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Posted at: Jul 12, 2018, 7:49 PM; last updated: Jul 12, 2018, 10:34 PM (IST)

India lodges protest with UK over SFJ 'event'

Smita Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 12

India has issued a demarche to United Kingdom protesting a meeting convened on August 12 in London by separatist organisation Sikhs For Justice (SFJ).

SFJ that claims to be an international advocacy group has offered to sponsor youth and political activists from Punjab to travel to London for the August meeting. The meeting in Trafalgar Square is aimed at shaping up the ‘London Declaration On Referendum 2020’ campaign seeking a separate Khalistan. India has lodged its protest through diplomatic channels against the proposed “anti-India activity”. “We have taken it up with UK and have issued a demarche. We expect UK will not allow such anti India activities to be carried out in UK,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

India’s official response comes a day after the British High Commission spokesperson in Delhi defended the right of people in UK ‘to gather together and to demonstrate their views, provided that they do so within the law.’ “However, we will not tolerate any groups who spread hate or deliberately raise community fears and tensions by bringing disorder and violence to our towns and cities and the police have comprehensive powers to deal with such activities,” the British High Commission spokesperson told The Tribune in a cautious statement.

Khalistan remains a sensitive issue in bilateral ties between the two countries. Earlier in April this year India had lodged a strong protest with UK after the Tricolour was burnt by Khalistani elements at Parliament Square while PM Modi was addressing a diaspora event in Westminster. “Majority of the Sikh community have good relations with India and with the country where they stay. The rest are fringe elements,” Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday.

According to its legal advisor based in New York, SFJ plans to provide sponsorship letters to participants from Punjab and also arrange free stay for them from August 10-14. SFJ plans to unveil a declaration advocating for “Sikhs’ right to self-determination for the independence of Punjab” in the Trafalgar meeting. 

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