British Sikhs urge Macron to ‘pull out’ of India’s Republic Day parade
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron review troops during the Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on July 14, 2023 (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
British Sikhs urged French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday (18) to withdraw from India’s Republic Day parade due to the alleged targeting of Sikhs in other countries.
India announced last month that Macron had accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be guest of honour at the January 26 celebrations.
US President Joe Biden backed out earlier following diplomatic ructions over an alleged Indian plot to kill a Sikh separatist in the US.
The Sikh Federation, the largest group of Sikhs in Britain, accused India of “transnational repression”, specifically the “targeting” of Sikh activists in its diaspora.
The group said it had written to Macron urging him to “pull out” of India’s Republic Day festivities “or raise concerns directly with Narendra Modi when he sees him.”
The US Justice Department in November charged an Indian citizen with plotting the killing, alleging that an Indian government official was involved in the planning.
Canada also had a major diplomatic spat with India after Canadian leader Justin Trudeau in September linked New Delhi to the June killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, also a Sikh separatist activist.
The British Sikh group wanted to “show solidarity” with the US and Canadian governments and “send a strong signal” to Modi that India “must come clean and cooperate with the ongoing investigations by law enforcement agencies,” said the federation’s principal adviser, Dabinderjit Singh.
The US Justice Department says the man allegedly targeted on US soil was a vocal critic of the Indian government and leads a US-based organisation that advocates for the secession of Punjab, a northern Indian state with a large population of Sikhs.
Modi said in December that India would investigate any evidence provided regarding the alleged plot.
India’s Republic Day marks the adoption of the country’s post-independence constitution.
The parade is a highly choreographed cultural and military spectacle of tanks, fighter jets, motorbike stunts, and traditional dances from different parts of the country.
India shares close ties with France, which has become a key military supplier.
Modi was Macron’s guest of honour at France’s annual Bastille Day celebrations in July last year.