The Situation at our Gurudwara’
Jul 19, 2016 — On 2nd July 2016, we the sangat of Guru Nanak Gurudwara (Leicester) uploaded a video onto YouTube, which has now been viewed over 14,500 times. If you haven’t seen the video, please search Youtube for:
‘Racist ‘Joginder Singh’ refuses food to White Homeless woman at Sikh Temple’.
Or, visit the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piUaULtWYxw&feature=youtu.be
Initially, many Sikhs who saw that video questioned why Sikhs would film and upload such an incident, which embarrasses the Sikh community. However, for those viewers who read the YouTube description, things would have made more sense, once they clicked onto the link that leads to our online petition.
To view our online petition, please search Change.org for:
‘Ban racist Joginder Singh from Guru Nanak Temple (Leics) for refusing food to Non-Sikhs’
Or, visit the link:
Given that our Gurudwara is located near Leicester city center, we see many Non-Sikh (White, Black & Hindu) visitors, some of whom are needy and homeless. They are welcome to have langar (free food) provided (a) they are not drunk/intoxicated (b) they are appropriately dressed (c) they cover their head (d) they take their shoes off (e) they’re not anti-social (f) they respect the Sikh faith and sangat members.
For the past 5-6 years, our Gurudwara committee has employed a man named Joginder, who works part-time as a kitchen assistant (langaria) between 4pm and 9pm, 7 days a week. Joginder is an illegal immigrant and he has been paid cash-in-hand by many sangat members for his work as a langaria and during Akhand Paath ceremonies, for his role as a ‘night shift assistant’, when he would awaken the priests for their duties.
As part of his duties as a langaria, Joginder is responsible for cooking and serving langar to all eligible temple visitors (who meet criteria a-f above), including Non-Sikhs. However, over the past circa 1.5 years, the sangat has increasingly observed that Joginder has been refusing food to eligible Non-Sikhs, without reason.
Joginder has snatched plates out of the hands of eligible Non-Sikhs and told them to go away. He has given Non-Sikhs one roti, when it’s the norm to give two. Last year, he had a fight with a Polish man who used to empty the bins in the mornings and evenings, before he’d have langar. Joginder partnered with a non-committee member and they took this Polish man into the committee office and told him that he’s permanently banned, despite them not having the authority to do this. The Polish man started crying saying, “I’m sorry, please don’t ban me”, but Joginder declared that he’s banned, which the Polish man believed and never returned again.
Early in 2016, the sangat and a committee member witnessed a Hindu Gujarati woman crying because Joginder had refused langar to her, having said that “This isn’t a restaurant”, yet Joginder was still allowed to cook and serve food after that incident, without being disciplined, or more appropriately, removed from the kitchen. That Hindu woman never came to the Gurudwara drunk/intoxicated. Her head was always covered, shoes were always off and she even used to sit inside the main hall & listen to Kirtan. There are too many incidents of racial discrimination to narrate here.
Joginder is a racist and he abuses his position as a langaria by refusing food to eligible Non-Sikhs, who visit our Gurudwara. This is against the principle of langar and the teachings of Sikhism. It also defames the Gurudwara and the Sikh community.
Timeline of Events
-(2015-2016): Many sangat members made verbal complaints about Joginder refusing food to eligible Non-Sikhs, over a 1-year period, but the committee ignored us.
-4th April 2016: After about 1 year of making verbal complaints, the sangat sent a Special Delivery letter [Royal Mail Tracking Number AE854146080GB] to the committee, in which key incidents of racial discrimination were mentioned. The sangat gave the committee over 2 weeks to remove Joginder from the langar hall, but they completely ignored our letter.
-23rd April 2016: The sangat started an online petition on the Change.org website, but the committee ignored this, which greatly angered the sangat, as Joginder’s beadbi of langar continued to take place on a weekly basis.
-29th April 2016: The committee verbally insulted gym members, falsely accusing them of starting the online petition.
-1st July 2016: The video was filmed by a sangat member, which was uploaded onto YouTube the next day.
-3rd July 2016: 10-11 committee and non-committee members harassed the person who recorded the video footage, for almost 1 hour. A non-committee member tried to physically attack that person (he was restrained by 3 committee members) and another non-committee member made threats to beat him up and slap him. The committee also threatened to ban him from the Gurudwara. This incident has been reported to the Leicester Police.
-15th July 2016: The committee stubbornly chose to ignore the video and issued a wishy-washy and irrelevant statement in the Des Pardes Weekly, which the sangat has fully rebutted (please see below).
-17th July 2016: Joginder is still working as a part-time langaria, as if nothing has happened, whilst new signs have been posted on Gurudwara walls stating, “Video Recordings are Strictly Forbidden”. Evidently, by keeping Joginder as a langaria, racism is still allowed.
