India Lodges Protest with UK Over Sikh Separatist Group’s Event in London
The gathering of the separatist organization Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) is scheduled to take place in London in August.
India has lodged a protest with the United Kingdom about a meeting of Khalistan sympathizers scheduled to take place in London next month. It has also reportedly rejected an appeal by the United Kingdom that sought leniency for UK citizen Jagtar Singh Johal, who was arrested last year in Punjab over alleged links with Sikh extremists.
The British High Commission in India responded to India’s objection by saying that people have a right to lawfully voice their opinions in the United Kingdom.
“In UK people have right to gather & demonstrate views within law. We won’t tolerate groups who spread hate or raise community fears by bringing disorder to towns and cities. Police have powers to deal with such activities,” the British High Commission said on the issue of the Sikhs for Justice meet in August, ANI reported.
In UK people have right to gather & demonstrate views within law. We won't tolerate groups who spread hate or raise community fears by bringing disorder to towns&cities. Police have powers to deal with such activities: British High Commission on 'Sikhs for Justice' meet in August
— ANI (@ANI) July 13, 2018
The gathering of the separatist organization Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), taking place in London on Aug. 12, aims to boost the “Referendum 2020” campaign that is calling for “independence of Punjab” and creation of a separate Khalistan, PTI reported.
“We have taken up the matter with the UK government. We have also issued a demarche and we expect that the UK government does not allow any such group to use its country whose intention is to spread hate and which can affect our bilateral ties,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, according to the report. “We have told them the intention of the event is the same.”
Kumar added that the relations of members of the Sikh community living in the United Kingdom as well as other parts of the world are positive with India. “Their ties, with the country they reside in, are also good. As far as the small groups are concerned, they are fringe elements and their job is to spread hate and communal disharmony,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
India’s Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had also raised the issue of anti-India activities being carried out by some fringe Kashmiri and Sikh groups in the United Kingdom relentlessly, during a meeting with a UK delegation led by Baroness Susan Williams, the Minister of State for Countering Extremism and Minister for Equalities, in New Delhi last month.
The Indian government is also not inclined to show leniency towards Johal, who was arrested by the Punjab Police in November 2017 over suspected involvement in plots to murder political activists in the state, and funding of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), the Economic Times reported. UK Prime Minister Theresa May had reportedly raised the issue of Johal’s detention with the Indian government after she was approached by several British politicians, who claimed that the Scottish Sikh man is being subjected to torture in Indian jail.
The Indian government believes that British MPs who are supporting Johal, including a few Indian-origin MPs such as Preet Kaur Gill, are following vote bank politics, the Economic Times reported.
Johal was actively involved in planning the murder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Ravinder Gosain, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said in a charge sheet filed in Mohali on May 4. The Indian investigation agency filed a 1,000 page charge sheet against 11 men in the targeted killing of Gosain, who was fatally shot outside his house in Ludhiana in October 2017.
Johal’s arrest in India sparked protests among some members of the Sikh community in the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries.