Last Updated: September 20, 2023, 11:15 IST
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a pro-Khalistan group banned in India in 2019, has threatened Hindus living in Canada and asked them to leave the country for supporting India amid the ongoing diplomatic row over the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. In a video making rounds on the internet, SFJ’s Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is seen calling on Canadian Sikhs to vote for a so-called referendum in Vancouver on October 29.
“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.” The video surfaced two days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed there was a “potential link” between Indian government agents and the killing of Nijjar in June. These serious allegations caused tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats of the two countries.
In a strongly worded statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) dismissed his claim as “absurd and motivated”, Trudeau insisted Canada was not looking to “provoke or escalate”. “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. The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” the MEA said.
The diplomatic tensions between the two countries come in the backdrop of New Delhi’s growing concern about the increasing anti-India activity in Canada, including political figures’ “open” support for Khalistani leaders.
On Wednesday, India’s Intelligence agencies 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.
Canadian minister Anita Anand of Hindu descent appealed for calm. In a post on X, Anand said South Asians and families who come from India, regardless of religion, will share the sentiment that it was difficult to hear Trudeau’s statement on Monday. “This is a time to let the legal process continue as it must. Let us all remain calm, unified, and empathetic,” she said.