After Canada, UK Grabbing Spotlight For Response To Sikh Activism
Canada-India ties have embraced a dramatic turn as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said there is credible evidence to suggest India was involved in the murder of a Canadian sikh.
Now, rumours have started swirling around the deaths of other Sikh activists around the world, including the sudden demise of Avtar Singh Khanda in Birmingham in June.
The 35-year-old was well known for his support of the creation of a breakaway Sikh homeland, Khalistan. Some of those close to him insinuate there was foul play involved.
However, West Midlands Police say they thoroughly reviewed the case and there were no suspicious circumstances necessitating a re-investigation.
India-UK Ties Remain Strong Amid Controversies Over Sikh Activism
British Sikhs have long been raising concerns over apparently feeling under pressure, as New Delhi has openly demanded that London do more to remove “extremism” within the community.
In March, Indian PM Modi’s administration expressed its concern when Sikh rights and pro-Khalistan protesters vandalised the Indian High Commission in London during a demonstration.
After its peak in the 1980s, support for the creation of a breakaway Sikh homeland waned in India. But it has seen a resurgence in recent years, particularly in the Sikh diaspora.
Rishi Sunak’s Take On Jagtar Johal’s Detention
In the UK, Gurpreet Johal is a lawyer and Labour councillor from Dumbarton. A few years ago, his brother Jagtar – a pro-Khalistan and Sikh rights activist – went to India to get married.
However, he was forced into an unmarked car in the town of Rami Mandi in Punjab, Johal’s family says. Ever since then, he has been in prison over accusations of extremist activities.
Jagtar Johal was reportedly compelled to sign confession statements. “The Canadian prime minister has stood up for his citizens, whereas [the UK] has failed to do so,” said Gurpreet Johal.
While British PM Rishi Sunak has highlighted his interest in “seeing Johal’s case resolved as soon as possible,” the Foreign Office said calling for his release would not help matters.