The American Sikh Council (ASC) is categorically stating that there will be zero tolerance for sexual predators and pedophiles in and out of the Sikh religious community. Anyone convicted of a crime of pedophilia or molesting children, cannot and should not be employed ever by any Sikh religious institution, especially one which has minors involved. Sikhs like any other parent of any or no faith are as concerned about their children’s welfare, safety and complete wellbeing.
It is utterly shameful and abhorrent that the gurdwara management of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (GGSF), Rockville, MD continued to employ and let Darshan Singh alias Gurdarshan Singh to be a granthi for over 30 years. Gurdarshan Sinh a convicted child molester and predator has continued to teach kirtan to hundreds of young children including girls till he finally gave his resignation under intense pressure and scrutiny by young Sikh millennials in late July 2020.
Records indicate (Gur)Darshan Sinh was married to Kulvinder Kaur in Feb 1985, i.e., before illegally landing in America in 1986, even though he is currently married to Dharminder Kaur unless it is another alias like his. After being charged he refused to take a polygraph test on the advice of his attorney.
According to court documents, (Gur)Darshan Sinh was convicted in August 1997. In October 1997, ‘the Immigration Judge (“IJ”) orally declared Singh removable as an aggravated felon, and in May 1998, the IJ issued a written decision sustaining Singh’s charge of deportability and ordering him removed,’ to India.
Thanks to Dr.Rajwant Sinh who moved heaven and earth by allegedly claiming to the court that (Gur)Darshan Singh was a former freedom fighter and would be tortured by the Indian government. The GGSF management under the leadership of Dr.Rajwant Sinh knew everything about this sordid affair and were directly complicit in making sure that (Gur)Darshan Sinh was not deported back to India. The case covering (Gur)Darshan Sinh’s deportation continued for several more years and the legal fees can be astronomical, so the question is who funded and supported him, because it would be very hard for a granthi to sustain himself for that long without financial support.
Instead of being registered as a sexual offender with the state of Maryland, four days after his conviction (Gur)Darshan Sinh was included in the ‘Panj Payarey’ to perform a Khande Batey De Pahul ceremony for neophyte Sikhs, with the full knowledge of Rajwant Sinh. This in itself a very serious ‘khurait’ (religious offence) according to the Sikh Rehait Maryada, setting up an appalling precedent. A request letter of intervention of the above incident was sent to the Akal Takht Jathedar Ranjit Singh by Dr.Nau-Nihal Singh on May 5, 1997.
According to GGSF management’s recent statement on Facebook, “members of the community, locally and nationally, embraced Gurdarshan Singh, not knowing the nature and extent of the abuse. For years, because of his communication skills, he was popular amongst the youth, and was invited across the country to speak at many camps, workshops, marriages, and other occasions. Many local and national Sikh organizations continued inviting him for discourses and endorsed his role.” It is the height of irresponsibility that the entire GGSF management led by Rajwant Sinh continued to employ and prop up Darshan Sinh as a ‘English’ (which was taught by his keeper) speaking Granthi who related very well with children for around three decades, even though firstly, the management was fully aware of all the circumstances in the case, the extent of the abuse and secondly, some sangat and outside members pointedly questioned them, but nothing was ever done about this degrading issue, rather it was ignored.
After this recent fallout the GGSF management put out a statement on Oct 1, 2020, stating, “Based on the information that was presented at the time, and the fact that there were no restrictions placed by the judicial system on Gurdarshan Singh’s employment, his contract with GGSF remained intact.” It is indeed shameful that, restrictions or not, common sense and good moral judgment should have been used to keep a convicted child molester away from innocent minors for 23 plus years, but that did not happen. Furthermore, there is no dearth of granthis available and anyone else could have been easily employed if the management really wanted someone other than their pet, (Gur)Darshan Sinh.
The GGSF management has the audacity to use verses from the Guru Granth Sahib to justify their actions, hide behind, shield their own unethical conduct and negligence towards the entire sangat. There is simply no excuse for their despicable conduct! At a minimum the entire management starting with Rajwant Sinh needs to not just resign from the gurdwara but completely delink themselves from any financial ownership of the GGSF property. There must be serious consequences for harboring child molesters and apologies in any form, especially after 20-30 years, only adds insult to injury.
