By Press Trust of India: A British Sikh group launched a report in the UK Parliament complex on Wednesday to attack a recent independent faith review which had warned against the “subversive, aggressive and sectarian” actions of some pro-Khalistani activists in the UK.
The Council of Sikhs in Law committee, chaired by Professor Satvinder Singh Juss, alleged that the review by Independent Faith Engagement Adviser Colin Bloom submitted to the government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in April was “not independent and impartial”.
“The Bloom Review has damaged the hitherto excellent relationship between the Sikh community and the British government, and risks continuing doing so, if it is not set aside by the British government,” the report claims.
“The Bloom Review proceeds on the basis of assumptions that are flawed and misconceived and betray an alarming lack of understanding of the Sikh community, such that it lacks the very ‘faith literacy’ which it recommends the government to adopt in the future,” it adds.
In his review entitled ‘Does Government ‘do God’?: An independent review into how government engages with faith’, Bloom had warned that there is a “small, extremely vocal and aggressive” minority of British Sikhs who can be described as pro-Khalistan extremists, promoting an ethno-nationalist agenda.
“It felt as though Colin Bloom was in the dock for some sort of trial, and the findings are very much critical of his independent review,” said Lord Indrajit Singh, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), with reference to Wednesday’s report launch event.
However, the serious issues Bloom rightly raises, have largely been dismissed by Sikhs in Law. Sikhs must have an honest conversation about fringe elements in the community who are bringing disrepute to the broader British Sikh community with their bad behaviour, he said.
“They purport to represent ‘the Sikh community’ with politicians and the civil service, but the reality is they only represent themselves,” he said.
The Bloom Review had specifically called on the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs, which is chaired by Britain’s first female Sikh MP Preet Kaur Gill and has the first turbaned Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi as its vice-chair – both from the Labour Party, to review organisations allowed to exert influence in parliamentary affairs.
Recently, British Sikh peer Lord Ranbir Singh Suri stepped down from the APPG after raising concerns about the “entities involved”.
Gill has been approached for a statement related to the veteran peer’s exit but is yet to respond.