LONDON: Thousands of Sikhs from across the United Kingdom took part in a referendum for an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan, at the Queen Elizabeth Centre near the British parliament on Oct 31, 2021 — the day on which Indian premier Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 for ordering the Operation Blue Star to curb the Sikh movement.
The voting, which started at 9am and continued till 6pm, took place under the supervision and monitoring of a nonaligned panel of direct democracy experts, Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC), organised by the Sikhs For Justice (SFJ).
Thousands who took part in the referendum responded to the question: “Should India governed Punjab be an independent country?”. Chartered buses from more than 100 Gurdwaras transported voters to Queen Elizabeth Centre where large queues were formed throughout the day to get into the hall for voting. More than 200 Sikhs volunteered for the day.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said the SFJ is an international human rights advocacy group spearheading the campaign for Sikhs’ right to self-determination, which is one of the fundamental rights of all peoples guaranteed in the UN Charter. He said India had propagated for long that only a few dozen Sikhs were behind the Khalistan movement, but the participation by thousands of people in India had shown to the world that Khalistan had support of tens of millions of Sikhs across the world.
Gurpatwant said findings of the referendum would be shared with the United Nations and international bodies and wider consensus would be created. Paramjeet Singh Pamma, a British Sikh human rights activist who had been at the centre of controversy between India and UK over his extradition case, said Sikhs have attended the referendum in thousands to express their anger at the Indian government actions.
Paramjeet Singh Pamma, who has been acting as UK Coordinator for Khalistan Referendum, said the successful participation showed that Sikhs would never forget what India had done to Sikhs to annihilate their identity and history. He said Sikhs had realised that their salvation lied only in an independent homeland called Khalistan.
He said: “Today, thousands of Sikhs have exercised their democratic rights for independence from India. Sikhs will gain independence from India and that will happen at any cost. This is our birth right and we will get our right to freedom under the internationally recognised laws.”
He said after the UK, the referendum would take place in other countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, and the region of Punjab.
Dupinderjit Singh, who has decade long history of Khalistan activism, said Punjab Referendum was voice of Sikhs from all over the world. “We have shown to the world today that our voice cannot be suppressed.”
Gurcharan Singh, a leading Sikh activist, said India is a fascist state which believes in supremacy of Hindus only and does not tolerate other religious minorities. He said the Indian government spent millions of dollars to stop the referendum from going ahead but the resilience of Sikhs prevailed and thousands came out to register their support for an independent homeland called Khalistan.
The organisers said that although a non-governmental and non-binding referendum, the result would be used as the basis for the Sikh community to request an official binding vote from the United Nations on establishing the Indian governed region of Punjab as an independent homeland for the indigenous people of whom Sikhs are the single largest group.0
A week before the referendum, the Sikhs For Justice released a new map of India showing not just Punjab but Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and several districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as part of Khalistan.
The new map depicts that the area would be cut off from India and made into the Sikh country “Khalistan”. In Rajasthan, far-flung Bundi and Kota have also been counted as Khalistan. It has been claimed that these parts would be cut off from India.
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