London: India’s Independence Day celebrations on August 15 have been planned in the UK to counter a pro-Khalistan rally at London’s Trafalgar Square on Sunday. The organisers ‘We Stand With India’ accused the group behind the pro-Khalistan rally, ‘London Declaration for a Referendum 2020’, of spreading lies about the event being cancelled.
Thousands are expected to descend upon the iconic Trafalgar Square from both sides after the UK said it would not ban any group protesting peacefully. “Why is Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) spreading lies about the Indian Independence Day rally being cancelled,” the organiser Navdeep Singh was quoted as saying on Saturday.
The UK government said that “in the UK people have the right to gather together and to demonstrate their views, provided that they do so within the law”. Chairman of the British Sikh Association Dr Rami Ranger dismissed the pro-Khalistan rally as a move by a “handful of un-elected and self appointed Sikhs”. The SFJ said its rally is intended to raise awareness for a non-binding referendum in 2020, calling for the Sikh-majority state of Punjab to be granted independence.
India disappointed at the stance
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi has issued a statement, expressing its disappointment at the stance. ‘We have said that it seeks to propagate violence, secessionism and hatred and we expect them to take into account the larger perspective of the relationship when they take a decision on such matters,’ MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
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(With inputs from Agencies)