According to an article written by Ritu Yadav on June 13, 1997 for News India Times, Rajwant Sinh is quoted, calling the allegations against (Gur)Darshan, “frivolous.” No right-thinking Sikh with a conscience can possibly continue supporting, Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (Secretary-GGSF), Sikh Council on Religion and Education (Chairman-SCORE), EcoSikh (President), Sikh Human Development Foundation (Director-SHDF), National Sikh Campaign (Co-Founder-NSC), the documentary on Guru Nanak Sahib (Producer), etc., all under the leadership of Rajwant Sinh.
Some very piercing questions need to be asked. First, who were the Gursikhs who actually paid for the original land where the current GGSF stands? Second, what was Rajwant Sinh actual monetary contribution towards purchasing the land? Third, what happened to the original owners of the gurdwara land? Fourth, where did all the funding come from to build the GGSF gurdwara once Rajwant Sinh got control? There are many more questions which the Sikh panth needs to ponder on!
Sikhs do not have any official clergy as part of the Sikh Religion, yet another shocking element under the leadership of Rajwant Sinh is the formation of an entity called; “NORTH AMERICAN BOARD OF SIKH GRANTHI & PARCHARKS, 13810 Travilah Rd Rockville MD 20850, GURDARSHAN SINGH, OWNER Since February 1995 (sic).” Note the above address is the same as the GGSF gurdwara. It is bad enough knowing that the Sant Samaj Association in Punjab is an anti-Sikh entity which is in bed with the Indian regime, while (Gur)Darshan Sinh and his handler(s) have been trying to do the same in the US discreetly.
This is not the first time this has happened, as there have been other instances of child molesters in a few other gurdwaras across our nation. Typically, these incidents are hushed up for all the typical reasons – humiliation of the family, embarrassment of the sangat, etc. It is not just the sexual predator but many times it is the self-appointed community leaders who are culpable while aiding and abetting convicted criminals like (Gur)Darshan Sinh. This must stop and change today! The community needs to grow a spine and take a firm stand on this issue, or else our children will call us out as hypocritical wimps.
None of the gurdwara managements who employ bhais or granthis at the hundreds of gurdwaras across our nation ever do a proper screening, a thorough interview, cross check references, get a thorough criminal background check, including a blood and urine test for any substance use, etc. All legitimate institutions across our country, whether it be a local soccer team or the Scouts and everything else; anywhere, anytime, anyone under 18 is involved all the adults are required to take a ‘criminal background check’ from the local or state police and then take ‘youth protection courses’, including being fingerprinted sometimes. The criminal background checks are done every 2-3 years and the youth protections courses also must be taken every two years. This is a mandatory procedure which most gurdwara managements have been very lax at even considering, leave alone implementing.
At a minimum all Gurdwaras must have the following made mandatory for all employees, granthis and any adult volunteer who deals with minors:
- Awareness Training on (sexual harassment, child endangerment, youth protection, etc.)
- Skillful Screening Process
- Policies and Procedures
- Background Checks
- Monitoring and Oversight
Literally 99% of the gurdwaras are not vigilant to the extent they should be in this regard. Molesting children is so heinous that anyone incarcerated in any penitentiary are treated like dirt even within the system by jailed inmates, as even criminals consider molesting children, a crime worse than murder.
Most gurdwaras have no policies or procedures in place in reference to sexual harassment and especially child molestation. Unless and until there are proper checks and balances in place within every Sikh religious institution there is a high probability of predators getting away with these crimes. Two out of three children will never tell the adult about being molested. Less than 10% of the preparators actually end up in court. The other 90% are never found out. It is critical and urgent that every gurdwara management takes this issue seriously and if they do not it is at their own legal peril.
Gurdwaras are extremely vulnerable to a major lawsuit waiting to happen. If the managements do not wake up to this existing reality just one lawsuit can easily bankrupt and shut the gurdwara down permanently, not to mention the tarnished reputation of the entire sangat and the disillusionment of our growing children.
Unless and until this issue is not brought out in public for discussion in a professional proactive manner, these terrible crimes will happen right under our noses while ruining the lives of many innocent children, permanently.
The American Sikh Council (ASC) condemns the entire GGSF management the way they handled this sad and sickening situation. Vice-President Jasbir Kaur stated, “As a practicing Sikh and a mother I am disgusted with the people involved in protecting a criminal inside a gurdwara for over two decades. We stand with the victim and her family and pray that Akal Purakh give them strength to hold their head high.”