Professional-Khalistan rally, counter-rally takes place in London
A professional-Khalistan rally, and a counter-rally to assist India befell in central London on Sunday, with a substantial police presence.
Over 2,000 pro-Khalistan demonstrators took half within the rally on Trafalgar Sq., dubbed the London Declaration, in assist of a non-binding referendum in 2020 for an impartial Sikh nation. The group was organised by the U.S.-based group Sikhs for Justice, although the rally attracted demonstrators from throughout the U.Okay. Chanting slogans similar to “Bole so Nihal Sat Sri Akal” and “Khalistan Zindabad,” the demonstrators waved flags and wore T-Shirts supporting the referendum. Alongside speeches and chanting prayers befell. Amongst these to talk on the rally was Lord Nazir Ahmed, a non-affiliated member of the Home of Lords, who organised an anti-India rally exterior the Indian Excessive Fee on Republic Day earlier this yr. “I consider in Khalistan for my Sikh brothers and sisters,” he mentioned, talking on a podium on the rally. He isn’t the one parliamentarian to have voiced assist for the referendum: others to have made their assist public embrace Caroline Lucas, the chief of the Inexperienced Occasion, and Labour MP Matt Western. “We wish to take again Punjab,” mentioned Garbaksish, a younger protestor from Birmingham who joined the rally.
Round 200 folks attended a counter rally that included drumming, dances, and meals, on the opposite facet of the sq. to assist India, waving placards similar to “Sikhs for a United India” and “We stand for one united sturdy India.” “We wish to present the unity of India, it’s a nation for all religions and in our variety we’re stronger,” mentioned Bharathi, from London, who attended the rally.
“UK-India relations are strained in the meanwhile and these omissions received’t assist,” mentioned Kuldeep Shekhawat, president of the Abroad Buddies of BJP (U.Okay.) who attended the counter-rally. He mentioned the counter rally wasn’t about numbers however sending the message that the diaspora stood for a united India “no matter occurs.” He added that they’d been elevating their issues concerning the rally for over a yr now with UK authorities, and mentioned he believed that there was exterior affect, together with from Pakistan, within the organisation of the rally.
The rally comes within the wake of the controversy over the shredding of an Indian flag on Parliament Sq. throughout Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s go to for CHOGM earlier this yr, for which the police had confronted criticism for not intervening early sufficient. On Trafalgar Sq. on Sunday there was a large police presence, which stored the 2 rallies aside, separated by distance and obstacles. At a number of factors small teams of individuals within the pro-Khalistan rally tried to stroll near the barrier close to the Indian group however had been informed to maneuver again by police.
The rally befell regardless of India’s sturdy and publicly acknowledged reservations concerning the occasion, which it seen as an impingement on “India’s territorial integrity.” The U.Okay. insisted that individuals had the suitable to collect collectively and exhibit their views, offered they did so inside the legislation.