New Delhi: The participation of official Sikh delegations of the Australian and UK armies in certain events have raised eyebrows in New Delhi, especially in view of India’s growing defense relations with both countries.
A delegation of 12 Sikh soldiers of the British Army visited a number of religious sites and historical monuments in Pakistan on June 28 under the aegis of the Defence Sikhs Network (DSN), an official UK armed forces organization. The visit, under the name “Ex Nankana Pilgrim 2022”, was undertaken at the invitation of the Pakistan Army chief, Gen Qamar Bajwa.
A spokesperson of the British High Commission in New Delhi said: “The visit was an opportunity for delegation members to visit places of historical and religious significance. Personal views of army personnel do not necessarily represent views of the Defense Ministry.”
Last month, several Indian Australians were disturbed by the participation of a Sikh contingent from the Australian Defense, Forces in the Griffith Sikh Games in New South Wales as the event featured Khalistani banners, posters, and flags. Several Australian Sikhs of Indian origin complained to the organizers of the games about the pro-Khalistan banners.
Following the controversy, an Australian defense spokesperson told The Australia Today that a “small group of Australian Defense Force (ADF) members” attended the event in Griffith and that their attendance “was not in any official capacity and there was no formal invitation to Defense to participate”.
“They had no prior knowledge of other groups attending the event, including political or separatist movements. The attendance of ADF personnel at this event in no way endorses any other group or organization who may have also been in attendance,” the spokesperson said.