By Arul Louis
New York, Aug 16 (IANS) Pro-Khalistan Sikhs joined by some Pakistanis held a protest outside the UN demanding the restoration of Kashmir's special status.
About 400 people marched from India's UN mission to a cordoned-off area opposite the UN on Thursday, which was India's Independence Day. They shouted slogans for Khalistan and Kashmir, holding flags of Kashmir-occupied "Azad" Kashmir and yellow Khalistani and blue "referendum" banners.
Most of the participants were Sikhs, with a few Pakistanis and Kashmiris.
A diplomat from Pakistan's UN Mission was seen moving in their midst taking pictures of the demonstration.
The organisers billed it as a protest by "Kashmiris and Pro-Khalistan Sikhs" with the support of "local Sikh Temples".
Gurpatwant Pannun of Sikhs for Justice, who was the main organiser, said that they shared a common cause with Kashmiris. He said that his organisation was organising a "referendum" on Khalistan next year.
Pannun that they had presented to a UN Human Rights official, whom he would not identify, a memorandum addressed to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's spokesperson asking for deployment of UN peace-keepers in Kashmir and holding a plebiscite there, as well as recognising his group's Khalistan "referendum".
Only the Security Council, and not the Secretary-General, can deploy peacekeepers.
Kuldip Singh Dhillon, the President of the Sikh Cultural Society of New York, which runs the biggest gurdwara in the city, said that his organisation supported the demand for returning to the status quo in Kashmir and asserted that they had a common cause with Kashmiris.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @arulouis)