June 03, 2009

Vienna Clash-Exclusive Excerpts of Interview from Austrian Weekly " PROFIL"

www.profil.at is Austria's most respected weekly magazine. In its latest issue it carried a report on the recent violence at the Gurudwara at Vienna ( Austria ). We feel extremely proud to have " PROFIL " 's permission to put here a very important and very informative interview with a leading UK based solicitor , Lekh Raj Birdy ( who in the past has represented the Sants of Dera Sach Khand , Ballan - Jalandhar )


Profil: You were the solicitor of Sant Rama Nand, who was assassinated and of Sant Niranjan Dass who survived the attack. Did you know of threats against the two gurus?

Lekh Raj Birdy: I have been acting for the sants in the past. We do not refer to them as gurus but as Saints. I know that the use of this notion is different in the West but to us they are holy persons. There have been threats against them some time ago in Great Britain and – as far as I have heard – also in Austria. In Great Britain these threats were taken seriously.

Profil: Which kind of threats?

Birdy: There were both implicit and blatant ones. I don’t want to say much more about this. It is a sensitive matter. In any case there were taken steps in Great Britain to minimize the danger.

Profil: Were the steps taken by the authorities?

Birdy: I do not want to go into details.

Profil: Members of the Sikh-community in Austria say that they had informed the police who did not react.

Birdy: The problem is that the community in Austria is very small and therefore does not have access to the authorities in the same way as we do in Great Britain. The Ravidassis in Great Britain are poitically and socially active and have therefore more influence. According to my informations the austrian authorities did absolutely nothing to protect the holy men. There had been threats one or two years ago when the holy men had been in Austria. This time unfortunately the threats have become true.

Profil: When you heard about the assassination did you immediately know it must have been extremist Sikhs?

Birdy: Yes. These people are a very small minority. Their views have nothing in common with the ideas of mainstream sikhs. The extremists have made clear that according to their view Sant Rama Nand and Sant Niranjan Dass would disrespect the holy book.

Profil: Where did they say that?

Birdy: That was the content of all their threats. They have their own interpretations of what the holy book says. As far as I understand them they think that the holy men show disrespect towards the holy book. That is nonsense. That has got nothing to do with these two holy men. They have always preached peace, calm and equality; human values, just as other religions do. And of course they show high regard for the holy book. Before they sit down they bow to the holy book.

Profil: Apparently those people are angry that the followers of Sant Rama Nand und Sant Niranjan Dass worship them.

Birdy: The holy men do not demand any particular form of worship. If somebody want to bow in fron of them to show his respect they will bless him. They do not give anybody orders. They teach that there is only one God and everybody has the right to worship him. Our community comes from one of the lowest castes of the indian society. The whole thing is a class and caste issue. One should not misunderstand this. It is not about a fight between a section of the Sikh community against another section. There are always extremists, whether they belong to this section or that section. There are extremists throughout the world and extremism must be tackled. Unfortunatley the austrian authorities on this occasion did not pay attention to this. But british citizens in Austria have told me that the authorities were taking the matter very seriously now. It is a shame that one of our leaders had to die for actions to be taken.

Profil: Does the group of extremists act under a certain name?

Birdy: No. I am not aware of a certain name. But I can only tell you about what I know from Great Britain.

Profil: Sant Rama Nand and Sant Niranjan Dass were on a trip through Europe?

Birdy: They always travelled whereever they were invited to and were available to all the followers.

Profil: The Sikh community is very silent now towards the media. What is the reason for this?

Birdy: It is a politically very sensitive matter. Just look at what happened in India since the attack, trains and houses were set alight. That is completely unnecessary. Nobody wants to blow this any more out of proportions. This is why probably many people do not want to say anything. I can onl ytalk for myself. And I can tell you that the two holy men haven’t doen anything bad. Why would they want to disrespect the holy book? The teachings of our own guru are part of the holy book. As a matter of fact these extremists – you could also call them fundamentalists – disrespected the holy book. Where in the holy book does it say that one should kill in the presence of the holy book? The fundamentalists are people who take parts of the book and interpret things in the way it would suit them and do not care about the true meaning of the book.

Credit : www.profil.at

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