PM Modi earns praise for addressing grievances of Sikh community abroad

ANI | Updated: Feb 21, 2018 21:49 IST

New Delhi, [India], Feb 21 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi has earned praise for addressing major grievances of the Sikh community abroad.

Significant measures have been taken since Prime Minister Modi met a Sikh delegation during his visit to the United Kingdom in November 2015 and the subsequent meeting of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with community leaders Dr. Jasdev Singh Rai and Gurmel Singh Kandola.

It has generated goodwill and installed confidence in the Sikh community over the government's sincerity in resolving issues of the community.

Several measures, including review and removal of the MHA Black List of Sikhs involved in pro-Khalistan activities, were initiated. Currently, 37 pro-Khalistan individuals figure in the list, down from 314 before the review.

The government has also removed restrictions for grant of visas to children of Asylees (Person who is seeking or has been granted political asylum) from January 2016.

In November 2016, the Union Home Ministry ordered the removal of restrictions for granting of visas to Asylees and made them eligible for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status.

The 350th Birth Anniversary (Prakash Utsav) of the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated in a grand manner on January 5 last year, both in India and abroad. Prime Minister Modi participated in the celebrations held at the Sri Takht Harmandir Sahib in Patna, along with the chief ministers of Punjab and Bihar, besides other dignitaries.

Indian missions in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other European countries made elaborate arrangements for celebrating the event with local Sikh communities, which was a much-appreciated initiative.

Since the review of Black List, several pro-Khalistani leaders have visited India, which has had a positive impact on them and changed their anti-India perspective. It sends a positive signal to the Sikh community and encourages others who are disillusioned with the cause of Khalistan and remain on the fringe, ready to join the mainstream.

A series of interactions between the present interlocutors and prominent Sikh leaders based abroad indicates a change in the attitude of the Sikh community towards India.

A majority of Sikh leaders emphasized that measures taken by the government should be given wide publicity to keep the Sikh community abroad informed.

Moderate Sikh leaders have suggested that the government may constitute a high-level committee headed by a senior Cabinet Minister and hold interactions with prominent Sikh leaders based abroad.

On the issue of the release of Sikh political prisoners, a few have been released and review is being carried out in consultation with concerned state governments in respect of the release of the others.

Meanwhile, several political prisoners have been released on parole, which has been welcomed.

On the issue of punishment of those involved in the 1984 Sikh riots, the trial of accused has been expedited and the cases are being heard by the Supreme Court. (ANI)