26 March 2008

What Is A Turban Worth?

What is a Sikh's turban worth? A few dollars or rupees? My turbaned brother or sister, if your turban is ripped off your head, what is it worth?

I wonder how my Dad would have reacted if someone had tried to pull his turban off. I know once when I was in high school, one of my goreh friends asked me that. I told her that it would be sort of like if I pulled down her father's pants. I'm not sure what Dad would do, but she'd never be invited back to our house. Truth to be told, she thought it was stupid; she just didn't get it. She left Dad's turban alone, but I never had her over again.

This story has been around for a while and now seems the time to bring it up.

from: News-Review.info

Alleged theft of Sikh’s turban deemed harassment

CHELSEA DUNCAN, cduncan@newsreview.info

Ranjit Singh lives his life respecting all religions, all cultures, all people. Every person is equal, the truck driver from Manteca, Calif., said.

Singh, 37, feels he was not shown the same respect while visiting a truck stop in Rice Hill last year. When the turban he wears as a member of the Sikh religion was reportedly snatched from his head, Singh considered the incident an attack on his beliefs.

“That is a very important thing,” he said of the turban, a part of the articles of faith Sikhs wear as a testament to their religion.

He contacted the Sikh Coalition, based in New York, where members lamented what they called a hate crime. The Douglas County District Attorney’s Office pressed felony charges against three suspects, alleging they had taken the turban because of their perceptions of Singh’s religion or national origin.

But last week, a Douglas County grand jury declined to indict the men on those charges, instead accusing them of misdemeanor harassment and third-degree theft.

Singh and his supporters were disappointed with the decision.

Amardeep Singh, the executive director of the Sikh Coalition (no relation to Ranjit Singh), believes the grand jury’s choice reflects a gap in education and knowledge.

“It doesn’t seem that the grand jury got the injury to a whole community that occurs when you go after its most sacred article of faith,” he said.

Yoncalla residents Ryan David Robbins, 21, Kyle Brian Simmons, 22, and Ryan Jeffrey Newell, 28, are accused in the Aug. 25 incident that occurred as Ranjit Singh was walking out of a convenience store, according to court records.

One of the men allegedly grabbed the turban, ran around the building, then drove away with it in a car, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Singh called police, and with the help of a surveillance video from the store, officials were able to track the three men down several days later.

“The allegations are very serious allegations,” said Assistant District Attorney Rick Wesenberg, “and we recognized that.”

Charges of first-
degree intimidation, a felony, and second-degree theft, a misdemeanor, were initially filed. The charge of intimidation deals with situations such as assaults or threats committed due to perception of a person’s race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.

“We presented the grand jury with the facts and the law,” Wesenberg said, “and the grand jury made the ultimate decision.”

Because the case is pending against the men, who Wesenberg stressed are innocent until proven otherwise, the prosecutor declined to comment further.

The suspects could not immediately be reached for comment. Robbins’ attorney could also not be reached, and it was unclear whether the other two men have retained attorneys.

The charge of harassment alleges that the men unlawfully and intentionally subjected Singh to offensive physical contact.

Singh and his supporters likely would not disagree with that description, but they believe the most important aspect of the case was lost on the grand jury.

Amardeep Singh believes the jurors apparently viewed the incident as a joke, that the man who took the turban was “a prankster, but not a bigot.”

With the stereotypes left in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Singh doesn’t see how anyone could not understand the implications of stealing a turban.

Sikhs wear turbans and the other articles of faith to express their commitment to follow the mandates of the religion, such as living truthfully and standing for equality and social justice, according to www.sikhcoalition.org.

“It’s a constant reminder that we should always be good honest people,” Amardeep Singh said.

According to the Web site, Sikhism originated in South Asia and has more than 25 million followers worldwide.

As the case proceeds, Singh said advocates hope to get a chance to explain how they feel about the incident to a judge or jury in an effort to educate. They’ve also asked federal officials to open an investigation to pursue so-called hate crime charges.

