Hun­dreds of Sikh sep­a­ratists rally in Lon­don

Gulf Times - - BRITAIN -

Hun­dreds of Sikh sep­a­ratists and their sup­port­ers gath­ered in Lon­don’s Trafal­gar Square yes­ter­day to demand a ref­er­en­dum on an in­de­pen­dent home­land to be carved out of In­dia.

They bran­dished ban­ners read­ing “Free Pun­jab, End In­dian oc­cu­pa­tion”, “Pun­jab Ref­er­en­dum 2020 for Khal­is­tan”, and “We will re-es­tab­lish Pun­jab as an in­de­pen­dent coun­try”.

The protest was or­gan­ised by the US and Canada-based group Sikhs for Jus­tice, and drew peo­ple from all over the world, many of them chant­ing “Khal­is­tan”.

The In­dian gov­ern­ment has ex­pressed con­cern to Lon­don over the ac­tiv­ity of ex­pa­tri­ate Sikh sep­a­ratists, who want to cre­ate a home­land of Khal­is­tan in In­dia’s north­ern Pun­jab state.

The For­eign Of­fice con­firmed that it dis­cussed the rally with the In­dian High Com­mis­sion, but a spokes­woman told AFP: “Peace­ful protest is a vi­tal part of a demo­cratic so­ci­ety.”

Gur­pat­want S Pan­nun, le­gal ad­viser to Sikhs for Jus­tice, said: “This is a peace­ful, demo­cratic cam­paign to give Sikhs the right to de­ter­mine their own fu­ture.”

There was a small coun­ter­demon­stra­tion of about a dozen peo­ple singing and hold­ing up signs say­ing: “We stand for one united In­dia.”

Mem­bers of the Sikh com­mu­nity gather in Lon­don’s Trafal­gar Square to call on the Sikh global com­mu­nity to sup­port the demand for a ref­er­en­dum on estab­lish­ing In­dia’s Pun­jab state as an in­de­pen­dent coun­try.

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