Last Updated: September 21, 2023, 08:38 IST
The funeral procession of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia on June 25, 2023. Nijjar was shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population. (AP File Photo)
Canadian MP expresses solidarity with Hindu-Canadians amid threats from pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice. Tensions rise over anti-India activities
Canadian MP Chandra Arya has condemned targeted hate crimes against Hindu Canadians and voiced support for them in the wake of a threat from the pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). Arya, an India-born Liberal MP, urged calm vigilance among the Hindus but stressed that most Canadian Sikhs do not endorse the Khalistan movement.
This condemnation follows tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats of the two countries after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged there was a “potential link” between Indian government agents and the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. The diplomatic tensions come in the backdrop of New Delhi’s growing concern about the increasing anti-India activity in Canada, including “open” support by political figures for Khalistani figures. Jesse Singh, Chairman of Sikhs of America told CNN News18, that the way Trudeau handled the situation was very disappointing. “We ask him to stop dividing the Sikh community,” he said.
Addressing the Hindu minority community in a video, Arya condemned the recent attacks on Hindu temples and the celebration of the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “Canada has high moral values and we fully uphold the rule of law. I can’t understand how glorification of terrorism or a hate crime targeting a religious group is allowed in the name of freedom of speech and expression,” the lawmaker added.
Few days back Khalistan movement leader in Canada and the president of Sikhs for Justice which organizes the so-called referendum Gurpatwant Singh Pannun attacked Hindu-Canadians asking us to leave Canada and go back to India.I have heard from many Hindu-Canadians who are… pic.twitter.com/z3vkAcsUDs— Chandra Arya (@AryaCanada) September 20, 2023
On Wednesday, a video surfaced on the internet showing SFJ terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun threatening Hindus in Canada and urging them to leave the country amid the ongoing diplomatic row over the killing of Nijjar. In a widely circulated video, Pannun also called on Canadian Sikhs to vote in a referendum scheduled for October 29 in Vancouver. “Indo-Hindu …leave Canada, go to India,” said Pannun, who has been designated as a terrorist in India. He claimed that pro-Khalistan Sikhs “have always been loyal to Canada and they have always sided with Canada.”
India’s Intelligence agencies have raised concerns over pro-Khalistani entities (PKE) and growing political support for them in Canada, warning about “aggressive and intensified” activities against Indians and officials. The agencies shared that they can target temples, Indians living in Canada and Indian entrepreneurs running businesses there. The agencies added that clashes between PKEs and Indians can be reported in the coming days.
On Wednesday, India issued an advisory urging its citizens living in Canada and those contemplating travel to exercise “utmost caution” in view of growing anti-India activities and “politically-condoned hate crimes”. In the statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) referred to “threats” targeting Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community that oppose the “anti-India agenda”, and asked Indian nationals to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada which have seen such incidents.
Earlier this week, the MEA dismissed Trudeau’s claim as “absurd and motivated”. The ministry said such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.