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Tuesday January 18, 2022

India-UK NSAs to meet after Khalistan referendum

The issue of Khalistan campaign and extradition matters were raised by Modi during his brief meeting with Boris Johnson

November 04, 2021
India-UK NSAs to meet after Khalistan referendum

LONDON: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that his country wants to discuss with Britain the issue of Khalistan leaders and activists who operate from Britain and are running Khalistan referendum campaigns across the UK.

India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday that the national security advisors (NSAs) of India and the United Kingdom would meet later this month to talk about “aggressive” leaders and activists of Khalistan operating from Britain. India’s foreign secretary made the extraordinary statement in Glasgow on Khalistan activists two days after more than 30,000 Sikhs took part in a Sikh referendum in London on Sunday, organized by the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).

The issue of Khalistan campaign and extradition matters were raised by Modi during his brief meeting with Boris Johnson and both leaders agreed to ask their national security advisers (NSAs) to meet in London to sort out irritants relating to aggressive Khalistani activists.

“PM Johnson, I think agrees fully that some of these groups need to be reined in and that clear steps have to be taken to see how such activity which under no means is democratic or constitutional should be or could be used to address these recent incidents,” said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla while briefing the media about the first day of COP26 in Glasgow.

The Indian foreign secretary was asked to elaborate on the discussion between the two PMs and the Khalistan referendum which saw a massive turnout of Sikhs of all ages from across the UK reach London to take part in the referendum voting just outside the British parliament. The Khalistan referendum turnout and the fervent participation by Sikhs has unnerved India so much that the Indian foreign secretary devoted a large part of his press briefing to the Sikhs For Justice’s Khalistan referendum campaign while trying to downplay the traction the movement has created.

Shringla said pro-Khalistan groups have “no legitimate right” to speak on Khalistan but accepted their activities cause a “certain level of disequilibrium and concern in both our countries”. He said that during the meeting of the NSAs, the two sides will examine “all of these issues that are important to the consular, security and other aspects of our relationship”.

He said talks between Modi and Johnson were short but counterterrorism and the need to rein in extremist activities by pro-freedom Khalistan groups were among the issues covered.

He claimed that Prime Minister Johnson felt fully that some of these Sikh groups need to be reined in and that steps have to be taken to see how such activity could be addressed that is illegal and unconstitutional. There was no independent verification that Boris Johnson made any such remarks.

India has said that the Sikhs For Justice is a terrorist organization, banning it in India, and has filed more than 30 sedition cases against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, SFJ’s general counsel. India has also confiscated his ancestral personal property, designating him as a “terrorist” but Pannu and other Sikh leaders have carried on with their activism.

The Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) says it’s an international human rights advocacy group spearheading the campaign for Sikhs’ right to self-determination which is one of the fundamental rights of all people guaranteed in the UN Charter; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The SFJ is organizing a non-governmental Khalistan referendum on the question of the right to self-determination and secession of Punjab from India. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun has said the Khalistan referendum has caused major embarrassment to India when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being hoisted by PM Boris for COP26.

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