WESTMINSTER, UK—During the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and Windsor due for April this year, the Britain government is going to rake up the issue of persecution of minorities, especially Sikhs and Christians, in India. It is learnt that the British Ministers will rake up the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It is notable here that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a biennial summit meeting of the heads of government from all Commonwealth nations. Every two years the meeting is held in a different member state and is chaired by that nation’s respective Prime Minister or President who becomes the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office until the next meeting. The first CHOGM was held in 1971, and there have been 24 held in total: the most recent was held in Valletta, Malta.
The British Parliamentarians raised the issue of persecution of minorities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh during debate on “Freedom of Religion or Belief” held last week in the Westminster Hall of the House of Commons. The British Parliamentarians also and demanded that the ministers should discuss it when Commonwealth leaders are here for CHOGM.
Besides Britain Parliamentarians, Scottish Parliamentarian Martin Docherty-Hughes (Scottish National Party) also projected the illegal detention of his constituent, Jagtar Singh Johal, in Punjab without any charge and said that the members of the Sikh community across the UK have become gravely concerned that they, too, may be detained on the simple premise of being a member of the Sikh faith.
Responding to the debate, Foreign Office minister for Asia Mark Field said, “We will do our best to raise this issue in an appropriate manner at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in mid-April, to ensure that Parliament’s voice is properly heard”.