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Honorable Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs &
Vice-President of the Commission
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
1049 1049 Brussels, Belgium
Re: EU-India Summit, March 2016
Honorable Ms. Mogherini:
On behalf of the members of the Sikh community, we urge that during upcoming EU-India Summit you raise the following issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi:
a) Denial of separate religious identity and freedom to Sikhs in India;
b) Increase in state sponsored violence against Sikhs during Modi regime; and
c) Policy of labeling European Sikh nationalists as “terrorists” for advocating liberation of Punjab from Indian occupation.
Sikhism, with over 30 million followers, is the world’s 5th largest religion but Indian Constitution labels “Sikhs” as “Hindus” in Article 25(b).
Since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India, state sponsored violence against Sikhs has escalated; freedom to practice and preach religion has been violently curbed and filing of false cases against Sikh activists is on the rise.
In December 2015, Indian authorities through Interpol caused the arrest of a Sikh nationalist Paramjeet Singh in Portugal on the trumped up terror charges. Paramjeet Singh, a UK based refugee was tagged by Indian authorities solely because he is a vocal supporter of freedom of Punjab. Portugal ultimately denied India’s extradition request after it was established that Singh has already been granted refugee status due to the persecution he had suffered at the hands of Indian government.
In November 2015, the Sikh community held Sarbat Khalsa (global assembly of Sikhs) in Punjab which was attended by over half million Sikhs, including delegates from Europe and North America. Sarbat Khalsa unanimously passed the resolution reaffirming the Sikhs’ demand for creation independent country “Khalistan”. In the wake of Sarbat Khalsa, Indian government clamped down heavily and filed false charges and illegally detained hundreds of Sikh activists including those from overseas.
In October 2015, two Sikhs were shot dead and several injured by the Indian paramilitary forces during a peaceful rally protesting against desecration of Sikhs’ Holy book Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Instead of securing the Sikhs’ right to practice and defend their religion, the Indian government responded by deploying paramilitary forces in the region to violently curb peaceful gatherings.
During the first week of June 2015, Indian police killed a Sikh youth and injured scores by opening fire on a peaceful assembly of Sikhs gathered to protest over the removal of a banner carrying the picture of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, the slain Sikh leader who died defending the Golden Temple in June 1984.Indian government imposed curfew and denied Sikhs the right peaceful assembly.
Ever since Sikhs have been raising the demand for “right to self determination” they have been subjected to “Genocide” with impunity, starting from:
June 1984 massacre at the Golden Temple during military action against Sikh Vatican;
November 1984 organized killing of over 30,000 Sikhs and burning of Sikh Gurudwaras; and
1984-98, extra-judicial killing of over 100,000 Sikhs in the name of “counter insurgency operations” carried out to suppress the demand for right to self-determination.
We urge you to condemn India for denying Sikh identity and right to self-determination; increasing state sponsored violence and for labeling European Sikh nationalists as “terrorists” and to also raise these in your public comments during the upcoming EU-India Summit.