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2 Sikh Youth Charity Workers Arrested in Counter-terrorism Probe in UK

The Sikh Youth UK is not a registered charity but the independent regulator has jurisdiction over it because the funds being scrutinised in the investigation are charitable.

PTI

Updated:July 4, 2019, 9:57 PM IST
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2 Sikh Youth Charity Workers Arrested in Counter-terrorism Probe in UK
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London: Two persons, including a woman — having links with a Sikh youth group, have been arrested by Britain's counter-terrorism police in connection with an alleged fraud relating to the group's charitable funds.

West Midlands Police said a 38-year-old man and a 49-year-old woman were arrested in Birmingham on Wednesday in connection with an ongoing investigation by dating back to September last year.

The UK's Charity Commission is investigating the receipt and use of charitable funds by the Sikh Youth UK which has raised "a number of regulatory concerns".

The Sikh Youth UK is not a registered charity but the independent regulator has jurisdiction over it because the funds being scrutinised in the investigation are charitable.

"Two people have been arrested by detectives from West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU), this resulted following the examination of evidence obtained during searches which took place in September 2018," a West Midlands Police statement said.

"A 38-year-old man and a 49-year-old woman were detained from an address in Birmingham for questioning in connection with alleged fraud offences of donated charitable funds. The pair are being held at a police station in the West Midlands," the statement said.

It said that the WMCTU officers had been working closely with the UK's Charity Commission, which has opened a "statutory inquiry" into funds held by and raised in connection with Sikh Youth UK.

The British Sikh outfit is described on its website as a national organisation raising awareness on social evils and supporting the victims of sexual grooming, substance abuse and domestic violence within the community.

Some of its activities include commemorating those who died during 'Operation Blue Star' at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984.

"The organisation uses spirituality, sport and education based treatment and rehabilitation programmes coupled with close mentoring and support groups," according to the Sikh Youth UK website.

"In October 2018, West Midlands Police notified the Commission of concerns relating to the organisation's receipt and use of charitable funds," a Charity Commission statement said.

"The Commission exercised its powers under Section 52 of the Charities Act 2011 to obtain copies of bank statements. The Commission's analysis of the information obtained to date has identified a number of regulatory concerns which warrant further investigation," it said.

The watchdog said its inquiry will examine all aspects of the group's functioning as well as its status in order to determine whether it is a charity in law and present a report at the end of its probe.

The action this week against Sikh Youth UK workers is connected with anti-terror raids related to extremist activity in India led by the WMCTU last year, when coordinated raids were conducted British Sikh addresses in Coventry, Leicester and Birmingham.

"The searches are in connection with allegations of extremist activity in India and fraud offences," West Midlands Police had said at the time in September 2018.

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