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UK Refuses India's Request to Stop Referendum 2020 by Pro-Khalistan Groups in London

There seems to be a sudden, coordinated whipping up of the pro-Khalistan sentiment in some parts of the world. Links with Pakistan’s ISI have also been drawn after reports of some gurudwaras in Pakistan being used for anti-India tirade have surfaced.

Maha Siddiqui | CNN-News18

Updated:August 8, 2018, 3:09 PM IST
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UK Refuses India's Request to Stop Referendum 2020 by Pro-Khalistan Groups in London
File photo of a Khalistan freedom rally outside Indian High Commission in London.
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New Delhi: 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 groups who spread hate or deliberately raise community fears and tensions by bringing disorder and violence to our towns and cities” will not be tolerated though.

It has been almost a month since India issued a demarche to the UK protesting the rally organised by the US-based separatist group 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.

Sources said that “there have been ongoing discussions in London” between Indian and UK authorities over the proposed rally in Trafalgar Square on Sunday.

Meanwhile, 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, General (R) Singh further added that “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”.

There seems to be a sudden, coordinated whipping up of the pro-Khalistan sentiment in some parts of the world. Links with Pakistan’s ISI have also been drawn after reports of some gurudwaras in Pakistan being used for anti-India tirade have surfaced. Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad Ajay Besaria was prevented from going to Gurudwara Punja Sahib twice this year.

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 gurudwaras in UK and some cab bearing posters about the event.

This issue has emerged as one more point of friction between India and the UK. Earlier, India was excluded from the list of relaxed visa norms for students even though the list was expanded to include other countries like China. The two countries have also not been able to address the issue of alleged Indian illegal immigrants in the UK. India had refused to sign the MoU earlier this year when the Prime Minister visited UK for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April.



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