The public rally organised in support of the visiting human rights lawyer and AAP leader Harvinder Singh Phoolka attracted more than 1,000 people in Surrey on Sunday afternoon.
The call for social boycott against him given by a section of Khalistanis and a threat to protest by some Akali supporters on social media proved to be ineffective if the response to the rally is any indication.
Some well-known Khalistani leaders had asked the community members to stay away from the event.
Also, some Akali supporters had threatened to protest against his visit on Facebook. They were upset at a statement of Phoolka in which he had asked for the ‘symbolic justice’ to the victims of 1984. He had stated in a TV interview, “The time for real justice has already lapsed as most of the people involved in the crime and witnesses have died. Hence, a few Congress leaders, who are still alive, should be prosecuted to serve symbolic justice.”
There were indications of a possible protest at the venue of the rally, but nobody showed up to protest. In fact, a large number of Sikhs came out and raised ‘Bole So Nihal’ slogans when Phoolka was welcomed on the dais at the Aria banquet hall that was nearly packed with the audience. He was also given a standing ovation.
There was pin drop silence while Phoolka spoke for 50 minutes about his continuing struggle for justice to the victims of anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984. People in the gathering frequently shouted “shame” when Phoolka spoke about the controversial role of the ‘opportunistic’ Sikh leaders, particularly Akalis in shielding those involved in violence.
He emphasised that had justice been served to the Sikhs and the state machinery had played its proper role during the massacre, other religious minorities would not have been targeted blatantly in the years to come.
In the end, he gave a call to the Non Resident Indians to support AAP and work hard to bring a fundamental change in Punjab. He listed some of the achievements of AAP government in Delhi and assured the public that if his party was elected to power in Punjab, the state will get rid of corruption and benefit from the policies meant to improve the lives of common people.
Earlier, a documentary film about Phoolka was also shown on the occasion.