An Indian newspaper claims West Midlands Police gave out confidential information, something they deny. Read on for more, including quotes from the National Sikh Youth Federation, Sikh Press Association and MP Preet Kaur.
Members of the Sikh community are questioning how Indian media have gotten hold of details about police raids on UK Sikh homes earlier this week, after outlets named two individuals allegedly impacted.
Concerns have arisen about how the outlets may have gotten hold of such sensitive information after West Midlands Police were said to have been the source of the information, something which they have denied to the Sikh Press Association.
For both legal and ethical reasons, the Sikh Press Association will not repeat the identity of the individuals nor the publications which divulged their name.
Somebody described as ‘a top Punjab police officer’ has been quoted by an Indian media outlet as saying: ‘We have received confirmation from WMCTU [West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit] that the residences of both […] and […] were searched. There was, however, no confirmation on any arrests yet.’
However, on Friday afternoon West Midlands Police confirmed to the Sikh Press Association its policy of only naming individuals once they have been charged. According to Sikh PA sources, it is against British police protocol to name anyone involved in a case unless they have at least been arrested and it is of public interest.
During one of the raids, which occurred across the Midlands and in London, property of a National Sikh Youth Federation activist was confiscated. Electronic items such as laptops and hard-drives were seized by officers. The group has warned that ‘sharing NSYF information with Indian security forces investigating “extremist activity in India” places the lives of associates and their family members in direct danger of further harassment, torture, and extrajudicial murder’, based on the long history and current actions of Punjab police and Indian authorities which involves torture and fake encounters murders.
A further statement from the National Sikh Youth Federation addressed the issue of the leaked name:
‘This information makes it abundantly clear that Indian state security forces have not only instigated UK police actions, but are also abusing international legal mechanisms by circumventing the procedures of the UK police and their own integrity to vindictively target Sikh activists by leaking information to the Indian media.
‘The National Sikh Youth Federation is deeply concerned that the personal data and legally privileged information of Sikh activists will be shared with Indian security forces placing the lives of Sikhs in Indian-Occupied East Punjab in extreme danger.
‘If it wasn’t clear before it should be absolutely clear now that the primary motivation of the Indian state is to silence Sikh dissent by presenting long standing Sikh political grievances with the Indian regime and support for Khalistan as extremism and terrorism.’
The reaction of Indian media towards the raids has prompted criticism from the Sikh Press Association, for both a lack of evidence and non-use of important facts in regards to allegations of ‘Sikh extremism’ in the UK.
Sikh Press Association senior press officer Jasveer Singh said, ‘It is incredibly worrying to learn that Indian media outlets are citing British police forces as a source of information that should not be available to them. Are these Indian outlets just speculating and using West Midlands Police as their cover? If so, West Midlands police must publicly condemn them, and should do so with full support of the UK government.
‘On the Indian media’s side, we should not expect much. There is a proven history of anti-Sikh propaganda that is spewed out from various outlets, all of which lack evidence, context, and are usually clearly biased against Sikh activism. The best example of this is the 2015/16 Sikh extremism fake dossier scandal, the outcome of which no Indian outlets – bar Sikh Siyasat – covered. In regards to the raids, whilst Indian media accuse the UK of harbouring Khalistani extremists, a peer reviewed CREST approved report which clears suggestions of this nature goes unmentioned by them. Even when reaching out to our Indian media contacts, we get messages back (see image below) which say journalists there are under government pressure not to cover stories which may expose their wrongdoings. The only thing we can do is ask UK media not to follow suit and republish their hyperbolic content.’
Widespread scepticism regarding the raids in the Sikh community led Britain’s first female Sikh MP and Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs Preet Kaur Gill to say on Thursday: ‘There is speculation that the police raids have political motives and targeting those activists who are outspoken on the 1984 Sikh Genocide issue. If this is the case it is totally unacceptable.’ She added that she would be raising this matter with the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, and in a meeting with the Chief Superintendent of West Midlands Police.
Sikh PA will continue to provide updates to this story as more information comes out.
Originally published by sikhpa.com