Hindu group urges Trudeau to probe Pannun's hate video, says children affected

Sep 27, 2023 06:33 AM IST

A video of Gurpatwant Pannun threatening Hindus to leave Canada went viral after Trudeau publicly blamed India for Hardeep Singh Nijjar's killing.

The Canadian government has been asked to investigate Sikhs for Justice or SFJ legal counsel Gurpatwant Pannun for allegedly promoting hate through a video he released recently targeting Hindu Canadians of Indian origin.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, co-founder and legal adviser of the banned US-based Khalistani organisation Sikhs for Justice.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, co-founder and legal adviser of the banned US-based Khalistani organisation Sikhs for Justice.

In a letter to Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller on behalf of the Hindu Forum Canada, the Toronto-based law firm Brauti Thorning said, “It may be that if Mr Pannun was in Canada at the time he made these statements, then he could have been properly investigated and perhaps charged with public incitement of hatred or the wilful promotion of hatred.”

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The video in question was released after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons on September 18, that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and Khalistani figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar, SFJ’s principal figure in the province of British Columbia, was gunned down in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara that he headed in the town of Surrey on June 18.

Canadian ministers condemn SFJ video asking Hindus of Indian origin to leave nation

In a video that has gone viral, Pannun said, “Indo-Hindu leave Canada, go to India.”

“You not only support India but you are also supporting the suppression of speech and expression of pro-Khalistan Sikhs,” he said, adding they were “also promoting violence by celebrating” Nijjar’s “assassination.”

Sent by the firm’s partner Peter Thorning on Tuesday, the letter said, “Mr Pannu's recent comments have caused distress and trauma not only within the Hindu community but also among Canadian citizens at large. The distribution of a hateful video through various social media platforms has further exacerbated these concerns. This situation is deeply troubling. Canada must not tolerate the incitement of violence directed at a specific group within its borders.”

“It is imperative that Canada does not condone or overlook such hateful speech, as it has a detrimental impact not only on adults but also on our children attending schools, colleges, and universities. The potential for these discussions to create tensions and divisions within the populace cannot be ignored,” the letter added.

It also cited provisions in Canadian law against Public incitement to hatred and Wilful promotion of hatred, both of which are indictable offences and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or punishable on summary conviction. It noted, “Section 319 of the Criminal Code makes it unlawful to incite or promote hatred against an identifiable group<’ adding there was “no doubt” Hindus came in that category.

It also called for Pannun to be declared inadmissible to Canada. However, since he is a dual citizen of both the United States and Canada, he cannot be barred from the country.

Thorning told the Hindustan Times that if someone “engaged in hate speech”, they could be investigated by police.” He added that they will await a response from the Minister’s office. “If the Government doesn’t take appropriate action or conduct an appropriate investigation, we will consider what the next steps,” he said. SFJ had organized protests outside India’s missions in Canada on Monday, though they attracted, in total, less than 200 persons. It has also announced that the next phase of the so-called Khalistan Referendum is to take place on October 29 in Surrey.

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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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