South Asia Post – February 28, 2009 – Writer quits Gurdwara body in Surrey, BC

Writer quits Gurdwara body in Surrey, BC

February 28 2009

South Asian Post

Surrey, BC – RANJ Dhaliwal (Ranjit Singh Dhaliwal), author of the best selling novel ‘Daaku’, has resigned as Vice President-elect of the Surrey Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Society Surrey/Delta.

The Sikh Youth Slate was elected into office on November 24, 2008 and Sikhs from all across the globe celebrated with prayers that the Sikhs had finally won back the Surrey Gurdwara that has been amidst controversy for over a decade with accusations that the outgoing President had been charged with drinking and driving, and the issue of the violence that had erupted when almost 80% of the congregation left the Gurdwara when the Executive of the Society decided it was not going to practice Sikhism as per the ten Gurus orders by re-installing the tables and chairs. The newly elected Sikh Youth have not taken office yet based on a technicality that occurred a month prior to the election that the defeated slate brought forward over a week after the Sikh Youth had won the election, which the courts are still in the process of resolving.

Ranj Dhaliwal has been recognized as one of the positive role models in the South Asian community that speaks out against gang violence, and is a regular on many radio and TV programs aimed at
helping the youth and parents understand each other.

Ranj Dhaliwal asserts, “I joined the Sikh Youth committee to make a difference and help keep youths away from the gang life with much needed resources and programs that our Sikh Youth committee wanted to implement at the Gurdwara. I wanted to help the divisive community unite and let go of the past issues they’ve had, but I do not want to waste the congregation’s money in court dealing with these matters. Besides, these court hearings and all the discussions on the legal issues has taken me away from writing, speaking publicly on the ever growing gang violence that the Lower Mainland is faced with, and helping at-risk youths. Leaving this committee will give me a chance to put my energy to better use, and allow me to continue working on my next novel.”

The Honourable Justice Smart had stated in his oral reasons for judgement on February 4, 2009 that the election and outcome of the election was fair. According to Dhaliwal , “During the court proceedings, Justice Smart had commented that if he was to validate the Sikh Youth committee as the Executive of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Society Surrey that the opposing parties, which include Balwant Gill, defeated party leader who is personally represented by a lawyer, and the Society, which Balwant Gill is the outgoing President of and gives instructions to the Society lawyer as well, will most likely appeal the decision, so it is in the best interest that the matter go trial so that the Sikh Youth committee can be validated as the Executive properly without a chance that the outgoing Executive and defeated parties could appeal.”

Why doesn’t Ranj Dhaliwal want to go to court? He had this to say, “Well, for one thing, I find it an absolute waste of money litigating religious matters in court, especially when the Sikh religion’s disputes are to be handled at the Sikhs’ highest court, which is the Akal Takht in India across from the Golden Temple, and the other is that our Sikh Youth committee ran on the platform that we want to change how the Gurdwaras are run and we said we would not be wasting Gurdwara monies in court battles. Going to court and challenging elections is what has always happened in Gurdwara elections for decades, but we wanted to change that. This just shows how badly a change is needed. I guess this is our first test on the message we ran on during the campaign – we said we won’t drag on lengthy court matters and here I am stepping away from this.”

Ranj commented on a new election, “I have proposed to the Sikh Youth committee that they ask the Sikh-run Gurdwaras in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley to come together and form a new Sikh Youth committee to run in the next Gurdwara election. This way the entire community will be involved in finally putting an end to these elections at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey because the committee would be running for the Sikh Nation as a whole and not for any personal reasons as our opposing parties have in the past. Imagine the Sikh Youth slate selected by the Sikhs of the Punjabi community defeating all parties that oppose them by a landslide that cannot be challenged by anyone? If that were to happen then Sikhs would finally be able to make the Surrey Gurdwara the way our Gurus had wanted it to be.”

Dhaliwal went on to say, “I’m not stepping away from Sikhs, but I am stepping away from this wrong that has plagued our community for decades – the wrong that every election is fraught with court battles. I don’t see myself serving a purpose in any further court hearings as a committee member, so I have humbly resigned as Vice President-elect.”