Sikh Federation (UK) challenge UK Foreign Secretary over Indian press reports following his meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister
- Sikh Federation (UK) challenge UK Foreign Secretary over Indian press reports following his meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister
London - 1 July 2011
Yesterday (Thursday 30 June) the Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon. William Hague MP met with Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in London. The Indian Express has reported the British Foreign Secretary William Hague has assured India that they will curb “anti-India demonstrations” by Sikhs. See Indian Express article titled 'Will curb anti-India protests, UK assures Krishna' below.
This is almost certainly a direct response to the large peaceful protest by Sikhs in June 2011 to mark the 27th anniversary of the massacre at the Golden Temple Complex and protests against the likes of Kamal Nath when the Indian High Commission also complained to the Metropolitan Police and the Foreign Office.
The Sikh Federation (UK) responded within hours of the news report appearing in India by contacting UK politicians to clarify the situation. The Federation has asked the All Party Parliamentary Group for UK Sikhs and Shadow Foreign Ministers to urgently take up the following matters with the Foreign Secretary:
i) Did the Foreign Secretary raise the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar at the meeting yesterday? If not, why not, given many MPs have raised the Professor’s case with the Foreign Office and this was an ideal opportunity.
ii) The Foreign Secretary / FCO must issue an urgent rebuttal against the Indian Express report that the Foreign Secretary agreed to ‘curb’ peaceful protests in the UK by the Sikh community against India.
The Sikh Federation (UK) has said it may in the next 48 hours launch a letter writing campaign from the Sangat through Gurdwaras and the Sikh media to put pressure on UK MPs to write to the Foreign Secretary to raise these issues.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said “we are confident that with the support of the Sangat we can get well over 150-200 MPs to write to the Foreign Secretary to get him to explain whether or not he gave assurances and to back the Sikhs rights to peacefully protest against India”.Gurjeet SinghNational Press SecretarySikh Federation (UK)Will curb anti-India protests, UK assures KrishnaIndian Express - 1 July 2011
In the backdrop of recent instances of pro-Khalistan demonstrations in the UK, British Foreign Secretary William Hague is learnt to have assured India that they will curb “anti-India demonstrations”.
Sources said Hague assured External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in a bilateral meeting in London on Thursday that “UK is sensitive to India’s core concerns and it will look into anti-India activities in the country and anti-India demonstrations will be curbed”.
With Somalian piracy bothering the UK and India alike, sources said Britain has proposed “delegation-level consultations on increasing presence of naval forces and anti-piracy issues”. New Delhi has said it will discuss the proposal separately. Krishna has reiterated that India has committed its full support to international anti-piracy efforts.
During the talks at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Thursday, Hague pitched for Britain’s partnership with India in the 0education sector in a big way. Britain, sources said, is keen to establish universities in India and wants to collaborate in this regard. Hague informed the Indian delegation, led by Krishna, who is accompanied by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, that major changes in the student visa system are in the offing, which will come into effect from August this year.
Indian officials said the new system will help students, as entry will be allowed only to students who can speak in English. The UK border agency will refuse entry to students who cannot speak English and need an interpreter. This rule will be effective from August onwards. This is expected to put India — with a large population of youth well-versed in English — at an advantageous position, ahead of other Asian countries.
The delegations spoke about substantial progress made in the year since PM David Cameron’s visit to India and looked forward to the tasks for the year ahead. The delegations discussed a wide range of foreign policy matters, including UN Security Council reforms.