image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

British Sikh Lessons from Bloom Report

The Bloom Report, commissioned by the Government and published on 23 April 2023, received a united negative response from Panthic jathebandis. Some main objections were summarized in this column with the heading, Bloom Review: A Missed Opportunity to Engage British Sikhs (PT Issue No: 2979). Now we have a fairly comprehensive rebuttal of Bloom by Sikhs In Law Association in their Bloom Report Review. The Review is recommended reading for British Sikhs. (**link at footnote). There are lessons to be learnt.

We hope this Review by Sikhs In Law Association reaches the Government before any serious note is taken of Bloom recommendations, especially Recommendation 16 regarding the Sikhs (to quote the Review) because any recommendation to the Government that it should take steps to develop a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of subversive and sectarian Sikh extremist activity, will need to be based on a more open and more representative method of collecting evidence, one that is inclusive of the broad range of practices within the Sikh community, and based on data that is objectively verifiable.

Bloom ignores the definition of extremism used by the government. He uses the isolated experience of one individual to back his case and even that is taken out of context. The selective evidence used by Bloom is only for the purposes of shoring up anti-Sikh sources and narratives. Judge, Prof Satwinder Singh Juss has concluded that the report is a blue print of how the government should not engage with faith.

Sikhs In Law have been praised for showing the way how to meet such challenges in future. Sikhs do have a vast community resource in experienced professionals and scholars who can serve own community and the countries they live in as loyal hardworking citizens, as part of their Panthic sewa.

We reject the selective evidence used by Bloom. However, there are also clear pointers that the negative misrepresentation of Panthic activism comes from some unthinking Sikhs themselves. The impression gained is that Bloom was careful to ignore related timely research mentioned in an earlier column: It is most remarkable that Colin Bloom did not refer to a well-researched report by Dr Jasjit Singh of Leads University which concluded that Britain had nothing to fear from Sikh activism. Bloom gave disproportionate coverage to evidence which justified his own bias.

As the Sikhs In Law Review points out, more than 11 pages are allocated to the discussion of Sikh extremism and pro Khalistan extremism in Chapter 6. One can compare that to less than two pages on Islamist extremism, or one page to White Supremacy and British nationalism, or to even less than that to Neo-nazi Occultist Groups, Black Nationalists, Nation of Islam, Black Hebrew Israelites, Israel United Christ, Hindu Nationalism and Buddhist Nationalism. It is almost as if Bloom was simply going through these other groups in order to get to the Sikh faith, in order to give his approach a semblance of authenticity, before targeting it as &lsquosubversive&rsquo and &lsquoextremist.&rsquo

Sikhs In Law Association Review shows that there is a continuing need for professional level Sikh watch regarding Government Reports and draft Legislation affecting Sikhs. There is also a lesson for Sikhs obsessed with continual condemnation of other Panthic jathebandis. To paraphrase a senior colleague, Sikhs should be conscious of the choice of words when talking to the media and the establishment.

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Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant retd (UK)