India strongly takes up 'Khalistan' referendum with UK
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval made it clear to his UK counterpart Stephen Lovegrove that the Modi government takes strong exception to the UK allowing a referendum on a third country by weaponising a minuscule section of the Indian diaspora.
Even though India and the UK share similar views on the Indo-Pacific as strategic partners, New Delhi has conveyed its serious concerns to London for allowing banned pro-Khalistan organisation Sikhs for Justice to hold a referendum on the secession of Punjab on October 31.
While the so-called referendum held in downtown London turned out to be a damp squib, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval made it clear to his UK counterpart Stephen Lovegrove that the Modi government takes strong exception to the UK allowing a referendum on affairs of a third country by weaponising a minuscule section of the Indian diaspora. The Indian position was conveyed during the bilateral strategic dialogue on November 3 in London.
It is understood that India made it clear that there was total peace in Punjab with radical Sikh elements failing to get even one per cent of the vote during assembly or Lok Sabha polls held every five years. The Modi government conveyed its serious concern that the UK government is turning a blind eye to the open radicalisation of the Indian diaspora by Sikh banned groups to promote their secessionist agenda. Under the influence and support of the Pakistani deep state, the Sikh radicals have been holding protests on the three farm laws and punitively participating in anti-India activities in the UK. Despite the SFJ being a banned organization in India since 2019 and its leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannu being declared a terrorist, the UK allowed the US-based extremist organisation to conduct an illegal referendum on the Indian Punjab.
Unlike European Union countries like France, Spain and Netherlands with whom India has very close ties, the bilateral ties with the UK have been derailed by London playing an adversarial role against India when it comes to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, and the so-called Khalistan issue. In this context, the role played by UK Chief of Defence Staff Nick Carter, who called Taliban terrorist country boys with code of honour, in the now failed Doha peace process stands out singularly.
Although India and the United Kingdom have been strategic partners since 2004, the UK role in tacitly supporting Pakistan in the multi-lateral fora on abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, has been noted with concern by the Modi government.
It is understood that while UK NSA Lovegrove assured NSA Doval that no anti-India sentiment will be promoted, India is watching London carefully to see whether the promise gets translated on the ground as adversarial actions will directly impact bilateral ties.