Pakistan Tries To Incite 1,800 Indian Sikh Pilgrims With ‘Khalistan Referendum’ Banners In Shrines

A Khalistan Referendum poster in Pakistan. (Aditya Raj Koul/Twitter)

New Delhi on Monday summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner and lodged a strong protest over attempt to promote separatism in India by inciting 1,800 Sikh pilgrims to raise demand for Khalistan, The Indian Express has reported.

According to reports, Pakistan tried to incite the pilgrims by making inflammatory remarks and displaying propaganda posters titled “Sikh referendum: 2020 Khalistan” in gurdwaras and other shrines they are visiting.

Pakistan had also not allowed Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad, including the High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, to visit the pilgrims.

Attempts were “being made during the ongoing visit of the Sikh pilgrims from India to Pakistan to raise the issue of ‘Khalistan’ by making inflammatory statements and displaying posters at various places of pilgrims visit in Pakistan,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

“We have photographs to prove that Pakistan authorities are trying to incite Sikh pilgrims,” officials told The Indian Express. These photographs have been shared with Pakistan’s deputy envoy in Delhi, they added.

Pakistan has denied these charges.

United States-based radical group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is planning to organise a world-wide referendum for the creation of Khalistan, a separate country for Sikhs, in 2020. According to SFJ leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the referendum is being organised under Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations.

After an unofficial referendum in 2020, we plan to ask United Nations to get it done officially,” he said in 2015.

In the 1980s, India witnessed a Pakistan-sponsored insurgency for the creation of a separate Khalistan state for Sikhs. It was quelled in the early 1990s.