LONDON—On 30 June the Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon. William Hague MP met with Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. The Indian Express on 1 July reported the British Foreign Secretary William Hague assured India that they will curb “anti-India demonstrations” by Sikhs.
The Sikh Federation (UK) immediately responded by contacting UK politicians within hours of the news report appearing in India. Emma Reynolds MP, Shadow Foreign Minister, subsequently raised Parliamentary Questions and wrote to the Foreign Secretary asking him to clarify his position. She is still waiting for a response.
A part of Sikh gathering during Freedom Rally at Trafalgar Square. (File Photo, 2011/06/05)
The Sikh Federation (UK) lodged a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with the UK Foreign Office on 5 July demanding copies of all documents, including emails, meeting reports, minutes and official communications between the Foreign Office and India where any reference was made to Sikhs. The formal response to an FOI request is usually within 20 working days.
Sikh Federation UK’s Secretary Gurjeet Singh Samra informed that the Foreign Office response was received yesterday and confirmed no information was held supporting the Indian Express report based on Indian Government sources.
Today, Foreign Office officials that deal with India have written to the Sikh Federation (UK) about press reports of the Foreign Secretary’s meeting with Foreign Minister Krishna with regards to Sikh protests in the UK and reassured the Federation that the ‘FCO respects the right of lawful protest.’
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said, ‘the information and reassurances we have received from the UK Foreign Office in the last 24-hours prove that Indian Government sources and press reports based on these should not be trusted. The UK Government has confirmed in writing it respects our right to lawful protest and in effect contradicted false India propaganda against Sikhs who protest and are pushing for an independent Sikh State.’