Shailesh Kumar, National Defence,
New Delhi, 19 December 2018
In the name of freedom of expression, United States of America, with whom India has signed two foundational agreement for security arrangement, is allowing anti India campigns from it’s soil. A proscribed Sikh organisation in India, Sikhs For Justice, is calling for a campaign, “Referendum 2020” in US to separate Punjab from India. US Department of States’ Deputy Spokesperson, Robert Palladino, in weekly press briefing answered a reporter by saying, “I’m just not aware of it today. I haven’t seen these reports. We have freedom of speech in the United States, we have freedom of association, and these are bedrock principles of American society”. Here is the full text of the response:
Watch Depurty Spokesperson’s full response in this video:
QUESTION: Just there is a U.S.-based organization, Sikhs for Justice, which is calling for a campaign, Referendum 2020, to separate the northern state of Punjab from India. And in our story, the – one of the attorneys, Ravi Batra from New York, has said that the State Department and – should look into the citizenship and all that, that how this – such a thing is happening from the U.S. soil, that calling for separation of a state, of a state of India?
MR PALLADINO: And I’m sorry, who’s – I didn’t understand (inaudible).
QUESTION: The U.S.-based organization Sikhs for Justice —
MR PALLADINO: Ah, I see.
QUESTION: — is calling for a campaign – it’s called Referendum 2020 – to separate northern Indian state of Punjab from federal India. So is the State Department aware of it? Are you looking into it?
MR PALLADINO: I’m not aware of it. That’s – I mean, I’m just not aware of it today. I haven’t seen these reports. We have freedom of speech in the United States, we have freedom of association, and these are bedrock principles of American society. And – but I —
QUESTION: Yeah, but is – is that freedom of speech gives one a right to call for disintegration of another country?
MR PALLADINO: We have freedom of speech in this country that’s protected by our First Amendment, and that is a bedrock of American society and the American Constitution, and I unfortunately don’t have anything on this specific case. And I’m going to wrap.
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Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.