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Why are Indian officials banned from Sikh Gurdwaras?

Why are Indian officials banned from Sikh Gurdwaras?
From Al Jazeera - January 11, 2018

Sikh religious organisations in Canada, the US, and the UK have banned Indian officials from making formal visits to temples in response to the arrest of a Sikh activist in India and what they call interference in their affairs.

The ban started in Canada and spread to temples in the US and the UK, with more than 100 places of worship now involved.

Davinder Singh of the Sikh Federation UK, one of the organisations supporting the campaign, said that the ban would apply to official visits but not personal trips to temples.

The November arrest of British Sikh activist Jagtar Singh Johal by Indian authorities and "interference in Sikh affairs" by Indian officials had led to the move, he told Al Jazeera.

Johal was detained in the northern state of Punjab and accused of involvement in the killings of prominent Hindu figures.

His family has rejected the allegations against him, explaining that he was in India to get married.

Sikh activists say his arrest was politically motivated.

"People are really upset," said Davinder Singh. "If someone goes to India to get married, the last thing they expect is to be picked up and abducted, not to be charged, to be subject to third-degree torture.

"I think it's cases like this that got a reaction from the Sikh community."

1984 massacre

While Johal's arrest triggered the latest dispute between the Indian government and some members of the Sikh diaspora, tensions between the two sides date back decades.

In the summer of 1984, Indian troops battling Sikh fighters stormed Sikhism's holiest Gurdwara, the Golden Temple, leaving hundreds dead.

Later that year, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards, who held her responsible for the bloodshed.

In the aftermath of Gandhi's death, thousands of Sikhs were killed as sectarianmobs targeted Sikhs in Punjab, and the Indian capital New Delhi.

Sikhs have described the killings as a genocide.

Anger persists, particularly among the Sikh diaspora, for the Indian government's refusal to apologise.

"Much of this unease goes back to the events of June and November 1984," said Jasjit Singh, a research fellow focused on British South Asians at theUniversity of Leeds.

Gurdwaras are institutions where we discuss day-to-day issues that affect our lives ... We do not want to be preached at by Indian diplomats about what we do or do not do in our institutions

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