Free Press Journal

Hundreds turn out to support and counter pro-Khalistan rally in UK

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Members of the Sikh community gather to call for a referendum of the Sikh global community to establish India's Punjab state as an independent country, in Trafalgar Square in central London on August 12, 2018. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

London: Hundreds of people turned out at Trafalgar Square in UK in support of a pro-Khalistan rally as well as to counter the event with an Independence Day celebration. The “We stand with India” and “Love my India” events were organised by Indian diaspora groups as a reaction to the pro-Khalistan “London Declaration for a Referendum 2020”.

The pro-India group, confined to a demarcated area of the square away from the anti-India rally, waved the Indian tricolour and placards reading “India Jai Ho” and “Vande Mataram” and beat their dhols in an attempt to drown out some of the speeches in favour of the so-called Referendum 2020. “Indian Sikhs don’t want this Referendum 2020, they don’t even know what this Referendum is about, who is organising and why,” said Navdeep Singh, one of the organisers of the pro-India demonstration. Pakistani-origin House of Lords peer Lord Nazir Ahmed was among the key speakers for the pro-Khalistani group.

Scotland Yard, which had confirmed that an “appropriate and proportionate policing plan” will be in place for the demonstrations at Trafalgar Square, maintained a watchful eye. A UK government spokesperson had earlier allowed the rally to go ahead, saying that “in the UK people have the right to gather together and to demonstrate their views, provided that they do so within the law”. Pro-Khalistani organisers believe a high turnout will put pressure on the United Nations to ask India to hold a plebiscite.