Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told a delegation of British Sikhs that he would make sure that the so-called blacklist that barred some members of the community from visiting India was done away with.
The PM also said he agreed in principle to the release of political prisoners who had served their terms, Jasdev Singh Rai, director of the Sikh Human Rights Group and a leading interlocutor, told HT.
The meeting was a “turning point” in the fractious relationship between Sikhs living abroad and the Indian state since the 1984 Operation Bluestar, Rai said.
“It is a major breakthrough after a 31-year standoff (between overseas Sikhs and the Indian state). He said he would personally take up the issue of abolishing the blacklist,” Rai said.
National security adviser Ajit Doval was asked to open dialogue with Sikhs at home and abroad, as Modi assured the delegation that he would look into all related matters.
The so-called blacklist reportedly includes individuals who are part of the “Khalistan movement” that wants a separate homeland for Sikhs and are unable to get visas to visit India.
Modi was not only positive on the issue of releasing political prisoners who had served their term, but also said steps needed to be taken for their rehabilitation, Rai said.
“He said he shared the pain of Sikhs and that the community will soon get justice for the 1984 riots,” Rai said.
Hundreds of Sikhs were killed in the communal violence in the aftermath of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards a few months after the army stormed the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhism.
The 30-member delegation also included representatives from other Sikh groups based in Britain. The meeting was held as a pro-Khalistan group protested against Modi outside 10 Downing Street and at Parliament Square.