Sikh advocacy group Sikhs for Justice have announced that they will hold a ‘London Declaration’ on an independence referendum for the Indian state of Punjab.
On August 12th of this year, a public gathering of Sikh political activists will see Sikhs for Justice put the case for the Sikh right to self-determination in Trafalgar Square.
The group is campaigning for an independence referendum to be held in 2020 in Punjab, underpinned by Article I of the Charter of the United Nations which embodies the principle of self-determination as a basis of UN engagement.
Jatinder Singh, Director of International Policy for Sikhs for Justice, advocates the referendum as a peaceful, democratic solution to the demand for an independent Punjab.
He said: ‘Once we raise the issue of the referendum, it changes the dialogue. For a long time, the Indians have been framing the conversation with terrorism, violence and those types of activities. However, what we’ve said is that we want a democratic solution to this question. It’s clearly not going away.’
He argued that a referendum was in India’s interest, both domestically and internationally, saying: ‘Do the Sikhs wants independence? If you’re content that the majority of the Sikhs don’t want independence, as India propagates all over the world, then they should be in favour of a referendum, because that will come in their favour.
‘In 2018 the Indians are damaging their relationship both with Canada and with the United Kingdom based on the activities of Khalistanis and those people that want independence.’
Of what is frequently described as the world’s largest democracy, he asked: ‘Why are the Indians running away from this democratic process?
‘If they are a peace-loving country they should allow a referendum. If they’re not going to allow it, and use fear, violence and intimidation to try to coerce the Sikh people to stay within the Indian union… well the international community is no longer blind.’
Singh encouraged people to come out and ‘see what happens’ at the declaration on August 12th. He said: ‘We want to put the Indian government on notice, that we are coming. This isn’t an issue that’s going to go away. It’s going to get louder and bigger and violence is not the way to resolve it. A peaceful referendum is the only solution that’s viable for all parties.’