The threat from Khalistani supporters against India is increasing not only in Canada but has also recently made its presence felt in other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. These countries have been reporting protests by Khalistani supporters against India for some time now. A similar demonstration was held outside the Indian High Commission in London on 2 October. According to media reports, Khalistani supporters set the Indian tricolor on fire. Prominent Khalistani separatists including Dal Khalsa UK leader Gurcharan Singh and India’s ‘most wanted’ Paramjit Singh Pamma were also present at the protest. Singh poured cow urine on the national flag of India and was later removed from the site by the police. The incident has drawn outrage among other foreign countries amid tensions in diplomatic relations between India and Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged New Delhi’s role in the killing of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June. The Khalistani threat has been brought into the limelight.
Last week, Indian High Commissioner to Britain Vikram Doraiswami was stopped from entering a gurudwara in Glasgow during his visit to Scotland. According to Indian media reports, three Khalistani extremists from outside Scotland were behind the incident. Glasgow Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib Sikh Sabha, condemning the disorderly behavior of unruly individuals, said in a statement that an incident occurred on 29 September 2023 at the Glasgow Gurdwara, where the Indian High Commissioner was on a private visit. Some unidentified persons from outside the Glasgow area attempted to disrupt the visit, after which the visiting party decided to leave the premises. India also informed the UK government about the incident and demanded strict action against the culprits. Recently a Sikh restaurant owner in Britain claimed that Khalistani elements vandalized his cars in retaliation for his video speaking against the Sikh separatist movement. Harman Singh told that they came outside my house and threw red color, a symbol of blood, as a threat. Later they destroyed the windscreen of my car. They have attacked me four times in the last eight months. He said he was being harassed since May when he posted a video on TikTok criticizing the Khalistan movement. In September, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak dismissed fears of a rise in pro-Khalistani extremism in Britain, saying he took very seriously the government’s duty to combat violent, divisive ideologies. We are working closely with our partners in the Indian government to tackle the threat of pro-Khalistan extremism and British police are fully empowered to deal with violent acts.
United States of america
Pro-Khalistan elements had attacked the Indian Consulate in San Francisco in July and tried to set it on fire. The US strongly condemned the arson attempt, saying that vandalism or violence against US diplomatic facilities or foreign diplomats is a criminal offense. The Consulate in San Francisco also came under attack in March when protesters planted two Khalistani flags inside its premises, which were soon removed by Consulate personnel. Some Khalistan supporters also entered the building and attacked the doors and windows with iron rods. Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Consul General of the Indian Consulate General in San Francisco Dr TV Nagendra Prasad have also been targeted in posters allegedly spread by Sikh extremists on Nijjar’s killing. Security was beefed up outside the Indian Embassy in Washington DC in view of protests by pro-Khalistani groups on India’s Independence Day. In March a group of Khalistan supporters protested in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, threatening Sandhu and trying to incite violence. They attempted to damage Indian Embassy property, but were stopped by law enforcement agencies.
In July, a 23-year-old Indian student was reported attacked with iron rods by Khalistan supporters in Maryland, a western suburb of Sydney, for protesting against the Khalistani movement. Police have been told a 23-year-old man was walking on Rupert Street when he was attacked by four men armed with metal poles. In March, Khalistani protesters gathered outside the Australian Parliament in Canberra against the police action against Waris Punjab D chief Amritpal Singh and his associates.
Why is Khalistan movement growing in foreign countries?
Khalistan movement hardly finds any place in Punjab today. But the demand for a separate Sikh homeland still resonates among some in the diaspora, especially among those who do not understand the changed realities of the Indian state. Separatist sentiment is popular only among a section of the Sikh expatriate community abroad. Those who claim to shed blood for the Khalistan movement in foreign countries are doing so only for their own self-interest. They want to show their solidarity towards those whom they see as victims of the Indian system. The wounded psyche of the Blue Star era is still intact, although a lot has changed in Punjab. The story of the Sikhs as a minority community living in Hindu India fits the narrative built around Khalistan.