15 April 2019
Chandigarh: Pro-Khalistan group 'Sikhs For Justice (SFJ)' has claimed that the Pakistan government has banned the registration of the 'Khalistan Referendum Team 2020' on its soil at the behest of the Narendra Modi government.
SFJ legal adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannun claimed on Monday that authorities in Pakistan had stopped the group's activists from putting up posters and banners of the Khalistan referendum campaign at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hassan Abdal where thousands of Sikhs from India were visiting to celebrate the 320th year of Khalsa Sajna Diwas.
A 'jatha' of 389 Indian devotees, under the aegis of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), were visiting Pakistan till April 21 to offer prayers at various gurdwaras in that country on the occasion of Baisakhi.
The SFJ had put up hoardings and banners of its separatist activities at Sikh shrines in Pakistan last year during the visit of Indian pilgrims which was objected to by Indian authorities.
"Pro-Khalistan activists were officially invited to launch the registration the president of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on behalf of the Pakistan government. The Khalistan activists from North America and Europe, who reached Pakistan in the first week of April, were not allowed to post banners of Khalistan in Gurdwara Panja Sahib and were forced to stop the scheduled plan to register volunteers for Referendum 2020," Pannun said in an official statement issued from the SFJ New York headquarters.
"Prime Minister Imran Khan and (Pakistan) Army Chief (Qamar Javed) Bajwa, who have been deceptively claiming to be the messiah of the Sikh community have succumbed and bowed down to Modi government's dictatorial pressure to ban SFJ's 'Khalistan Referendum Team 2020' registration event at Panja Sahib during the visiting Sikh pilgrims from India," Pannun said.
The SFJ is a secessionist group which is seeking a separate Sikh homeland -- Khalistan.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has been critical of the SFJ saying that it is a "one-man army caked by Pakistan's ISI" (Inter-Services Intelligence).
"Pakistan Army and ISI have treaded the path of alienating the global Sikh community who have continuously supported Pakistan during India's threat of jingoistic war," Pannun said.
Reiterating that 'Punjab Independence Referendum 2020' is a democratic campaign for "right to self-determination through ballot not bullet", he claimed that SFJ's global peaceful movement was being undermined by the Pakistan government.