June 16th, 2024

Sikh activists in B.C. emboldened by Trudeau’s comments on India ahead of referendum

By The Canadian Press on October 26, 2023.

A photograph of late temple president Hardeep Singh Nijjar is seen on a banner outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. Organizers of an upcoming vote on an independent Sikh state say Canada's allegations of India's links to the killing of Nijjar have significantly bolstered vocal support for their cause. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

SURREY, B.C. – Organizers of an upcoming vote on an independent Sikh state say Canada’s allegations of India’s links to the killing of activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar have significantly bolstered vocal support for their cause.

Sikhs For Justice’s U.S.-based lawyer, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, says many supporters for Khalistan, a term referring to an independent Sikh state in India, had been reluctant to voice their opinions over fear of being labelled a terrorist.

Pannun says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement last month that India may be involved in Nijjar’s killing has generated discussions in countries such as the United States and Great Britain on India’s handling of the incident, allowing supporters to vocalize their positions without fear.

Sikhs For Justice will hold a second round of voting for its unofficial referendum on Khalistani independence on Sunday at the gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., where Nijjar was shot on June 18.

The first vote in September included a question on whether voters felt India was involved in Nijjar’s killing, but Pannun says the question has been removed since Trudeau made his comments.

The ongoing diplomatic tension between Ottawa and New Delhi has shown signs of calming, as India said this week it is resuming entry visa services in Canada for some categories, including business, medical and those wanting to attended conferences.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2023.

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