London Back Story: Vive la Persistence

BY DEREK QUIZON

It happened again. Just when I was about to give up on a story, fate stepped in just in time to save the day.

After blindly Googling “Sikhs London” in the hopes of stumbling upon a good idea for a news story, I found a brief on the Sikh Times’ Web site urging members of the UK’s Sikh community to come to a demonstration in London. According to the site, the demonstration would take place in Hyde Park, a huge public park in central London, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The problem was that the Web site didn’t specify where the demonstration would begin, which meant our team (Daryl, James and me) would have to scour Hyde Park’s 350 acres to find it. We were also having trouble getting in touch with the organizations Caste Watch UK and Ravidassi Sabha UK, sponsoring the event, since it’s the weekend.

As we left our flat around 10 o’clock today, I silently hoped my one (shaky) source of information was correct. After about two hours of searching the Hyde Park area and asking police officers to direct us to a demonstration that didn’t seem to exist, Daryl, Jim and I were ready to call it a day and hit the pubs. I was embarassed for even having suggested going to the protest based on the word of a single Web site.

As Daryl and I were waiting for a bus on Kensington Road, and Jim was inside a grocery store stocking up on corn and ham, thousands of Sikh protestors marched up the road, chanting in English and Punjabi. I won’t go into detail about the reasons they were protesting (you’ll have to look at our stories next week to find that out), but it provided me with a look into a community I’ve never had much interaction with, which I found fascinating. It was one of those truly exhilarating moments, not unlike my interview with Ms. Christine Buckley in Ireland, that made me remember why I became a journalist.

Anyway, be on the lookout for the written piece and accompanying photo essay James and I are putting together in the next couple of weeks. Without going into too much detail, it will be about the way some members of the Indian community, specifically the Sikh community, who still adhere to caste divisions when they migrate to the UK. Interestingly enough, members of the Sikh faith are not supposed to buy into the caste system, which should make an interesting story angle. Why would they continue to look at caste when they are thousands of miles from India and followers of a religion that condemns it?

In addition to personal stories about inter-caste relations, we hope to get in touch with members of Parliament, as many of these groups are pressuring British legislators to include caste discrimination in the language of anti-discrimination law. I think this story could potentially be on the same scale as the 2,000-word Ryan Report feature that  I have been endlessly promoting via e-mail and Facebook.

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2 Responses to London Back Story: Vive la Persistence

  1. cschwalbe says:

    Bravo, Derek! Shoeleather reporting (and a little serendipity) paid off.

    Keep promoting your Ryan Report story—and this one too after you post it. Do you use Twitter?

  2. Dr Bill Silcock says:

    When you when your Pulitzer remember the lessons of London. Dr B

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