Economic Times – UK government distances itself from Khalistan issue

London – UK, 19 August 2017. The UK government has distanced itself from the issue of a pro-Khalistan rally organised by Sikh separatist groups at London’s Trafalgar Square earlier this month.

The so-called ‘London Declaration on Referendum 2020’ rally, organised by Sikhs for Justice on August 12, triggered a diplomatic row as India had warned the UK to take bilateral ties into consideration before allowing groups that “propagate violence, secessionism and hatred” to demonstrate.

The so-called ‘London Declaration on Referendum 2020’ rally, organised by Sikhs for Justice on August 12, triggered a diplomatic row as India had warned the UK to take bilateral ties into consideration before allowing groups that “propagate violence, secessionism and hatred” to demonstrate.

“Although we allowed the protest to take place, this should not be taken as expressing a view either in support or against. We are clear that this is a question for the people and government of India,” a UK government source said.

The comment followed reports of letters exchanged between Sikhs for Justice and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on the “campaign for Sikh self-determination”.

Turning down the prospect of a “short meeting” sought by Sikhs for Justice with UK government representatives to raise concerns of the Sikh community, the FCO said it “encouraged all involved parties to resolve any differences through dialogue”.

“The UK is rightly proud of the long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to gather together and demonstrate their views,” the letter dated August 17 from the unnamed ‘Desk Officer for India’ at the FCO states.

“The British government acknowledges the strength of feeling in the Sikh community regarding the events of 1984, including events at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. We encourage all states to ensure that their domestic laws meet international human rights standards,” it adds.

Sikhs for Justice, which hailed its announcement of a global non-binding referendum on so-called “Punjab Independence” in November 2020 at the rally, described the FCO response as “very encouraging”.

“The response of the UK’s Foreign Office on pro-Khalistan rally is very encouraging and we will continue to engage foreign governments on the issue of Sikhs right of self-determination and demand to hold referendum to determine the status of Punjab,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to the group.

I was on the square myself, we were peacefully campaigning for the right of self-determination, we did not propagate violence or hatred
Man in Blue


The Hindu – India rejects UK’s DNA test plan for finding illegal migrants’ nationality

Government refuses to sign pact citing ‘privacy issues’

Vijaita Singh

New Delhi – India, 14 August 2018. India has rejected a proposal of the United Kingdom to use DNA sampling to establish the nationality of illegal migrants living there, citing “privacy issues”.

Although a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on return of illegal migrants was initialled, after the due approval of the Union Cabinet in January, by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju while leading a delegation to the UK the same month, India refused to sign the final pact during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to England in April.

As per the original MoU, security agencies in India were to verify the antecedents of illegal migrants without documents in the UK within 72 days and those with documents within 15 days. If no report was given within the stipulated time frame, the illegal migrant would be deported automatically.

The agreement was put on indefinite hold after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval conveyed that the 15-day limit was unworkable.

Unethical, says India

“In one of the meetings, the UK authorities suggested that the nationality of document-less illegal migrants suspected to be Indians could be established by matching DNA samples of their family members living here.

We raised objections, saying this was a breach of privacy and unethical. How do we know that the document-less person is an Indian,” said a senior Home Ministry official who attended the meeting.

According to the British government’s estimates, there are around 1,00,000 Indians overstaying their visa in the UK.

India has contested this, saying that as per their estimate, the number will not be more than 2,000.

Post April, at least two high-level delegations from the U.K. have raised the issue with India.

During her first visit to India on 7 November 2016, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK would consider an improved visa deal “if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain in the UK.”

Sikh Federation UK – Pro-India demonstrators reported to Metropolitan Police for spreading hate directed at Sikh community

London – UK, 12 August 2018. The Indian authorities having failed to pressure the UK authorities to deny permission for the London Declaration Referendum 2020 event organised by Sikhs For Justice tried to get pro-India groups to stage a counter-protest.

