The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was accompanied by the Chair of City Sikhs and the Co-Chair of the Faiths Forum for London, Jasvir Singh OBE, on a visit to Amritsar on the morning of 6th December 2017. The Mayor was in Amritsar as part of a 6 day trip to India and Pakistan to build stronger links between London and the Subcontinent. The visit was especially significant as it took place during the 70th anniversary year of the independence of India, the creation of Pakistan, and the partition of Punjab and Bengal.
During the Mayor’s two hour visit, he was given a brief history of the city and was informed of the significance of the Harmandir Sahib (otherwise known as the Golden Temple) to the Sikh faith, the foundation stone of which was laid by Sain Mian Mir, a Sufi Muslim saint in the late 16th century. The Mayor of London visited the langar hall and met with the sevadars (volunteers) who prepare and serve over 100,000 meals each day.He also saw the shrine of Baba Deep Singh and remarked upon the need for religious freedom at all times.
The Mayor also visited Jallianwala Bagh, the site of the infamous massacre in April 1919 when over 1,000 Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were killed by British troops during a peaceful protest on the day of Vaisakhi.
“It is one of the most horrific events in Indian history and it is shameful that successive British Governments have fallen short of delivering a formal apology almost 100 years on”, the Mayor said. The Mayor paid homage to Sikh servicemen and women who had fought for the British Army during the First and Second World Wars, adding that “These brave individuals sacrificed an enormous amount to defend the freedoms that we enjoy today and it is only right that there is a memorial in our capital city to honour the Sikhs who fought to preserve our freedoms.”
Jasvir Singh said “The Mayor’s visit to Amritsar and the Harmandir Sahib in particular helped him to better understand the importance of sewa and selfless service to the Sikh community around the world, a global community that serves over a million free meals each day as our places of worship. The acknowledgement of historic human rights abuses at Jallianwala Bagh was a significant one, and I hope that acknowledgement will be replicated by the British Government at the massacre’s centenary in less than 18 months’ time.” Jasvir went on to say “I also hope that all human rights abuses in the present day around the world can be acknowledged and challenged in a similar way, and that is especially important when there are continuing concerns about the Punjab Police in particular.”
Note to Editors:
City Sikhs is an organisation run by British Sikhs to create positive change within Britain and is an authentic voice of British Sikhs. It has over 6,000 members throughout the UK and it is based on universal Sikh values such as recognising humanity as one and seeking the well-being and prosperity for everyone in society. The majority of its members are second, third and fourth generation British Sikhs.