Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday said the "no-show" London rally by the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) for a separate state has exposed the "total lack of ground support" for the 'Referendum 2020' even outside India.
Singh also dismissed the entire affair as a "futile exercise" by a "sham" organisation to create trouble in India, particularly Punjab.
"The SFJ is just a group of fringe elements that is playing into the hands of Pakistan's ISI to divide India, but they have failed, and will continue to fail in their nefarious designs," the chief minister said in a statement here.
"The presence of Pakistani politicians at the rally confirms that it was out and out an ISI plot, which fell through, just as their attempts to create trouble in India have been failing all these years", he said.
Reacting to the London rally, the chief minister said it turned out to be a "damp squib" participated by a handful of elements.
He, however, felt the United Kingdom government should have put its foot down and not allowed its soil to be used to propagate anti-India campaign.
Further castigating the United Kingdom government, Singh said that by allowing the protestors to use Trafalgar Square, instead of the usual Hyde Park generally used for such purposes, it had shown its total complacency in the issue.
The entire referendum business is nothing but a "money making racket" of the SFJ, with no takers for the so-called campaign either in India, or even outside, as is evident from the poor show at the rally," Singh added.
He said that there was virtually "nil local support" for the rally and whatever little support they had managed to garner was of "similar fringe elements" from other countries.
"The presence of Pakistani leaders, including Nazir Ahmed who openly spoke of dividing India and splitting Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland from it, made it clear that the rally was a game plan of the ISI - a fact further endorsed by the presence of separatist Kashmiris living in United Kingdom," Singh added.
Citing ground reports, the chief minister claimed that some of those Kashmiris were forced to wear turbans to make them look like Sikhs.
"And a handful of Sikhs around had evidently been forced to come," Singh said.
Describing the SFJ fringe elements as mere "social media tigers", who are trying to create hype even when they have no support, both in India and abroad, Singh said the Sikhs were a patriotic community who have always stood for the unity and integrity of the country.
As many as 90,000 Sikhs are serving in the Indian Army, defending the country's borders, he pointed out, adding that the SFJ could "never succeed in misleading the community" into falling for their "selfish" designs.
Singh warned the SFJ and all such "anti-India" forces to stay out of the country and refrain from any attempt to foment trouble in Punjab, or any other part of India.
"Their efforts will backfire on them," he said, adding that his government would deal with such elements with an "iron hand".
"Nobody would be allowed to disturb the peace and the communal harmony in the state," he said.
Pro-Khalistani supporters Sunday assembled at Trafalgar Square in London in a rally organized by the SFJ, intended to raise awareness for a non-binding referendum in 2020, calling for the Sikh-majority state of Punjab to be granted "independence"
Updated Date: Aug 13, 2018 18:10:51 IST