Wednesday, July 04, 2007
  Ealing Southall - The NEC really does know best!
This may not be the conventional view at the moment but it is non the less right. Knowing why the NEC did what they did I can see the wisdom of their decision and while it may be a painful decision for some to accept at the moment it really is in the wannabe candidates long term best interests even if it may not feel like that this morning.

As this blog is a public forum there is a limit to what I can say on here. If you want to know why Jasbir Anand was not put on the shortlist go for a google though I cannot vouch for the truth of what you may find there . As for Sonika it was not the right time or place for her though above all her character remains unblemished by this minor set back and i'm sure that we will see her in the House of Commons in short order, just not in Ealing Southall.
Makes some of the speculation
here seem quite prophetic
Still they could have thrown a bone at the members and made it longer than 2
Trouble is the 3rd or 4th might have got selected! Clearly they should have risked all and pushed a Deshi Muslim Woman to the head of the queue ... but how would that have gone down?

I have not been quite so shy as Will over at mine.
Will, what you write may or may not be true: the problem with it is that you and the NEC evidently share the patronising, paternalistic attitude that the local members would be incapable of seeing the same problems with other candidates that you have.

If there are specific allegations against a particular candidate, then for a by-election in particular don't put them on the shortlist, but is it really for you to say that Sonika Nirwal is unfit to be an MP at this time?

Had Piara Khabra not died, she'd have almost certainly been Labour's general election candidate - and no one would have dissented. So what you're actually arguing is that she is unfit to be a by-election candidate.

I'm interested in why you believe either of the two short-listees is so much more eminently qualified for the rigours of a by-election campaign than Sonika?
Dear Anon you can call me patronising and paternalistic if I can call you ignorant.

Sonika would know why she wasn't put on the shortlist and it is up to her if she wants to discuss that in more detail. I'm not going to do so here.

Given the speed of the process it would have been extremely difficult for members in the constituency to be fully appraised. Though I suspect that many of them know anyway but may not realise the full implications of the information as the NEC would do.

I agree with you that she would a) make a really good MP b) would have won an AWS selection at the general election. But sometimes the cookie crumbles not the way particular candidates would like. Ask guys who have had a constituency they have been working made an AWS.

Sometimes shit happens. But she is a bright women so she should have had a greater perception of the weaknesses in her candidature at this juncture. That is not to say that in the future she would be a very good candidate and indeed she will I hope sit on the green benches in the near future. But the NEC were dead right to do what they did.

If I had been running it it would have remained an AWS but whoever the party select i'm sure that they will do a much better job than the opposition so they have my full support.
Apparently Virendra Sharma has been selected (unconfirmed rumour)
Wouldn't surprise me apparently the old hands who have worked this seat compete in the number of minibuses they have to use to get their supporters to vote.
WIt's little wonder we're "ignorant" when the likes of you go round claiming "I know something you don't know" - either put up or shut up, with respect Will.

I've no doubt that Sonika would find a by-election challenging - any candidate would. However, that is as true for the two shortlistees as it is for her - two people who wouldn't have had a look in for this seat if Piara hadn't passed away.

So until you can come up with a single reason (let alone a substantive one) why these two men are infinitely better qualified for the rigours of a by-election than Sonika (and that's an opportunity to promote the shortlistees, not slate Sonika before you use that as an excuse to say nothing much of anything) then I guess we're going to go on being ignorant, outraged and believing that the best outcome for Labour in Southall would now be to lose it and get a decent candidate at the next general election.
Why don't you go and ask Sonika why the NEC didn't put her on the shortlist if your so interested.

They don't go dumping ideal candidates by accident.
You're evidently incapable of engaging in sensible debate Will. Even when I ask you to say something positive about the candidates who were shortlisted, your preference is to insinuate that there's something intrinsically wrong with someone who was not.

That's nothing more than cowardly - so I repeat: either put up, or shut up and stop smearing people by inference.
Most people in sensible debate actually say who they are rather than post anonymously.

But anyway...

I am not smearing anyone at all in any way shape or form.

