RATTAN’S RUMBLE: India MUST stop trying to trample on the freedom of speech of Canadians!

NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh ONTARIO’S NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh has been refused a visa to India and Indian Consul-General Akhilesh Mishra told The Globe and Mail newspaper in an email that the Indian government didn’t have to provide any justification or explanation about it.

He wrote that those who seek to undermine Indian democratic institutions and foment contempt for them “are only misusing the pretext of human rights to pursue their insidious agenda of disturbing the social fabric of India and undermining the peace, harmony and territorial integrity of India.”

Singh, who is the MPP (as MLAs are called in Ontario) for Bramalea-Gore-Malton, apparently angered the Indian government by referring to the massacre of Sikhs in India in 1984 as “genocide” and condemning the attack on the Golden Temple by the Indian Army in 1984.

In fact, all three federal parties criticized the Indian government last month for the 1984 events and India’s failure to get justice for Sikh victims.

The Globe and Mail reported: “Mr. Singh submitted his application for the Indian visa in November last year. Sources say his passport was returned to him on Dec. 8 without the visa, which surprised him since he had visited India in January and February. When asked by Mr. Singh at the time, Indian diplomats in Toronto would not detail any reasons for his not being given the visa.”

Mishra told the newspaper that the “processing of visa applications does not depend on ‘statements made by the applicant or his or her support for human rights.’ … India fully respects freedom of expression, and indeed cherishes plurality of opinion and welcomes constructive criticism.”

But the fact is that is exactly what the Indian government is doing: trying to suppress freedom of expression in Canada.

All political parties must speak out against this blatant attack on Canadian values.

OVER the past years, I have consistently taken the stand that Sikhs have every right to advocate for Khalistan as long as they do NOT break any Canadian laws.

Indeed, even Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the RCMP have made that very clear.

Personally, as I have written before, I do not believe there will ever be a Khalistan. (I am a Christian – and not a Sikh, for the record). And I firmly believe in the unity of India.

But I also strongly believe that the Indian government has failed miserably in punishing those responsible for the massacre of thousands of innocent men, women and children in 1984 after the assassination of then-prime minister Indira Gandhi. I covered those events in Delhi as a reporter for The Times of India – so I know what happened.

People in Canada, India and around the world have every right to highlight injustices anywhere in the world. Those days of “mind your own business, this is our internal affair” are over and Indian authorities should wake up to that fact, especially as India is a democracy.

Petty-minded Indian diplomats and irresponsible Indian intelligence agents in Indian missions abroad should stop misleading the Indian government.

I hope the new prime minister, Narendra Modi, stops this practice of blacklisting Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). And if they do blacklist someone, they should be given a fair opportunity to defend themselves.

And, if Indian Consul-General Akhilesh Mishra thinks that the horrific massacre of innocent Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 is not about human rights, then he should be kicked out of Canada!