Overseas Sikhs still facing ‘blacklists’, says UK group
Individuals on the blacklists are allegedly refused visas or travel documents to visit India due to their alleged involvement in the Khalistan movement in the 1980s.
Despite assurances during the 2015 talks in London between a delegation of UK-based Sikhs and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, so-called “blacklists” comprising members of the community based abroad are still in place, an interlocutor during the talks has said.
Individuals on the blacklists are allegedly refused visas or travel documents to visit India due to their alleged involvement in the Khalistan movement in the 1980s. Abolishing the blacklists was one of key demands of Sikh groups during talks with Modi.
Jasdev Singh Rai of Sikh Human Rights Forum, who described the November 2015 talks as a “breakthrough”, said: “Visa restriction and blacklists of Sikhs are still in place in some countries where local embassies have failed to move forward on lifting them.
“We know cases in Belgium, Holland and Canada, and urge the minister of external affairs to personally oversee these.”
Rai, one of the key interlocutors during the talks who has since been involved in follow-up negotiations in New Delhi, said there has been “some progress” on some issues that were discussed.
“Progress in two major issues raised in London is still awaited. The Indian state still has not released any major Sikh detainee. The release of Davinderpal Singh Bhuller and Lal Singh are long overdue as are those of some 17 other detainees,” he said.
“There hasn’t been any government initiative or dialogue in reinstating the international engagement of Sri Akal Takht Sahib and Sri Harimandar Sahib and incorporating the worldwide Sikh community in the decision-making process at both central institutions of the Sikhs,” he added.
He, however, said some police officers in Punjab had been sentenced for committing extrajudicial executions, adding the recent sentencing of two people for violence against Sikhs during the 1984 riots in Delhi is a welcome development.
“The London talks were a breakthrough in which Prime Minister Modi gave an undertaking to work on the five key broad proposals that were presented to close the gap between the worldwide Sikh community and the Indian state following the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib in June 1984 and the organised pogrom against Sikhs in November 1984 under the Congress Government,” he said.
“After three years there are small punitive steps being taken in some areas but we hope there will be more substantive progress.”