Friday, October 7 2022

TORONTO: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has said it cannot prevent Canadian Sikhs from expressing their views through the Khalistan referendum vote as long as the process is peaceful, democratic and within the legal parameters of Canadian laws .

Commenting on the situation that unfolded following an attack on a Hindu temple and on the poster of a revered Khalistani Sikh leader, a Canadian government official said that Canadian nationals have complete freedom to express their opinions in every way possible as long as it abides by Canadian laws on the right to free speech and the right to freedom of expression and assembly.

The official spoke after the Indian government’s constant lobbying of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government against rising pro-Khalistan sentiment in Canada – home to more than a million Sikhs – and a high-profile campaign for Khalistan led by the pro-Kahlistan and pro-separatist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ).

India attempted to exert diplomatic pressure on the Canadian government ahead of the September 18 referendum vote in Khalistan at the Gore Meadows Community Center in Brampton, Ontario. Hundreds of Sikhs gathered at the center on Saturday to prepare for Sunday’s vote – a decision that is expected to pit India against the Canadian government.

The Canadian government stated that its position on united India and its status would not change; that he will not recognize a referendum organized by the advocacy group, but he stressed that at the same time he cannot take away the right of Canadians to engage in any kind of political activity and claim their rights through peaceful and democratic means.

Canadian parliamentarian Sukhminder Singh Dhaliwal also said constitutional and democratic political expression cannot be stopped.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the Sikhs’ Advocate General for Justice and a lawyer from New York, said the Indian government had used all tricks to paint Sikhs in a bad light in front of the Western world, but democratic governments had refused to take Indian pressure because they recognized that Khalistan Referendum seeks to gauge the desire for an independent Khalistan and once the voting process is complete the case will be taken to the United Nations.

The position taken by the Canadian government on the referendum on Khalistan is intended to irritate India which has felt disturbed by the scenes of thousands of Sikhs marching out in Western capitals demanding India’s freedom and the creation of an independent state of Khalistan.

The Indian government has openly accused the Canadian authorities of being soft on the Khalistanis in Canada.

Earlier this week Indian authorities launched a strong protest to the Canadian government after BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto was vandalized with anti-Indian and pro-Khalistan slogans written at the entrance ahead of the September 18 referendum vote in Khalistan which is expected to attract tens of thousands of Sikhs.

The Indian government has condemned the vandalism at the Mandir, calling on the Canadian Prime Minister to take action against suspected Khalistan militants.

The vandalism incident comes after local police announced they had arrested an Indo-Canadian for tearing down the banner of Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the town of Caledon, Ontario ahead of the September 18 referendum in Khalistan . In response to the attack, more than 500 Sikhs protested outside the Indian consulate in Toronto, alleging that the Indian government was behind the attack on the posters of Sikh nationalist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, considered a martyr, a saint and an icon of the Khalistan movement.

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