Scores of people gathered outside the British High Commission in the national capital to protest against the ‘Referendum 2020’ campaign organised by a US-based separatist Sikh organisation that is slated to be held in London on August 12.
Demonstrators from the Sikh community and civil society under the banner of All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) chanted anti-UK and anti-Pakistan slogans and were seen holding banners that read – “UK supporting ISI project code name ‘Express'” and “Don’t shelter ISI and Pakistan sponsored elements.”
Amid slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, AlATF chairman MS Bitta termed the Referendum 2020 campaign “a mere drama”, and claimed that Pakistan’s ISI was fueling anti-India and pro-Khalistan activities.
“The UK government should hand over terrorists and extradite separatist leaders of such organisations to India. This fight will go on until the UK government take such actions. We have submitted a memorandum to the governments. India is one country,” he added.
A five-member delegation of the AIATF also submitted a memorandum to the British High Commissioner.
A day ahead of the protest, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the Referendum 2020 rally would promote communal disharmony and propagate secessionism, adding that India has already issued a couple of demarches to the UK over the upcoming pro-Khalistan meet in London. It added that most of the Sikh communities abroad had “good relations” with India.
The separatist Sikh organisation, Sikhs for Justice is organising a campaign on ‘London Declaration on Referendum 2020’, seeking a separate Khalistan state.Many Sikh politicians and organisations have condemned the pro-Khalistan meet that is to take place this Sunday.
Dal Khalsa, a Punjab-based radical political group, which has for years been advocating, supporting and campaigning for a separate homeland for the people of Punjab termed ‘Referendum 2020’ as an opinion poll being conducted amongst the Sikhs living abroad.
Kanwarpal Singh, the spokesperson of Dal Khalsa told ANI that the event had not garnered any support from the people and groups of Punjab as they were not taken into the loop before such a decision was taken.
Meanwhile, the British High Commission in a statement made it clear that while there is freedom of protest and expression in the UK, the government would not allow any groups spreading hatred or violence.