It had been claimed that pro-India groups planned to hold a pre-Independence Day celebration in Trafalgar Square on 12 August 2018 and circulated fake posters on social media to this effect. However, the groups had not applied for permission from the Greater London Authority to use Trafalgar Square.

The reality is pro-India groups linked to Narendra Modi wished to stage a counter-protest to try and cause a disturbance and disrupt the Sikh event in Trafalgar Square to promote the Sikhs’ right of self determination that had been planned for several months.

The Indian media reported pro-India groups would have 3,000 people of Indian origin protesting.

However, in practice only around 100 pro-India protesters took part in the demonstration outside the National Gallery and some appeared to have been hired for the occasion bringing drums.

They held placards, including some with images of Narendra Modi, waved Indian flags and shouted various pro-India slogans and proved to be no more than a nuisance.

The pro-India groups, including members of the Overseas Friends of the BJP, accused Britain of having a “hidden agenda” of supporting Khalistan. What caused Sikhs present or those watching on TV particular offence were posters with the image of a large turban with the words “it is not 2020 it is 420 for Sikh community”.

The term “420” is used in India to refer to a confidence trickster and is referenced to Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with cheating and dishonesty.

The offence took place in the presence of police officers therefore the Sikh Federation (UK) has formally reported the organisers of the pro-India counter protest to the Metropolitan Police.

The organisers have been accused of producing placards spreading hate and hostility directed at the Sikh community.

A hate crime is a criminal offence and is taken seriously by the police, especially when it could have resulted in public disorder with thousands of Sikhs present in Trafalgar Square. The pro-India protesters that produced the offensive placards could face arrest and prosecution.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Scroll.In – UK: Indian diaspora groups hold rally to counter pro-Khalistan public meeting in London

More than 2,000 people took part in an event at Trafalgar Square in support of an independent Sikh nation.

London – UK, 13 August 2018. A pro-India rally was organised at London’s Trafalgar Square on Sunday in response to a rally organised by secessionists calling for a referendum on an independent Sikh nation, The Hindu Business Line reported.

Indian diaspora groups organised the “We Stand With India” and “Love My India” events to counter the pro-Khalistan “London Declaration for a Referendum 2020”, which was attended by more than 2,000 pro-Khalistan supporters from across the United Kingdom and Europe.

The United States-based group Sikhs for Justice organised the event.

At the pro-Khalistan event, demonstrators chanted “Khalistan Zindabad” and waved flags. Lord Nazir Ahmed, a non-affiliated member of the House of Lords, spoke at the rally.

“I believe in Khalistan for my Sikh brothers and sisters,” said Ahmed, who had organised an anti-India rally outside the Indian High Commission on Republic Day earlier this year.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and Labour Party legislator Matt Western too voiced their support.

Sikh separatist leader Jaswant Singh Thekedar, however, condemned the rally, claiming it was Pakistan-backed propaganda, ANI reported. He accused Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who was one of the organisers, of being a Pakistani stooge.

Meanwhile, at the pro-India rally, supporters waved the Indian Tricolour, waved placards saying “India Jai Ho” and “Vande Mataram”, and played dhols (drums) in an attempt to drown out the speeches of the pro-Khalistan supporters, PTI reported.

“Indian Sikhs do not want this Referendum 2020, they do not even know what this Referendum is about, who is organising and why,” said Navdeep Singh, one of the organisers.

“UK-India relations are strained at the moment and these omissions will not help,” said Kuldeep Shekhawat, president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP’s chapter in the United Kingdom.

The pro-India rally was not about numbers but sending across the message that the diaspora stood for a united India “whatever happens”, The Hindu Business Line quoted him as saying.

A large posse of police personnel was present at the venue to keep the two groups apart.

The British government had refused to ban the campaign and the demonstration despite India’s objections. Last month, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a demarche notice to the United Kingdom against the proposed meeting. The British High Commission then issued a statement condemning the event.

On Friday, the British High Commission in India said people in the United Kingdom have the right to protest as long as they act within the law.

