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Canada Windsor doctor on hunger strike over Sikh membership freeze

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Archived_Member16, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Jan 7, 2005
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    Windsor doctor on hunger strike over Sikh membership freeze
    September 3, 2012. 9:28 pm

    Dr. Sukhdev Singh Kooner was joined by hundreds of supporters Monday at Gurdwara Khalsa Parkash, a Sikh temple on County Road 42 September 3, 2012. Kooner is on a hunger strike to protest a choice by the executive committee of the Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor to freeze membership. (KRISTIE PEARCE/The Windsor Star)

    A Windsor doctor has gone on a hunger strike to protest a choice by the executive committee of the Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor to freeze membership.

    Allergist Dr. Sukhdev Singh Kooner said he is already one of the close to 400 members. He stopped eating as of Sunday in protest.

    “Over the constitution they can’t do that. Everyone has the right to a membership … These people have been asking them for a couple of years.”

    Kooner was joined by hundreds of supporters Monday at Gurdwara Khalsa Parkash, a large Sikh temple on County Road 42. They collected more than 283 signatures in what police called a peaceful protest.

    Windsor police Staff Sgt. Todd Cox said officers will continue to monitor the protest.

    Kooner said any emails, written memos and verbal attempts made toward the society’s executive committee to reverse its decision “fell on deaf ears.

    “We did not have any other choice left,” he said about his decision to stop eating. The doctor said he has only had water.

    Harjinder Singh Kandola, president of the Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor, called Kooner’s actions an unfortunate development and accused Kooner, the previous leader of the executive, of blackmail.

    “(The) group of people led by Sukhdev Singh Kooner, who have been making attempts to destabilize the society for past three years and now after losing legal battle at all fronts, are desperate to put undue pressure on Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor through this improper and unauthorized occupancy of the Gurdwara,” said Kandola, who was recently awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for bringing the Sikh community into the broader community and his work with young Sikhs.

    Members of the old executive, led by Kooner, were banned by a Windsor judge in 2011 from going within one kilometre of the temple unless they were attending a religious service. The ban ended Jan. 31.

    Kandola said freezing membership was necessary to preserve the status quo following the unlawful takeover of the Gurdwara by Kooner and his supporters.

    “Had the (comittee) not passed a resolution freezing membership, there would have been chaos,” he said. “In hindsight, the membership freeze was effective as it prevented further turmoil.”

    Though everyone is welcome at the temple, Kandola said members – who are in good standing and have paid dues for two consecutive years – have the privilege of voting in elections, making motions and running in elections.

    “Another thing is (making) financial records transparent because members have the right to look at them,” Kooner said. “This institution runs through the donations through the people, not just the members. So all of them have the right to know where our money is going.”

    Kooner said he doesn’t plan on moving from the temple until his demands are met. Harjeet Singh, a registered nurse at the Detroit Medical Centre, said supportersare going to start monitoring Kooner’s blood pressure and general health.

    “Either I die or demands are met,” Kooner said. “And then after that there are other people who will continue this. It’s not going to end after I’m gone. It will be a series of that … It’s not for me because I’m a member already. I’m risking my life for the benefits of others whose rights are being taken away.”

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