Amid Protests In India, Separatists to Hold Punjab Referendum 2020 Rally in UK Today
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is all set to carry out its rally in Trafalgar Square, where it will issue a ‘London Declaration’, which calls for independence of Punjab from India.
New Delhi: It has been almost a month since India issued a demarche to UK, protesting the rally organised by the US-based separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). India expressed serious reservations over UK’s territory being used to question the sovereignty of India. It also pointed out that SFJ was acting as a front for terror activities.
On Sunday, however, the group is all set to carry out its rally in Trafalgar Square, much to the dismay of India. At the Trafalgar Square event, the group proposes to issue a ‘London Declaration’, which calls for independence of Punjab from India. Its website shows pictures of some Sikhs in UK promoting the event at gurdwaras in UK and some cab bearing posters about the event.
According to the Referendum website, “Punjab Referendum 2020 is a campaign to liberate Punjab, currently occupied by India. The campaign aims to gage the will of the Punjabi people with regards to reestablishing Punjab as a nation state.” They further claim that once they establish consensus on the question of independence, the group will go to the UN “for reestablishing the country of Punjab”. This issue has emerged as a point of friction between India and UK.
The UK government has sent a formal Note Verbale to New Delhi after India repeatedly raised concerns over the Referendum 2020 event to be held in London on August 12 by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). The UK government, in the communication, conveyed its inability in blocking the event citing the right that allows “people to gather together and to demonstrate their views, provided that they do so within the law”.
Stating that its police “have comprehensive powers to deal with such activities," the response said that “any group which spreads hate or deliberately raise community fears and tensions by bringing disorder and violence to our towns and cities” will not be tolerated though.
Minister of State for External Affairs General (R) VK Singh told the Rajya Sabha on August 2 that the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and the Indian High Commission in London have sent separate Note Verbales requesting the UK government to deny permission for the event.
To the question raised by Member of Parliament A K Selvaraj, Singh further added, “On July 11, 2018, the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom raised the matter in a demarche with Mr Mark Field, Minister of State for Asia at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and asked the British Government to deny permission for this event.”
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