The Committee’s Statement and the Sangat’s Rebuttal
On 9th July 2016, the committee posted a statement on the Gurudwara’s Facebook page. The same statement was published on page 52 of the Des Pardes Weekly, dated 22 July 2016 (No.2454). Their statement didn’t discuss the video and they’ve probably just ‘put something out’ in English because they’re red-faced about Joginder being exposed and the sangat being proved right.
Please read the sangat’s rebuttal of the committee’s full statement by scrolling down to the posts section of our online petition page, which can be found by searching ‘Ban Racist Joginder Singh Leicester’ on Change.org, or use the following link:
The sangat’s rebuttal can also be found by searching ‘Ban Racist Joginder From Guru Nanak Gurudwara Leicester’ in Facebook, or use the following link:
Unlike the committee, we will now fully discuss what happened on the day that video was shot.
What happened before the video was filmed?
On Friday 1st July 2016 around 8pm, a sober White homeless woman entered the Gurudwara. She was not rude in any way and politely asked for some food. She was eligible for langar that evening, provided Joginder had told her to cover her head and take her shoes off, when she first approached him. However, Joginder refused to serve her altogether and told her to go away. He should have observed that she is sober, after which he should have told her to cover her head and take her shoes off. He didn’t do this because he had no intention of serving her, even if she had readily agreed.
After Joginder refused to serve her, he left the kitchen area, following which a Sikh woman who had witnessed his rude behavior called the White woman and happily filled her empty plastic box with langar. Whilst she was doing this, Joginder returned and told the Sikh woman to stop, but she didn’t, as she was visibly disgusted by his suggestion.
If you’re thinking ‘Why did the Sikh woman serve her, when her head wasn’t covered and shoes were still on?’ The Sikh woman had just witnessed Joginder rudely refusing to serve her, before he left the kitchen. She knew this was out of order and quickly called the White woman to fill her container before Joginder returned. She thought that if that rude man returns, he won’t let me do it.
She was right, when Joginder saw her filling the plastic box, he raced back and told her to stop, but she ignored him. She served the White woman out of her ‘seva bhavna’ (spirit of service), as her family had taken the Akhand Paath and langar seva that weekend. Had she not feared Joginder’s intervention, she would have told the sober White woman to cover her head and take her shoes off, as any Sikh rightly would have.
Given that the homeless White woman had been served and Joginder didn’t get his way, he became angry and insulted her by calling her a “dirty woman” to which she responded with humility, by stating “I’m dirty because I live on the streets”. Joginder had no reason to stand there and insult her, when the Sikh woman had already served her. Why would any langaria do such a thing?
Subsequently, just before leaving, the White woman said “I respect this place because you feed everyone, why are you treating me like this?” to which Joginder quickly responded, “I don’t respect you”, which further distressed the homeless woman. The White woman clearly wasn’t drunk or intoxicated on that occasion, as she was able to communicate coherently, albeit a bit emotionally because of Joginder disrespecting her.
Which is the greater beadbi of langar?
To quickly serve a sober homeless woman with her head uncovered and her shoes on, fearing that she may leave the Gurudwara hungry, or, to refuse food to a sober homeless woman, call her a “dirty woman” and then tell her that you don’t respect her, causing her to breakdown, in a Gurudwara of all places?
It’s at this point that the video recording starts:
What happens during the video?
0 – 0.45 seconds: The homeless White woman states that Joginder said he doesn’t respect her (and homeless people in general as she used the term “us”). She states that Joginder wasn’t even going to feed her (again she says “us”, possibly because she intended to share the food in the plastic box with other homeless people). When asked “Why?” she says that she feels unwelcome at the Gurudwara.
0.45 seconds: The homeless White woman identifies Joginder as having said and done all of the above by pointing at him.
0.46 – 1:04 seconds: Joginder panics as he has been caught out by the person filming the incident and he quickly switches the lights off, closes the kitchen door and lowers the shutters, lying that it’s time to close and clean up, despite the fact that its only 8:10pm and the langar hall doesn’t close until 8:45pm-9pm.
Even if it was closing time, who abruptly cleans the kitchen area in the dark, with all doors closed, lights off and shutters down? As it isn’t closing time, a sangat member tells him to put the lights back on, which he reluctantly does. If you listen carefully, you can hear instruments being played in the background, as the final ceremony (samapti) is taking place. No Gurudwara closes its kitchen at the exact time of samapti, as some people prefer to eat after samapti.
Joginder lied about it being closing time. Why lie, if you’ve done nothing wrong? Other Sikh sangat members in the kitchen are also aware that a video is being made, why don’t they rush to switch off lights, lower shutters, close doors and lie about it being closing time? They don’t do that because unlike Joginder they have nothing to fear.
