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
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 2008is 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 1995Coventry City Counciland 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 (referenceMore4 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
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.