25,000 Sikhs in London mark 40th anniversary of June 1984 genocide

40th anniversary event in London comes less than three weeks before the general election

Murtaza Ali Shah
June 17, 2024
Around 25,000 Sikhs marked 40th anniversary of the June 1984 Sikh Genocide by marching through London and holding a Freedom Rally in Trafalgar Square. — Reporter

LONDON: Around 25,000 Sikhs marked the 40th anniversary of the June 1984 Sikh Genocide by marching through London and holding a Freedom Rally in Trafalgar Square. The first march and rally took place in London 40 years ago on June 10, 1984.

Those gathered in Trafalgar Square were told UK government papers released after more than 30 years showed how the Indian high commissioner based in London urged then Home Office minister Douglas Hurd on June 7 1984 to arrest and intern around 200 presidents of all UK Gurdwaras to sabotage the first protest.

Special Branch told the Home Office minister this was not possible. The Indian Foreign Secretary then suggested to the British High Commissioner in Delhi the next day on June 8, 1984, that Sikh protesters in London could be shot dead. The British High Commissioner in Delhi set this out in a telex to the Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe.

— Reporter

The 40th-anniversary event in London comes less than three weeks before the general election and assurances have been given by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy and Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary that a Labour government that is expected to be elected on July 4 will launch later this year an independent judge-led public inquiry into the 1984 British Government involvement in the June 1984 massacre and anti-Sikh measures by Margaret Thatcher against British Sikhs at the request of the Indian authorities in the 1980s when she was in office (1979-1990).

The other important backdrop to the 40th anniversary event has been the recent transnational repression by the Indian government targeting Sikh activists in the diaspora. The event marked the first anniversary of the mysterious death of 35-year-old Avtar Singh Khanda in the UK. The lawyer acting for the family is pushing for an inquest and public inquiry into his death.

Avtar Singh Khanda’s mysteriously death came three days before the high-profile assassination of Canadian Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside the Gurdwara where he was president in Surrey BC.

A few weeks later in early July India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) told Indian TV they had killed three Sikhs in six weeks, including Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Avtar Singh Khanda and the NIA produced a hit list of 20 other Sikhs, but the authorities failed to take appropriate actions. At the same time, Indian agents were trying to kill Sikhs for Justice leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York.

Dabinderjit Singh, the Principal Adviser of the Sikh Federation (UK) told media gathered: “40 years after the Sikh Genocide it is clear Sikhs will never get justice in India. The re-establishment of a Sikh homeland illegally annexed by Britain in 1849 is the only solution.”

“The election of Bhai Amritpal Singh and Sarabjit Singh Khalsa in Panjab, where most Sikhs live, exactly 40 years after the June 1984 massacre has demonstrated the freedom movement in the Sikh homeland is very much alive today and can no longer be denied.”

“Sikhs are a sovereign people and confident of winning the hearts and minds of the public and governments across the globe to understand and support the legitimate Sikh struggle for freedom and independence.”

— Reporter

“Despite the Indian government’s propaganda and pressure on governments to curtail the activities of Sikh activists, transnational repression targeting Sikhs in the Diaspora is blowing up in their faces.”

“We are convinced there has been a cover-up by the UK government led by Rishi Sunak who was desperate for a trade deal with India.”

“Sunak has bent over backwards to appease India and shown his prejudice by falsely demonising British Sikhs as he could not afford the same sort of fall out with India as Canada over the activities of the Indian government on UK soil, including the death of Avtar Singh Khanda.”

“An incoming Labour government has an opportunity to stand with British Sikhs or continue to sell us out. We believe there are enough good people with principles within the Labour leadership who will have the strength and courage to stand with us.”