Unlike Joginder, they haven’t refused langar to an eligible Non-Sikh, who simply had to cover her head and take her shoes off, had someone told her. Unlike Joginder, they didn’t call the homeless White woman a “dirty woman”. Unlike Joginder, they didn’t tell her that they don’t respect her, which made her cry. Other sangat members have nothing to hide; hence they don’t try to switch off lights to hide their faces and to interrupt/stop the recording.
0.50 seconds: When Joginder switches the lights off and lowers the shutters, the White woman says, “Does he want me to kick off?” Please keep in mind that this is a homeless woman who lives on the streets (she told the person recording the video, just after he stopped filming). She probably encounters hostile people from time to time because of her life circumstances.
A man has just told her that she’s a “dirty woman”. This man has been rude to her and as she’s expressing her feelings about being mistreated and feeling “unwelcome”, the same man suddenly switches off the lights, closes the kitchen door and brings the shutters down behind her.
Given the disturbed state of mind that she’s in, considering she’s homeless and because she’s surrounded by people she doesn’t know (and there’s somebody filming this for some reason – she doesn’t know about the online petition), would you say she’s wrong to think that maybe she’d upset Joginder and that he was now about to physically attack her or something like that, after he switches off the lights and brings the shutters down?
She doesn’t say lets kick off at the point of him calling her a “Dirty Woman”. Instead, she had replied to that by saying “I’m dirty because I live on the streets”. Is that the position of someone who had entered the Gurudwara to kick off? Also, after everything that has happened, she emotionally says, “I respect this place!” (1.45 seconds). Any reasonable person would conclude by what she says and her body language that she didn’t enter the Gurudwara to kick off. She only made that statement at a point when lights switched off and shutters came down, as she most likely felt intimidated and threatened because she was alone. It was a defensive statement of a poor woman who sleeps rough.
1:07 seconds: When the person recording the incident asks Joginder about why he didn’t serve the White woman, why didn’t he say “I didn’t serve her because she has been the “subject of prior warnings” and she is no longer allowed the privilege of langar”, if this were the genuine reason for not serving her (as claimed by the committee in their statement last week)?
Instead, Joginder clearly says, “Meat walla box-a lay firdi a, ki kariye?” which loosely translated means “She’s carrying a meat box, what to do?” The box in question can be seen on the kitchen’s metal shelf around 1 minute and 10 seconds into the video. It’s an empty transparent plastic box, which is full of langar food (topped to the brim with daal and roti). The Sikh woman filled this earlier.
How could an empty transparent plastic box have been a “meat walla box”? Can the committee explain this? Surely, they’ve asked Joginder to clarify this to them. If it was a cardboard box that had “Southern Fried Chicken” printed on the side of it, you could possibly say that. But you can’t call a see-through plastic box “meat walla”. Of all the things that Joginder could have said, “meat walla box” is the most implausible answer that he could have given.
Plus, why did the Sikh woman fill a “meat walla box”? If she had seen Chicken/Lamb bones etc in an empty transparent box, certainly and rightly she’d have declined to serve the White woman. She didn’t decline because it was an empty transparent plastic box! Why did Joginder lie? Why would anyone lie under those circumstances? It would be unnatural to lie. A lie would have to be invented. The truth would automatically roll off one’s tongue. But how could Joginder tell the truth about why he refused to serve her? (He’s racist).
1:26 seconds: Joginder hides in the kitchen storage room, as he knows that he has been caught out and he has no answers. Everyone except Joginder knows the answer to the question, “Is it your langar, or Guru’s langar?”
1:35 seconds: The homeless White woman thanks the person making the video for standing up for her. Is this how a person should be made to feel at a Gurudwara? Would a drunk have bothered to say “Thank you”, after being mistreated by Joginder?
1:46 seconds: It’s reasonable to conclude that she wasn’t a troublemaker because after everything that happened, her final words in the video were “I respect this place!” A drunken troublemaker wouldn’t likely have made such a positive statement, after being insulted by Joginder. You can tell that she’s sober.
The committee’s recent ambiguous statement is completely contradicted by Joginder’s clear words AT the time of the incident. Who do we believe?
Please contact our committee on 0116 251 7460 or visit the Gurudwara
The committee’s statement asserts, “Our door is always open to anyone who may wish to follow up this statement”. We encourage all Sikhs to follow up and even arrange a meeting with the committee to ask the following key questions:
1. Had the White woman in the video previously been told that she couldn’t have langar?
2. If yes and if Joginder was acting on this instruction, why didn’t he say this when asked? Why lie about refusing to serve her, on the basis of it being a “meat walla box”, which it couldn’t have been because it was a transparent plastic box? Why does the committee’s reason for refusal contradict Joginder’s audible words?
3. Why did Joginder lie about it being closing time, switch off lights, close the kitchen door, lower the shutters, when samapti was heard taking place in the background and it was only 8:10pm? Why lie if he’d done nothing wrong? What was there to hide? Why panic and do that?