The grand jury’s decision about the intimidation charges was not all that troubled Amardeep Singh and Ranjit Singh. During the grand jury process, the dollar value of the turban came up for debate.

Ranjit Singh was a
sked to estimate the value of the turban to determine which level of theft should be charged.

For Singh, there was no way to do that. To him, the turban is sacred, priceless.

“I’m not fighting for four or five dollars,” he said, “I am fighting for justice.”

Photos: I did not find a picture of Ranjit Singh, so you are treated to these wonderful pictures of Sikhs. I like to look at Sikhs; I think we're a very good-looking group. I have permission to use these photographs by professional photographer Charles Meacham. If you would like to see more, go to his website, Charles Meacham Photographs, click on 'Galleries,' and go to 'Being Sikh.'


Do you have family overseas like in India or Punjab (occupied Khalistan) who are trying to immigrate to Canada? You need to get on top of this AT ONCE. Contact your MP to stop this Tory nonsense!

From the Asian Pacific Post:

Immigration Overhaul

The Federal Conservatives’ plan to overhaul how immigrants are selected for Canada will shut the door on minority groups, those in need of a safe environment and curtail family reunifications say critics of the scheme.

Accusing the government of “showing anti-immigrant feelings,” former B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh said the Tory government is trying to assume unbridled powers to determine who enters Canada. Dosanjh, who has served as Canada’s health minister said: “During the last two years of Tory rule, Canada allowed in 36,000 fewer immigrants than during the previous two years. And now they have introduced this bill hidden in the budget implementation bill.”

Ordinary Canadians will not be united based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, with overseas family members left behind because of extraordinary circumstances, said NDP Immigration Critic, Olivia Chow.

Additionally, huge unilateral power will be given to the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship to dispose of and discard immigration applications presently stuck in a massive backlog, she said.

Chow announced that when Parliament resumes at the end of March, she will introduce a motion to delete the entire offensive Immigration and Refugee Protection Act amendment that was hidden deep inside the Conservatives’ budget implementation act, Bill C-50.
“If the budget bill passes with the immigration section intact, as of February 27, 2008, refugee children in Canada will no longer be able to bring their family to Canada,” said Chow.

Immigration minister Diane Finley has defended the changes saying it will allow the government to eliminate the immigration backlog and to speed up the entry of skilled workers.

These significant changes to Canada’s immigration laws were slipped into the budget implementation bill in the Commons last Friday. As they were contained in the budget bill, they are a confidence matter.

If the amendment is passed, the changes would indeed speed up the processing of applications for skilled workers, but they would also throw other claimants to the back of the line and reject others outright.

The bill will likely become law, unless the Liberals — who have abstained or voted with the Tories on recent confidence motions — vote against the bill with support from other opposition MPs.

Finley said the changes are needed because Canada’s workforce will need additional workers in the years ahead. “Everywhere I go, employers from every sector are telling me they’re just screaming for help . . . whether it’s people to wash dishes and make sandwiches, or whether it’s the highly-skilled engineers and medical professionals. There are shortages right across the country,” she said.

Under the bill:

1. The immigration minister would have the power to reject applications by individuals already determined to be inadmissible by immigration officers.

2. The minister would also be able to set limits on the types of immigrants that can have their applications processed in a given year.

3. Also, any claimant seeking to immigrate to Canada on humanitarian grounds would already have to be in the country to have their application processed.

Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver, said more than 900,000 prospective immigrants worldwide could immediately be stripped of their right to a visa if the law is passed.

Immigration lawyer Zool Suleman, who represents Laibar Singh, the disabled man in Abbotsford who has avoided deportation for several months, is concerned that the proposed bill gives too much power to the minister, creating a closed and non-transparent system.

“There is no reason why the necessary changes can’t be made through a hearing process . . . because as the bill stands if the minister makes really bad policy choices, there would be no way to challenge it other than through an election,” he said. “Is the government saying the only way to be responsive to the public is to have power in the hands of the minister? In which case, why do we have parliamentary hearings in the first place?”

