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Thousands of Sikhs in San Francisco to vote for Khalistan

NEW YORK: Thousands of Sikhs residents in the US state of California are set to vote in San Francisco Sunday on a referendum that is aimed at creating an independent state in Indian Punjab called Khalistan, according to organizers.
Known as “The Khalistan Referendum,” the vote also calls attention to persecution of Sikhs in India.
The Sikhs for Justice (SfJ), an advocacy organization, has been mobilizing Sikhs in the area to make the trip in large numbers to cast their votes.
The goal of the vote is to determine how much support the movement has before bringing the matter to the United Nations.
In California, supporters of the movement have placed hoardings along highways, adorned their cars in stickers, and left pamphlets outlining the cause at various Indian shops.
Voting for the Khalistan referendum has been taking place since 2021 in countries like Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The organizers hope to hold an official referendum vote in India in 2025.
In a statement issued Saturday evening, the Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC) said, “We believe strongly in the right to self-determination, and accordingly, we encourage all government bodies to allow their citizens to exercise this right through referendums that follow internationally recognized standards and protocols. ”
The commission expressed the hope that the Indian government will allow for voter education efforts to begin on the referendum and stand ready to meet and agree to the rules to be followed for these efforts.
Meanwhile, the commission announced at a press conference in San Francisco on Saturday the “voter eligibility” for people living in Indian Punjab.
“Indigenous Punjabis of any faith living in Indian Governed Punjab are eligible to register and vote in Khalistan Referendum,” the announcement said.
“The eligibility criteria for voters from Indian Governed Punjab is markedly different from the voters outside Punjab ,” according to the announcement.
“While outside Punjab only Sikhs are eligible to vote, in Indian Punjab, people of all faith are entitled to vote on the question: “Should Indian Governed Punjab Be An Independent Country?”.
Addressing the Press Conference, Professor Matt Qvortrup, a well known referendum expert and member of PRC, said, “If India is a true democracy as it claims, it must allow voter registration and polling in Khalistan Referendum to be held in Punjab.”
Dr Bakhsish Singh Sandhu, President of the Council of Khalistan pointed out that under India’s rule, Punjab and its people have been suffering from genocide, econocide and drug epidemic. The Khalistan Referendum, he said, was the opportunity for the Punjabi people to express their will on the question of “Punjab’s sovereignty and prosperity”. – APP

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