The separatist Sikh organisation, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), has offered to “sponsor” Punjabi youth as well as political activists to take part in a gathering which is taking place in London in August this year in connection with their campaign of “Referendum 2020”.
According to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the legal advisor to SFJ based in New York, the organisation will provide sponsorship letters to Punjab students and political activists to enable them to get a UK visa in order to attend the “London declaration on Referendum 2020” to be held on August 12.
Pannun said that SFJ is also arranging free stay for visitors from Punjab from August 10 to 14 for the activists in London. The pro-Khalistan group has started an aggressive social media campaign which is asking the students in Punjab to email a copy of their passport and their college ID card in order to get the sponsorship letter. A WhatsApp number, which is of USA, has also been floated where these documents can be sent.
The SFJ claims that it is an international advocacy group working for “Punjab Independence Referendum 2020 for Sikhs’ right to self determination” as guaranteed under Article 1 common to the UN Charter, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic and Cultural Rights. It claims that the referendum is a political opinion and its peaceful propagation is protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
According to Pannun, on August 12, at Trafalgar Square, SFJ is holding the “declaration” in which Sikh political activists, in the presence of delegates from referendum seeking communities from around the world, will unveil the case for “Sikhs’ right to self-determination for the independence of Punjab”.
Officials in Intelligence wing of Punjab police said that they were aware of this campaign which had been launched by SFJ and that a tab was being kept on the activities of the sympathisers organisation in the state. “We have also received information that monetary allurements are also being made by the separatist organisation to attract youth to the gathering in London. We suspect that there is the active role of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, in this entire affair and the social media campaign is also being directed by them,” said a senior official.
The Punjab government has come down hard on the SFJ in July last year when five SFJ activists, including Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, were booked for putting up posters of the “referendum” in different cities of Punjab. Apart from Pannun, Jagdeep Singh and Jagjeet Singh are in USA while two persons from Mohali and Jammu were arrested.
The SFJ “referendum” had against hit the headline sin June this year when the Leader of Opposition in Punjab assembly, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, made a statement saying that while he did not support the “referendum” yet there were certain underlying causes for it which needed to be addressed. Khaira was condemned by all other major political parties in Punjab for his comments and was also ticked-off by the Delhi leadership of Aam Aadmi party (AAP).