Washington [US], Aug 16 : Enthusiastic Indian nationals here outnumbered pro-Khalist supporters at an Independence Day celebration at the Gandhi Square, outside the Indian Embassy in Washington, which the fringe group had attempted to sabotage by raising anti-India slogans.
The demonstration by the pro-Khalist group outside the Indian Embassy in Washington was attended by only 10-12 people. They were completely outnumbered by flag-waving and enthusiastic Indians.
"We are celebrating a solidarity day for India. India has scrapped Article 370 and it is a big victory for Indian union... The Sikh community is with India. We have a government in India which has the representation of the Srimoni Akali Dal (SAD). They are the biggest Sikh community in India. They are the part of the government of India," said a demonstrator.
As per the US law, raising slogans and demonstrating is not unlawful. The ISI funded pro Khalist groups have misused this freedom for decades in attempts to embarrass Indian events.
Another demonstrator said that the abrogation of Article 370 A is a true integration of India.
"This is India's Independence Day. It is a big day in India's history because the divisive politics of (former Prime Minister) Jawaharlal Nehru has been trashed now after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A... Which is a true integration of India." he said
"Now India can go as one nation, no second flag anywhere and Pakistan cannot mess around with it. It is legally India's Kashmir. Pakistan has no business in PoK. Pakistan must get out now," he added.
India's 73rd Independence Day was celebrated in Washington with a flag-hoisting ceremony on August 15 at the Embassy Residence. For the first time, the event was made open to the public which saw a tremendous turnout of more than 500 members of the Indian American community. Indian Ambassador Harsh Shringla interacted and greeted people who gathered for the celebrations.
In addition, as part of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, an exhibition on his life and messages was orgsed at the Mahatma Gandhi Park in front of the Chancery building. The exhibition, orgsed in collaboration with the Gandhi Memorial Center, drew hundreds of visitors, including large scale participation from the Indian American community. A well known local band called 'Baraat Brass' played popular patriotic songs.
The Pakistan government on Saturday appealed to overseas Pakists to hold protests outside the Indian high commissions and embassies across the world on August 15 when Independence Day is observed in India. However, the embassy saw a handful of protestors along with the pro-Khalistan protestors.
The appeal was made at a press conference addressed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Overseas Pakists Zulfi Bukhari at the Press Information Department.
Bukhari said that the government had decided to observe August 14, Pakistan's Independence Day, as the day of solidarity with the Kashmiri people and August 15 as a black day to protest against India's decision to strip Occupied Kashmir of its special status in the constitution.
( With inputs from ANI )