A file photo of Sikhs during a protest march against ISI and Pro-Khalistan Group Member Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, at the Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi (ANI Photo)
Terming attempts at Khalistan referendum in a few Western countries by an outfit banned by India as “pakhand” and a handiwork of Pakistan’s ISI, Dal Khalsa founder Jaswant Singh Thekedar has said that it is an attempt to mislead people and has nothing to do with Sikhs in India.
In an interview with ANI, Thekedar, who is UK-based Sikh separatist leader, also said Pakistan is the real enemy of Khalistan and “some Sikhs are working as tools” in hands of Pakistan government. He said people of Punjab are not demanding any referendum.
“The referendum you are talking about, those in Punjab do not demand it. It’s an organisation 2020, they talk of referendum on the instructions of ISI. Referendum does not mean… if Indian passport holders or Indian citizens want it then it is understandable, but it is not that Canadian, American or British people vote. They do not have any right,” he said answering queries.
“It is ‘pakhand’ (sham) to mislead people. People are understanding it a source of income for them,” he added.
Asked about reports last year of Khalistani slogans painted on walls of Indian Consulate in San Francisco in the United States last year, he said such an act had never been done.
“It is not right (to write Khalistan Zindabad) on the consulate building. It was never done in the past, during the movement in the past 40 years. As I said, there is an ISI role in it. They are misleading them, hiring people and getting this done. There is no hand of Sikhs in this,” he said.
On Wednesday the Indian consulate in Brisbane in Australia was forced to close down due to safety concerns following unauthorised gathering by Khalistani supporters.
Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday that India’s Honorary Consulate in Brisbane was “halted for little while” and the matter had been taken up with Australian authorities and the teams of two countries are in touch.
Asked about to ‘Warris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh, whose supporters had last month stormed Ajnala Police station in Amritsar seeking release of his associate, Thakedar said Amritpal Singh does not know about Sikh history and he will not succeed.
“He (Amritpal Singh) himself, when he was in Dubai, was clean-shaven. He was not a (traditional) Sikh. He does not know anything about Sikh history. I must add that several Amritpal like him will come because those who are used by ISI, they are not used for lifetime. When they feel that a person is no longer of use, they keep other people in line. They pick others then,” he said.
“Amritpal is not a Khalistani, he knows nothing about it. But this is for sure, he has earned a lot on the name of Khalistan. I don’t think he will succeed further,” Thekedar added.
He said Pakistan government now thinks that they do not need to fight with India. “Some Sikhs are working as tools in their hands. They think they do not need to get into war in which thousands will die (on their side). They now use and feed people, and disturb the Indian government.”
Thekedar said every issue has a political solution.
“Those who were previously pro-Khalistan, their committee should be constituted by the Indian government. If solutions like these are found, the Khalistan movement will end.”
He also slammed the Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab over the law and order situation in the state.
“The Punjab government is not capable of dealing with this. There is no face in it which can handle this. I feel they, by not taking right actions, are giving a boost to this movement,” Thekedar said.
He also said that Pakistan is enemy of Khalistan and it wants to foment trouble.
“Pakistan knows that if a country of Sikhs comes into being, they will next come to Lahore only. They will come to Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib. They themselves won’t let this happen. Pakistan is the real enemy of Khalistan,” Thekedar said.
He said Pakistan has never given political asylum to any Sikh, because it does not want them to get any status.
“The Khalistanis know that Pakistan wants us to get killed and use us. They know it internally,” he added.
Answering a query, he said that “movement” has almost ended in United Kingdom.
He said Indian government should fulfil demands such as release of Sikh political prisoners as it will create goodwill and check those who want separatism to rise.