The Hindu – Ahead of ‘Khalistan rally’ in London, India announces Guru Nanak celebration

New Delhi move is seen as counter to the march in London

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi – India, 12 August 2018. Hours ahead of the pro-Khalistan rally in London, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Sunday that all Indian diplomatic missions would celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh faith Guru Nanak. The move is seen as a counter to the rally.

Last month, India issued a demarche over the ‘Khalistani rally’, intended to drum up support for and awareness of a non-binding referendum on a Sikh homeland in 2020.

Right to gather

The British government, however, said people had a right to gather and express their views, provided they did so within the law. The London rally is being organised by Sikhs for Justice, a USA-based group, though UK groups indicated they would participate too.

The pro-Khalistan Sikh Federation U.K. said “some members” would be attending the event, while Dal Khalsa UK urged people to join the rally. The organisers received clearance from the London Mayor’s office during the weekend.

“We will take the message of Guru Nanak to the world. His message of sharing the fruits of good deeds with all is the right teaching in this era when I, me, myself is the dominating idea. The Guru visited many places and so did Baba Farid.

The message of One God taught by Guru Nanak is similar to the Indian teaching in the Shastras,” said Ms. Swaraj in her remarks delivered at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas where she was the Chief Guest at a Sikh religious event organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Indian diplomatic and cultural missions across the world will organise prayers and festivities to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

The Minister did not refer to the London event in her speech but highlighted the inclusive elements of Sikhism. “We want to convey to the world that the Guru Granth Sahib is the best representative of the Indian understanding of multiple versions of truth.

Guru Granth Sahib is the only holy book in the world which apart from the ten gurus of Sikh faith also contains messages (banis) of other learned saints and great souls (belonging to other faiths),” said Ms. Swaraj highlighting the inclusivist nature of the Sikh faith.

Shabads of six of the ten Gurus are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, together with shabads of Bhagats and Pirs with similar teachings as the Sikh Gurus.
Man in Blue

ANI News – Protest staged outside British High Commission against ‘Referendum 2020’

New Delhi – India, 10 August 2018. Scores of people gathered outside the British High Commission in the national capital to protest against the ‘Referendum 2020’ campaign organised by a US-based separatist Sikh organisation that is slated to be held in London on August 12.

Demonstrators from the Sikh community and civil society under the banner of All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) chanted anti-UK and anti-Pakistan slogans and were seen holding banners that read, “UK supporting ISI project code name ‘Express'” and “Don’t shelter ISI and Pakistan sponsored elements”.

Amid slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, AlATF chairman MS Bitta termed the Referendum 2020 campaign “a mere drama”, and claimed that Pakistan’s ISI was fueling anti-India and pro-Khalistan activities.

“The UK government should hand over terrorists and extradite separatist leaders of such organisations to India. This fight will go on until the UK government take such actions. We have submitted a memorandum to the governments. India is one country,” he added.

A five-member delegation of the AIATF also submitted a memorandum to the British High Commissioner.

A day ahead of the protest, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the Referendum 2020 rally would promote communal disharmony and propagate secessionism, adding that India has already issued a couple of demarches to the UK over the upcoming pro-Khalistan meet in London.

It added that most of the Sikh communities abroad had “good relations” with India.

The separatist Sikh organisation, Sikhs for Justice, is organising a campaign on ‘London Declaration on Referendum 2020’, seeking a separate Khalistan state.

Many Sikh politicians and organisations have condemned the pro-Khalistan meet that is to take place this Sunday.

Dal Khalsa, a Punjab-based radical political group, which has for years been advocating, supporting and campaigning for a separate homeland for the people of Punjab termed ‘Referendum 2020’ as an opinion poll being conducted amongst the Sikhs living abroad.

Kanwarpal Singh, the spokesperson of Dal Khalsa told ANI that the event had not garnered any support from the people and groups of Punjab as they were not taken into the loop before such a decision was taken.

Meanwhile, the British High Commission in a statement made it clear that while there is freedom of protest and expression in the UK, the government would not allow any groups spreading hatred or violence.

