Sikh Freedom

It was I think in 2004, on the 20th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, when Indian troops invaded the Golden Temple as Amritsar, killing several thousand Sikhs that I first attended and photographed the annual Sikh Freedom march in London, and I wrote about the issues for the first time on My London Diary. Then, a number of British politicians came to give their support, but since then it has been an almost entirely Sikh event, which I’ve photographed most years when I’ve been in London at the right time.

The pictures I took then have a rather faded look to them, though that is more a reflection of my own changing tastes and the particular RAW software I was using at the time than their age. Going back to the RAW files now I would certainly get a rather more punchy result.

It is an event that has changed just a little over the years, at times becoming more overtly political in its support of Sikh militants fighting for freedom. In 2006 some of the police made quite an effort to harass photographers – including me – who were trying to photograph the event.

In 2007 there was a large group of supporters of Babbar Khalsa the Khalistani militant armed organization which both India and the UK regard as a terrorist organisation on the march, perhaps why in 2009 the Met brought in a Sikh officer to censor the placards carried on the protest.

The placards since then have been a little less explicit and In 2014 I saw no problems with police.

This year’s event followed the same pattern as previous years, with a long rally in a hot and sunny Hyde Park, followed by a march led by five Khalsa in their saffron robes with their ceremonial sword and with black flags and coffins behind them followed by a great mass of protesters.

It was perhaps a little larger than in some years, and there did seem to be more large banners calling for freedom and an end to the genocide by India. These included some with the message ‘Thatcher has Sikh Blood on her Hands’ while another showed two huge portraits of the villains, Thatcher and Indira Gandhi with the message ‘Killers of the Innocent’.

More pictures from 2014 at Sikhs march for Truth, Justice & Freedom.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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