India pressurizes UK over asylum to Sikh separatists
New Delhi, Apr 12 (EFE).- The Indian government on Wednesday expressed its concerns to the United Kingdom over the presence of pro-Khalistan separatists – who seek an independent Sikh country to be carved out of India – in Britain with asylum status, during an official meeting with the European nation’s officials in the backdrop of an international manhunt against a separatist leader.
India raised the issue in New Delhi during a “home affairs” dialog between the two countries attended by the permanent secretary of UK’s home office, Matthew Rycroft, the Indian home ministry said in a brief.
During the meeting, India “specifically conveyed its concerns on the misuse of UK’s asylum status by the pro-Khalistani elements to aid and abet terrorist activities in India,” the statement said.
New Delhi also sought greater cooperation from London, including “monitoring of UK based pro-Khalistan Extremists and taking appropriate proactive action.”
India’s demands to the UK come amid ongoing operations to capture a Sikh separatist leader who gained prominence recently and has revived calls for Khalistan – an independent nation of the Sikhs – in the northern Indian state of Punjab.
Indian authorities have been trying to track and arrest pro-Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh for nearly a month, making dozens of arrests and carrying out raids to find his whereabouts, without success so far.
It has been speculated that the leader has managed to flee India.
Large-scale security measures and restrictions were imposed in Punjab, where Singh was based until his escape, amid widespread media coverage of the operation to nab him, triggering protests by Sikh separatists outside India.
The United Kingdom and Canada are two of the countries with the highest number of Sikh immigrants and have been the epicenters of the major protests in support of Amritpal.
The protests also reached the Indian High Commission in London, where a group of people waving flags with the Khalistan symbol pelted stones against the building’s windows and a man climbed to the first floor to remove the Indian tricolor flag and raise the separatist flag.
India has for years denounced overseas support to the pro-Khalistan movement, which dates back to the 1980s and was at the root of an insurgency that resulted in around 25,000 deaths between 1981 and 1995. EFE