We would like to bring to your attention the events that have occurred over the last few days as a result of Sarbjit Dhunda’s continued spreading of controversial and anti-Sikh discourses at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall (Park Avenue).
By way of background Sarabjit Dhunda’s main views which are anti Gurmat include:
- That Sikhs should not do Naam Simran (repetition of God’s name as accorded by Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji)
- That Sikhs should not pray for the well being of all
- That Sikhs should place no importance on the bathing in the Holy Sarovar at Sri Harmandir Sahib
- That Sikhs should place no importance on the Gurdwara at Hemkunt Sahib
- That the Sikh National Anthem “Deh Shiva Bar Mohe Ihai” has no relevance for Sikhs and was not written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Dhunda was permitted by the committee at Park Avenue, Southall to hold discourses from Monday 5th November 2012 for 6 days. On Thursday 8th and Friday 9th of November 2012, Sangat, hurt by the controversial views that Sarbjit Dhunda has been allowed to propagate during the past week in Southall, attended to peacefully protest. Sangat numbering less than 20 and including young Sikhs, made their objections known by reciting the holy prayer of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s, Sri Chaupai Sahib in the foyer of the Gurdwara during Dhunda’s discourse. The intention was to make the committee aware that Dhunda’s views are splitting up the community and spreading disharmony.
Elder respected Gursikhs that were taking part in the protest had been in contact with the police from early last week via a Police Liaison officer. The police were informed in advance that there would be a peaceful protest against Dhundas visit. On both days of the protest, Inspector Julian Holden of Southall Police was in attendance. Both were happy and impressed with the dignified manner in which the peaceful protest was conducted.
On Saturday 10th November, the committee agreed to meet Sangat at Khalsa Primary School, Norwood Hall, Norwood Green. The meeting lasted around 4 hours and committee members including Daljit Hayre and Sukhdeep Randhawa were present. Also present were respected members of the UK Sangat.
In the meeting it was discussed and considered that Sarabjit Dhunda had already been reprimanded for his anti Gurmat parchaar by Sri Akaal Takht. It was resolved that whatever the Akaal Takht Jathedar decided, would be what all would abide by.
Jathedar Ji said that Dhunda should not be allowed to voice his opinions on a Gurdwara stage and that the committee should call alternative knowledgeable Parcharaks. He stated Dhunda is intent on creating disunity, saying:
“All remaining Diwans should be cancelled based on the fact that that the programs were causing considerable distress and major splits in the community across the UK” (translated).
These instructions were directly conveyed to Daljit Hayre (Gurudwara Committee member) by the Jathedar via telephone. The recording of Giani Gurbachan Singhs conversation and of Daljit Hayre accepting this decision has been released to the Sangat.
Despite agreeing to accept Jathedar Ji’s decision, Sarabjit Dhunda was honored with a Saropa by the committee (Daljit Hayre) at Park Avenue Gurudwara the same evening.
He was also allowed to talk for 15 minutes. During which time he declared he shall not do any more Katha until he appeared before Sri Akaal Thakat Sahib. (Video footage of this has been released)
The Head Granthi of Singh Sabha Southall, Balwinder “Phati”, denounced the Jathedar’s decision and encouraged him to do a discourse on stage. The Stage Secretary, Sukhdeep Randhawa, openly challenged the authority of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib.
On Sunday the 11th of November, Dhunda did Katha at Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, King Street, Southall, and spoke at length at Singh Sabha Southall, Havelock Road. This is despite his pledge not to, until he had presented himself before Sri Akaal Thakat Sahib.
At 5pm the Sangat were made aware that Dhunda would do a discourse at Park Avenue at 7pm. Sukhdeep Randhawa (Stage Sec) was immediately contacted, to seek clarification.
He claimed “I heard that as well, but I do not know, me and Daljit (Hayre) always get the blame but others may be trying to organise it!”
Sukhdeep Randhawa was asked if he could confirm if the discourse would go ahead so that Sangat could be warned and could attend to register their protest peacefully. Sukhdeep Randawa replied by text; “Ok Ji”.
Approximately 10 members of the Sangat arrived around 6pm to protest peacefully as they had done the previous 2 nights by reciting Sri Chaupai Sahib.This small group were prevented from reciting Gurbani in the peaceful and dignified manner in which they had done on the previous 2 nights.