“People in the UK have a right to protest and demonstrate, provided they act within the law. Should a protest contravene law, police have comprehensive powers to deal with activities that spread hate or deliberately raise tensions through violence or public disorder.

This does not negate the right to a peaceful protest. The use of these powers and the management of demonstrations are an operational matter for the police,” the British High Commission said. (ANI)

Dawn – Rochdale grooming gang members to be stripped of UK citizenship, face deportation to Pakistan

Three men convicted of grooming girls for sex in a case that fuelled racial tensions in Britain face deportation to Pakistan after an appeals court upheld a government decision to strip them of British citizenship, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

London – UK, 09 August 2018. The ruling by the Court of Appeal clears the way for the men, all of Pakistani nationality, to be removed from Britain and be possibly deported to Pakistan. They had acquired British citizenship by naturalisation.

Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf were among nine men of Pakistani and Afghan descent convicted of luring girls as young as 13 into sexual encounters using alcohol and drugs. They were based in Rochdale, in northern England.

The three men were jailed in May 2012 but were later released on licence. The gang’s ringleader, Shabir Ahmed, was sentenced to 22 years in jail and remains in custody.

Aziz, Khan and Rauf were convicted on conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation charges. Aziz was not convicted of having sexual intercourse with any child.

The case centres on a decision by Prime Minister Theresa May, when she was home secretary, to strip the men’s citizenship “for the public good”.

The men had challenged the government decision at two immigration tribunals, arguing revoking their citizenship would violate their human right to a family life, as they have children living in the UK. Their appeals were dismissed.

The convicts then approached the Court of Appeal, senior judges of which ruled on Wednesday that the previous tribunals had made a “proper and lawful assessment” of the likelihood of deportation.

A person can be deprived of British citizenship for the public good on the grounds of “involvement in terrorism, espionage, serious organised crime, war crimes or unacceptable behaviours”.

After serving their sentences, the three convicts will have a further legal right to appeal their deportation and the process could take months, according to the BBC.

It quoted a Home Office spokeswoman as saying: “This was an appalling case. We welcome the court’s finding and will now consider next steps.”

The five victims of the gang who gave evidence in the 2012 trial were all white, and spoke of being raped, assaulted and traded for sex, being passed from man to man, and sometimes being too drunk to stop the abuses.

The men, ranging in age from 22 to 59, used various defences, including claiming the girls were prostitutes.

Sikh Federation – India needs to accept the long standing demand for a Sikh homeland is gaining political support

London – UK, 05 August 2018. The Sikh Federation (UK) has written to the Sunday Times responding to an article published earlier today with the sensational headline “Assassination suspect plans Sikh separatist rally in Britain”.

A shorter version of the letter may be published by The Times, but the full letter being shared with other media outlets that may also run stories based on the Sunday Times article reads:

We were most disturbed by your sensational headline “Assassination suspect plans Sikh separatist rally in Britain”.

Anyone living in the UK has the right to peacefully protest provided you have obtained the necessary permissions from relevant authorities.

We assume the organisers, USA based Sikhs For Justice, obtained the necessary permissions/licences from the Greater London Authority for the event in Trafalgar Square next week before publicising the event.

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.

As usual the Indian authorities are over reacting to the Sikh Diaspora and resorting to misinformation.
Since 1966 the Indian state in accepting the right to self determination at the UN imposed an unacceptable ‘reservation’ that it could not apply to the people of India. No doubt fearing a break up of the country with a number of legitimate secessionist movements.

The right of self-determination is a basic human right and absolutely fundamental to the protection of individual rights. The vast majority if not all UK politicians support this right based on international law.

The Sikhs right to self determination is helpfully summarised in the Sikh Manifesto. We have engaged with UK MPs from all political parties, Ministers and shadow ministers, foreign governments and those at the UN. They have all responded positively to the arguments presented.

UK Government ministers of different political persuasion in meetings with us have also acknowledged the historical context as Sikhs were the third party with whom the British negotiated the transfer of power in 1947.

