India seeks Canada’s assistance in ‘toolkit’ probe
India may ask the Canadian government to assist in investigating the antecedents of individuals and groups it alleges were responsible for creating a “toolkit” for those supporting agitations against the farm laws, especially if it is linked to violence that occurred on Republic Day in New Delhi.
Senior Indian officials told HT that if the Delhi Police is to charge-sheet persons based in Canada, such a request is tenable under the mutual legal assistance treaty New Delhi has with Ottawa. “We will take it up with the Canadian Government when we need cooperation of law enforcement agencies in Canada,” an official said.
The toolkit, which was tweeted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, and then deleted before she posted an updated version, is being linked by Delhi Police to a Vancouver-based organisation, Poetic Justice Foundation (PFJ). HT reached out to the founder of PJF Mo Dhaliwal, who agreed to an interview but then said he would issue a statement instead.
The toolkit is in support of the farmers’ agitation, and ostensibly meant to raise its profile internationally. PJF has also worked in coordination with the World Sikh Organisation or WSO, which has been critical of India, regardless of the government in charge, for several years, and, as per the Canadian Encyclopedia, wanted to “create an independent nation, Khalistan” when it was founded.
PFJ’s co-founder Anita Lal joined WSO as its Director of Community Development on February 1. The two organisations, along with two others, issued a press statement criticising the actions of the Indian government following the violence on January 26.
According to an interview with a campus journal, Dhaliwal is an alumnus of the University of Fraser Valley in British Columbia, and worked briefly in Silicon Valley before returning to Vancouver. He also founded the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society, and was director of strategy at Skyrocket, a branding a web design agency based in Vancouver.
In an interview on January 26 to the Canadian network Global TV, Dhaliwal said the #AskIndiaWhy campaign was launched to “create awareness so that with the world’s eyes on India”, the government is “less likely” to undertake “any extreme violence” against the farmers. Such “scrutiny”, he said, was required so that “India does not massacre the protestors standing against these laws.”
The updated toolkit posted by Thunberg gave a brief description of the ongoing farmers’ agitation and called upon people to participate or organise on-ground protests, post tweets supporting the agitation, contact legal representatives, and sign petitions. To be sure, it did not appear to be out of the ordinary as guidelines for online protest campaigns go.
PFJ’s website appears to be temporarily down, but the AskIndiaWhy site displays a Sikh Sovereignty section, with its page linking to publications from the Khalistan Centre. The Centre’s web presence, at Khalistan.org, prominently says, “Mobilising the Khalsa panth to effectively achieve Khalsa Jee De Bol Baalay through the establishment of an independent Khalistan.”
Dhaliwal, described as community activist, was also the moderator for a panel discussion last year titled Khalistan, a conversation on trauma, racism and sovereignty, organised by PFJ.