Last Updated: September 21, 2023, 12:13 IST
Justin Trudeau must stop dividing the Sikh community in Canada, Jesse Singh, Chairman of Sikhs of America, told CNN-News18 as prominent community voices slammed the government’s handling of the Khalistani menace and downgrading of ties with India.
Singh said the way Trudeau handled the situation was very disappointing. “Sikhs are being used as political pawns in Canada, only to get [Canadian leader] Jagmeet Singh’s support. When protest or referendum happens, not more than 5,000 people join it.”
He added: “Majority of the Sikhs living outside India do not support Khalistani ideology. They support India and I want to let you all know that we stand united with India.”
Singh said the Indian government has to pursue the issue “aggressively” as a few people “have hijacked the Sikh cause and are damaging the whole community”. Slamming the Canadian prime minister, Singh said his statements seemed politically motivated and he was “digging a hole for himself”.
Singh’s views were shared by Dr Azad Kaushik, president of the National Alliance of Indo-Canadians. Speaking to CNN-News18, Kaushik said the majority of Canadian Sikhs are against Khalistani extremism.
“It is politics that has resulted in this situation. The Indo-Canadian community has been concerned for its safety for a long time. The statement from Khalistani extremists to leave Canada is very concerning,” he said.
Kaushik said the community had requested the public safety minister to provide security to all citizens. “The law of the land is followed in Canada. Nobody can ask anyone to leave just like that, it’s not a joke. Such threats are not allowed.”
The community leader said none of the politicians had denounced the statement asking Hindus to leave Canada and Trudeau was forced to support the extremist elements as the Khalistanis were supporting him politically.
Ties between India and Canada slipped further this week as both expelled a senior diplomat each after Trudeau alleged the involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in the killing of a prominent Sikh separatist leader in Surrey in June, claims outrightly rejected by New Delhi as “absurd” and “motivated”.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and one of India’s most-wanted terrorists who carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen outside a gurdwara in Surrey in the western Canadian province of British Columbia on June 18.
Bilateral ties between India and Canada have been tense in recent months, especially since the latter cancelled trade talks. Last week, a senior official said in New Delhi that negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and Canada will resume after the resolution of political issues between the two countries.