Deproscription of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)

The Sikh Secretariat organised a Sikh Lobby Day, with as its main aim the campaign to deproscribe the ISYF, which in normal language means to lift the ban on the ISYF.

At about 2 pm about 50 Sikhs from various parts of the UK assembled in front of the main entrance of the House of Commons. We got through the security check, kirpan and all, to go to committee room 5 where John McDonnell Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, and Vince Cable, Lib Dem MP for Twickenham were waiting for us. The Lib Dem candidate in the general election in Heston & Feltham, Andy Darley came in with me.

Dabinderjit Singh OBE went into the matter of the banning of the ISYF, how it was legal even in India itself, how the Indian government claims that there was no unrest in Punjab since 1992, but at the same time acuses the ISYF of being / helping terrorists, just to mention a few of the points raised. His strength was that he refrained from the strident tones usual used by Sikh nationalists. The cool and businesslike presentation of the facts seemed to work well on the politicians present.

A party of us went to the Home Office to present the papers pertaining to the 'deproscription', while others went to fill out the usual green cards to invite their MPs to the central lobby. Some MPs were missing (Monday's finds them in their constituencies) but the president of the Lib Dems (Lord Navnit Singh Dholakia) and, amongst others, the Labour MPs for Bromwich (one of them Tom Watson, the other name eludes me) came out to meet us.

I think that we got through to some key people both in the Labour Party, and the Lib Dems, and I liked to see the presence of so many Singhs (there was only one Kaur, in chunni) visible both to those working in the Houses of Parliament and to the visitors.

 

Harjinder Singh

 

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