American Sikhs rally for Khalistan Referendum in historic Sacramento gathering

ISLAMABAD, Apr 02 (Alliance News): Over 60,000 American Sikhs participated in the second phase of the Khalistan Referendum voting, which was held at the California State Capitol in Sacramento by the secessionist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), with security provided by US snipers and police.

Earlier, over 127,000 US Sikhs participated in the first phase of the referendum, marking the first instance of such voting on US soil. This occurred on January 28, shortly after the US government revealed its prevention of an assassination attempt on Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a leading pro-Khalistan figure and India’s most sought-after individual.

Over 200,000 Sikhs joined both phases of the Khalistan Referendum in California to pay tribute to Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke, hailed as a hero of the Sikh nation.

Several thousand Sikhs were unable to vote during the first phase. The voting last night was arranged by the SFJ to facilitate those Sikhs who missed out initially. This voting process was supervised by the independent Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC) and took place under stringent security measures, with US police and snipers closely monitoring the situation.

As the voting day began, nearly 20,000 Sikh men and women formed long queues to cast their votes. Throughout the day, thousands of Sikhs remained at the center, singing devotional Sikhism songs, advocating for the establishment of Khalistan, and denouncing assassination attempts by Narendra Modi’s Hindutva regime. The voting took place months after the assassination of Khalistan Referendum’s Canada lead, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, inside Canada’s largest Gurdwara, and the thwarting of an assassination plot against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who leads the global Khalistan Referendum campaign, by US secret services.

The last night voting, was preceded by a significant event starting two days earlier: the Akhand Path Sahib. This ceremony was held to honor and recognize Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke, who was unlawfully killed by Indian agents, as a “martyr of the Sikh nation.” During this time, a group of Sikh priests recited the holy scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, from start to finish. Thousands of Sikh families and individuals from Sacramento and the surrounding areas attended the prayer, paying their respects to Jathedar Kaunke. The Khalistan Referendum Voting Center at the California State Capitol bears the name and dedication of martyred Jathedar Kaunke.

In the weeks prior to the Akhand Path Sahib at California State Capitol, thousands of Sikhs from around the world sent emails to Giani Raghbir Singh, the current head of Sri Akal Takht Sahib and to the President of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to formally declare Jathedar Kaunke as “ martyr of the nation.”

Gurdev Singh Kaunke was unanimously declared as head of Sri Akal Takht Sahib in 1986 by the grand assembly of Sikh people (Sarbat Khalsa).

He was extra-judicially killed by Indian Police on January 01, 1993 for his active role in leading the Sikh people’s movement for their religious and political rights. Recently, in December 2023, Punjab Human Rights Commission acknowledged that Jathedar Kaunke was extra-judicially killed by the Indian Security officials.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Attorney at Law and General Counsel to SFJ paid tribute to “Kaunke who worked tirelessly for the cause of right to self-determination of Sikhs”.

Pannun added that Gurdev Singh Kaunke was martyred because he was devoted to the cause of Khalistan and wanted Sikhs to have their homeland. Pannun said Sikhs have followed the path of Kaunke and gave their lives for rights of Sikhs, including noted UK-based Sikh leader Paramjeet Singh Pamma who has spent time in jail in Europe on Indian extradition warrant.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun told the crowd: “The issue of Sikhs started in 1947 when they should have been liberated but instead they went under Indian occupation. From 1950 Hindutva started suppressing Sikhs to end and dilute their identity and that effort continues. In 1984, the Hindutva Congress regime assaulted the holiest Sikh place, the Golden Temple, in Operation Blue Star and committed genocide of thousands of Sikhs. The genocide that started under Congress continues under BJP and Modi.

“We demand Modi’s political downfall through democratic channels. The Indian state’s involvement in the Sikh genocide must end. Sikhs are determined to dismantle Indian dominance and achieve autonomy.”

The Punjab Referendum Commission has announced a rescheduled date for the Khalistan Referendum, now set to occur on July 28th, 2024, in Calgary, Canada.