Sikhs urge international action to tackle India on Kashmir

Birmingham: India’s unilateral moves to annex Kashmir, strip it of its nominal autonomy and brutally lay siege to its population has been unequivocally been condemned by Sikh nationalist organisations across the globe. The massive protest outside the Indian High Commission in London on 15th August, organised jointly by Sikh and Kashmiri organisations, has been followed up by sustained Sikh support at events aimed at expressing solidarity with Kashmiris in the face of continued aggression by India.
On Friday 30th August Sikh campaigners attended the Kashmiri solidarity event held at the Pakistan Consulate in Birmingham, where they were warmly received by Ahmar Ismail, the Consul General and by members of the wider Pakistani and Kashmiri communities. Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE addressed the gathering in his capacity of the President of the Council of Khalistan.
Recalling the way in which the Sikh nation was targeted with genocidal policies by the Indian state in the 1980s and 1990s, he said the Sikhs had also experienced the massive use of illegal force by India to suppress a legitimate struggle for self-determination. He expressed solidarity with the Kashmiri victims of Indian state terrorism and pledged to work tirelessly to promote the restoration of human rights in Kashmir but warned that would only be possible if the underlying cause of the conflict were addressed. The forcible denial of freedom must be stopped by international action, so that the right of self-determination could be freely exercised by the population that had been so tragically targeted by Hindutva colonialism for decades.
At a major rally and march later that day in the city centre, Sikh leaders again joined with Kashmiris who had gathered in large numbers outside the Council House, marching on to the Indian consulate in the city. Sikh representatives including Manpreet Singh (World Sikh Parliament), Paramjit Singh (Sikhs for Justice) and Joga Singh (Babbar Akali Organisation) assured the Kashmiris that Sikh nationalists would continue to work with their Kashmiri friends so as to defeat Indian aggression. The gathering was addressed by several local MPs including Labour’s Tom Watson, Shaban Mahmood and Jack Dromey as well as numerous local councillors including Waseem Zaffar. The Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion also spoke, along with Robert Alden the Conservative party leader in the city. There was unanimous condemnation of India’s actions in Kashmir.
Ranjit Singh Srai (Council of Khalistan) ridiculed Indian PM Modi’s contention that Kashmir was an internal matter or even a bilateral matter – Modi’s own blatantly unlawful actions since 5th August have internationalised the dispute to an extent that made it impossible for India to ever again credibly make those absurd claims.  He sought action by the UK Government, the UN and the international community as a whole to tackle Modi’s government on its illegal rejection of the internationally recognised right of self-determination in Kashmir, as well as in Indian-occupied Punjab. Only the exercise of that right would bring enduring peace to a region that had, in reality, never been truly decolonised in 1947. Hindutva-based majoritarian domination was infinitely worse than British rule, he said,  and it was never going to work in Kashmir and Punjab; it is time to remedy the historical failings that had caused decades of misery and destruction to people in their national homelands.
Kashmiri leaders Faheem Kiyani President Tehreek e Kashmir UK, Councillor Waseem Zaffar and Raja Amjad Khan thanked the Sikh participants and spoke of the need to broaden and deepen the coalition of nations, so as to more effectively bring pressure on India at a time when its actions are crossing many red lines and bringing the spectre of catastrophic conflict to South Asia.
The repeated scenes of thousands of people shouting slogans of ‘Kashmir Zindabad’ and ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ outside Indian missions will have caused deep anxiety in Indian establishment circles. It must be becoming apparent to decision makers in Delhi that, whatever the prison camp conditions they impose in Kashmir, freedom loving diaspora communities living in democratic societies will not allow massive human rights abuses and the denial of fundamental freedoms to go unchecked. It is a matter of time, according to Manpreet Singh, before those voices for the oppressed bring about a change in the global narrative so that India’s right wing fanaticism can be tackled by effective international action.

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