‘Punjab Referendum 2020’, a pro-Khalistani movement to liberate Punjab as a nation state, was held on Sunday, 12 August. However, the rally was termed as a ‘failure by observers,’ reports News 18 after pro-India groups took over the rally
The event that took place in London’s Trafalgar Square saw people proposing to issue a ‘London Declaration’; a declaration seeking the Independence of Punjab from India and was organised by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).
Earlier, a website which had been created for the event, showed pictures of some Sikhs in the United Kingdom promoting the event at gurdwaras and other places in Britain.
People of Indian origin, living in the United Kingdom, protest against Referendum 2020 in London.
What is ‘Referendum 2020’?
According to the website of the movement, “Punjab Referendum 2020 is a campaign to liberate Punjab, currently occupied by India. The campaign aims to gauge the will of the Punjabi people with regards to re-establishing Punjab as a nation state.”
As reported by News18, the group claimed that after establishing a consensus from people present at the rally, they will take the matter to United Nations for the re-establishment of Punjab as a separate nation.
Counter-Rally Taken Out, “External Influence” Alleged to Be Behind Pro-Khalistan Rally
As per a report in The Hindu, a counter-rally was taken out against the pro-Khalistan rally, on the other side of Trafalgar Square.
The report adds that citizens waved placards with slogans including “Sikhs for a United India” and “We stand for one united India”.
Additionally, those who attended the counter-rally also raised concerns that the pro-Khalistan rally was a result of “external influence, including from Pakistan.”
Members of the Overseas Friends of BJP, a group who attended the counter-rally added that India-UK relations, which “are strained at the moment” would be further affected by such pro-Khalistan rallies.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh’s Response
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on 10 August said that there are no takers for the 'Referendum 2020' campaign in Punjab. He said,
I am not at all worried about these fringe elements and their proposed rally. They have been at it for long and have been playing in the hands of the ISI, which has an open agenda to foment trouble in Punjab and India.Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab
On the same day, Amarinder told IANS that he had directed the Punjab Police to deal with any attempts to revive terrorism with a “strict hand.”
He added in the past 15 months of his government, the police had cracked down on several terror modules and seized a sizeable number of arms and ammunition and narcotics.
India Previously Opposed Referendum in London
In the days leading towards ‘London Declaration’, India had issued a démarche to Britain in this connection.
Responding to India’s claim, the British High Commission on 10 August said that people in Britain have the right to protest provided they stay within the limits of the law.
“Should a protest contravene the law, the police have powers to deal with activities that spread hate or deliberately raise tensions through violence or public disorder,” it added.
(With inputs from The Hindu, IANS, and News18)