My message is that you should trust the NEC because they made the right decision with the evidence that they had available.

It is also the right decision for Sonika who will no doubt go on to bigger and better things in the future.

For all I know you might be a lib dem... So pardon me for not sharing .
To Anon at 3:12pm who says that Virendra Sharma has been selected. Voting is until 8 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church, Southall.
In a nutshell: Sonika has a family address in Southall but normally goes home to an address in Harrow. It was felt that this would be too much to manage in the glare of a by-election. We all know what the Lib Dems are like when it comes to being local - except of course when selecting someone a 50-minute car ride away in Sedgefield.

No-one seems as interested in why the local bearded Sikh in chief was not favoured. That's a much better narrative than Sonika simply being a bit unlucky that this was a by-election.

I'd have picked Rupa, me.
The following has been posted in response to a negative write up by Chris Paul of Gurcharan Singh, his involvement in the turban campaign in France and allegations he was pro-Khalistan. It appears the details relating to 1984 are to be posted on prominent Conservative and Liberal Democrat blogs so they can challenge Virendra Sharma.

I’m not into party politics, but I am a Labour Party member as well as someone who works for the good of the British Sikh community. I find the contents of the article you have written is everything that puts ordinary people off party politics. I am a Labour Party member, but also a person who passionately believes in campaigning for Sikh rights.

Upset you may be with the Labour Party defections, but if you and others thought so little of prominent local Labour Party members in Southall you should have done something about it when they were in the Party. Also I find some of your comments offensive.

Why should Sikhs children not be able to practice their faith in French schools? Why should Sikh teachers, lecturers, police officers in London not be able to freely travel and work in France without having to compromise their faith? What is wrong with Gurcharan Singh showing his support for religious freedoms in France for Sikhs that live there and others that may choose to go and work there from the UK (even Ealing Southall). You are in serious danger of resorting to racist behaviour as you are upset. You should be upset with the likes of Keith Vaz who has put Labour in this position.

You also link Gurcharan Singh with the pro-Khalistan movement and make allegations about him rejoicing after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Anyone in the Sikh community in Southall or elsewhere in the UK will tell you that Gurcharan Singh’s role in promoting the Khalistan movement in the last 23 years is minimal to say the least?

You however make no mention of the official Labour Party candidate having strong family ties and being the agent and member of a foreign political party – the Indian Congress. How can the Labour Party allow someone to stand as a Member of the UK Parliament who has open allegiances to Congress and will always be at the beck and call of the Indian High Commission in London rather than the constituents of Ealing Southall? This also explains the pivotal role of Keith Vaz, an Indian Government stooge, in ensuring a one horse race in the Labour Party short list.

Given Labour friends of Virendra Sharma have bought up the Khalistan issue and the events of 1984 I thought it only right to share the following information more widely so the opposition parties can challenge the ‘invisible and silent’ Labour candidate that owes his allegiances to the Indian Government and the Congress. Although recent revelations have also shown that as a prominent Hindu he also has close ties with right wing Hindu groups, such as the VHP and RSS.

Congress was not only responsible for the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs at the Golden Temple Complex that ultimately led to two of her Sikh bodyguards taking revenge for the desecration, but also for the anti-Sikh pogroms that took place in over 130 different cities in India that took the lives of over 20,000 innocent Sikhs following a four day orgy of violence.

India's whole scale military crackdown in Panjab in June 1984, resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Sikh civilians during the Indian Army attack on the Golden Temple complex and the subsequent draconian sweep through Panjab.
Preceding the attack on the Golden Temple there was a non violent agitation for political, religious and economic rights for Sikhs and all Punjabis. This was due to the non fulfilment of promises made to the Sikhs by Nehru and Gandhi on independence from Britain in 1947.

This was the biggest non violent agitation for rights since Indian Independence movement and thousands of Sikhs were thrown in jails for simply protesting for their rights. Many Sikhs were also killed in extra judicial murders carried out by the police.

