PRESS RELEASESunday 19 March 2006


At the weekend it was reported that Harcharan Singh Josh the newly appointed member of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) had described Sikhs as part and parcel of Hindus. Immediately upon learning of his comments the Sikh Federation (UK) slammed his comments as totally irresponsible. In a radio broadcast and through a press release the Federation urged Sikhs in Panjab in positions of responsibility to take united action to ensure Josh apologised, withdrew his comments and to consider if he should be forced to step down from his position as he appears to lack all knowledge to represent Sikhs.

Josh a former general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress and a close confidant of Sanjay Gandhi stated that it was only a turban that distinguished a Sikh from a Hindu. He claimed that the Sikhs came from the same 'Hindu culture' and they should admit this fact gracefully. ''Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed for whom?'' he asked. He said the Sikhs should not deny the facts that they were baptised to protect the Hindus - their brethren - from the Mughal tyranny.

A Federation spokesman said: "It is widely acknowledged that the Sikhs have a distinct and separate identity and any Sikh that refuses to accept this demonstrates he lacks the knowledge and ability to represent the Sikhs on the likes of the National Commission for Minorities."

A Federation spokesman said: "We are aware the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the SGPC President, Avtar Singh Makkar and Tarlochan Singh the former Chairman of the NCM, have all condemned Josh's statements. We are also aware that Josh met with Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and the SGPC chief yesterday and now both have announced that they will not hold any more meetings with Josh until he withdraws his controversial statements.

The SGPC chief said Josh was nominated as a member of the Sikh community and his "irresponsible statement" amounted to his disqualification. He said Josh's statement showed that he wanted to watch the interests of the majority community instead of the minority.

Tarlochan Singh, former Chairman of the NCM, said Josh must understand that the Sikhs have a separate religion and identity. He said he had now moved the Lok Sabha to amend Article 25 of the Indian Constitution that equated Sikhs with Hindus.

A Federation spokesman said: "If Josh fails to apologise and withdraw his statement he will be making a mockery of the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and the SGPC President. In these circumstances Josh should be forced to resign from his position on the NCM and be replaced by a Sikh who knows what he is talking about."

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

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