NEW YORK, April 23 (APP): More than 50,000 men Sikh men
and women — many of them carrying Khalistan banners — paraded
in rain-swept New York City on Saturday to reaffirm their
demand for a sovereign Sikh state.
Wearing orange coloured turbans, they raised vociferous
slogans calling for Sikh unity and an end to the “Indian
occupation of Punjab” at the 30th Sikh day parade which
coincides with the birth of the Khalsa.
They followed a float depicting the 1984 Indian Army attack
on the Golden Temple and demanded an independent Sikh state and
separation of Punjab from India.
The participants also vowed to uphold and project the Sikh
identity and to endorse the call for referendum in the state
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who joined the parade,
congratulated the “vibrant” Sikhs on the birth of Khalsa and
commended the achievements and the contributions of the
community to the American life. “Today the turbans all over
the city show that New York belongs to and is home to the
Sikh community,” he said amidst loud applause.
The highly visible supporters of ‘Sikhs For Justice’ (SfJ),
a human rights group, were wearing the ‘Referendum 2020’ T-shirts
carried the placards ‘Free Punjab’ and ‘Justice is Independence’.
Coordinator of Sikh Day Parade Gurdev Singh Kang, said “After
the destruction of the Golden Temple in 1984 and genocidal violence
against the Sikh community, the only choice left to the Sikhs is
to have their own independent country.”
Kuldip Singh Dhillon, president of Gurdwara Sikh Cultural
Society, said “hundreds of thousands of Sikhs have laid down
their lives for the freedom of Punjab and we will not
let their sacrifices go in vain.”
“India must allow an independence referendum in the State
of Punjab on the lines of Scottish referendum,” Attorney
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ, said.
Spelling out the line of action, Pannun says that the SFJ
would hold an unofficial referendum in 2020 and would follow
the matter after taking into account the response. If required,
the SFJ would seek the United Nation’s intervention to help
the community conduct a referendum for a separate Sikh state,
attorney Pannun added.
The April 22nd Sikh Day Parade was organized by Gurdwara Sikh
Cultural Society Richmond Hill, New York, with the support of
Management Committees of Tri-State Area Gurdwaras, ‘Shiromani
Akali Dal’ (Amritsar), ‘Sikh Youth of America’ and various Sikh
civic organizations, according to SfJ press release.