Under this persecution Sikhs used their historic centre for political and religious rights the Golden Temple and Akal Takht to pursue their agitation. This was nothing new as the Sikh Guru’s had done this in the past when standing up against oppressors, and told Sikhs to do the same if they faced persecution in the future.

Then from June 1984 India launched a brutal attack on 125 Sikh Gurdwaras including the Golden Temple and Akal Takht. Thousands of innocent civilians died during the initial attack with thousands of others being simply disappeared in an army operation across the entire of Punjab. The worst aspect of the massacre was the killing of women and children by the army. (weblink giving full background to the attack)

Media Quotes on 1984

On 4 June, a day of pilgrimage for Sikhs when thousands had gathered at the Golden Temple, army tanks moved into the Temple Complex, smashing into the sanctum and shooting everyone in sight.... Those left alive were then prevented from leaving the building, many wounded were left to bleed to death and when they begged for water, Army Jawans told them to drink the mixture of blood and urine on the floor. Some 3000 dead, including many who were only unconscious, were piled high in trucks and removed. Four months later no list of casualties or missing persons had yet been issued. Then can the army occupation of Panjab with frequent humiliations, arrests and killings of Sikhs by soldiers. It caused a feeling voiced by many ordinary people who had never before been separatists that ...Sikhs could not be safe there.”

Amrit Wilson: New Statesman - 16 November 1984


‘For five days the Punjab has been cut off from the rest of the world. There is a 24-hour curlew. All telephone and telex lines are cut. No foreigners are permitted entry and on Tuesday, all Indian journalists were expelled. There are no newspapers, no trains, no buses -not even a bullock cart can move.

Christian Science Monitor - 8 June 1984


“As long as the army keeps news reporters and other outsiders from traveling in Punjab except on tightly controlled military tours, there is no way of knowing what excesses might be committed”

New York Times - 8 June 1984


“The Amritsar deputy police superintendent who helped remove bodies from the temple grounds said at least 13 of the victims were shot with their hands bound. It was a virtual massacre,” said the Jullundar doctor. “A large number of women, children and pilgrims were gunned down.”

Associated Press - 14 June 1984


“…medical workers in Amritsar said soldiers had threatened to shoot them if they gave food or water to Sikh pilgrims wounded in the attack and lying in the hospital.”

Christian Science Monitor - 18 June 1984


“Mopping up after the death of Jarnail Singh Bhindanwale…the government has now arrested more than 3000 of his....followers. The government has also turned up its propaganda machine

Newsweek - 25 June 1984


“As for anti-Sikh feeling, the word ‘Sikh’ and ‘terrorist’ became almost synonymous in the government controlled media and in the speeches of politicians. The storming of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was reported by most national papers and radio and television in a shamelessly biased fashion.”

Amrit Wilson: New Statesman - 16 November 1984

During the Golden Temple attack, young boys ages 8 to 13 were taken outside and asked if they supported Khalistan, the independent Sikh country. When they answered with the Sikh religious incantation “Bole So Nihal,” they were shot to death. The Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scriptures, written in the time of the Sikh Gurus, were shot full of bullet holes and burned by the Indian forces.

Other useful points that could be put to the Labour Party candidate, Virendra Sharma, include:

India has not allowed Amnesty International or UN Rapporteur for Torture to be allowed to visit and investigate in Panjab for almost 30 years. What is India hiding?

Three Early Day Motions that were tabled on the 20th anniversary of 1984 are reproduced below and attracted cross-party support from over 150 UK MPs. Would Virendra Sharma sign such EDMs?

That this House notes with sadness the 20th anniversary of the June 1984 assault by the Indian army on the Golden Temple complex, the Sikhs' holiest shrine, where sacred buildings and historic artefacts were destroyed or damaged beyond repair; further notes that the unprecedented action using artillery and tanks took place on one of the most important days in the Sikh calendar, when there were huge numbers of pilgrims in attendance, which resulted in thousands of innocent Sikhs being killed in cold blood, many with their hands and feet bound, including women and children; is appalled that scores of other Sikh Gurdwaras were stormed by the Indian army throughout Panjab and that thousands of Sikhs were arrested, tortured, and killed, including children; recognises that these actions by the Indian authorities continue to have an immeasurable impact on Sikhs throughout the world; and extends its sympathy and support to the law-abiding, hard working, and well respected international Sikh community.

