A banner depicting a rifle and a slogan supporting a separate Sikh nation that appeared at a Vaisakhi festival in the UK city of Birmingham has led to demands for action against those who raised the flag.
A Pakistan-origin British MP has called for action against those behind the banner showing a rifle and a slogan for a separate Sikh state with the words ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ at the Vaisakhi celebrations.
The MP Khalid Mahmood said organisers of the event attended by hundreds of British Sikhs over the weekend should ensure such banners do not feature in future celebrations.
“Khalistan Zindabad, as many people know, is a proscribed organisation in the European Union and the UK and therefore displaying that at a family event, and displaying those weapons openly at a family event, I think contravenes basic decency that we have,” Mahmood told the BBC on Tuesday.
“If the organisers didn’t know about it, they should have been warned properly about it and certainly they should take action in the future to ensure this does not carry on,” said the Birmingham MP.
The flag seen to represent the Khalistan Zindabad Force featured a rifle alongside the slogan, which translates as “Long live Khalistan”.
However, a member of Sikh Federation UK defended the flag, saying they supported an independent Sikh state and not the terrorist group.
A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said “We did not organise the weekend’s Vaisakhi celebrations. They took place at Handsworth Park so we are in effect the landlord for this event. If anyone had brought this terrorist flag to our attention, one of the council officers attending would have asked for it to be taken down, however nobody did. That said the event was a wonderful family celebration”.
The Khalistan Zindabad Force is banned in India and was added to the European Union’s list of banned terrorist groups in 2005.