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UK Sikhs To Protest “Innocent” Jaggi Johal’s Arrest During Modi’s Visit

Sikh Federation UK says the release of British national held for targeted killings in Punjab will be the major demand during demonstration next month.

LONDON – A Sikh campaign group on Tuesday announced that it will join a protest demonstration with other UK-based groups against Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside one of the venues of the “Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting” in April.

Modi and 52 heads of government are due to arrive for the meeting from April 16 to 20, when the UK will assume its chairmanship for the next two years. Security concerns have ruled out Modi making a public address before the Indian community.

The Sikh Federation UK claimed Sikhs would “turn out in thousands” to protest outside the Queen Elizabeth II Centre against Modi, who it described would be the “primary focus” of the demonstration. The release of British national Jagtar Singh Johal arrested in Punjab for targeted killings would be a major issue in the protest.

British MPs and others have often raised Johal’s arrest in Parliament, urging the Theresa May government to take up the issue with India. Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has assured his family that London was doing everything it could to ensure he gets access to justice in India.

The group said the demonstration will also be a show of support for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for what it called his “standing up for the rights of Sikh nationalists” during his recent visit to India.

India is likely to be tasked with a greater role in the commonwealth at the meeting, which is likely to be the last attended by its head, Queen Elizabeth. Modi and other heads of government are likely to decide on her successor informally during the meeting.

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