Toronto: As Khalistani activists in Canada grab the headlines after the Amritpal Singh incident in Punjab, Ujjal Dosanjh, the former Premier of British Columbia, says, “They are playing a mindless game, with no purpose. It is just for gratification.”
Dosanjh, who was brutally attacked by Sikh radicals in Vancouver in 1986 at the height of terrorist violence in Punjab, says the Khalistan movement has no future.
“There was a demonstration by 25,000 in Vancouver in June 1984, but now just 100 people show up at Khalistani demonstrations,” says Dosanjh.
But many fear that the pro-Khalistani sentiment is rising in Canada.
“What did the promptness of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, MP Sonia Sidhu, and others in tweeting about the Punjab situation after Amritpal Singh’s arrest and ban on Internet services, say? It was done at the behest of radical votebanks,” says a Brampton Sikh entrepreneur, requesting anonymity.
He says the majority is silent because of the fear of reprisals.
“Nobody opens their mouth against the Khalistanis who enjoy political patronage. Any leader who says anything against them is banned from entering gurdwaras and joining Vaisakhi parades,” he says.
“When events such as the Amritpal Singh incident happen, Khalistan supporters bombard the offices of mayors, MPs, MPPs and ministers with messages, forcing them to issue hasty statements or tweet,” says an Indo-Canadian restaurant owner in Toronto.
The restaurant owner claims that the Khalistanis are luring and using new students from Punjab to further their agenda.
They brainwash these students while helping them with jobs, accommodation and food, he says.
“The students are being roped in for Khalistani demonstrations. In return for helping these students, the radicals ask the parents of these students in Punjab to help pro-Khalistan activists in the state,” says the Toronto restaurant owner.
Ritesh Malik, national convener of the Canada-India Foundation which has been targeted by radicals as being pro-RSS, blames the political appeasement for the rise of anti-Indian sentiment in Canada.
“Politicians must stop playing identity politics. A criminal is a criminal – not a Sikh or a Hindu or a Muslim. By supporting these elements, ministers and MPs are playing dangerous games and harming Canada which needs India more than ever now,” says Malik.
Brampton Punjabi journalist Balraj Deol also blames the Indian government for emboldening Khalistanis by deleting their names from the black lists. “The Modi government started this process in 2015 to win over the Khalistanis, but it was done without any thought. This action disheartened many moderates here who opposed the radicals. Today, we see the consequences of the Indian action,” he says.
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