Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Khalistan Referendum takes precedence over trade during Modi-Boris meet

NSAs of India, UK will meet later this month to talk about 'aggressive' leaders, Khalistan activists, says Indian official

— Photo by author
— Photo by author

  • Indian foreign secretary says NSAs of India and UK will meet later this month to talk about “aggressive” leaders, activists of Khalistan.
  • India has said that SFJ is a terrorist organisation, banning it in India, and has filed more than 30 sedition cases against its general counsel.
  • "PM Boris Johnson I think agrees that some of these groups need to be reined," Harsh Vardhan Shringla says.

LONDON: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that his country wants to discuss the issue of Khalistan activists who operate from Britain and run Khalistan Referendum campaign across the UK.

The meeting between Modi and his British counterpart got concluded with India’s concerns over Kahlistan activities in the UK while deprioritising the economic interest of India.

India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday that 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 Sikh Referendum in London on Sunday, organised by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).

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

“PM Johnson, I think agrees that some of these groups need to be reined in and that steps have to be taken to see how much activity which under no means is democratic, or constitutional should be or could be used to address these recent incidents,” said 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 have unnerved India so much that the Indian foreign secretary devoted a large part of his press briefing to 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 NSAs the two sides will examine in detail “all of these issues that are important to the consular and security and other aspects of our relationship”.

The Indian foreign secretary said that talks between Modi and Johnson were short but counter-terrorism 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 full that some of these Sikh groups need to be reined in and that steps have to be taken to see how much activity could be addressed which is illegal and unconstitutional. There was no independent verification that PM Boris Johnson made any such remarks.

India has said that Sikhs For Justice is a terrorist organisation and has filed more than 30 sedition cases against SFJ’s General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. 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 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 peoples guaranteed in the UN Charter; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It is organising a non-governmental Khalistan Referendum on the question of the right to self-determination and secession of Punjab from India.

Pannun has said that Khalistan Referendum has caused major embarrassment to India when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being hoisted by PM Boris for COP26.