On December 10, Taiwo Owatemi, Labour MP for Coventry North West, had tweeted in support of Sikhs for Justice, a secessionist organisation demanding Khalistan, a separate country for Sikhs. She said, “I stand with #SikhsForJustice and the Sikh community’s right to self-determination on #UNDayOfHumanRights. This is the clearest way that the conflict between Sikhs and the Indian authorities can be resolved.” The tweet was in favour of a separate nation for Sikhs. Later, she deleted the tweet after sharp criticism.
Reaction on her tweet supporting SFJ
The Labour MP received sharp criticism for her tweet across the platform. While some netizens called her ignorant, others suggested that she is promoting separatism.
British Labour MP @TaiwoOwatemi deletes tweet supporting secession of Punjab from India. She says that a staff member part of her social media team posted the tweet without her knowledge. Did the staff member not check that SFJ is banned in India?https://t.co/AjwEzDwER3— Aveek Sen (@aveeksen) December 12, 2020
British MPs promoting religious separatism in the colonies… https://t.co/ufNLo0M39g— omar ali (@omarali50) December 11, 2020
Shocker. Sitting Labour MP supports banned “Sikh for Justice” group that is calling for Khalistan. https://t.co/npxW2aafwn— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) December 12, 2020
So here is a labour MP from UK advocating religious separatism. Even though this demonstrates her lack of understanding on matters related to India, but also shows the hatred of Labour Party in UK towards India. https://t.co/ps597SjgqC— Binu Nair (@binunair_66) December 12, 2020
#BritishIndians #BritishSikhs demand apology from @TaiwoOwatemi MP from #Coventry North West for supporting #SikhsForJustice – Organisation which is banned in India 🇮🇳. @Keir_Starmer should we take your silence as YES & Endorsement for #AntiIndja agenda within #LabourParty ?? https://t.co/vAk4AJJABa— British Indians Voice 🇬🇧🇮🇳 (@BritIndianVoice) December 11, 2020
Owatemi says her staff member posted the tweet
After deleting the tweet, Owatemi wrote on Twitter that her staff member who manages her social media account posted it without her knowledge. She said, “A small number of individuals emailed me to post a suggested tweet supporting Sikhs for Justice. Unbeknown to me a staff member who helps to run my social media posted the tweet. This has now been deleted. I sincerely apologise for any offence caused to any of my constituents.”
A small number of individuals emailed me to post a suggested tweet supporting Sikhs for Justice. Unbeknown to me a staff member who helps to run my social media posted the tweet. This has now been deleted. I sincerely apologise for any offence caused to any of my constituents.— Taiwo Owatemi MP (@TaiwoOwatemi) December 12, 2020
Sikhs for Justice deemed as a terrorist organization by India
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) was banned by the Indian government on July 10, 2019, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for anti-India activities on July 10, 2019. India had declared the founder of Sikhs for Justice, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, a terrorist in July 2020. In the same month, 40 websites of SFJ were blocked by the Indian government. SFJ has been trying to lure Punjab’s youth for Referendum 2020 and create unrest in the region. Pannu had recently released a video in which he said that SFJ would give money to farmers who are participating in the ongoing protests in Delhi.