Pro-Khalistan group SFJ plans its secessionist 2020 referendum at Kartarpur

While the original plan had been to hold a major event at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, SFJ’s legal advisor Gurpatwant Pannun told HT that the opening of the corridor will allow the group access to a much larger number of pilgrims from India at Kartarpur Sahib than would be possible at the more distant Nankana Sahib.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2018 09:06 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
SFJ,sikhs for justice,pro-khalistan group
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, foreign minister SM Qureshi, cricketer-turned-Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and others during ground breaking ceremony for Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan's Kartarpur, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018.(PTI)

The pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has announced that it plans to hold a convention to espouse the secessionist 2020 referendum campaign at Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan if the proposed corridor for Sikh pilgrims between India and Pakistan is functional by then.

While the original plan had been to hold a major event at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, SFJ’s legal advisor Gurpatwant Pannun told Hindustan Times that the opening of the corridor will allow the group access to a much larger number of pilgrims from India at Kartarpur Sahib than would be possible at the more distant Nankana Sahib.

“Because now they have given access, people will come to Kartarpur Sahib. They will not be allowed to visit Nankana Sahib so we will have to do the convention at Kartarpur Sahib,” Pannun said. In case the corridor is not open, SFJ will revert to the original plan of holding the convention at Nankana Sahib.

The convention is being timed to coincide with the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Indian officials refused to formally comment on this latest provocative move by SFJ, but said this was part of a game being played by Pakistan and rued that a religious occasion of such significance was being “manipulated” for such a purpose.

SFJ’s office in Lahore will “coordinate” registration of “voters” for the non-binding referendum on creating a separate nation of Khalistan.

SFJ also plans to sponsor and host 10,000 Sikhs from Punjab at the convention to “be educated and informed about Sikhs’ right to self-determination under the UN Charter and Conventions” and to serve as “ambassadors” for the separatist referendum.

Pannun called the Kartarpur Sahib corridor a Bridge to Khalistan and said, in a statement, “Kartarpur Sahib Convention is pivotal to referendum campaign as this will be the first ever global gathering of the Sikh separatists from foreign countries with the Sikh people from Punjab.”

The 2020 referendum was announced in London in August this year.

SFJ plans on having a poll within the diaspora community in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Kenya and the Middle East, while also targeting Punjab via online means.

First Published: Nov 29, 2018 09:06 IST