Friday, April 22, 2022
LONDON: Pro-Khalistan group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow voting for the “Khalistan Referendum” in Indian-governed Punjab.
Contemporaneous to the British premier's visit to India, the secessionist group has sent a communique to Boris Johnson citing the example of the Scottish Independence Referendum that “seeking the opinion of the people through Referendum is recognised as the most democratic and peaceful method of resolving a political question such as the continued association of a region with a state”.
“PM Johnson must impress upon Narendra Modi that Referendum is the only peaceful and democratic way to resolve the ongoing Khalistan issue in which thousands of lives have already been lost from both sides," Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, General Counsel to SFJ stated in the letter.
“The UK has an additional moral responsibility towards the Sikh peoples initiative of holding the Khalistan Referendum as the Sikh majority area of Punjab was given to India in 1947 without first seeking the will of the Sikh people through a referendum," the SFJ-UK coordinator Dupinderjit Singh stated.
The letter to the UK PM says: “We are writing to urge you to raise the issue of Khalistan Referendum with your Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during your visit and impress upon India to allow the voting in unofficial Khalistan Referendum on the question of continued association or secession of Punjab from India.
“Prime Minister Johnson, seeking the opinion of the people through Referendum, is recognized as the most democratic and peaceful method of resolving a political question such as the continued association of a region with a state. The UK has complied with and adopted the same method when it allowed holding the Scottish Independence Referendum for the people of Scotland to vote on the question of secession of Scotland from the UK.
“For past several decades, Sikh peoples’ movement for Khalistan has faced state oppression triggering a cycle of violence resulting in the loss of thousands upon thousands of human lives. With this historical backdrop of the Khalistan movement, the Sikh people’s journey from facing Genocidal violence to organising Referendum is a story of remarkable perseverance and their belief in freedom, equality and democratic values, and thus Khalistan Referendum must not only be appreciated but also be encouraged as a way forward resolve the issue of Khalistan as per the will of the people.
“Despite Khalistan Referendum being peaceful and democratic and thus the voting being allowed to be held by the Governments of the United Kingdom and Switzerland, the Indian government has not only banned and criminalized Khalistan Referendum but has also labelled referendum as terrorism. Labelling the peaceful initiative of Referendum as terrorism not only violates the freedom of expression but also damages the cause of getting rid of the real terrorism which uses violence to suppress or promote a political opinion.”
The Sikhs For Justice tells Boris Johnson that while anyone may agree or disagree with the idea and political opinion of Khalistan, in a democracy there could be no disagreement that peaceful advocacy for Khalistan and its expression through the democratic means of unofficial Khalistan Referendum must be allowed to take place.
The letter concludes: “We urge you to raise the issue of Khalistan Referendum with PM Modi and impress upon India to allow the voting in unofficial Khalistan Referendum to take place in Indian governed Punjab.”