Over the last week or so, several Labour bloggers, myself included, have openly warned the Tories that their ham-fisted ‘any vote will do’ campaign strategy in Ealing Southall was likely to draw the unwelcome attention of militant Khalistani nationalists, and sure enough our predictions have proved correct with the release of two nakedly-communalist smear videos posted under the account name ‘no2sharmalabour’, one of which concludes with this image, which one would assume has been used entirely without the approval of Tony Lit or the Conservative Party.
The source of these videos can hardly be in much doubt, given that the second video includes a number of ‘questions’ identical to those being posted on a number of Sikh forums, and in comments on several blogs (as here on Pickled Politics) by members of the Sikh Federation, which amongst other things, actively campaigns against the current proscription of the International Sikh Youth Federation by the UK government under the Terrorism Act 2000, and which was identifed by the Times as having been involved in the Behtzi riot in Birmingham in 2004.
The Sikh community fears that its reputation has been tarnished by the trouble at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, which led to the play Behzti (Dishonour) being abandoned.
The Times has learnt that members of the Sikh Federation were among the demonstrators on Saturday night. The group was formed in the aftermath of the banning of the International Sikh Youth Federation under the Terrorism Act 2000. The ISYF is committed to the creation of an independent Sikh state in India and, according to the Foreign Office, has been involved in assassinations, bombings and kidnappings, mainly directed against Indian officials and interests.
The Sikh Federation maintains that it is separate from the ISYF, with a new constitution and an agenda of promoting Sikh interests in Britain. It said that strict disciplinary arrangements would apply to the members who brought the organisation into disrepute “by working outside the legitimate activities of the organisation”. It added: “The ultimate sanction against a member will be expulsion.”…
…Sewa Singh Mandla, the chairman of the council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham who organised the campaign against the play, said he was dismayed that it had been dropped in the face of the weekend violence. He said that, as the play received more media attention, a host of organisations were jostling to become involved. “The Sikh Federation is just jumping on the bandwagon,” Mr Mandla said.
“They are a group of militant people who just want to stir up problems around us.”
(The ISYF is also proscribed in India, the US and Canada)
Despite its claims to be an entirely separate organisation, the Indian government continues to allege that the Sikh Federation is a ‘front’ for the banned ISYF.
Indian concerns include the allegation that the vigil’s organiser, the Sikh Federation (UK), is a front organisation for a British-proscribed terrorist group, the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF). The Sikh Federation has always denied the charge.
Although it seems highly unlikely that the Tories will welcome this latest public endorsement of Tony Lit, its source and content will come as yet more embarrassment for the Tory campaign in Ealing Southall and a further blow to efforts to cultivate cross-community appeal for its candidate, Tony Lit, who seems to be increasing becoming bogged down in unfortunate headlines, and associations.
There is also the question of whether the content of this video breaches electoral law covering the making of false statements regarding candidates, one suspects it does, in which case one would also expect the Tories to move quickly (and quite rightly) to disassociated Lit and themselves from both the video and those behind it.
One would hope that Tories will take a tough line on a very obvious misuse of its intellectual property, one that to some local voters may give the (false) impression that the Tories are themselves indulging in naked communalism and the stirring of inter-community tensions in their search for votes, while a certain Tory blogger might wish to think twice in future before offering approving commentaries on the output of the Sikh Federation, and do a little more checking of backgrounds and provenance before quoting their material.