describing themselves as Sikhs by religion in the census.

All Sikh organisations urgently need to make clear that the ‘rogue’ Sikh Federation UK in no way speaks for British Sikhs.

*https://bit.ly/36M335J

**https://www.leighday.co.uk/Sikh-Federation-UK-to-seek-permission-to-appeal

[i] https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/perspective/sikh-ethnic-tick-box-ons-assesses-evidence.aspx

[ii] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/campaign-to-include-sikhs-as-ethnic-group-in-census-reaches-high-court-a4285236.html

[iii] http://www.thesikhnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/UK-Sikh-Survey-2016-Findings-FINAL.pdf

[iv] http://www.britishsikhreport.org/british-sikh-report-download-2014/

[v] https://news.derby.gov.uk/rogue-landlord-fined-over-50000/

[vi] https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2019/3407.html

[vii] https://www.leighday.co.uk/Sikh-Federation-UK-to-seek-permission-to-appeal

Jagjit Kaur

The video of a Sikh girl (Jagjit Kaur) allegedly abducted from her home in Punjab (Pakistan) and visibly under duress whilst being betrothed to a Muslim man in a marriage ceremony has sent shock waves across India and amongst diaspora Sikh communities across the West.[i]

Politicians have waded in, including Captain Amarinder Singh the Chief Minister of Punjab (India) and the Akali Dal’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa. The Indian government responded on 30th August: ‘the Ministry had received a number of representations from various quarters of civil society in India, including Sikh religious bodies in India, at the reports of the incident of abduction and forced conversion of a minor Sikh girl in Pakistan. We have shared these concerns with the Government of Pakistan and asked for immediate remedial action.’

The girl’s father has been identified as Bhagwan Singh, a priest at Gurdwara Tambu Sahib. A few days ago, her brother Surinder Singh issued a statement to ask for her safe return home, he confirmed the family had lodged a first information report (FIR) with Nankana Sahib police, however according to Surinder Singh the family was facing threats from the abductors for filing the case and being pressurised to convert.[ii]

However, news reports of the incident have been contradictory, confusing and allegations of fake news have been made. Some reports suggested Jagjit Kaur was returned to her family and 8 arrests had been made,[iii] whereas other reports on the same day suggested she refused to go back to her family ‘fearing a threat to her life’.[iv] In another article her brother refuted the news that she has been returned despite government claims.[v] Separate reports point to a statement filed in court which suggests Jagjit Kaur converted out of her own free will.[vi]

The incident is a cause of huge embarrassment for Pakistan who have been hosting an international Sikh Conference on August 31 at Governor House in Lahore. Former Labour MP for Glasgow, the incumbent Punjab Chief Minister tweeted about the abduction following representations made to him.[vii]

We are cognisant the issue of abduction of non-Muslim girls in Pakistan is a significant blight on wider Pakistani society. Aside from Punjab, there is compelling evidence of abduction and forced marriage in Pakistan’s Sindh province – a 2018 University of Birmingham report ‘Forced Conversions & Forced Marriages In Sindh, Pakistan’, highlighting the issue for Hindu and Christian women. The report’s executive summary says, ‘It has been estimated that 1000 women and girls from religious minorities are abducted, forcibly converted and then married off to their abductors every year.’[viii]

We have flagged Jagjit Kaur’s case with the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief and Baron Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

[ENDS]

References

[i] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVRWy_ETGPk

[ii] https://twitter.com/SikhMessenger/status/1167080801097461761

[iii] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/sikh-girl-forcefully-converted-to-islam-in-pakistan-sent-to-parents-1593732-2019-08-31

[iv] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/sikh-girl-forced-convert-islam-refuses-home-pak-official-1593980-2019-09-01?utm_source=rss

[v] https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/brother-of-pakistani-sikh-girl-forcefully-converted-appeals-to-imran-khan-for-justice/story-Sobbhiy0jjPlB0kCB3d4wK.html

[vi] https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/adopted-islam-out-of-my-own-free-will-sikh-girl-after-family-alleges-forced-conversion-in-pakistan/ar-AAGzJ4r?li=AAEz3n1

[vii] https://twitter.com/ChMSarwar/status/1167510245461114882

[viii] https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-artslaw/ptr/ciforb/Forced-Conversions-and-Forced-Marriages-in-Sindh.pdf

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