Take note of bilateral ties, India tells UK on pro-Khalistan event in London
British authorities have rejected demands that permission be denied for the pro-Khalistan event citing freedom of expression.Updated: Aug 13, 2018 20:08 IST
After strongly taking up the issue of the Theresa May government permitting a pro-Khalistan event in London on August 12, New Delhi has informed Brexit-bound London that it should take account of the larger bilateral relations while deciding on such sensitive issues.
The US-based Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is behind the event in Trafalgar Square, during which a call is to be issued for a so-called “non-binding referendum“ on the independence of Punjab. The group has claimed growing support, while a UK-based Sikh campaign group has questioned email invites to the event sent to British MPs.
Indian diplomats said the UK Foreign Office had been unequivocally informed that the event amounted to “a separatist activity which impinges on India’s territorial integrity”, and which seeks to propagate violence, secessionism and hatred.
“We expect them [the UK authorities] to take into account the larger perspective of the relationship when they take a decision in such matters. We have taken up this matter as strongly as we can, both in writing as well as in personal meetings,” said an Indian official who did not want to be named.
“We have repeatedly told them that whatever activity is ongoing is not in our interest,” the official added.
British authorities have rejected demands that permission be denied for the event citing freedom of expression.
Campaign group Sikh Federation UK has alleged that almost all email invitations sent to British MPs were from “bogus constituents” based in India and Pakistan.
Sikh Federation UK said: “These individuals appear to have been provided with postcodes linked to MPs to give the impression of being constituents, but when asked via email to provide residential addresses most have come back with addresses from different parts of India and Pakistan.
“This is nothing less than fraud and an abuse of the MP-constituent relationship by those responsible for this campaign. MPs are furious that staff working for them have wasted time and resources processing these mass emails only to find most of them were fake constituents,” it added.
Meanwhile, questions continued to be raised about the ability and validity of a “referendum” being called by a non-government organisation.
Sikh Federation UK said: “The so-called ‘Referendum 2020’ campaign launched more than four years ago in the USA is nothing more than an unofficial opinion poll, and another small step to raise awareness on the treatment of Sikhs by the Indian authorities and the continued demand for a Sikh homeland.”
According to Jasdev Rai of Sikh Human Rights Forum, “The so-called ‘Referendum 2020’ seems to be a snake oil political solution to Sikh issues. There is no international mechanism for public-held referendums unless sanctioned by a government and even that can only be for its own citizens.”
Scotland Yard said a policing plan is in place for the event, while Indian officials said New Delhi will continue to press London to clamp down on anti-India forces operating from the UK.
First Published: Aug 10, 2018 20:44 IST