City Sikhs has been shocked by the recent spate of desecration of holy Sikh scriptures in the Indian state of Punjab and the subsequent killings of peaceful protesters by the State Police last week.
The Sikh faith originates from the Punjab region, and to see angs (pages or ‘limbs’) being torn from the Guru Granth Sahib and Pothi Sahibs in Gurdwaras in the faith’s birthplace is heartbreaking. Sikhs consider our scriptures to be our living Guru, and the attacks on the scriptures are nothing less than attacks on the Sikh faith and Sikh identity itself.
Many of the Gurdwaras affected in Punjab have no CCTV facilities, and we appeal to any Sikh companies in the UK or abroad to donate such hardware to as many rural Gurdwaras as possible in order to deter further incidents as well as identify any future culprits who commit such criminal acts.
The events of the last 7 days have received poor coverage in British mainstream media to date, and we implore the media to report what is happening in Punjab. Sikhs in India have historically been subject to media blackouts, particularly during the tumultuous period of the 1980s, and there is obvious concern within the British Sikh community that recent events are not being reported fully.
By shining a spotlight on Punjab and making its events the focus of mainstream news stories, we feel that the perpetrators of the criminal acts will have no place to hide and the authorities will have greater pressure and impetus to act appropriately.
The social media hashtag #SikhLivesMatter has played a massive part in raising the profile of what is happening in Punjab, and several members of the City Sikhs team have also used the hashtag over the last few days to highlight the present situation. We, along with many other Sikh organisations, encourage people to keep using that hashtag and keep the spotlight shining on events as they transpire.
Sikhs in Punjab should also record video footage of everything that is happening on their smart phones. Social media is key in ensuring that people are made aware of current events. If the mainstream and traditional media is not willing to give reports, then the onus is on us as a community to keep everyone informed by way of modern and social media. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook did not exist in the 1980s but they do today, and we encourage all people in Punjab to share their recordings on those platforms as appropriate. Such recordings could be used in any future prosecutions as evidence of events, so they are vital.
The situation in Punjab remains tense, with several reports of further acts of desecration. The Sikh community should remain united at this difficult time. We hope and pray that the perpetrators of these hate crimes in Gurdwaras as well as the killers of the peaceful protesters are identified swiftly and brought to justice as soon as possible