Sikh Extremists Thrive in Trudeau’s Canada

Justin Trudeau

Clearly, vote bank politics are at play in Canada. Otherwise, the Khalistanis will not be thriving even as Prime Minister Justine Trudeau is professing friendship with India. 

L’affaire Trudeau justifies the adage that politicians refuse to look beyond their noses for short-term gains.  He has been taking the support of the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Jagmeet ‘Jimmy’ Singh Dhaliwal for his government’s survival.

Prime Minister Trudeau denies on record supporting the activities of the Sikh extremists but Dhaliwal’s party is known as the shield for the pro-Khalistani elements in the country.   

Khalistan is well documented secessionist movement. Therefore, it should not have gained traction in Canada, which is home to ‘historical and active’ movements for secession or autonomy. 

From Trudeau’s home base, Quebec to British Columbia and Alberta to Vancouver Island, Canada has witnessed people hitting the separatist button over a host of local issues besides broken promises of the national leadership.  

Words such as referendum and self-determination might chime with Western sensibilities, but the likes of Justine Trudeau will do well to realise the dangers inherent in their short-term electoral politics. More so because Dhaliwal with his roots in Ontario province, takes recourse to verbal calisthenics that pleases the Sikh extremists but does not unequivocally condemn the demand for another division of India on religious grounds with the use of violence.

Arguably, the Canadian parliament is unique with the highest representation of Sikhs in any legislature in big democracies of the West.   Most people of Indian origin who sit in the national assembly of Canada trace their origin to Punjab.  Most of them are Sikhs but not all of them support Sikh extremists.

From what is in the public domain, the Sikh extremists are in the minority in their own community. Yet, the pro-Khalistani elements get to be heard widely and even manage to extract some political mileage in Canada.

A few years ago, the legislature of the southern Ontario province endorsed a private member’s motion that described the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India as ‘genocide’

Recently, Brompton, known as the flower town, also in Ontario Province, witnessed a procession to ‘celebrate’ the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October 1984 by two of her Sikh guards.

Nearly 20 per cent of the Brompton citizens trace their origin to the Indian Punjab. The current Canadian population of immigrants from Punjab is said to be nearly a million; their population jumped several-fold between 2001 and 2021.

Neighbouring United States has a large Sikh population, particularly in the big state of California. Some of them had arrived there almost a century ago. They are peaceful, but in recent years, the Khalistan extremists have been attracting and brainwashing them.

Some time ago, San Francisco hosted a seminar where panellists had openly espoused the use of violence to achieve the so-called state of ‘Khalistan’. The star speaker was Trudeau’s present-day crutch, Jagmeet ‘Jimmy’ Singh Dhaliwal.

At the beginning of his political innings, Dhaliwal was hesitant to decry the role of Talwinder Singh Parmar, described as the mastermind of the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985.  Named after the Second Century Kushan dynasty emperor Kanishka, the Boeing, Kanishka, flying from Toronto to Bombay, plunged into the Atlantic Ocean killing all 329 passengers and 22 crew members. The plan to bomb the flight was hatched in Canada. It is the worst terrorist attack in the history of Canada.

Quite a few ‘wanted’ men and women, accused or found guilty of political assassinations and other crimes in India, head for Canada. Some of them manage to become prominent political or community figures. For instance, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, wanted in India for several criminal cases is the president of the Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Colombia.           

Attacks on Indians or people of Indian origin by pro-Khalistani elements have been increasing regularly in Canada over the past few years, particularly in areas of Punjabi diaspora concentration.  The rise in such cases suggests the inability or unwillingness of the Trudeau government to deal strictly with the provocateurs and perpetrators. 

The British government is in no way different in this respect going by the vandalism indulged in by pro-Khalistan supporters at the Indian High Commission in London on March 19, 2023.

Both the US and Canada as also the United Kingdom have been welcoming and hosting dissidents and secessionists from the Third World countries while taking shelter under the good old liberal mindset.  It is time they stop sailing in two boats since they have their share of active or dormant movements in their own backyard. 

(The writers Malladi Rama Rao & Atul Cowshish are Delhi-based journalists and commentators)

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This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor

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