On April 15, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann met pro-separatist and anti-India MP from UK Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi. The information about the meeting was not published by CM, CMO, Aam Aadmi Party or AAP leader Raghav Chadha who was also present at the meeting. After meeting Punjab CM, Dhesi published a post on his social media handles thanking CM Mann for the warm welcome.
Grateful to #Punjab Chief Minister @BhagwantMann for warmth with which he received me at his Chandigarh residence.— Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (@TanDhesi) April 15, 2022
We, @raghav_chadha and Dr Nijjar MLA discussed at length NRI hopes, anxieties and desire to see the Punjab progress.
He assured me his best to address these issues. pic.twitter.com/hbCXNqFMbF
In his post, Dhesi wrote, “Grateful to the Honourable Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for the warmth with which he received me at his official residence today in Chandigarh.” He further mentioned MP Raghav Chadha and MLA Inderbir Singh Nijjar were also present in the meeting. Dhesi said he talked to Mann about land disputes, political prisoners and blacklisted individuals and urged him to establish direct flights from London, Birmingham and other major global cities to both Amritsar and Chandigarh.
Blacklisted individuals were removed in 2019
While land disputes between locals and NRIs are a burning issue in Punjab, the other topics that Dhesi raised are questionable. India has already removed over 300 Sikhs from the blacklist in 2019. Only a few are left on the blacklist who are not allowed to enter India as they have direct links to terrorist organisations. It is highly problematic that an MP from the UK visited India and approached a newly elected CM of a border state to convince the centre to remove such elements from the blacklist.
The issue of so-called political prisoners
The so-called Sikh political prisoners in India include convicts of several crimes, including the murder of the former Chief Minister of Punjab Beant Singh, the 1993 Delhi Bomb case and several others. Sikh bodies have raised the demand for releasing these prisoners on several occasions. In 2019, the union government had issued a notification that those who had completed the sentence would be released soon.
The death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was convicted of killing former CM Beant Singh, was commuted to life imprisonment. In 2022, ahead of polls, Akali Dal had accused AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal of delaying the release of Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, the main accused of the 1993 blast outside Youth Congress Headquarters in Delhi.
BJP demanded explanation
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Army Chief JJ Singh have criticised CM Mann for meeting Dhesi. In a statement, Singh said, “It is very unfortunate that AAP government in Punjab…is going the extra mile to welcome Labour Party MP Dhesi whose views are pro-separatist and anti-India. AAP owes a clarification to the country whether it supports his views on Kashmir and other matters which are against our country.”
‘It is not wrong to stand for the community’ said Dhesi
Commenting on the objections raised by BJP as Dhesi has links with pro-Khalistani and anti-India forces, Dhesi said it was not wrong to stand for the “community”. He called BJP leaders “miscreants” and said he would continue his support for the “community”.
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has a history of anti-India stand
Dhesi has a long history of making anti-India statements. His connection to separatists groups and Khalistani organisations are well known. He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir (APPGK). There have been financial transactions between the Pakistan Government and the APPGK in the past.
In February last year, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi attended a ‘Kashmir Solidarity Conference’ organised by Tehreek-e-Kashmir United Kingdom (TeK UK) President Faheem Kayani through video link. More than 40 British MPs participated in the conference, and Dhesi was one of them.
He has attacked RSS on several occasions. Dhesi also participated in Referendum 2020, a secessionist movement being run by the terrorist organisation Sikhs For Justice. He had criticised the Indian government over farmer protests and echoed the anti-India elements blaming India for being anti-farmer.
British MP, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi – A rabid anti-Indian who supported Farmer protests and wanted the UK to Punish India, not only got a Visa to visit India, But Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann met him.— Vikrant ~ विक्रांत (@vikrantkumar) April 17, 2022
Dear @AmitShah @HMOIndia – How did he get a Visa? pic.twitter.com/XBJcfxYP5q
Many on social media have also raised concerns over a known pro-separatist British politician like Dhesi being allowed to come and meet political leaders in India.