At first they were verbally abused which then escalated to violent pushing and barging. To the dismay of the Sangat, the committee and Sarabjit Dhunda’s supporters (approximately 60 in number), violently drove the Sangat from the foyer and out on to the street. One prominent member of the group was Sarbjit “Bavha”.During this vicious attack the turban (Dastaar) of a young Sikh was removed. After violently ejecting the Sangat, the gates were locked by Sarbjit “Bavha”. (Video of this has been released)
The police were called by the Sangat. Frustratingly, instead of the police arresting those who committed violent acts in the Gurdwara by forcefully ejecting the Sangat, the perpetrators were allowed to remain outside and taunt the protesting Sangat.
Shortly after the ejection of the Sangat, Dhunda arrived. The Sangat gathered around his car to make their presence aware and to let him know that the Sangat objected to his views which were not joining the Sangat to the Guru but dividing them. At the time 2 members of a prominent committee members family rushed into the protesters from behind, pushing and swearing at them. They were then followed by several of his friends who continued to push 2 young members of the Sangat aged 15 and 16 years old. This was clearly orchestrated in an attempt to aggravate the Sangat. The ‘thugs’ that tried to attack the Sangat from behind were visibly under the influence of alcohol
By entering the Gurdwara under the influence of intoxicants, these individuals that have attacked the Sangat have broken the strict rules and code of conduct of the Gurdwara. One individual later tried to re-enter the Gurdwara premises from the front gate but was stopped by the police and sangat who recognised that he was drunk and should not be allowed onto the Gurdwara premises.
The protesting Sangat wanted to have a calm and open discussion with the committee and Dhunda about their anti Gurmat parchaar and open violation of The Akaal Takht Jathedar's instructions not to let Dhunda speak. Panthic parcharak Bhai Surinder Singh, who in India is leading the fight for justice for Shaheed Bhai Jaspal Singh, also attended and tried to pacify the situation. He proposed that 2 members of the protesting Sangat (including himself) be allowed to meet Sarabjit Dhunda in front of the Sangat inside the Gurudwara.
Bhai Surinder Singh was prevented from entering the Gurudwara. The Gurudwara Committee at first sent a message via the police that Dhunda and the committee would meet with Bhai Surinder Singh. However after an hour of game playing and lies they refused to face Bhai Surinder Singh. Dhunda was fully aware that he would be extremely embarrassed by a Panthic Parcharak.
It is of note that protesting Sangat were made up of Sikhs of all backgrounds not just one group. They were all united in their opposition of the false Parchar of Dhunda and the actions of committee members who rather than joining the Sangat attacked them instead.
Word spread of the Committee’s attack on the Sangat and Dhunda’s disregard of the Akaal Takht’s Hukam, the small group of Sangat grew to more than 200.
At the end of Dhunda’s discourse, a sit-down protest took place at the car park gates to demonstrate the deep upset and disrespect that had taken place by allowing Dhunda to do a discourse. The Sangat braved the cold and moved only to let vehicles leave.
All this time Dhunda remained hid inside the Gurdwara.
Dhunda was escorted by the police who were clad in riot gear with the support of Police dogs. During the police charge many Sangat were injured and many turbans (dastaars) were knocked off, including that of Raghbir Singh who was reporting for Sangat TV News. The police used disproportionate force in attacking the Sangat, injuring many with batons. Dhunda was driven away in Sarbjit “Bavha’s” car, with a police escort.
Once Dhunda had left, the Sangat remained for some time in an attempt to peacefully engage with the committee and seek a resolution once and for all. However the committee remained in the Gurdwara office and refused to enter into a dialogue with the Sangat.
There was no victory to be taken by any anyone on Sunday. It was a black day caused not by Sangat taking up their right to a righteous and peaceful protest doing Naam Jap, but by the committee, who ignored the wishes of Sri Akaal Thakat Sahib and wider Sangat.
Despite the heavy police presence and committee attempts to frustrate and taunt the Sangat no arrests were made. The Sangat behaved in a dignified and respectful way.
The Sangat made several requests of the committee before Sunday night, humbly, in the interests of peace that Dhunda not be permitted to enter upon the stage. It is worrying that the committee did not itself foresee the inevitable consequences of putting Dhunda on stage in spite of the Akaal Takht’s order. The committee had booked Dhunda to attend from Monday to Saturday. In the face of all the heated debate and Sri Akaal Takht’s Sahib Jathedars Order, to book Dhunda to attend the following evening was a terrible decision and against the will of the Sangat.
For the committee to have booked him to do a discourse on Sunday, notwithstanding the Hukam from Jathedar it cannot be denied that such a booking was undertaken out of spite and ego, to hurt the sentiment of the Sikhs: no Gurdwara committee should be responsible for causing such anguish and disharmony in the community.