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Rival Sikh groups engage in slugfest following Parliament debate to safeguard kirpan

LONDON: Rival Sikh teams have engaged in a slugfest after a Parliament debate on amendments to the Offensive Weapons Bill to safeguard the kirpan, leading to at least one organisation reporting the opposite to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards.

The Offensive Weapons Bill, which is going through Parliament, details offences associated with having offensive weapons reminiscent of corrosive substances, knives and firearms, in a bid to curb violent crime.

The row between the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK), which instructions 13.5k fans on Twitter, and the Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), which represents 130 Sikh organisations and gurdwaras, has been simmering since each publicly disagreed on whether a Sikh ethnic tick field will have to be integrated in the 2021 census. But it has now boiled over following a grand committee meeting on January 30 to discuss amendments associated with the kirpan in the new invoice.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chair, SFUK, has written a letter to House of Lords Commissioner for Standards Lucy Scott-Moncrieff calling for an investigation into whether the director of the NSO, 86-year-old crossbench peer Lord Singh of Wimbledon, has damaged parliamentary regulations, mentioning that he has failed to declare his place as director of the NSO in the sign in of Lords’ interests and that on January 30 he “abused his parliamentary privilege” to defame and discredit the SFUK and assault the APPG for British Sikhs.

In a media remark, the SFUK has accused Singh of “launching an strange assault” on itself all through the controversy, announcing he is attempting to “use his place to defame the SFUK” and influence who ministers will have to meet.

At the controversy Baroness Barran had mentioned that the SFUK and Sikh Council UK had contacted APPG for British Sikhs, expressing issues about provisions in the invoice in relation to the kirpan. Lord Singh interrupted her and mentioned: “The SFUK aren't a representative body of the Sikh group. They are trying to capitalise and muddy the waters. I believe it would be helpful if the government handled the NSO who constitute the vast a part of the Sikh group.” He later added: “The APPG and the Sikh Fed are one and the same thing. They are exactly the same and everyone knows it."

The SFUK branded this an “outrageous assault”, announcing Lord Singh saw Preet Gill and the APPG as “a risk to the monopoly he has established over a few years on Sikh issues in Parliament and with government”.

When Barran mentioned she could be delighted to meet representatives of the Sikh Council UK to speak about their issues, Lord Singh mentioned: “Could I simply correct that to the NSO, now not the Sikh Council?”

Lord Singh additionally mentioned: “Sikhs are now and again known as a martial race. The description is incorrect on two counts. We are neither martial nor are we a race. Sikh teachings criticise all notions of race or caste, emphasising we're all equal members of one human race.”

The SFUK has ridiculed this in a Facebook submit, writing: “Then what are we??”

“Lord Singh instructed the government to take care of the NSO. By publicly insisting that ministers and officers handiest deal and meet along with his personal organisation and using his place in the House of Lords and as head of the NSO interchangeably needs to be investigated,” the letter from Bhai Amrik Singh states. “Lord Singh’s failure to make disclosures about his interests raises severe issues about the best way he has been exercising his parliamentary influence for more than seven years. SFUK is inquiring for an investigation,” it adds.

A spokesperson for the NSO advised TOI: “Lord Singh is not a life-time director of the NSO. All power lies with the elected govt. They can sack him at any time, and the function is an honorary submit for which he does now not receive a penny.” The spokesperson added: “The ‘martial race’ concept used to be propagated by way of British army scientists, who wanted to extend enlistment to the British Indian Army all through the Great Wars. It is not in line with Sikh teachings. Under current regulation, the kirpan has an exemption from the provisions in terms of the ownership of an offensive weapon. All that is required is to incorporate a clause to offer protection to longer kirpans talented to Sikhs and non-Sikhs. The failure of Sikh MPs to deal with this hole in the House of Commons made it important for Lord Singh to retrieve the placement."

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