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Hundreds of Sikhs rally in London against India

LONDON: Hundreds of Sikh separatists and their supporters gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square on Sunday to demand a referendum on an independent homeland to be carved out of India.

They brandished banners reading “Free Punjab, End Indian occupation”, “Punjab Referendum 2020 for Khalistan” and “We will re-establish Punjab as an independent country”.

The protest was organised by the US and Canada-based group Sikhs for Justice, and drew people from all over the world, many of them chanting “Khalistan”.

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The Indian government has expressed concern to London over the activity of expatriate Sikh separatists, who want to create a homeland of Khalistan in India’s northern Punjab state.

The Foreign Office confirmed it discussed the rally with the Indian High Commission, but a spokeswoman told AFP: “Peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society.”

Gurpatwant S. Pannun, legal advisor to Sikhs for Justice, said: “This is a peaceful, democratic campaign to give Sikhs the right to determine their own future.”

Jas Singh, 26, a demonstrator from London, told AFP: “In India, anybody who speaks for a referendum gets picked up and put in jail.”

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