When Harbinder Singh Rana was identified as the ‘mysterious’ blue turbaned man who was spotted on the Queen’s royal barge as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations, it was deemed to be a great honor not just for him, but for London’s entire Sikh community.
The exuberance was reflected in initial reports identifying Rana. “His phone hasn’t stopped ringing and his voice mail has been flooded with congratulatory messages from friends and relatives ever since the cameras panned on him during the royal sail”, said a Sikh community news site who also spoke to Rana about the great honour.
““For me, it was personally poignant to be there as in 1952 my father attended the Queen’s coronation soon after he arrived in Britain,” said Rana to the sikh24.com website.
The glory was however short-lived when it later emerged that Rana was convicted of sex crimes more than fifteen years ago in London, when he had pretended to be a doctor and molested female patients. Rana had in fact, been sentenced to four years in jail after being convicted of five counts of indecent assault, 11 counts of assault causing bodily harm and one count of attempted assault.
Since then however, Rana had made a name for himself as someone who ran several high profile charitable organizations including the Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail (ASHT), an organization which is connecting the dots between the shared heritage of Sikhs and the UK.
According to sik24.com, “Harbinder Singh Rana’s organizations have been supporting several trusts and foundations being managed by Prince Charles ever since. In fact, he accompanied the Prince during the latter’s visit to one of Sikhs’ five temporal seats, Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib in Ropar in 2006. The Prince of Wales has also shown lot of interest in a documentary being made by ASHT on the battle of Saragarhi.”
These latest revelations have understandably provoked massive outrage by both government and opposition leaders in the UK.
The Prime Minister has reportedly called for an inquiry in to how this ‘lapse’ occurred, especially given the fact that he was allowed to ‘freely mingle’ with the royal family. Rana was reportedly allowed by Prince Charles, but a spokeswoman for the prince told the India Tribune, “We weren’t aware of his convictions. He was invited as a leading member of the Sikh community and someone who has done a lot of charitable work.”
When first interviewed about his presence on the barge Rana said, “I wasn’t there as representative of Sikhs or any religious representation, but my being there and the very conspicuous turban did help build the cause of Sikh identity”. Bet he wishes he didn’t say that now.