LONDON: Thousands of Sikhs demonstrated outside the Indian High Commission against the Indian government’s crackdown on their community in Indian Punjab amid a manhunt for pro-Khalistani preacher Amritpal Singh following an impressive turnout at the Khalistan referendum in Australia.
During the protest, the Indian High Commission diplomatic staff threw water bottles at the pro-Khalistan protesters from the rooftop of the building. In order to call out the brutality of the Indian police against Sikhs in Indian Punjab, the protest was organized by Sikh organizations, who brought out thousands of their community members on a working day from across the UK.
The supporters of Khalistan movement arrived in London from other cities in coaches organised by the local Gurdwaras and Sikh groups. The protestors chanted slogans in favour of Khalistan and demanded intervention by the UK and Western governments against the crackdown in Indian Punjab.
As the area around the high commission echoed with slogans of Khalistan, hundreds of police officers were on duty to protect the diplomatic staff who were confined in the building. However, reinforcement was provided to keep the enraged protesters under control as they tried to break through the police barricades. The situation turned tense when a protester reached outside the Indian High Commission carrying a banner portraying Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Last week, the Indian flag was taken down from the High Commission building, leading to an arrest by Scotland Yard.
According to media reports, three days after the incident, the Indian government removed the security barriers outside the UK High Commission in Delhi and the residence of British high commissioner in retaliation. In response, security at the Indian High Commission in London was doubled. A police helicopter flew over the Indian High Commission as more than 200 police staff provided security on the ground.
Addressing the protesters on Thursday, Sikh leaders said: “We are only asking for the basic right of freedom.”
They said that India could not suppress the Khalistan movement by force, adding, “Through the referendum, we want to tell the world that we want independence from India.”
Sikh leaders feared that Amritpal Singh might be in police custody and would be killed in a fake encounter.
The Indian diplomatic staff hung a huge Indian flag on top of the building while the enraged Sikh youth threw shoes on pictures of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dabinderjit Singh, the Principal Adviser to the Sikh Federation (UK), said: “The Indian authorities resorted to provoke protesters by throwing ink, eggs and water bottles during the London protest and now the counter protesters and staff are on the roof.”
“We are writing to the commissioner, London mayor and home secretary for taking action against those partaking in violent and provocative actions against the peacefully protesters,” he added.
It’s understood that the underlying reasons of launching crackdown on Sikhs by Indian authorities lie in Sikh activism in Western countries for Khalistan referendum as tens of thousands of Sikhs from Europe, Canada and Australia came out to cast their votes.
As many as 11,000 Sikhs voted for the Khalistan Referendum’s second phase on March 19 in Brisbane, Australia, just after four months when over 50,000 Sikhs participated for the cause in Melbourne.
Australian Sikhs responded robustly to the Indian prime minister’s efforts to stop Khalistan referendum voting in Australia at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre amid a massive wave of Indian cyber security mercenary attacks on the electronic voting machines.
Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) said that more than 300 Khalistan referendum supporters had been detained under sedition laws in India and there were over 1,000 raids on supporters of the group in the week prior to Indian government’s manhunt for Amritpal and his supporters.
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