New Delhi: The British government rejected the Khalistani extremist group Sikhs for Justice’s Referendum 2020 which seeks the separation of Punjab from rest of India saying that it considers Punjab as part of India. 

A British High Commission spokesperson in response to a question on the SFJ-led referendum said, “This is a matter for the government and people of India, not foreign countries or overseas organisations. While we support the right of anyone to voice their opinion, the UK government is not involved in anyway with this unofficial and non-binding referendum,” he said, adding, “We consider the Indian Punjab to be a part of India.”

The so-called referendum is to form an “Independent country” in India’s Punjab and has found support in Pakistan. Referendum posters have been seen at important Sikh gurudwaras, a matter that was raised with Islamabad by New Delhi. 

The development comes, days after Canada dismissed support for Khalistani separatism. Last weekend, the Canadian foreign ministry had said, “The Canada-India bilateral relationship is a priority for the government of Canada. We respect the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of India.” 

When asked about the so-called referendum being organised by Khalistani extremist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), the Canadian foreign ministry said, “Government of Canada will not recognize the referendum.” 

The remarks have been welcomed by India, the Indian envoy to Canada Ajay Bisaria said, “Canada continues to show sensitivity to Indian security concerns.”

He explained, “Canada is a strategic partner for India and we will continue to engage closely with Canadian interlocutors, including security agencies, on a range of bilateral security issues.”

Canada has the largest number of Sikhs outside of India, accounting for around 1.4% of the population of the North American country.

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