Suleman is disturbed that the bill was hidden in a budget bill, which he sees as a blatant political move because to him, it’s clear the Opposition doesn’t want to force an election.

“If they don’t want the government to fall, then these changes will go through,” he said. “It was a purely tactical choice.”

Many leaders from immigrant groups have derided the changes as anti-immigrant and anti-family reunification. But some have expressed hope that the bill could speed up the slow immigration times.

Satbir Singh Cheema, director of employment services at the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) is optimistic about the benefits the proposed bill could have on the shortage of labour.

“In all fairness, we need to give the government a chance to prove itself,” he said. “The minister wants to streamline the process because the waiting lists to come to Canada are getting bigger by the day.” However, he cautioned that the new bill would not be received kindly if ulterior motives were at hand. “Overall this is a good thing as long as this bill is not used to cut down on the number of people coming in,” he said. “That’s the catch.”

But the price for rearanging priorities is high, said Chris Morrissey, a volunteer for the Rainbow Refugee Community, a group that advocates for same-sex refugees. She believes that the proposed bill signals a shift in priorities from humanitarian to economic ones.

“Rather than improve our system so that it provides clearer opportunities to protect people’s human rights, resources are being put into economy,” she said. “It’s based on economic values rather than on human rights.”

Most recently, Finley refused to intervene in the case of Malaysian refugee Kulenthiran Amirthalingam who was deported March 6. Amirthalingam has already been jailed for being gay and could potentially face a jail term of up to 20 years. (See accompanying story)

Morrissey is alarmed that the Canadian government is willing to send Amirthalingham back to Malaysia where homosexuality is outright condemned.

“I’m surprised that they would send somebody back to Malaysia because it’s very clear that there are specific sanctions and a lengthy prison sentence against homosexuality there,” she said. “It’s totally reprehensible that somebody would be sent back under those circumstances.”

Morrissey pointed out that Amirthalingam’s case is another reminder of the humanitarian problems that arise from Canada’s reluctance to create a refugee appeal division because if he had access there might have been a different outcome. But then again, if the new priorities are based on Canada’s economy, compassion is not really an issue anymore, she said.

“The government is so desperate to close the door on immigrants that it will ignore the painful mistakes of previous Conservative governments that tried to do the very same thing,’’ Liberal MP David McGuinty told The Canadian Press.

“(Former Canadian prime minister John) Diefenbaker tried to shut out immigrants by capping the system only to abandon his plan a month later because his policies were short-sighted and misguided.

“Why does the minister insist on closing Canada’s doors to the newcomers we desperately need to fuel our labour and our population growth even though history shows this is absolutely the wrong approach?” he asked.

Could It Be?

Is Gurinder Singh really Shintu Kumar? A simple DNA test should answer this without question.

From Rediff:

Woman from Bihar claims lost London Sikh boy is her son

PTI March 26, 2008 03:36 IST

A family from Bihar claims that a nine-year-old Sikh boy found abandoned at a London bus stop last week, is their son and was kidnapped three years ago.

The Metropolitan Police is investigating the matter and has not ruled out that it could be a case of child trafficking, given that the boy apparently lived with a European for three years.

Gurrinder Singh, who speaks only Punjabi, was found in Harrington Road, Southall area last week, the BBC said.

It said one Bindiya Devi of Aurangabad town in Bihar claimed Gurrinder's name is Shintu Kumar and he was abducted on March 3, 2005. The family claimed to have seen the boy's photo flashed on a TV channel and instantly recognised him.

Bihar legislator Bhim Singh endorsed the family's claim and said Shintu was his nephew, while the Aurangabad police is reportedly investigating the matter.

Gurrinder told city police that a European in his 30s who he called 'uncle' left him at the bus stop after they had lived together for three years. The boy apparently told them that his parents were dead and the police had begun a probe into whether he was a victim of child trafficking.

Bhim Singh told BBC News that he had raised the issue in Bihar Legislative Council. "I discussed it at length with the chief minister," he said.

Aurangabad Superintendent of Police Ganesh Kumar said four people were on trial in connection with the abduction but the boy was never found.