There is also a recognition that Clement Attlee’s Labour government at that time offered Sikhs a separate homeland. The Indian authorities are therefore extremely sensitive and suspicious, as we are well aware, of anything happening in Britain that vaguely promotes the demand for a Sikh homeland.

However, calls for the reestablishment of a sovereign Sikh state, given the 1849 British annexation of the largest sovereign Sikh state that existed for 50 years and was recognised by all the world powers are not new.

In the period leading up to the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947 several resolutions were passed by Sikhs for an independent Sikh State.

On 20 August 1944, the All Parties Sikh Conference passed a resolution for an independent Sikh state. On 10 March 1946 the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), an elected representative body of Sikhs passed a resolution for the formation of an independent Sikh state.

On 22 March 1946, the Shiromani Akali Dal the representative political party of the Sikhs at that time, passed a resolution for an independent Sikh state.

Politicians and a number of governments across the globe understand the mistreatment and discrimination of the Sikhs since partition in 1947. They are also aware of the peaceful agitation by Sikhs for greater autonomy in the 1970s and 1980s and the Indian regimes’ brutal response ultimately resulting in the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

This was followed by a decade of false encounters, torture and extrajudicial killings by Indian police and paramilitary forces for which the Sikhs have had no justice.

In our view the reestablishment of a Sikh homeland is inevitable with the Sikh Diaspora leading the way and gaining the direct support of world powers like the USA and China with a vested interest and countries like the UK, Germany, Canada and Australia to name a few, also playing their part…

Both India and Pakistan know they will in due course be forced to break apart and a strong and resourceful Sikh homeland extending well beyond ‘Indian occupied Punjab’ respecting the rights of all living there will emerge.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Published from Notre Dame du Chant d’Oiseau
1150 Brussel/Bruxelles – How Referendum 2020 is facing flak from within the pro-Khalistan lobby

Rajeev Khanna

Panjab – India, 28 July 2018. The bogey of Khalistan has been raising its head time and again in Indian politics by various forces trying to milch dividends, political or otherwise. At present it is the issue pertaining to the proposed ‘Referendum 2020’ by the separatist overseas lobby that has come to the centrestage of Sikh politics.

While there is a clear divide among Sikhs on the issues of self-determination and separate homeland, even those who have been championing the cause of self-determination stand vertically split.

The general perception in Indian Punjab is that Khalistan is a dead idea while there are forces that are ‘democratically’ pursuing the goal of self-determination.

It has been the overseas organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) that has been espousing the unofficial referendum on the lines of that held earlier in Catalonia and by the Kurds. But there are several questions that surround the proposed exercise.

The common man is pretty confused over the efforts by overseas elements and wants to know where exactly they want to set up a homeland while majority of the supporters of the concept are sitting scattered across the globe.

Recently it as been the two main faces of the political movement for a sovereign Punjab or Khalistan, as it is popularly known, the Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) that have urged the SFJ to clear all vagueness and ambiguity on its Referendum 2020 proposal.

They have sent a joint letter to SFJ coordinator Gurpatwant Singh Pannu in which their leaders Harpal Singh Cheema and Simranjeet Singh Mann respectively have pointed, “People of Punjab want to know how much feasible and practical your proposal is.”

Pointing out that politics is the art of the possible, they have said that whatever has to be done for the Sikh nation to come out of the present crisis has to be within the realm of reality after thorough and sincere preparedness.

Clarifying that both Dal Khalsa and SAD (Amritsar) are committed to the concept and creation of an independent Punjab or a sovereign Sikh state through peaceful and democratic means with the support and monitoring of an effective United Nations committee especially constituted for the purpose, the two leaders have underlined that both the organisations have presented the Sikh case at national and international fora number of times to seek the rightful demand for referendum for Punjab under the aegis of United Nations (UN) members.

They pointed that leaders of both the organisations have faced Indian state’s wrath marked by plethora of cases ranging from sedition to Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 and served long detentions in Indian and foreign jails.

