The group seeking to overturn the 15-year-old ban on the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) said its campaign for ‘Khalistan’ had received a “massive boost” after decks were cleared on Thursday to remove ISYF from the list of proscribed organisations in Britain.
After the House of Commons approved the Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2016 on Tuesday, the House of Lords also approved the government motion on Thursday, enabling the lifting of the ban on Friday.
Home secretary Theresa May is expected to sign the order lifting the ban on Friday.
Moving the motion in the House of Lords, minister of state in the home office Michael Bates said: “Having reviewed, with other countries, what information is available about the current activities of the ISYF and after careful and appropriate consideration, the Home Secretary concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to support a reasonable belief that the ISYF is currently concerned with terrorism, as defined by section 3(5) of the Terrorism Act 2000”.
ISYF, which was previously engaged in attacks against india and Indian interests, was banned in Britain in 2001. The ISYF was launched in 1984 in Britain as the international branch of the All India Sikh Students Federation.
Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) that campaigned to overturn the ban, said after the motion was approved in the House of Lords: “We are delighted at the unanimous verdict in the House of Commons and Lords that has resulted in the lifting of the ban.”
“The Sikh Federation (UK) and the Sikh community has always maintained for the last 15 years that the ISYF as an organisation has never been involved with terrorism…We feel we have been vindicated, there is nothing wrong with peacefully campaigning for an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan”.
“The ban on the ISYF in the UK alone in 2001 was politically motivated and almost certainly more to do with appeasing the Indian authorities. This is what many UK politicians on all sides have told us, including ministers,” Singh said.
The Home Office said: “The government does not condone any terrorist activity. Deproscription of a proscribed group should not be interpreted as condoning any previous activities of that group. The British Government has always been clear that the ISYF was a brutal terrorist organisation.”
Bates denied in the House of Lords that the ban on ISYF was continued for so long since 2001 due to “diplomatic pressure from India”. He said other countries were “engaged” before arriving at the decision to “de-proscribe” the ISYF.