That this House notes and applauds the efforts of human rights activists in India to highlight atrocities, including false imprisonment, torture, deaths in custody, extra-judicial executions and disappearances, perpetrated against Sikhs in the last 20 years; further notes that it is estimated that over 250,000 Sikhs have been murdered and/or disappeared since June 1984; is deeply concerned that 20 years later the Indian Government continues to deny full access to Panjab to international human rights groups and to the UN Rapporteur on Torture; regrets that thousands of families are still waiting to know the fate of relatives who have disappeared; and calls on the Prime Minister, on behalf of the estimated 700,000 Sikhs in the United Kingdom, to lead the international community in demanding full access to Panjab to international human rights groups and the UN.

That this House notes with sadness the 20th anniversary of the November 1984 pogrom against thousands of innocent Sikhs in a matter of days in cities across India; further notes that Sikhs became the target of organised violence with murderous gangs swarming into Sikh houses, hacking the occupants to pieces, chopping off the heads of children, raping women, tying Sikh men to tyres set aflame with kerosene and pulling Sikh passengers from public transport to be lynched or burned alive; recognises that Amnesty International in a memorandum to the Government of India, complained that far from being spontaneous expressions of popular grief and anger as made out by the authorities, the killings were the outcome of a well organised plan marked by acts of both deliberate commission and omission by important politicians of the Congress and by authorities in the administration; believes that investigation and criminal proceedings are long overdue; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to take the lead in the international community to establish an independent UN inquiry into the failure of successive governments in India to take sufficient actions against those responsible for the events of November 1984.

1984 to the Present

In November 1984, thousands of Sikh civilians in New Delhi and other major cities, were systematically hunted down and murdered in their homes and on the streets; with the open complicity of the Indian police.

• Over the last 25 years, India has imposed a regime of gruesome repression and murder on the Sikh population in Panjab. Tens of thousands of Sikh civilians have been killed in a combination of staged 'armed encounters' and 'disappearances'.

• Amnesty International(2) and Human Rights Watch (3) have together produced over twenty separate reports, documenting widespread human rights atrocities in Panjab by India's police and army. Torture, arbitrary incarceration, and custodial deaths, are reported as routine and widespread. India has refused to open up to an international scrutiny of these incidents. It has barred Amnesty International, since 1978; and has refused to permit access to the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture and Disappearances.

• Many human rights activists, such as Jaswant Singh Khalra (4), have been killed in police custody or 'disappeared' in sinister circumstances.

Human rights should be enjoyed by all people at all times. We believe that awareness of these issues will help the struggle to end grave abuses of the fundamental human rights in Panjab and elsewhere in India. We come from all walks of life, with widely different political and religious views, united by our determination to ensure everyone enjoys basic human rights. We want to give hope to the people of Panjab that justice will be done. At the same time, we strongly and unequivocally condemn the killings of other innocents, including Hindus, that took place during the same period. Acts like these were used to further communalise the situation and impose further draconian measures.

Will Virendra Sharma call upon the British Government and European Union to bear pressure on the Government of India to prosecute those who have committed these crimes against humanity. Will he also call upon the United Nations to establish and supervise in the Panjab a full and independent Commission for Truth & Justice in order to document the atrocities that have been committed over the past 20 years.


(1) Politics of Genocide (1995) by Inderjit Singh Jaijee of the Movement against State Repression, p 41 quoting three human rights groups and three Advocates Generals who researched the killings for the period 1984-1994.

(2) Break the Cycle of Impunity and Torture in Punjab (2003), Amnesty International.

(3)Dead Silence: The Legacy of Abuses in Punjab (1994), Physicians for Human Rights.

