Sikhs Upset Over Misrepresentation in Open-Air Cremation Issue

July 16, 2006

Source: Sikh Sangat News

On July 16, 2006 Sikh Sangat News reported, "The Sikh Federation (UK), a leading Sikh organisation in the UK, has expressed shock at the handling and media coverage of the first open-air funeral in the UK for over 70 years. A Federation spokesman said: 'The authorities have made a major mistake in the way they have handled this matter. This type of cremation should not have been allowed. It is totally unnecessary for a body to be disposed of in this way according to the Sikh Code of Conduct, the wishes of the British Sikh community have been ignored and it was also an illegal act that should result in a prosecution.' 'The Newcastle-based Anglo-Asian Friendship Society (AAFS), led by Davender Kumar Ghai, a Hindu, is a complete non-entity in the context of the British Sikh community (and Hindu community) and was simply interested in attracting attention to itself with this outrageous act in defiance of UK law. We are surprised that the responsible media has not investigated the matter further and grossly misrepresented the Sikhs.' After an article appeared in The Times on 1 February 2006 titled: 'Hindus and Sikhs call for the right to open-air cremations' the AAFS was asked in writing to explain itself as it had no authority to comment on behalf of the Sikhs. The AAFS was informed that the Sikh Code of Conduct was the only authority that governed what should happen to a Sikh upon death. A full public apology was demanded from the AAFS. Ghai was contacted immediately after the article in The Times and he agreed not to represent Sikh interests in the future. It would appear that he has gone to extreme lengths to carry out this disgraceful act on Wednesday and to cause maximum mischief for the British Sikh community."