Both Mann and Cheema have stated that the Referendum 2020 proposal has build a public perception that Khalistan would be a reality in 2020 and such perception does not match with reality and creates a false hope among an already confused and disheartened populace.

“Nearer home, take a look at the Kashmir case. Despite commitment at the UN, India has so far reneged to call for a plebiscite and despite thousands dying and Kashmir virtually occupied by the Indian army, the UN too is guilty of not holding India to book and calling for an unilateral referendum in Kashmir.

Pressure from the Kashmiri Diaspora, Pakistan and other Islamic nations has been completely ignored. In such a scenario without much on the ground, raising false hopes is not a good idea and can be counter-productive,” the letter says.

The letter while pointing to the vagueness of the proposed move says that recently there have been sovereignty referendums in Catalonia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Scotland, Quebec and Puerto Rico.

“We are conscious that worldwide there has been an increase in self determination movements in the world for reasons ranging from injustice to language to gross and systematic use of human rights,” it says.

They have pointed that it is visible that unilateral secession referendums are hardly implemented.

“The Sikh case is further complicated that so far no political body in Punjab is talking of any unilateral secession referendum and there is no thought or mechanism in place regarding involving the Sikh diaspora.

In such a situation, the talk of online voting by you is far-fetched and unworkable even if it is unofficial and non binding. With internet penetration among the community quite minimal especially in rural areas, the whole notion can backfire setting more frustration and gloom that we are already in,” the letter says.

Both Mann and Cheema have posed a series of questions to the organisers of the Referendum 2020 following a discussion they held at Fatehgarh Sahib recently.

The questions posed by them are :

– Can you clarify as to how Referendum 2020 will be done in Punjab? Who will do it?

– The term referendum is a misnomer. Referendum is always carried it out under the guidance or order or monitoring of the United Nations, which is not the case in the present scenario.

– In view of the above, it is fraudulent to propagate or allow this kind of propagation to spread and grow that a separate Sikh state will come into existence soon after the Referendum in 2020.

– Will the referendum whenever held, be for limited for Sikhs or will be for all Punjabis?

– How will it be determined as to who is an authentic voter?

– Who will have the authority to decide who will be the voter? On what basis will the decision be made? What would be the authority and legitimacy of the individual or organization who will decide so?

– Any such task will attract the wrath of the state in Punjab and India. What mechanism is in place to protect the electorate in general and the volunteers in particular?

– Who will lead the movement in Punjab?

The campaign for the Referendum 2020 is being carried out with full force both online and otherwise. There have been instances of hoardings coming up at various places in Punjab in the recent past with the authorities taking the required action.

The issue has also had its political bearings with politicians indulging in mudslinging and the game of allegations and counter allegations. The “support” to the Referendum 2020 by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira is one of the factors being quoted for his removal as Leader of Opposition in the Punjab assembly.

No amount of clarifications by Khaira on how he is no votary of Sikhs seeking a separate homeland and all that he wants is that issues related to the injustice to the community need to be addressed have served any purpose.

The campaign for ‘Referendum 2020’ is also now being seen in a new light with Britain reportedly moving towards listing Sikhs as a separate ethnic group in 2021 census.

Amid these developments all eyes are now set on the August 12 rally being planned n London that is expected to give a further fillip to Referendum 2020 campaign.

The Tribune – Drug dealer jailed for UK Sikh’s murder

London, 25 July 2018. A drug dealer has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the “brutal and sustained assault” of an Indian-origin man in Southampton, on England’s south coast, in September last year.

Adam Abdallah was found guilty of stabbing Kirpal Singh Sanghera in the chest, neck and arms and jailed for life at Winchester Crown Court on Tuesday.

Justice Dingemans told the 43-year-old man that he must serve at least 23 years for the “brutal and sustained assault” before being considered for parole.

The court was told that 39-year-old Sanghera and his attacker were involved in the supply of Class A hard drugs and that the killing was the result of a “turf war”.

Victim’s father Gurdev Singh Sanghera told the court: “My son was everything to me, my life has changed forever.”