(4) A Mockery of Justice – The case concerning the ‘disappearance’ of human rightrs defender Jaswant Singh Khalra severely undermined, Amnesty International (1998

Continuing Violations
The Indian government has murdered over 250,000 Sikhs since 1984, more than 300,000 Christians in Nagaland since 1948, over 90,000 Muslims in Kashmir since 1988, and tens of thousands of Tamils, Assamese, Bodos, Manipuris, Dalits, and others. The Indian Supreme Court called the Indian government's murders of Sikhs "worse than a genocide."
The police arrested human-rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra after he exposed their policy of mass cremation of Sikhs, in which over 50,000 Sikhs have been arrested, tortured, and murdered, then their bodies were declared unidentified and secretly cremated. He was murdered in police custody. His body was not given to his family. The police never released the body of former Jathedar of the Akal Takht Gurdev Singh Kaunke after SSP Swaran Singh Ghotna murdered him. Ghotna has never been brought to trial for the Jathedar Kaunke murder. No one has been brought to justice for the kidnapping and murder of Jaswant Singh Khalra.

Human Rights Reports on Sikhs and Punjab

Amnesty International

India: Punjab - Twenty years on impunity continues - Amnesty International
Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights.

India: A vital opportunity to end impunity in Punjab - Amnesty International
In 1996 in response to two petitions filed in the Supreme Court containing allegations of human rights violations in Punjab, the Court ordered th National Human Rights Commission to examine the al...

India: Will past human rights violations in Punjab remain forgotten? - Amnesty International
Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights.

India: Break the cycle of impunity and torture in Punjab - Amnesty International
Torture and custodial violence continue to be regularly reported in Punjab, despite the end of the militancy period in the state in the mid-1990s. In this report Amnesty International makes the ...

India: AI membership expresses solidarity to the families of the disappeared in Punjab - Amnesty International
There is no abstract for this document

India: Fear of torture/Fear for safety - Amnesty International
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of at least 100 individuals including social activists, human rights defenders and lawyers in Punjab. Some are being illegally detained in connect...

India : Fear of torture/fear for safety of Rajiv Singh - Amnesty International
Rajiv Singh, a key witness in the trial of police officers accused of abducting a human rights activist has been arrested by Punjab police. Amnesty International fears this is an attempt to prevent ...

India: A Mockery of Justice: The case concerning the "disappearance" of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra severely undermined - Amnesty International
This brief report documents the means used by accused police officers, including delay of proceedings and intimidation of witnesses, in their search of impunity for the 'disappearance' of Jaswant ...

Human Rights Watch

Letter from Human Rights Watch to the National Human Rights Commission of India

On the upcoming decision in the Punjab mass secret cremations case
As the National Human Rights Commission prepares to issue a decision in the Punjab mass secret cremations case, we urge the Commission to order a full accounting of the systematic abuses that occurred in Punjab, determine liability after detailed investigations into the violations, and provide for compensation for surviving family members based on a detailed understanding of the scope of violations suffered by each individual.

Other Screams of Terror
By Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch researcher
Published in The Asian Age
People who lived through 1984 in Delhi are unlikely to forget the horrors. After years of inquiries, commissions, accusations and denials, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has, last month, expressed regret for the horrifying anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi, saying that, "I have no hesitation in apologising not only to the Sikh community but the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood and what is enshrined in our Constitution."

India: Justice Eludes Families of the "Disappeared" in Punjab ...
"Ending state impunity for abuses in Punjab must become a priority. ... We hope it will do the same in Punjab." Smita Narula, senior researcher for South ...
It'd definatly true, Sonika claims she lives in Southall and owns a property here. In fact the property in her name is her parents and she lives in harrow with her husband. She lied about this to the Labour Party and was told a night before the interview process to withdraw or be prepared to failed in the interview. Rumour has it due to her that if this story was leaked it would and could be damaging to Sonika's career and the labour party. She has mislead the public and is a liar, she should resign as a Councillor.
Inside info is that Sonika did not perform very well in the interview
I have been visiting various blogs for my Term Papers Help research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards
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