Pro-Khalistan group begins registration for 'Referendum 2020' on Russian portal

The running of an anti-India campaign on a Russian domain has raised many questions

collage referendum 2020 A collage showing the opening page of the voter registration site for Referendum 2020 and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun

Designated terrorist outfit and Pro-Khalistan group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) on Saturday launched its much publicised online voter registration for 'Referendum 2020' through a Russian portal.

According to the information provided on the Russian website, the 'indigenous' people of Punjab aged 18 or older belonging to any religion along with Sikhs living anywhere in India can register for participation in the non-governmental Punjab Independence Referendum.

In a video announcing the commencement of registration, SFJ general counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said that the Russia-based website is user friendly as it provides information in English as well as Punjabi language. The launch has rattled the Indian government and intelligence agencies as Pannun had used Russian cyber space.

Russia has one of the most stringent legal frameworks for web portals to operate from its soil. But given the historically close India-Russia ties, the running of an anti-India campaign on a Russian domain has raised many questions.

Arguing the secession of Punjab from India is a “political opinion” and under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), status (UDHR Article 19 & 20), Gurpatwant Singh Pannun stated

“SFJ has ground-level organic plans in place to ensure that voter registration form for Referendum 2020 reaches every household in Punjab despite Indian government’s crackdown on known pro-Khalistan activists. Article 1 of the UN Charter and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that all peoples have the right of self-determination and have the right to freely decide their political status. Punjabis living in India belonging to any religion qualify as 'peoples' with right of self-determination on the basis of common language and common cultural heritage. Sikhs, who are the largest religious group among the indigenous people, qualify on the additional basis that Indian-held Punjab is the historical homeland of Sikhism.”