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News 2008
News ->Indian leaders slam PM's lack of engagement with British Hindus

(13 February 2008)

Gordon Brown lighting the Diwali lamp at the House of Commons.India’s top spiritual and political leaders present at a ceremony to scatter the ashes of the temple cow Gangotri killed by the RSPCA voiced grave concerns on 13th February about Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s lack of engagement with the peaceful Hindu community in Britain. In the same week, Dr Sharma of the Hindu Council UK voiced his frustration in trying to deal with the newly formed Equality & Human Rights Commission headed by Trevor Phillips and argued that Hindus were under-represented on the board of this organisation - there are currently no Hindus appointed as commissioners at the EHRC.


On Wednesday 13 February, hundreds of protestors staged a mock slaughter of a cow by actors dressed as RSPCA workers outside Parliament and marched to the offices of DEFRA. Four of Hinduism’s top spiritual leaders – the Shankaracharyas who are revered like the Pope – joined a British delegation on 12th February at the Maha Magha festival which attracts 5 million pilgrims at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganges and Yamuna to scatter the ashes of Gangotri. The delegation scattered a second urn of ashes at the holy city of Varanasi on 13th February, in the presence of several national leaders, monks and visitors.


Mahamantra Dubey, President of the Foundation for Religious Harmony, one of the most high-profile interfaith institutions in India commented, “The people in India are surprised and saddened by this utter lack of respect shown by the British authorities on a peaceful community. Hindus only wanted respect for life. But it seems Gordon Brown does not understand this request. We are disappointed that his recent trip to India did not enlighten him to the higher aspects of our peaceful culture. Perhaps he was more interested in the economic benefits of partnering with India and has forgotten that people are more important than money.”

Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North, who had was present at the London demonstration outside Parliament reassured Hindus that the Secretary of State of DEFRA, Hiliary Benn MP was looking into the actions of the RSPCA and would look seriously at procedures and protocols of animal welfare.


During the same week, Dr. Jagdish Sharma, Chairman and Director for Human Rights at the Hindu Council UK lamented the poor communication between the HCUK and the newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission. In an email he stated " I personally am not at all happy with this situation and after being a member of Religion & Belief Consultative Group (RBCG) for more than two years and attending 26 out of 29 meetings, I am seriously considering whether it is a constructive use of my time."

Trevor Phillips"At the end of my last e-mail regarding RBCG and our frustrating experience at the hands of EHRC, its Chairman, Trevor Phillips, its commissioners Joel Edwards and Ziauddin Sardar and its Strategy Director Patrick Diamond, I had said that I would report further progress after the meeting on 13th February 2008. I am sorry to say that there is no happy outcome to report. Everyone present shared each other's frustration. RBCG Chairman Barney Leith has a meeting with Sukhwinder Singh scheduled for 26th February. Mr. Singh is an officer at EHRC but nobody knew his exact designation and I do not expect anything different from him." Dr Sharma explained.

Dr Sharma further added "Should we negotiate directly with EHRC under the banner of HCUK? I wonder ! Our problem is that Hindus are never appointed to any positions in such institutions and this job discrimination must at least be shown to us to stop."

A spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said that EHRC appoints were a matter for the Secretary of State. No further response was forthcoming from Trevor Phillips.

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