THE addition of “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” in Public Safety Canada’s 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada was not only surprising, but disturbing as well, the British Columbia Sikhs Gurdwaras Council and the Ontario Gurdwaras Committee, a coalition of approximately 30 Sikh gurdwaras across Canada, said this week.
They said in a statement: “The Sikh community has long been subject to incidents of violence and hate crimes due to its very visible identity, and maligning the entire Sikh community in this report in such a generalized statement is irresponsible and could have wide standing effects on Sikhs throughout Canada.
“This is the first time that reference to “Sikh Extremism” has been made in this particular report and it is done so multiple times, including the 1st paragraph of the Executive Summary and in a paragraph immediately after outlining what the principal threat to Canada’s security is. It is highly irresponsible of those writing this report to first place the Sikh community within the report with such little context provided and then further place our community name in such significant places within the report so as to give prominence to the supposed “threat” we pose.
“Since the only reference in the report to any incident associated with the Sikh community is the 1985 Air India tragedy, there are questions looming as to why the term “Sikh Extremism” was added to the 2018 report based on an incident that occurred over 3 decades ago? Why do previous reports from the Ministry of Public Safety not include “Sikh Extremism”? Finally, what has happened since December 21, 2017 (release of the 2017 version of this report) that would move the Liberal Government in Canada to take such a step and include the Sikh community now?
“There is no doubt that the ongoing interference of the Government of India in Sikh affairs in Canada has been a long-standing and growing concern. Since the mid-1980s there has been evidence of undercover operatives within Canada with a number of them being expelled in the late 1980s by the Canadian government. Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau’s visit to India in February 2018 brought forward a myriad of concerns, both during and after the visit, regarding the pressure the Indian Government exerts on Canadian officials to crack down on any form of Sikh dissent that India sees as problematic.
“The report on Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit and last week’s release of a report by the National Security & Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, both provide significant evidence that India has continuously raised the issue of “Sikh Extremism” with Canada and attempted to embarrass the Canadian government through underhanded means. The direct link between the content of this report regarding the Sikh community and the ongoing interference of the Government of India in Sikh affairs within Canada is blatantly obvious.”
Speaking on behalf of BC and Ontario gurdwaras, Moninder Singh stated: “Due to its ongoing track record, it is not surprising to see India try and shut down Sikh dissent in Canada around India’s ongoing human rights violations of its minority communities and the Sikh community’s pursuit of self-determination through the establishment of Khalistan. However, it is deeply disturbing to see the Liberal Government in Canada fall to the pressure exerted by their Indian counterparts and appease them by taking steps such as including the Sikh community as a threat to Canada in its recently released report. It is highly irresponsible of those within government to include the Sikh community in this report and not take into consideration how this could potentially affect a very visible minority within this country that has a history of hate-crimes committed against them.”
The statement added: “Sikh Gurdwara’s across Canada have reached out to the Minister of Public Safety through Members of Parliament in ridings where significant Sikh populations reside as a means to further dialogue and understanding on this issue. Over the coming weeks we expect a response from the Minister’s office in regards to the context around inclusion of the Sikh community as a threat to Canada’s security and discussion around the removal of reference to the Sikh community from the report itself.”