Hundreds of Sikh separatists rally in London
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.