Sikhs to hold protest rally during Modi’s visit to White House later this month


NEW YORK, June 13 (APP): A U.S.-based Sikh rights organization Tuesday announced plans to stage a demonstration in Washington to protest the oppression of Sikhs in India and the denial of their right to self-determination when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the White House later this month.
Modi is set to arrive in Washington June 25 and will hold talks with President Donald Trump the following day.
“Sikhs for Justice” (SfJ) said it will hold “protest on June 25-26 to highlight the labeling of Sikhs as ‘Hindus’ under Indian Constitution, the issue of ‘Sikh Genocide’ and denial of Sikhs’ right to self-determination,” according to a SFJ press release.
“Sikh community’s grievance about Article 25(b) of the Indian Constitution stems from Explanation II which controversially states that ‘the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh’,” the press release said. In August 2005, it added, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti ruled “Sikhs and Jains are part of broader Hindu religion”.
Claiming the Sikhism to be the world’s 5th largest religion with over 30 million followers, SfJ’s Legal Adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said, “We will campaign with President Trump and US lawmakers to raise the issue of separate Sikh identity with PM Modi because the community has been subjected to three decades of genocidal violence for protesting against violation of its religious identity.
“And raising of Sikh identity issue is in conformity with US laws which recognizes, guarantees and protects religious freedom of all people,” Pannun added.
“Because of the classification in Article 25(b) of the Constitution, Sikhs in India are forced to register marriages, inherit properties and adopt children by classifying themselves as ‘Hindus’ and by following the rules of Hindu Personal and Family laws.”