London: The spokesman for Sri Akal Takht Jathedar Jagtar Singh Hawara, backed by leading Sikh diaspora organisations, has urged the new UK Government to support a referendum in Punjab on the question of whether to remain in, or leave, the Indian Union. The UK’s Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, has recently taken office following a similar referendum on the UK’s position within the European Union and that same assertion of sovereignty has been highlighted as the justification for the proposed Punjab referendum.
Senior Advocate Amar Singh Chahal’s letter to the UK PM was delivered to 10 Downing Street by Joga Singh (Babbar Akali Organisation), Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE (Council of Khalistan), Loveshinder Singh Dalewal (United Khalsa Dal), Gurdev Singh Chohan (Shiromani Akali Dal, UK) and Manmohan Singh Khalsa (Dal Khalsa International). The timing of the initiative – on Indian Independence day – gave a clear signal that the Sikh nation does not accept Indian sovereignty over its homeland and, instead, fully intends to chart its own destiny.
Citing the cruel betrayal of India’s promises to the Sikhs at the time of British decolonisation in 1947, the unpardonable acts of genocide since June 1984 and international law the three-page letter urged the UK government to acknowledge the Sikh right to self-determination. Advocating a referendum, along similar lines to the UK’s recent example, it pointed out that this was the only democratic and credible means to resolve the decades old conflict between the Sikhs and the Indian state.
The Sikh delegation went on to join other Sikhs organisations to take part in a lively joint protest, organised alongside Kashmiri groups, outside the Indian High Commission in London. Whilst condemning the mass killings of civilians in Kashmir by Indian security forces in recent weeks, the protestors called for the perpetrators of such crimes to be punished by an international criminal tribunal as the past 30 years of impunity for Indian forces had made it obvious that India is using such human rights violations as a tool of repression, both in Kashmir and Punjab.
The protestors gave an unmistakable message to the Indian establishment that the demand for freedom in those regions was far from fulfilled in 1947 and that, underpinned by the right of self-determination as laid out in international law, neither the Kashmiris nor the Sikhs would rest until they too secured freedom.
Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE spoke at the protest of the desperation of India’s PM Narendra Modi who has now openly acknowledged Indian efforts to destabilise Baluchistan and other parts of Pakistan, whilst claiming that the conflicts in Punjab and Kashmir were simply “internal affairs” outside of the purview of the international community. The registration of a sedition case against Amnesty International this week, for hosting an event to discuss rights abuses in Kashmir, demonstrates the absurdity of an increasingly deranged Indian elite.
Professor Nazir Shawl condemned Modi’s right wing Hindutva forces that posed a threat not only to millions of Kashmiris and Sikhs but to wider regional peace and security. He said it was time for international intervention to prevent further tragedy and injustice and to deliver a true reality of decolonisation for the affected peoples.