4. Given that the Sikh woman had already served the White woman in Joginder’s absence, why did he call her a “dirty woman”, tell her that he doesn’t respect her and make her cry, as witnessed by the Sikh sangat members. Is it acceptable for a langaria to misbehave like this? If not, why is he still working in the langar hall, over 2 weeks after that video was uploaded? By still employing Joginder, why does the committee endorse racism, which is against the teachings of Sikhism and the institution of langar?
5. Why did the committee ignore the sangat’s verbal complaints against Joginder over a 1-year period (2015-2016)? Why did the committee ignore the sangat’s Special Delivery letter in April 2016? Why did the committee ignore the sangat’s online petition started in April 2016? Why has the committee ignored the video filmed on 1st July 2016, in which Joginder tells 2 lies, nervously switches lights off, lowers shutters and then hides in the kitchen storage room? Why have they referred to Joginder as “innocent” in their statement, when he can be seen doing these things in the video? Did they even bother watching the video footage before writing their statement, or did they ignore that like they ignored the sangat’s letter and online petition?
So what now?
By sharing this video with the public, the sangat has proved that we were right about Joginder and that the committee was completely wrong in supporting him, as Joginder fearlessly continues to do beadbi of langar, over 2 months after the online petition started.
Please think about it, if you knew that you had a growing online petition against you for refusing food to eligible Non-Sikhs, why would you refuse food to a sober Non-Sikh, call her a “dirty woman” and tell her that you don’t respect her, over 2 months AFTER the petition started? No one in their right mind would do that, but Joginder acts like this, because he thinks the committee is on his side, which it clearly is, as it still hasn’t removed him from the langar hall, after all that has happened to date.
Are the sangat wrong for being angry with the committee for facilitating the beadbi of langar and the defamation of our Gurudwara? Beadbi of Guru Sahib’s Saroop or beadbi of Guru Sahib’s langar are the most serious of Sikh offences. Joginder and the committee are jointly responsible for the beadbi of langar at our Gurudwara. Should we say and do nothing about this? Which true Sikh would do that?
Think about it, the eligible White, Black and Hindu people Joginder refuses to serve and/or insults don’t know Joginder’s name. However, as they enter the Gurudwara they can clearly see a photo of Guru Nanak Sahib and a huge sign saying “Guru Nanak Gurdwara”.
Who gets defamed because of Joginder’s racist actions? Our Gurudwara, our Guru’s name, the institution of langar and the Sikh community. This is unacceptable to the sangat and Sikhs across the world. This should bother the committee, but it clearly doesn’t, otherwise they’d have done something about this. Had the committee listened to the sangat in April 2016, when we sent the Special Delivery letter and/or started the online petition and had they removed Joginder for doing beadbi of langar, that video couldn’t have been made on 1st July 2016. The committee is entirely responsible for that video.
Finally, has the video defamed Sikhs and Sikhism?
If the committee ignores the sangat’s verbal complaints, letter and online petition over a 1.5 year period and if Joginder is caught in the act, why shouldn’t we use social media to show the truth of how langar is being wrongly denied to eligible Non-Sikhs because of the racist Joginder and the shameless committee? If we didn’t share the video, how would people gain an insight into the disturbing scenes that we have to put up with every week?
By uploading that video, we haven’t defamed Sikhs and/or Sikhism. Sikhs started the online petition and a Sikh filmed the video. Anyone who reads our petition page will know within 30 seconds that Sikhs have started this petition and uploaded the video because they are against a Sikh man who refuses food to Non-Sikhs at their temple, which is against Sikhism.
Non-Sikhs can clearly see that we Sikhs are true to our religion, as we practice what we preach. Sikhs believe in equality and guess what? They’re speaking up against a Sikh man who is refusing food to eligible Non-Sikhs. How does that defame Sikhs and/or Sikhism? People, who understand the petition and why we have uploaded that video, will never conclude that Sikhs are bad people.
If you’re a Sikh and you don’t know what to say about that video to Non-Sikhs, please tell them:
“Sikhs are completely against racism. Sikhs started the petition and filmed that video because we will not tolerate racism in our Gurudwaras, as it goes against the institution of langar and it’s against the core teachings of Sikhism. Please support us by signing the petition and sharing that video. We want to put an end to this ASAP by removing that racist Joginder from the langar hall. All eligible Non-Sikhs are welcome to have langar at any of our Gurudwaras”.
If you haven’t already signed our petition, please do so and share it with as many Sikhs and Non-Sikhs as possible, via text, email, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Here’s the link to our petition page:
For further information and updates, please see our petition posts by scrolling down on the above linked page.
Guru Nanak Gurudwara (Leicester) Sangat
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