Over 10,000 UK Sikhs vote in second phase of Khalistan referendum

Murtaza Ali Shah
Over 10,000 UK Sikhs vote in second phase of Khalistan referendum
  • First phase of Khalistan referendum took place October 31 - the anniversary of Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984 for ordering Operation Blue Star in a bid to curb Sikh movement.
  • Second phase of voting held under guidance and supervision of panel of non-aligned direct democracy experts - The Punjab Referendum Commission
  • Voters respond to question on whether Indian governed Punjab should be an independent country or not.

LONDON: More than 10,000 British Sikhs took part in the second phase of the Khalistan referendum voting held in two corners of London - Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Southall located at the West end of the town and Guru Nanak Marg Gravesend, located at the East side of London.

The voting for the Khalistan referendum kick started on October 31 at the Queen Elizabeth II Hall next to British Parliament and Westminster. It attracted more than 30,000 Sikhs from across the UK.

Thousands who took part in the voting process responded to the question: “Should Indian-governed Punjab Be An Independent Country?"

After the October 31 voting in London, Indian authorities revealed that they have threatened British Sikh NRIs of strict action, such as cancellation of cards and visas to India, to keep them from taking part in Sikhs For Justice (SFJ’s) Khalistan referendum.

Southall and Greavesend, where the second phase of the Khalistan referendum voting took place, are among the neighbourhoods of London with a significant Sikh population. Southall notably is home to the largest Sikh Gurdwara in Western Europe. Sikh political prowess in the UK is aptly demonstrated and exercised in Southall, which is consistent with the massive turnout for the Khalistan referendum voting on Sunday.

The second phase, as well as all subsequent phases, of voting were held under the guidance and supervision of a panel of non-aligned direct democracy experts - The Punjab Referendum Commission – for the people who could not cast their votes on October 31. 

Large queues started to form early morning as local Sikh men and women came out to take part in the voting organised by human rights group SFJ, which aims to organise and hold voting on the Khalistan referendum across the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and  their homeland – the Indian-governed Punjab. 

Paramjeet Singh Pamma, the UK coordinator for the Khalistan referendum, was managing the polling station at the Southall Gurdarwa along with other community leaders and activists.

He said “continued zeal and response of the Sikhs to vote for the Khalistan referendum is the testament of Sikh people’s aspiration for liberation of Punjab from India”.

According to the organisers, under the guidance of the PRC, a special eligibility clause and screening has been added for registration to ensure that no duplication of votes takes place.

Dupinerjit Singh, the SFJ-UK coordinator who was managing the Gravesend polling station, stated that the Indian government has been "rattled" by the turnout of Sikhs in large numbers to vote for the Khalistan referendum and is "using fear tactics" against British Sikhs but that the community, especially the turnout of youngsters, has proved that Sikh people will not forgo their democratic right to vote on the issue of Khalistan.

October 31 marks the 37th year of the assassination of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards for ordering infamous military attack Operation Blue Star at the holiest Sikh shrine – the Golden Temple of Amritsar. 

Indira Gandhi’s assassination triggered anti-Sikh violence in which thousands of Sikhs were lynched unabated across India within a few days, while police and officials watched quietly, and in many instances, facilitated the attackers by supplying arms and voters lists to identify Sikh homes and properties.

Names of many Indian politicians and parliamentarians ring among those who led the mobs to attack the Sikhs during November 1984. The relevance of the October 31 date is paramount for Sikhs across the globe, when 37 years ago, their names and voter lists caused them to suffer at the hands of state-backed attackers and today they are using the same tool of voter lists, albeit, for justice and freedom.