London : The UK government has distanced itself from the issue of a pro-Khalistan rally by Sikh separatist groups at London’s Trafalgar Square earlier this month.
The so-called ‘London Declaration on Referendum 2020′ rally, organised by Sikhs for Justice on August 12, triggered a diplomatic row as India had warned the UK to take bilateral ties into consideration before allowing groups that “propagate violence, secessionism and hatred” to demonstrate.
“Although we allowed the protest to take place, this should not be taken as expressing a view either in support or against. We are clear that this is a question for the people and government of India,” a UK government source said.
The comment followed reports of letters exchanged between Sikhs for Justice and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on the “campaign for Sikh self-determination”.
Turning down the prospect of a “short meeting” sought by Sikhs for Justice with UK government representatives to raise concerns of the Sikh community, the FCO said it “encouraged all involved parties to resolve any differences through dialogue”.
“The UK is rightly proud of the long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to gather together and demonstrate their views,” the letter dated August 17 from the unnamed ‘Desk Officer for India’ at the FCO states. “The British government acknowledges the strength of feeling in Sikhs regarding the events of 1984, including the Golden Temple in Amritsar. We encourage all states to ensure that their domestic laws meet international human rights standards,” it adds.