Sikhs hold rally near UN to demand independence for Indian Punjab


—File Photo

UNITED NATIONS: Hundreds of Sikh activists from North America staged a rally in front of the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday — India’s Independence Day — to demand independence for the Indian Punjab as they raised the “Khalistan” flag.

The demonstrators, who gathered in the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. raised anti-India slogans. They carried placard, saying “Free Punjab – End Indian Occupation” and “Referendum 2020”.converged at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, UN Headquarters and raised a “Khalistan” Flag.

Speakers at the rally urged the United Nations to support that they called Punjab Independence Referendum to secede from India to create a separate Sikh homeland, Khalistan. In 2020, Sikh organizations have announced plans to hold an unofficial, non-binding referendum in which the community will be asked to give their opinion on the question of right to self-determination.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Sikh activists met with Ms. Li Fung, Human  Rights Officer with the office of UN’s Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, and submitted a report, entitled, “A Case For Punjab Referendum 2020 – Sikhs’ Right to Self-Determination – Why and How?”, according to a press release issued by Sikhs for Justice (SfJ), an advocacy group.

SfJ’s 90 page report addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres  said, “India was decolonized in 1947 by the British creating two countries – India and Pakistan. Sikhs, however, became victim of imperfect decolonization wherein their pre-colonization status was not restored and instead Sikh homeland was placed under Indian rule”.

“Victims of an ‘imperfect decolonization’ and Indian oppression, the  Sikh people, through this report, urge the United Nations, the principle body to protect and promote of rights of all people, to support their demand for holding of referendum in the Indian occupied Punjab for the realization of their right to self-determination,”the report added.

Arguing the case for the “Punjab Independence Referendum” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ, stated that the Sikhs meet UNESCO’s definition of “people” and other requirements for claiming right to self-determination and secession from India.

“We urge the United Nations, the principle body to protect and promote of rights of all people, to support Sikhs right to self-determination; secession of Sikh homeland-Punjab from India; and creation of independent sovereign country Khalistan”.

“Referendum is a UN approved and a peaceful mode for actualizing a people’s right to self determination and today we urged the Secretary General to support the Sikh community in its endeavors”, Pannun added.

Tuesday’s Azad Punjab Rally was pioneered by Gurdawara Sikh Cultural Society of Richmond Hill along with management committees of tri-state Gurdawaras; East Coast Sikh Coordination Committee; Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar (USA); Sikh Youth of America; Sikhs For Justice (SFJ); Doaba Sikh Association; Khalistan Affair Center, Washington D.C.; The Sikh Center of New York Inc., Flushing, NY; American Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee; Gurudwara Singh Sabha Carteret, New Jersey; Gurudwara Singh Sabha, Glen Rock, New Jersey; Gurudawara Dashmesh Darbar, Carteret New Jersey; Sikh Gurudwara, Pine Hill, New Jersey; Gurudwara Dashmesh Darbar, Burlington, New Jersey; and Gurudwara Singh Sabha, Fairfax, Virginia.—APP