In its first reaction to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's concern about the revival of pro-Khalistan activities in Canada, Ottawa said it would not allow Sikh militants to preach violence on its soil.
Speaking for the Canadian government, Deepak Obhrai, who is the parliamentary secretary to Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier, assured New Delhi that Sikh militants would not be allowed to operate in the country.
Obhrai said Canada was committed to fighting the scourge of terrorism in the world and "will not tolerate any kind of action originating from our soil that promotes terrorism in other countries. As the Air India inquiry has shown, lack of strong action can lead to deadly consequences".
Obhrai said the Babbar Khalsa and the International Sikh Youth Federation were among the 40-odd terror organisations already banned in Canada. Any group promoting terrorist ideology on Canadian soil will face the brunt of Canadian law, he said.
Asked why his government was responding now when the Indian prime minister had expressed his concern many days ago, he said: "We don't have to respond right away. We have studied the statement and are responding now."
The highest-ranking Indo-Canadian in the current Conservative government, Obhrai told IANS that the Khalistan issue was raised with them when he and his foreign minister visited New Delhi in January.
"India's national security advisor raised this issue with us and we told him that since militant Sikh groups are already banned in Canada, they cannot - and will not - be allowed to operate," he said.
Asked why Canada allowed a militant Sikh leader from Britain to come and promote his so-called Sikh Agenda, Obhrai said: "We cannot stop anyone from using his right of freedom of speech. But if his speech promotes hatred and violence, we will not allow that."
The Indian prime minister had expressed his concern about activities of pro-Khalistan elements in Canada and a few other nations such as the US and Britain in a letter to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC).
His letter was in response to the SGPC's demand for a review of black lists of pro-Khalistan Sikhs who are not allowed to enter India.