New Delhi [India], July 31 (ANI): Days after the Canadian government discarded the call for 'Punjab Referendum 2020', the United Kingdom has now rejected the US-based Khalistani extremist group's idea of a referendum to seek the separation of Punjab from the rest of India.
According to media reports, a British High Commission spokesperson in response to a question on the referendum said, "This is a matter for the government and people of India, not foreign countries or overseas organisations. While we support the right of anyone to voice their opinion, the UK government is not involved in any way with this unofficial and non-binding referendum," he said while adding, "We consider the Indian Punjab to be a part of India."
The development comes days after Canada dismissed support for Khalistani separatism. Last weekend, the Canadian foreign ministry had said, "The Canada-India bilateral relationship is a priority for the government of Canada. We respect the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of India."
When asked about the so-called referendum being organised by Khalistani extremist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), the Canadian foreign ministry said, "Government of Canada will not recognise the referendum."
The remarks have been welcomed by India, the Indian envoy to Canada Ajay Bisaria said, "Canada continues to show sensitivity to Indian security concerns."
In a recent interview with ANI, Maninderjeet Singh Bitta, chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front said, "Referendum 2020 -- is nothing but propaganda by Pakistan's ISI, which is backing and funding them."
He said, "The Sikhs abroad are much closer to their religion and have promoted Sikhism worldwide. If few people speak in favour of Khalistan, it doesn't mean that the entire Sikh community is supporting them".
He had also predicted about the UK and the United States opposing the Punjab Referendum 2020 on their soil as such unlawful activities against any country affects bilateral relations.
Bitta had also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making no compromise in dealing with such things. "He has been doing a lot for the Sikh community. Be it the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor or removing the names of Sikhs living abroad who were blacklisted for their alleged involvement in the movement," he said.
The people in India's northern state of Punjab suffered immensely during the 1980s and early 1990s because of militancy-led violence. New Delhi blamed Pakistan's secret agencies for creating a disturbance in Punjab then and now supporting some Sikh separatists settled in the West.
Punjab is a prosperous and peaceful state where people have rejected the so-called Referendum 2020 by calling it a conspiracy of Pakistan. (ANI)