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Britain justifies pro-Khalistan rally despite protest by India

Aug 10 (AZINS) Britain on Friday justified its decision to allow holding of a pro-Khalistan rally in London on August 12 despite India describing it as a "separatists' activity" aimed at impinging on India's territorial integrity.

A British High Commission spokesperson said here that people in the UK have a right to protest and to demonstrate their views, provided they act within the law.

"Should a protest contravene the law, the police have comprehensive powers to deal with activities that spread hate or deliberately raise tensions through violence or public disorder," it said.

"This does not negate the right to peaceful protest. The use of these powers and the management of demonstrations are an operational matter for the police," the spokesperson said The statement came a day after Ministry of External Affairs said it has conveyed to the UK that the rally will be "separatists' activity" aimed at impinging on India's territorial integrity.

The UK has already turned down India's request to not allow the rally to take place.

"We have said that it seeks to propagate violence, secessionism and hatred and we expect them to take into account the larger perspective of the relationship when they take a decision on such matters," MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said yesterday.

Britain's left-wing Green Party has already thrown its support behind the pro-Khalistan rally planned at Trafalgar Square in London on Sunday.

India registered its formal opposition to the event through a demarche when news of the rally emerged in July.

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which calls itself an advocacy group, says the rally is intended to raise awareness on the demand for a non-binding referendum in 2020 calling for the Sikh-majority state of Punjab to be granted independence.