Canadian Sikhs Protest Trudeau's allegations, demand justice for slain advocate

25.09.2023 posted by Admin

Sikh Community Protests in Canada. Tracing links, seeking justice

Canadian Sikhs gathered for peaceful protests outside Indian diplomatic missions following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent remarks suggesting a potential connection between New Delhi and the murder of a Sikh separatist advocate in British Columbia.

Trudeau had stood in parliament a week ago, acknowledging that domestic intelligence agencies were actively looking into credible claims linking New Delhi's operatives to the shooting of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, aged 45, back in June.

In Toronto, approximately 100 protesters expressed their discontent by burning an Indian flag and symbolically striking a cardboard cut-out of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a shoe. Meanwhile, around 200 protesters congregated outside the Vancouver consulate.

In Ottawa, fewer than 100 people gathered in front of the Indian High Commissioner's office, waving yellow flags bearing the word "Khalistan" as a sign of their support for an independent Sikh state in India's Punjab region—an aspiration Nijjar had championed.

One protester in Ottawa, Reshma Singh Bolinas, expressed gratitude toward Justin Trudeau and called for exhaustive efforts to uncover the truth behind the tragic incident, emphasizing the importance of Canada pressuring India to prevent future harm to innocent individuals.

Canada is home to approximately 770,000 Sikhs, constituting the largest Sikh population outside of Punjab, India. Recent years have seen several demonstrations that have strained relations between Canada and India.

India dismissed Trudeau's allegations as "absurd" and cautioned travelers about increasing "anti-India activities" in Canada, though they did not provide concrete evidence or specifics regarding these incidents.

The allegations have cast a spotlight on Canada's Sikh community, which accounts for just 2% of India's massive population but is a majority in Punjab, where Sikhism originated 500 years ago.

Protester Kuljeet Sing in Toronto, a member of Sikhs for Justice, accused the Indian government of employing underhanded tactics and compromising Canada's sovereignty.

In response to Canada's accusations, both nations have expelled diplomats, and New Delhi has suspended visas for Canadians. Some protesters in Toronto and Ottawa even demanded the expulsion of the Indian High Commissioner to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a plumber who immigrated to Canada from the northern Indian state of Punjab 25 years ago and later became a Canadian citizen, had advocated for an independent Sikh homeland. India designated him a "terrorist" in July 2020.

Canada's government conducted an extensive investigation into the Sikh separatist leader, utilizing both human and signals intelligence, according to a report by CBC News citing unnamed sources. Furthermore, the United States collaborated closely with Canada on intelligence related to the potential involvement of Indian agents in the June murder of a Canadian citizen.
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