Legislative Scrutiny: Equality Bill - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by Central Valmiki Sabha International (UK)

  I am writing this letter on behalf of Central Valmik Sabha (UK) which represents the interests of members of Valmik community, one of the ethnic minority groups in the UK. Our members live in most of the major cities in the UK and we have well established temples and community. Our community originates from India, worships Bhagwan Valmik Ji and follow his teachings through two of his famous holy scriptures known as "Ramayan" and "Yog Vashitha", which provide valuable ideals and way of life for our people. These two scriptures also from the foundation of Hindu religion.

  It is important for us to highlight that members of Valmik community have been victims of inequality, prejudice, oppression and caste discrimination in India for many centuries. Our members who arrived in this country in early fifties, found British Society to be more liberal, accepting and more harmonious. Our people from humble background found co-existence with British counterparts as more cordial and respectful. We thought and believed that we had left the caste discrimination behind forever and were proud to become an integral part of British society.

  Since the arrival of upper caste Indian Diaspora from South Asia in greater numbers, the dimension of caste prejudice in the UK has dramatically changed for our people. In early sixties and seventies, our members were denied dignity and equality at the places of religious worship. Our members were not treated with respect in Hindu and Sikh temples and were made to feel uncomfortable. This kind of humiliation lead to formation of our own organisations and places of worship where we could pursue our religious beliefs freely and without any prejudice. Our first temple was established in 1978 (copy of the clip from Coventry Evening Telegraph attached). Our members have always lived in peace and harmony and tolerated the unethical behaviour of the so called upper castes Hindus and Sikhs, in the hope that exposure to British Values would change these people and would liberate them of their caste prejudiced attitude. Unfortunately, the situation has become worse for us over the years. We believe that following are the main reasons for this social suffering of our communities in the United Kingdom:


  Caste System is taught in schools as part of Hinduism in the religious studies curriculum. Our children are made to feel inferior from a very young age and experience name calling, derogatory remarks about their low caste and are not included in the peer groups. This bullying traumatizes our young children who find it difficult to complain to authorities as there is no awareness or guidelines available to school teachers to deal with caste related issues. Caste discrimination is brushed under the carpet and victims are disciplined instead. (Example of a Book used in schools in UK attached as evidence). It can be seen that people from so called low caste are officially taught in schools about their inferior origins and are given an impression that it has religious sanction.


  Hindu priests, who are normally brought from India, bring their caste prejudice into UK with them. There is a lack of awareness on the part of priests about British values and the way of life in this country. They are persistently advocating caste prejudice, discrimination and the myths based on Hindu scriptures. This is causing a great concern to the members of our community because the caste training in schools is reinforced in the minds of young children in the Hindu temples. People from low castes are portrayed to be impure in thoughts, in deeds and in general. (Copy of a Hindu Booklet given to visitors in Neasden Temple, London in May 2008—is a clear evidence of the caste prejudiced messages being portrayed in the Hindu temples. The section that deals with low caste people shows them as thieves, plunderers, low lives, impure in thoughts, impure in deeds).


  Indians have become major employers of workforce in this country. Normally these Indian employers are from high castes and in absence of any legal protection to people from low castes, caste discrimination is endemic in these places. Normally, if the caste is known before employment, the jobs are denied. If however, the caste is discovered later on, they victimized and treated very unfairly. Caste discrimination is also endemic in general workplaces where there is a significant Indian population in the workforce. People from higher castes mistreat fellow workers who happen to be from low castes. This phenomenon is not known to British employers and as a result of the complaints about discrimination are not taken seriously. Many cases have come to light where members of low castes were pushed out of employment with constant knit picking and fault finding by high caste fellow workers or Managers. (Example of a booklet published by Department of Equality and Social Justice in 1995—Coventry City Council—and it clearly shows an attempt by high caste Hindus to legalise caste discrimination in UK. This department of Coventry City Council was made aware of caste issues. The booklet was withdrawn immediately and Coventry City Council apologised to the campaigners. (News in Guardian Newspaper is also enclosed.)


  There have been many instances when people were humiliated in social clubs and many times it all ended in violence. In absence of guideline to Police, these incidents where not recorded as caste related violence but just as pub brawls.


  Caste prejudice shows its ugliest form when people from low caste happen to fall in love with someone higher castes. In the words of Mr Virendra Sharma MP, people have known to commit suicide because of caste discrimination (reference—More4 news at 8pm on 15 February 2008). The cases of violence and intimidation are not recorded against caste discrimination as there are currently no guidelines available to police. There have been highly publicised honour killings in London because of caste related issues.


  Asian media is controlled by high caste people and religious sentiments of our community have been badly hurt on numerous occasions when proactive and derogatory remarks about holy Guru Bhagwan Valmiki Ji are openly broadcast on Asian Radio Stations. We always complain but get no resolution or apology. Once we lodged a complaint with Radio Authority against Radio XL (West Midlands) about inconsistent, discriminatory and damaging broadcast about religious beliefs. The campaign was spearheaded by Central Valmik Sabha UK and to our great relief, justice was done when our complaint was upheld by Radio Authority—(Copy Attached).

  We were shocked to read a recent report published by Hindu Council UK in which they categorically deny that caste system exists in this country. It is more shocking to find a statement from one of our sister organisations to support Hindu Council UK's argument that caste discrimination is not being practiced in the UK. However, on investigation it has come to light that the statement included in Hindu Council's report on Page 6 was never agreed, approved or provided by Shri Guru Valmik Sabha (Southall). A copy of the letter from this Sabha to Hindu Council UK is attached for your information. No talking about championing the elimination of caste discrimination in the UK. We would like to point out that they have never approached us or any of our affiliated organisation to put an end to this social and unacceptable evil. During our bitter campaigns mentioned in this report, no Hindu organisation ever offered any help.

  On behalf of Valmiki community, which is one of the victim groups in UK, we would like to strongly express that this problem of caste discrimination cannot be abolished without providing proper legal framework. We are aware that British Government is in process of bringing in a new legislation on form of Single Equality Bill that is aimed to provide protection to British Citizens against any form of discrimination. We are disappointed to find that inspite of valuable contribution provided by our sister organisation CasteWatch UK during consultation process, their input has been totally ignored by the Government in coming up with the draft bill. We would like to urge the Government to reconsider the seriousness of this issue and take necessary action to include "caste" in the Single Equality Bill and ensure dignity and equality for members of our community in the UK. We would also like to request the Government to take appropriate action and stop Hindu Organisations from taking advantage of their status as an ethnic minority in this country and misguide, intimidate, patronise and bully other ethnic groups, Members of Parliament, Government agencies and other religious faiths, particularly Christian faith in the UK.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 12 November 2009