SFJ group will hold pro-Khalistan protests in UK on 12 August; British govt refuses India's request to halt rally

The Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) group will organise a pro-Khalistan rally in London on 12 August, according to media reports. The Sikhs will be assembling in Trafalgar Square and petition the United Nations (UN) for the right to self-determination and for an independent Punjab.

There have been many voices opposing this move. India registered its opposition towards the rally through a demarche when news of the rally first emerged. It appealed to the UK government to stop the rally saying that it was a "separatists' activity" aimed to attack India’s territorial integrity, DNA reported.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Activists in Delhi also held a peaceful protest on Friday against the SFJ rally, according to India Today. The protest was spearheaded by former Parliamentarian and chairman of All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) MS Bitta, accompanied by a huge number of people.

The protesters marched on Teen Murti Marg. Bitta, escorted by the Delhi Police submitted a memorandum to the United Kingdom High Commission. The petition asked for the UK government to prevent the SFJ and its “so-called leaders” from creating unrest.

The report, quoting Bitta said, "Our protest will continue until Britain does not handover the terrorists wanted in India and ban these elements.

“I have been quiet for a long time but today when Pakistan is trying to break our nation, I will not sit quietly,” he added.

But according to the PTI, UK government refused to obstruct the rally. The British High Commission’s spokesperson said that all UK citizens have the right to protest peacefully.

"Should a protest contravene the law, the police have comprehensive powers to deal with activities that spread hate or deliberately raise tensions through violence or public disorder," he said.

"This does not negate the right to peaceful protest. The use of these powers and the management of demonstrations are an operational matter for the police," he added.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday condemned the rally. He said that there were no supporters for the pro-Khalistan protests in Punjab.

According to PTI, Singh dubbed the proposed rally in London on Sunday by SFJ an attempt by a handful of frustrated ISI-backed Sikhs abroad to foment trouble in Punjab and India by raising divisive voices.

Singh said that he was not bothered by UK’s refusal to prohibit the rally from taking place and said that he was not worried about the “fringe elements”.

This rally is likely to promote the spread of the 2020 Referendum ideology because post the rally, SFJ seeks to organise many such rallies in Germany, Denmark, US, Canada and Australia, according to another India Today report.

According to PTI, SFJ said the rally is intended to raise awareness on the demand for a non-binding referendum in 2020 calling for the Sikh-majority state of Punjab to be granted independence.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Aug 11, 2018 13:29 PM

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