The Globe and Mail – Jagmeet Singh addresses turban head-on in new Quebec NDP advertisement

Kristy Kirkup

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 04 September 2019. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is including his identity as a turbaned Sikh in his pitch to voters in a province immersed in debate over separating the state from religious symbols.

Mr Singh, who is expected to face a fierce battle in Quebec in the forthcoming campaign, is featured in a new advertisement that begins by showing the leader with his hair down, a marked difference from his usual appearance, where his hair is concealed under coloured turbans.

The ad release comes as Mr Singh is dealing with challenges such as slumping fundraising, naming a roster of candidates and the Tuesday announcement that 14 former candidates from the New Brunswick NDP are now joining the provincial and federal Green parties.

Mélanie Richer, a spokesperson for Mr Singh, played down the announcement from the Greens on Tuesday, adding the NDP will soon be announcing a full slate of candidates in New Brunswick and that “people change their mind for who they would like to support.”

The party is also hoping that through its Quebec advertisement, set to be circulated online and on television, that it can deliver a message that its leader may look different but that he shares progressive values on issues such as climate change.

Intense debate has played out in Quebec over a law barring public-sector employees such as teachers from wearing religious symbols in the workplace.

For his part, Mr Singh said he will not shy away from talking about his turban.

“What I want to achieve with that is assure folks that I kind of get Quebeckers have had to fight, for respect, for space, for their language, for their identity,” he said.

“It has been tough. I’ve had to as well, fight for a lot of things in my life and I get that it is not easy.”

The advertisement amounts to a show of authenticity for the leader, said NDP Quebec lieutenant Alexandre Boulerice, adding Quebeckers will appreciate that he is being genuine about who he is.

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-jagmeet-singh-addresses-turban-head-on-in-new-quebec-ndp-advertisement/

The News – Sikh delegation arrives in Lahore

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 29 August 2019. A 22-member Sikh delegation arrived here on Wednesday on the invitation of Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar Chaudhry to attend the International Sikh Convention being held at the Governor’s House on 31 August.

Talking to APP, Sikh delegation leader Sardar Gurucharan Singh said they had come with the message of love between both the nations in the time of tension. “We should promote love instead of hatred between Pakistani and Indian people,” he added.

He said that opening of Darbar Sahib Kartarpur corridor on the eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib was a praiseworthy initiative by the Pakistani government.

He said that eight Sikhs were coming by road from Canada to participate in the convention. The Sikh delegates will remain in the country till 04 September. They would visit different Sikh religious places.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/518957-sikh-delegation-arrives

The Tribune – Kotkapura youth found dead in Canada

20 days after a 23-year-old Kotkapura youth studying in Canada went missing, his body was found in a secluded house in Surrey city, British Columbia, Canada.

Kotkapura (Faridkot) – Panjab – India, 16 August 2019. For the last about two weeks, the family members of Roxy Chawla of Kotkapura, who had went to Canada on study visa last year, were trying to know his whereabouts until they got a phone call from the Canada police officials here on Thursday telling them about the recovery of Roxy’s body from a house under mysterious circumstances.

The Canada police officials conveyed to us that poisoning had emerged as the suspected cause of death in the autopsy of the deceased, said Bhagwan Dass Chawla, father of Roxy. “I have already spent most of my savings to send Roxy on study visa. My son had no rivalry or enemy,” said Bhagwan Dass.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/kotkapura-youth-found-dead-in-canada/818453.html

Sikh24.com – Statement by the World Sikh Organization on India’s revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy

Sikh24 Editors

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 06 August 2019. The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply concerned by the Government of India’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 370 gave the State of Jammu & Kashmir the right to its own constitution and decision-making processes for all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs. Article 370 dates back to 1949 when Kashmir agreed to become part of the Indian Union on the condition that it would retain a degree of autonomy.

The revocation of Article 370 came unannounced and accompanied by a bill to divide and reorganize the State of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories. The freshly divided State of Jammu & Kashmir would relinquish major powers to the Central Government but would retain a state legislature while the newly carved out State of Ladakh would be under direct central governance.

The shocking measures adopted today, came after the deployment of 35,000 extra troops into Kashmir in recent days- an area that is already one of the most militarized regions in the world. Authorities have also suspended internet services creating a blackout of the entire region.

