Belgian Police Raid Gurdwara

As Belgian Sikhs celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, immigration police raided the Vilvoorde gurdwara, arresting 30 [link].

Police swooped on 19 suspected safe-houses in Brussels and surrounding suburbs during dawn raids on Saturday and discovered over 200 immigrants. The gangs ringleaders are said to be among 15 people arrested. Police also found 50 illegal immigrants hiding in a Sikh temple in Vilvoorde, a suburb north of Brussels. [link]

Officials say the raid was to break up an underground ring that was trafficking young, undocumented (Indian) Sikh men through Belgium to the U.K.:

The criminal gang, which charged Asian migrants over 15,000 for their journey from India via Moscow, is thought to have smuggled “thousands” of illegal immigrants in Britain over the last year and a half. [link]

Human trafficking notwithstanding, officials chose to coordinate their sting on the same day hundreds of Sikhs were holding Akhand Path for SGGS Ji’s tercentenary. From the accounts so far, police barged into the gurdwara, boots on, heads uncovered, and went through with their sting operation. By word of mouth, individuals said that even those who showed evidence of documentation were arrested for alleged trafficking.

If individuals in the community were trafficking under the conditions described, their actions are horrific. I am deeply troubled by the police decision to exploit a religious holiday, disrespect the religious observance of a minority, and then proceed to terrorize the congregation by “busting” traffickers and undocumented migrants. It reminds me of the abusive tactics I.C.E. has used in raiding homes and places of worship in Latino communities, preying on both the documented and undocumented. But what does this say for a country’s concepts of sanctuary and protection of minority communities? The gurdwara is always supposed to be a haven, a safe shelter, for anyone, including the indigent or oppressed. If it was used to further ill purposes, I don’t know what to say, but if it was used to protect undocumented migrants who were moving through the country as a matter of conscience, then what does this kind of militaristic and predatory behavior do to the relationship between the state and its people?


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
tabs-top


10 Responses to “Belgian Police Raid Gurdwara”

  1. Prem says:

    This isn't surprising. Whether the Gurdwara management knew anything about it or were active in the people smuggling mafia organisation is not clear.

    People smuggling from Punjab to the UK is a massive criminal enterprise. Check out this link.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7512340.stm

    Somehwere on the BBC site, which I can't locate, is the actual footage and detail from the undercover investigation. It's a massive problem.

  2. Prem says:

    This isn’t surprising. Whether the Gurdwara management knew anything about it or were active in the people smuggling mafia organisation is not clear.

    People smuggling from Punjab to the UK is a massive criminal enterprise. Check out this link.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7512340.stm

    Somehwere on the BBC site, which I can’t locate, is the actual footage and detail from the undercover investigation. It’s a massive problem.

  3. This is really disgusting behavior by a government and police. To interrupt a religious celebration in the most disrespectful way because they might find a few offenders of some law. I can tell you now, if somebody ever busted into my hometown Gurdwara, they would not be happy when they found out we are all armed and are willing to fight when an unjust cause (such as their storming the Gurdwara) arises.

    What did all the other Sikhs do? I would try to meet them at the door and have a conversation, if they forced their way in, I would warn them that we would not hold back.

  4. P.Singh says:

    Prabhu Singh,

    I agree – this is disgusting and disturbing. Surely there were other less demeaning and disrespectful ways to apprehend any criminal parties.

    In addition to whatever efficiency the police may have seen in conducting the raid on that particular day, the message to the Sikh community appears to be as follows: Sikhs are a lower class of citizen, and their rights and/or religious sentiments require little consideration.

    By all means, go after the criminals, go after them hard – but to say there were no alternatives to storming the gurdwara during a religious celebration, is nonsensical. To believe the Belgian government did not know it would hurt the sentiments of Sikhs, unnecessarily at that, is also difficult to believe.

  5. This is really disgusting behavior by a government and police. To interrupt a religious celebration in the most disrespectful way because they might find a few offenders of some law. I can tell you now, if somebody ever busted into my hometown Gurdwara, they would not be happy when they found out we are all armed and are willing to fight when an unjust cause (such as their storming the Gurdwara) arises.
    What did all the other Sikhs do? I would try to meet them at the door and have a conversation, if they forced their way in, I would warn them that we would not hold back.

  6. P.Singh says:

    Prabhu Singh,

    I agree – this is disgusting and disturbing. Surely there were other less demeaning and disrespectful ways to apprehend any criminal parties.

    In addition to whatever efficiency the police may have seen in conducting the raid on that particular day, the message to the Sikh community appears to be as follows: Sikhs are a lower class of citizen, and their rights and/or religious sentiments require little consideration.

    By all means, go after the criminals, go after them hard – but to say there were no alternatives to storming the gurdwara during a religious celebration, is nonsensical. To believe the Belgian government did not know it would hurt the sentiments of Sikhs, unnecessarily at that, is also difficult to believe.

  7. justasikh says:

    I am not sure if the gurdwara shouldn't have escorted a few known law breakers to the door. Asylum is for those who need it, not abuse it, no?

  8. justasikh says:

    I am not sure if the gurdwara shouldn’t have escorted a few known law breakers to the door. Asylum is for those who need it, not abuse it, no?

  9. Hi,
    First Law brake affected all :- What the differents Be a Good Citizen respect any Counrty Visiting no
    mateer which Respect the LAW:- WHO NOT CARE SHOULD Return their cost back own Place &
    Countries Live those who need future with Law pemmission top remain Staying Work & Earn / Live
    for their own Freedom :- Without ENTRY / VISA RETUTN BACK ! GURDWARA FOR PRAYING PLACE
    NOT FOR REFUSE / ASYLAM SEEKER RESIDENTS :- ?

  10. asrandhawa says:

    What Guru delievered the message after initiating five beloveds into Khalsa , just see;

    Message of Guru to his Khalsa;
    “ You are the immortal soldiers of true dharma and the messengers of God. This country’s honor and liberty is entrusted to you by Waheguru. Mix freely with the world, but remain of one soul, one ideal and one aim.”Women shall be equal of men in every walk of life and their names would bear the epithet ‘KAUR’ meaning princess. He who kills his daughter, the Khalsa will snap ties with him. By doing so guru ji also once again added respectability to the women folk. You will keep unshorn hair to look like ancient sages. You will love the weapons of war and become excellent horsemen, marksmen, sportsmen and wielders of swords and spears. Physical prowess will be as sacred to you as spiritual sensitiveness. You are friend of all but enemy to none except the oppression. You would serve the poor without distinction of Caste, Creed, religion or region and would protect them with Deg (community food) and The ( physical strength). You will call yourself as Singh i.e. lions and greet each other with the salutation.

    Waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh meansKhalsa belongs to god Victory be to God.