Pakistan not behind Khalistan movement, says UK govt report

From Cherry Ferguson
LONDON: A report published by British government-funded Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) says that many Sikhs feel angered by claims made by India’s government of growing British and Canadian Sikh terrorism and that “Khalistani” movement has the backing of Pakistan – without any evidence.
The report for the UK government’s independent adviser on extremism found that Sikhs were angry that campaigns to highlight human rights abuses were labelled “Khalistani terrorism” with accusations that they were Pakistani funded — without evidence ever presented publicly by the Indian government.
The report titled “The Changing Nature of Activism among Sikhs in the UK” has been written by Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal at the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham and Sunny Hundal a journalist and a writer.
The report, based on research and interviews, found that tensions between Sikhs and Hindus in Britain were rising and were set to get worse with the Sikhs becoming more assertive about their faith identity while playing a bigger role in wider society.
The report analysed in detail why more Sikhs in the West were demanding an independent homeland for Sikhs — called Khalistan — and why the Indian government saw it through the lens of terrorism and extremism. The report further said the Indian govt overlooked the fact that a significant portion of Sikhs came to Britain and Canada in the 80s to escape the Indian government’s persecution and were attracted to this idea of ethnonationalism.
The paper said, “It is hard to say how many Sikhs in Britain want an independent homeland, as there is little solid polling on the question, but it is certainly true that the events of 1984 in Amritsar and New Delhi, and subsequent events overthe years have super-charged demands for Khalistan.”
Most participants of the survey agreed that Sikhs want a separate homeland because of the injustice they have faced and continue to face. They rejected claims by Indian government of extremism and the funding of terrorism. The report further said, “The theme of injustice was a common thread in responses. Many of our respondents said most Sikhs saw Khalistan as an abstract concept; a proxy for anger over events from 1984 and the treatment of Sikhs in India as second-class citizens. Some respondents who did not support Khalistan said the idea also remained popular because of the actions of the Indian government towards diaspora Sikhs. In recent years, the Indian government has repeatedly accused diaspora Sikhs of turning towards extremism and funding terrorism in India.”
The report analysed whether allegations that Muslim men have targeted Sikh women for grooming were right and found that while there have been tensions in communities but there was no evidence to back up the claim. The report added, “There is some evidence that Sikh women have been victims of sexual grooming by gangs of men, some of primarily Pakistani-heritage. However, most of our respondents felt these claims are being exaggerated to serve other agendas.” The report found that there was a simmering discontent towards India amongst Sikh diaspora because of Narendra Modi’s nationalist agenda and rise of Hindutva. It said attitudes towards India had improved while Manmohan Singh, a turban-wearing Sikh, was prime minister of India from 2004-2014. It mentioned that relations between Sikhs and India started deteriorating when India arrested and detained British Sikh activist Jagtar Singh Johal.
The report discussed how, last year, New York-based group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) mobilised between ten to 30,000 Sikhs around Trafalgar Square to promote a Referendum on Punjab’s independence in 2020.