‘Referendum 2020’ a bogus issue: Indian envoyUpdated: Oct 15, 2019 00:57 IST
India has termed as “bogus” the ‘Referendum 2020’ by a handful of pro-Khalistan supporters, saying they are agents of Pakistan who have spread false rumours.
Stressing that those supporting the idea of referendum had “little support” from the community, India’s ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said such groups were “getting desperate” and resorting to “acts of terrorism”. This is the first time a top Indian diplomat has come out openly against “Referendum 2020” promoted by separatist Sikhs for the creation of Khalistan.
“The organisers (of referendum) are just a handful of people. The so-called Referendum 2020 is a bogus issue,” he told reporters after a visit to a Sikh gurdwara in Baltimore. “They are getting desperate. I think they would be a thing of the past,” Shringla added.
Responding to a question, Shringla also termed the perpetrators of referendum as agents of Pakistan. “These are people supported by our neighbouring state which has constantly opposed us. They have spread false rumours and propaganda,” Shringla said.
Praising Sikhs for their role in strengthening US-India ties, the envoy said, “We will continue to work with the majority of the community and ignore those who are a small and dwindling community.”
Sporting a traditional Sikh turban and dressed in a white kurta and payjama, the ambassador also interacted with the Sikh community at the event hosted by Sikh Association of Baltimore Gurdwara and the Sikhs of America.
Asserting that the Modi government had taken steps to address grievances of the community, Shringla said there were no more issues on the table. “And whatever they are, the (Indian) government is completely receptive to working with the community,” he said, adding that the Indian embassy, along with eminent Sikhs, was planning to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 12.
“It promises to be a tremendous event, where we’ll have participation of congressmen, important people from US. It is not only a symbol of success of the Sikh community but also shows support for strong India-US ties,” Shringla said.
Eminent Indian-American Sikh leader Jassee Singh also said that proponents of ‘Referendum 2020’ did not represent the voice of the community, stressing they were just a small group. “At the end of the day, we are working with the Indian government on several Sikh issues, and we are sorting out matters through talks,” he said, adding that a vast majority of the Sikh community throughout the world was with India. PTI