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August 15, 2020

Frustrated India wants UK to ban Sikh, Kashmiri protesters

Top Story

August 15, 2020

LONDON: Over 100 British Indian organisations have asked the British prime minister to stop the Sikh supporters of Khalistan from protesting outside the Indian High Commission – ahead of a big demonstration on 15th August by Sikhs and Kashmiris which is marked as a Black Day.

The letter to Boris Johnson has been signed by 102 Indian organisations aligned with the Indian High Commission and Hindutva groups who have felt helpless in the face of strong resistance by peaceful Sikhs and Kashmiri rights activists in Britain.

The letter, dated 12 August and signed on the letterhead of ‘Indian Diaspora UK’, claimed, “Every year on Indian Independence Day, Khalistani protestors allegedly supported by Pakistan protest outside the Indian High Commission which makes it difficult for Indians to celebrate their Independence Day”.

The letter claimed falsely: "This day is a joyous moment for all Indians/British Indians settled in the UK too. However, Pakistan-supported violent Khalistan groups have been a hindrance to our celebrations by creating unrest and violently attacking the celebrators at the High Commission of India, London in the recent years. This pattern is observed more off late and every year the violence has been going a step further. We would like to bring to your attention the violent attacks by sharp weapons on police personnel too apart from Indians gathered to celebrate last year (2019).”

Every year the BJP-aligned groups have claimed that the Khalistani protestors have used weapons but the police have said there has been no recovery of weapons, no evidence of any weapons and no attacks on protesters by Sikhs and Kashmiris.

The Indian Diaspora claimed that Pakistan’s support for the Khalistan movement had been hurting the Indian Diaspora in the UK.

It said, "British government and local administration allowing Pakistan and Pakistan supported Khalistan groups to carryout violent protests has been hurting the Indian Diaspora. Therefore, we request you to take note of the situation and enable to stop such protests especially at locations such as India House i.e. High Commission of India, London," the letter went on to say.”

Copies of the letter were sent to Priti Patel, Secretary Home Department, Mayor of London and The Commissioner for Metropolitan Police Service, London. The letter to UK PM comes just days after the Sikh Federation, the UK's primary Sikh rights group accused Conservative peer Lord Rami Ranger of working for the interests of Hindutva and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Indian government at the cost of Sikhs' rights and demands.

This was in the aftermath of a row between the first Sikh female Member of Parliament and Shadow International Development Secretary Preet Kaur Gill and the Conservative Party’s Lord Rami Ranger after Preet Kaur MP strongly defended the rights of Sikhs for self-determination. Lord Rami had claimed that Boris Johnson is against the Sikhs’ right of self-determination.

Responding to Rami Ranger’s claim, Labour MP Preet Kaul Gill wrote about the demands of Sikhs for a separate homeland of Khalistan that “the principle of self-determination is prominently embodied in Article I of the Charter of the United Nations”.

Indian groups have written to the PM after Indian High Commission became the centre of protests by thousands of people a year ago in the wake of India revoking Article 375 and then over the citizenship issue. These protests were attended by tens of thousands of people including Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and others.

Violent scenes broke out last year after a pro-BJP demonstration hurled stones at peaceful Sikh and Kashmir protestors outside Indian High Commission. The Scotland Yard made a few arrests but did not charge anyone as no evidence of violence from Khalistanis on Kashmiris was found. Since then pro-BJP group aligned with Indian High Commission have campaigned for a ban on protests outside Indian High Commission but the police has been providing space for protest to the rights activists opposite the Indian High Commission.

Indian groups are particularly upset as Dal Khalsa UK burnt Indian flag ahead of 15 August protest outside Indian High Commission when every year hundreds of Sikhs and Kashmiris gather against Indian occupation.

Dal Khalsa UK leader Gur Charan Singh said: “We have burnt Indian flag in protest of Indian fascism. India is an occupying force and we will never accept its hegemony. Hindutva is based on slavery and caste system and it is incompatible with the Sikh religion. India has killed thousands of us and we will continue to resist India. Our protest will go on outside Indian High Commission.”