The United Kingdom has politely turned down India’s request to prevent a ‘pro-Khalistan’ rally from taking place in London on 12 August. The event has been organised by the US-based separatist group, Sikhs for Justice, to call for a “referendum” on the creation of ‘Khalistan’.

It is believed to have received support from elements in Pakistan as well. “People in the UK have a right to protest provided that they do so within the law,’’ the UK government is learnt to have told New Delhi.

However, India has also been assured that should a protest contravene the law of the land, the police have comprehensive powers to deal with activities that spread hate or deliberately raise tensions through violence and public disorder. India had lodged its protest against the proposed rally in July through diplomatic channels while drawing attention to anti-India activities of ‘Khalistan’ elements in the UK.

‘We have taken it up with UK and have issued a demarche. We expect UK will not allow such anti-India activities to be carried out in UK,’ External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. However, India has still not given up on its demand for the cancellation of the event. ‘’India will continue to press the matter with the UK. As a strategic partner, India hopes the UK will take into account the larger perspective in the matter,’’ sources said.

As a matter of fact, members of the strong Sikh community in the UK have also resented the organising of the event and publicly voiced their opposition to it. ‘Khalistan’ remains a thorny issue in bilateral ties between India and the UK.

India had lodged a protest with the UK after the tricolour was burnt by ‘Khalistan’ elements at Parliament Square when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was addressing a diaspora event in Westminster during his April visit.