An array of leading Sikh and Kashmiri Diaspora took a serious note on the “insipid and wholly destructive phenomena” of the Hindutva project, which poses a “threat not only to minorities living in India, but the peace and security in the wider region”.
Participating in the Conference — heard from the major political parties in the UK — aimed at re-shaping the UK’s foreign policy vis a vis a Jammu and Kashmir that is now openly under the control of a “Hindutva movement which has progressively spread its wings since the British decolonisation in 1947”.
Chaired by Lord Nazir Ahmed, the event was addressed by respected academics Dr Iqtidar Cheema, Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon (from Punjab), Professor Nazir Shawl of Kashmir Concern, Professor Zafar Khan, and John Joshva Raja.
Speaker after speaker called for freedom and the rule of law as the only means of securing dignity and justice in the face of an existential threat posed by the Hindutva movement.
“It was time to win over the world community to make Hindutva itself the ‘minority’ that needed to fear the ‘majority’ of civilised human values and international standards,” the speakers said.
“From the forcible, illegal denial of the right of self-determination in Punjab and Kashmir, which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, to the genocide of Sikhs in 1984 and Muslims in 2002, to the attacks on Mosques, Gurdwaras and Churches, India’s appalling record was characterised as a fascist affront to millions of people which India’s judicial system seemed intent to ignore,” the speakers said.
The speakers called for the UK to prioritise human rights and the rule of law in all trade, aid and diplomatic engagement with India, as well as raising the issues at bilateral and multilateral levels, to help safeguard the minorities.
Fabian Hamilton, a senior UK Labour Party politician who has for several years chaired the cross party group on Sikhs in the UK Parliament, issued a statement for the event in which he called on India to end its “unacceptable” rejection of the right of self-determination as laid out in the 1966 International Covenants on Human Rights so that peaceful democratic outcomes to the conflict in Kashmir and Punjab could emerge.
Councillor Narinder Kaur Kooner spoke to support Sikh and Kashmiri self-determination and suggested local authorities should endorse this key human right to exert pressure on the Westminster government to promote this at international level.
British Kashmiri Women Council’s Rana Nazir castigated India for “torturing, killing, raping since 1948” in Kashmir and congratulated the joint action by Sikhs and Kashmiris to pursue the right of self-determination for their suffering nations.
Later the conference adopted unanimous resolutions urging the UK’s political parties, Foreign office officials and the new Government to recognise the right of self-determination as set out in the 1966 International Covenants on Human Rights, so as take forward the only possible means of peaceful conflict resolution in Kashmir, Punjab, Nagalim and elsewhere.
It also calls on the international community to recognise the struggle for national self-determination by the Sikhs in Punjab and the Kashmiri people as not only the lawful and peaceful means to conflict resolution but also the means to achieving enduring peace and security in a region that is otherwise likely to be the theatre of major international conflict.