NEW YORK::The US-based Sikh rights and advocacy group said Wednesday it would continue its peaceful campaign for ‘Referendum 2020’ aimed at separating Punjab from India.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Legal Advisor to Sikhs for Justice (SfJ), was commenting on a statement by a spokesman of US State Department, who, while making it clear that he was unaware of the Sikh campaign for Punjab’s independence, said such calls come under freedom of speech.
“I am not aware of it… I mean, I’m just not aware of it today. I haven’t seen these reports. We have freedom of speech in the United States, we have freedom of association, and these are bedrock principles of American society,” Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson of the State Department, told reporters at a briefing in Washington on Tuesday.
He was responding to a question by an Indian correspondent, who wanted to know whether the State Department was aware of the Sikh campaigns being carried out on the US soil and was it taking any measures to curb such activities.
In response, Palladino said, “We have freedom of speech in this country that’s protected by our First Amendment, and that is a bedrock of American society and the American Constitution, and I, unfortunately, don’t have anything on this specific case.”
In his comments on the State Department spokesman’s statement, Pannun, a lawyer, said,”Today (the) United States has unequivocally spoken that SfJ’s Referendum 2020 campaign, which is aimed at liberating Punjab from the Indian Occupation, is a protected activity under the First Amendment to the US Constitution and Sikhs freedom of speech can not be curtailed.”
He insisted that SFJ’s Referendum 2020 Campaign is purely democratic, peaceful and legal under the laws of the nation attorney, saying, “Khalistan is a political opinion. Besides US, UK and Canada have already stated that peaceful pro-Khalistan activities cannot be blocked under their laws”.
“We will continue to propagate for the first global non-binding Punjab independence referendum to be held in November 2020,” Pannun added. APP