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British MP raises issue of security of Sikh 'activists' in the country in UK Parliament

Speaking during the House of Commons session this week, Gill – without taking any names – referred to alleged assassination plots against Sikhs abroad to ask about security steps for 'British Sikh activists.'
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 17:17 IST

London: British Sikh MP Preet Kaur Gill has raised the issue of transnational repression and agents with links to India targeting members of the Sikh community in the UK during a House of Commons session.

Claiming that several British Sikhs had appeared on a “hit list,” the shadow minister for primary care and public health asked Security Minister Tom Tugendhat about the steps taken by the British government to deal with the issue.

Speaking during the House of Commons session this week, Gill – without taking any names – referred to alleged assassination plots against Sikhs abroad to ask about security steps for “British Sikh activists.” “In recent months, Five Eyes nations have raised concerns about the actions of agents with links to India targeting Sikh activists in the United Kingdom,” said Gill on Monday.

Five Eyes refers to an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

“Most disturbingly, there have been alleged assassinations and foiled assassination plots. The US and Canadian authorities have taken the lead at senior levels to publicly call out this challenge to their sovereignty, the rule of law, and their democratic values,” said the Labour MP.

“Given the reports of British Sikhs facing similar threats, what steps are the Government taking to secure their safety? Will the Minister show the same strength as our partners do in publicly defending their democratic rights,” she questioned.

Tugendhat, in response, during the Home Office questions session in Parliament, said his department is continually assessing the potential threats to individual rights and freedoms and safety across the UK.

“Let me be completely clear: if there are any specific threats against any British citizen by any foreign power, we will take immediate action. The Sikh community should be as safe as every other community in the United Kingdom,” the minister said.

“All British citizens are equal, whatever their colour, creed, faith or political allegiance. The reality is that we have taken all the action we believe is appropriate at this stage. We of course maintain a very close relationship with our Five Eyes partners, and we are absolutely clear that if the situation changes and we need to take action, we will do so,” he said.

Last year in September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that authorities were pursuing “credible allegations” that Indian government agents were involved in the June 2023 murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, chief of Khalistan Tiger Force and a designated terrorist, on Canadian soil.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) strongly rejected the allegation as “absurd and motivated” and the issue triggered a major diplomatic row between India and Canada.

In November last year, US authorities in New York charged an Indian man allegedly linked to a government official of conspiring to murder US-Canadian citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, also a designated terrorist in India.

The MEA said at the time that the issue was a “matter of concern” and “contrary to government policy.”

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(Published 27 February 2024, 17:17 IST)

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