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April 17, 2018

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Sikhs, Kashmiris to protest against Modi during Commonwealth summit

LONDON: A large-scale protest has been planned by British Sikhs and Kashmiris against the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Britain for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOG) in London from 16th–20th April 2018 to condemn Modi’s affiliation with violent Hindu nationalism and rising attacks on minorities, vulnerable and women in India.

Heads of 53 Commonwealth nations, including Narendra Modi and Pakistani premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will attend the Summit in London and Windsor.

Modi’s itinerary includes a day of bilateral meetings with Theresa May and a rare audience with Queen Elizabeth. In London, thousands of protestors – Kashmiris and Indian origin Sikhs, Christians and Dalits - are expected to reach Parliament Square for a noisy protest against Modi on April 18 when Modi will hold bilateral meetings and will also address a Diaspora event at Central Hall Westminster.

Sikh organisations such as Dal Khalsa, Sikhs for Justice and Sikh Federation (UK) have said that they are expecting turnout from across the UK but several other Sikh groups working for Khalistan have also invited their supporters to protest against Modi. Anti-imperialism South Asia Solidarity Group has also arranged a protest. Supporters of Hindutva BJP and RSS have said that a counter-demonstration in support of Modi will be held at the same venue. South Asia Centre for Peace has called for protest at the Parliament Square to highlight the plight of women in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Turnout of Kashmiris is expected to be huge at theprotest. Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider, PPP leader in AJK Assembly Chaudhary Yaseen, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Rasheed Turabi, several British parliamentarians including Naz Shah MP, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Khalid Mahmood, Shabna Mahmood, Afzal Khan and others are expected to attend the protest.

Addressing a press conference in London, Raja Farooq Haider said that genocide of Kashmiris under Modi government has increased. The Azad Kashmir prime minister said that he had reached London especially to show solidarity with the people of Indian occupied Kashmir by confronting Modi on atrocities against Kashmiris under his watch.

The issue of illegal Indians in UK – numbered at tens of thousands by Home Office – will dominate the meeting agenda between PM Modi and Theresa May as British government has linked the return of illegal Indians to any improvement in visa conditions for Indians.

The Sikh Federation (UK) claimed Sikhs would “turn out in thousands” to protest outside the Queen Elizabeth II Centre against Modi, who, it described, would be the “primary focus” of the demonstration. The release of British national Jagtar Singh Johal arrested in Punjab for targeted killings would be a major issue in the protest.

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