Canada tweaked terror report after pressure from Sikh groups

Prime Minister Trudeau attended a nagar kirtan in Vancouver less than 24 hours after the decision to remove all references to Khalistani extremism from the report that was made and the changes were in place.
The Justin Trudeau government apparently removed references to Khalistani extremism in a report on terror threats to Canada because of a warning that leaders of the ruling Liberal Party wouldn’t be allowed to speak at parades marking Vaisakhi.(Reuters File Photo)
The Justin Trudeau government apparently removed references to Khalistani extremism in a report on terror threats to Canada because of a warning that leaders of the ruling Liberal Party wouldn’t be allowed to speak at parades marking Vaisakhi.(Reuters File Photo)
Updated on Apr 17, 2019 12:49 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, Toronto/London | ByAnirudh Bhattacharyya and Prasun Sonwalkar

The Justin Trudeau government apparently removed references to Khalistani extremism in a report on terror threats to Canada because of a warning that leaders of the ruling Liberal Party wouldn’t be allowed to speak at parades marking Baisakhi, the Punjabi harvest festival.

Pressure from sections of the Sikh community had mounted on the government over references to Khalistani extremism in Public Safety Canada’s report released last December.

Last week, the government released an updated version of the report that removed all mention of Sikh and Khalistani extremism, much to the chagrin of India.

With federal elections due in October, ‘nagar kirtans’ or parades are considered prime locations for politicians to reach out to tens of thousands of voters. For instance, the Baisakhi event at Surrey in British Columbia attracts almost 500,000. And its organisers decided that Liberal Party leaders would be banned from speaking at the massive Khalsa Day observation.

“I definitely think the decision we made as a collective had an impact, otherwise we would not have seen such a quick response within 36 hours by the Liberal government,” said Moninder Singh, president of Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar and one of the principal organisers of the event in Surrey.

April is the month for nagar kirtans across Canada, with some events stretching into the early weekends of May. There was concern within Liberal Party circles of a domino effect, across cities and provinces. Singh confirmed his group had “started discussions for other nagar kirtans in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal to follow suit as well”.

Prime Minister Trudeau attended a nagar kirtan in Vancouver less than 24 hours after the decision to remove all references to Khalistani extremism from the report was made and the changes were in place.

The Liberals also received a scare recently when a slate backed by fathers of two major figures of the Sikh community, cabinet minister Navdeep Bains and MP Ruby Sahota, was soundly defeated in elections to the management of Ontario Khalsa Darbar in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

GTA and Metro Vancouver area (where Surrey is located) account for a trove of seats in the House of Commons, and a majority of Liberal MPs elected in 2015, including Bains and defence minister Harjit Sajjan, are from these areas.

There was also the unspoken threat they could be ostracised by some hardline gurdwaras.

As Singh said, “There was consistent pressure from many different places that pushed this through and forced the Liberal government to take a strong look at the type of language they had used and agree that it was maligning and would not be used in future.”

Veteran GTA-based journalist Balraj Deol agreed: “This was a victory for Khalistani groups. Removing it [the references] is a political decision. It’s not a security agency assessment. This happened because of pressure of Khalistanis – they control most of the gurdwaras that hold parades.”

London-based activist Jasdev Singh Rai, who has been in talks with the Narendra Modi government to resolve issues of overseas Sikhs since 2015, said there was “frustration and anger” among Sikhs worldwide over Canada labelling “Sikhs as extremists and terrorists”. There was also anger that this was done when Canada had Sikhs at the highest levels of government, including in security.

“Canada is the only country which has officially now established a black list of Sikhs denied entry. While India has brought down its list with a few exceptions, Canada has set up a black list,” he added. Rai said he also believed the Trudeau government was “bending over backwards” to appease India after his disastrous visit last year.

Rai believed Indian diplomats in Canada should adopt a “discreet, nuanced and respectful approach” towards gurdwaras, similar to that taken by the Indian high commission in the UK, adding he hoped the “process of dialogue and unobtrusive engagement is restored”.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Image for representation only.

    US CDC publishes guidelines on monkeypox vaccine. Details here

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday published recommendations by its group of independent experts on a smallpox vaccine that limit its use to only people who work closely with viruses such as monkeypox. The publication of the vote by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which took place in November last year, formalizes the recommendations.

  • Tesla chief Elon Musk. 

    US SEC looking into Musk's Twitter stake purchase

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk's disclosure of his stake in Twitter Inc in early April, according to a letter the agency sent to him that month. Musk was offered a board seat shortly after his initial disclosure and has since gone on to attempt to buy the company outright in a $44 billion deal to take it private. An SEC spokesperson declined to comment.

  • A person holds pictures of victims of the Texas shooting as they protest against gun laws outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention in Houston, Texas.

    Texas shooting: Cops took 45 minutes to confront gunman, kids kept calling 911

    Nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside of the classrooms during this week's attack on a Texas elementary school for more than 45 minutes before agents used a master key to open a door and confront a gunman, authorities said Friday.

  • Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan,

    Watch: Imran Khan storms out of presser, his fans & critics fight on Twitter

    Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan on Friday stormed out of a press conference in Peshawar after he was questioned by a journalist on his party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf's role in the social media, Pakistan website Geo TV reported. This comes a day after the former prime minister and several senior leaders were booked for arson and vandalism in Islamabad during Azadi March.

  • An employee of the vaccine company Bavarian Nordic shows a picture of a vaccine virus on a display in a laboratory of the company in Martinsried near Munich, Germany

    Monekypox spreads to over 20 nations; Global tally nears 200: Full list here

    More than 20 countries across the globe have reported detections of Monkeypox cases so far taking the total tally to nearly 200, the World Health Organisation. It had reported its first infection on May 18. Canada: Canada has a total of 25 infections of Monkeypox. Spain: The European nation has so far logged 84 cases of disease. The number saw a significant rise on May 26 when the country logged 25 cases.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, May 28, 2022