"Corrupt committee, cover up each other's mistakes."
A petition has been issued against the committee of a Sikh temple in Willenhall, demanding change.
This relates to 16-year-old Ronan Kanda, who was murdered with a sword by two teenagers in a case of mistaken identity.
Pradjeet Veadhasa and Sukhman Shergill were targeting a boy over some money owed. They saw Ronan leave the house where their intended victim lived and believed he was the boy they were after.
Ronan was just yards away from his home in Wolverhampton when he was attacked from behind as he listened to music in headphones.
Veadhasa and Shergill were arrested and taken to trial, where they were both convicted of murder.
They were both sentenced to life in prison, with Veadhasa to serve a minimum of 18 years and Shergill to serve a minimum of 16.
A petition has now demanded change at Guru Nanak Gurdwara Willenhall after committee members allegedly wrote a letter, stating that Sukhman Shergill was an “asset” to the community.
Due to the alleged letter, Shergill was given a year less in his prison term.
The committee members accused of writing the letter are:
- Trustee: Tirath Singh – Misused his position to rally support for a character reference used in the murder trial to defend his son, Sukhman Shergill.
- Committee Member Vice General Secretary: Shingara Singh – Signed the character reference on the Gurdwara’s behalf using the official Letterhead.
- Committee Member Stage Secretary: Jaswinder Singh (Jassi) – Attended court hearings in support of the false character reference for Sukhman Shergill.
- Committee Member Panjabi School: Harpreet Singh Sekhon (Harry) – Attended court hearings supporting, where the Kanda family claims he verbally assaulted members of their family.
- Committee Member Sevadaar: Karanbeer Singh (Karan) – Supported the convicted at court hearings.
- Committee Member Sevadaar: Harwinder Singh (Binda) – Supported the convicted at court hearings.
These people are elected by the community to serve the community, to be impartial and support everyone who belongs to the congregation in a neutral manner.
Anything signed on behalf of the temple is representative of the community as a whole.
The petition has said that by using the temple’s letterhead, its values have been misused and violated.
Over 1,200 people have signed the petition, with many outraged by the allegations.
Harjinder Chhokar said: “Corrupt committee, cover up each other’s mistakes.
“It’s not a Gurdwara, it’s a business where they line their own pockets and have no fear.”
San Kauldhar said: “The trustee and committee members should not have written a character reference for murderers.
“The Kanda family has lost an innocent young boy and instead of standing by and supporting the family, they chose to support murderer Sukhman Shergill.
“They should not be part of the Gurdwara committee as they have shown that they are very corrupt and they don’t deserve to be part of the Gurdwara committee. Shame on you!
“I stand with justice for Ronan Kanda.”
Jaskiran Ghattaura said: “It’s disgraceful how the Gurdwara can put forward a character reference for someone who has committed murder.
“Regardless of if they knew the family personally, they should know the difference between right and wrong.
“An innocent boy lost his life and an innocent family have lost their son for no reason whatsoever.”
Minutes from an emergency meeting on July 19, 2023, states:
“These individuals support a character reference submitted by the Gurdwara for Sukhman Shergill, and they believe the information given in the reference to be accurate and true.”
“Resolution: Harpreet Singh (Harry), Jaswinder Singh (Jassi), Harvinder Singh, and Karanbeer Singh will handle all enquiries, communications and representations on all TV, Radio and Social Media platforms to validate their own personal actions in this matter.”
According to lawyer Harjap Bhangal, there are claims that Shingara Singh is illiterate but would sign his “house deeds” without knowing.
Mr Bhangal had an interview with Ronan’s mother Pooja Kanda and said it was the most difficult one he has ever done.
Mrs Kanda cannot even leave her home because of the murder taking place outside her home.
While covering the case, Mr Bhangal says that the Sikh temple is not registered with the Charity Commission. He also claims that Pleck Gurdwara in Walsall also signed a letter.
The petition has proposed the following changes:
- Enact vetting for committee members, trustee members and Gurdwara Sevadaars, with DBS checks and character assessments etc.
- Savedaan (Constitution) needs to be updated from its original form from the late 1970s.
- Register the Gurdwara with the Charities Commission to stop corruption and bring accountability.
- Financial management has been dubious in the past and requires transparent auditing and regulation.
- Enrich the Gurdwara Management with a range of diverse, educated and sincere individuals.
- Selection process for Gurdwara Management needs to be rid of bias, corruption and conflict of interest.
- Important decisions should be made with the Sangat’s knowledge and consent. A functional system needs to be put in place to hear the Sangat’s voice.
Mr Bhangal has called for the committee members to explain why they allegedly signed such letters.
To sign the petition and find more, see here.