Rival Sikh groups engage in slugfest following Parliament debate to safeguard kirpan

Lord Singh said: “Sikhs are sometimes referred to as a martial race. The description is wrong on two counts....

LONDON: Rival Sikh groups have engaged in a slugfest after a Parliament debate on amendments to the Offensive Weapons Bill to safeguard the kirpan, leading to one organisation reporting the other to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards.

The Offensive Weapons Bill, which is going through Parliament, details offences related to having offensive weapons such as corrosive substances, knives and firearms, in a bid to curb violent crime.

The row between the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK), which commands 13.5k followers on Twitter, and the Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), which represents 130 Sikh organisations and gurdwaras, has been simmering since both publicly disagreed on whether a Sikh ethnic tick box should be included in the 2021 census. But it has now boiled over following a grand committee meeting on January 30 to debate amendments related to the kirpan in the new bill.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chair, SFUK, has written a letter to House of Lords Commissioner for Standards Lucy Scott-Moncrieff calling for an investigation into whether the director of the NSO, 86-year-old crossbench peer Lord Singh of Wimbledon, has broken parliamentary rules, stating that he has failed to declare his position as director of the NSO in the register of Lords’ interests and that on January 30 he “abused his parliamentary privilege” to defame and discredit the SFUK and attack the APPG for British Sikhs.

In a media statement, the SFUK has accused Singh of “launching an extraordinary attack” on itself during the debate, saying he is trying to “use his position to defame the SFUK” and influence who ministers should meet.

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