Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill has been re-elected as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in London, said the Sikh Federation (UK) in a statement.
The Sikh Federation (UK) set up the APPG in 2005 and has been providing secretariat support to it for nearly 15 years. Following the general election, its principal adviser, who acts as the secretariat for the APPG and interface with the Sikh community, wrote to each of the 150 MPs that have more than 1,000 Sikh constituents that the community will be looking to work on Sikh issues in the Sikh Manifesto 2020-2025 in the next five years.
In the 10 days leading up to the AGM, dozens of MPs from different political parties have come forward to become members of the APPG for British Sikhs. Supporting Preet Kaur Gill will be five vice-chairs from the Conservative Party, five vice-chairs from the Labour Party and three vice-chairs from the Scottish National Party.
Excerpts from a conversation that Kamalpreet Kaur had with Preet Gill:
What are the main priorities as the APPG chair this time around?
Main priorities include tackling rising hate crime against Sikhs, get the Sikh ethnic tick box, and help people facing problems wearing Kakar’s at workplaces, stop and searches, etc.
How are the issues being delegated within the group?
New Conservative MP Nicola Richards and Pat McFadden will lead on hate crimes whereas such crimes against the Sikhs are under-reported.
I and Eddie Hughes will continue to work on the Sikh tick box that is so important, to address inequalities, working with Home Office and other departments about the importance of 5 Kakar’s and Sikh code of practice.
Martin Docherty-Hughes will continue to lead on work with Jaggi Johal’s case. Also, work with all to raise 1984 and Justice Dhingra Report at the UN and India to try to get a Rwanda Style commission
Last time the efforts around the Sikh tick box didn’t fructify. How confident are you that it will work this time?
I’m very confident because one of the court findings was that this matter had to be dealt with politically at the Cabinet Office level. And this is the issue of tackling gross inequalities in the Sikh community, which I’m sure the government wants to deal with too, especially the Sikh community. We need data for Sikhs.
I heard of the death of woman, for example, who committed suicide in the West Midlands, was of Sikh origin. We will never get that data. We will never understand the issues and inequalities faced by the community if we do not monitor them.
They might think we do not have any issues, but we have and because we are recognised as a religion and not an ethnic group, we can’t get data if the ONS doesn’t make religion mandatory data. We have a lot of Sikh immigration from Italy. How do we know the kind of problems they face if they are not monitored separately.
Eddie Hughes is very passionate about it and wants to lead. How great is that!
Being in majority, the Conservatives are getting to have their way over Brexit? What do you plan to do?
Continue to raise our voice and hold them to account wherever possible, push them to hold debates in the Parliament. With Brexit noise over, we can now actually focus on our own constituency and help people better. There’s a lot of work to do.
Labour Party leadership contest is on and you are very supportive of Kier Starmer. Why him?
I’m part of the Team Kier campaign. I believe is the person who can bring the party together that will help us win. If we continue to remain divide the public will not trust us. He is experienced in helping people and human rights work, making difficult decisions about terrorism and sexual abuse cases.
(Inputs from ENS Ludhiana)