Many Kashmiri political leaders have been arrested and taken into custody. Late Sunday in Kashmir, Indian forces laid steel barricades and razor wire on roads and intersections and issued a security order banning public meetings, rallies and movement and the closure of schools.

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today:

“The Indian Government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the division and reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir is shocking and unprecedented. Kashmir joined the Indian Union based on the terms set out in Article 370 and to withdraw those protections without due process or consultations with the people of Kashmir flies in the face of democratic values and norms.

The Indian government has acted in an authoritarian manner by stripping Jammu & Kashmir of its constitutionally mandated autonomy and relegating it to an occupied territory. The rule of law and basic democratic values have not been respected.

We fear for the people of Kashmir as their political leadership is under mass arrest and their civil rights have been suspended. The international community must not silently observe as human rights are trampled in Kashmir.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, the irrespective of race, religion , gender, ethnicity, social and economic status.

https://www.sikh24.com/2019/08/06/statement-by-the-world-sikh-organization-on-indias-revocation-of-kashmirs-autonomy/#.XUlR23tS_IU

Sikh24.com – India’s dossier to Pakistan on Khalistani Diaspora: Sikh struggle is indigenous in character; India needs to change its perception about it

Kanwar Pal Singh – Spokesman for Dal Khalsa

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 22 July 2019. Last week, on 14 July 2019, India handed over a dossier to the Imran Khan government during the Kartarpur corridor talks held at Wagah, alleging that Pakistan has been instigating Khalistani activists for subversive activities in India and allowing its soil to be used by the Khalistani Diaspora for the propagation of the cause of Sikh freedom.

There is nothing new in the allegations. It is an oft-repeated one. The timing though is significant, as it coincides with the dream project of the historic Kartarpur Sahib corridor being built on both sides of the Radcliffe Line, on a war-footing, to be ready for the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh faith, Guru Nanak.

Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was first to take this route of subverting the genesis of Sikh yearnings in the mid eighties of the last century. He handed over a list of Sikh militants to then Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto with similar allegations.

After the attack on the Indian Parliament, the BJP government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave a list of 20 most-wanted persons to the then Pakistan President General Parvez Musharraf in Jan 2002. Five of the twenty were Sikhs. Subsequently, Indian government under Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh revised the list and gave the list of 50 names to the then government of Pakistan in March 2011.

The Narendra Modi dispensation has followed the same path. Adding a new dimension, this time Sikhs of Pakistani origin are included in the list of names who seem inimical to India. They are in addition to targets from Punjab and the Diaspora.

The practice of handing over dossiers, lists and memos is going on since 1985-86. One could easily surmise the fate of the latest dossier from the outcome of the earlier ones.

The specific allegations are that during the pilgrimage to Sikh shrines in Pakistan on religious and historical occasions, Khalistani groups and their members use the religious platform to air anti-India sentiments, raise Khalistan slogans and display pictures of the hero of 1984 Battle of Amritsar, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Allegedly, the stage is provided by Pakistani Sikhs active under the aegis of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The first allegation is pure political fiction. I would like to say that a major section of Sikh Diaspora from Amritsar to Lahore to London raise rights violations by Indian forces in Punjab, express their desire for Punjab’s independence and seek UN intervention for self-determination.

Are these anti-India sentiments? They are a defence of human rights and an expression of Sikh rights. What has Pakistan got to do with all of these?

The second contention is more ridiculous than the first one. What is the difference between slogans for Khalistan raised at Darbar Sahib on June 6 and in Nanakana Sahib on any occasion? Does the meaning or connotation of the word “Khalistan” change from place to place?

Thirdly, what is wrong with pictures of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale? A large majority of people in Punjab have pictures and posters of Sant Bhindranwale in their houses and those who hold him as heroes wear T-shirts with respect and aplomb.

Within the Darbar Sahib precincts, there is a Gurdwara Sahib in memory of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other martyrs, who upheld Sikh rights. Is the government of India scared of the image of Sant Bhindranwale?

The dossier has repeatedly mentioned the name of Manmohan Singh Khalsa from UK for his anti-India speeches at Nankana Sahib while mentioning nearly 30 instances of Sikh pilgrims subjected to anti-India propaganda in the last few years.

Manmohan Singh died in UK in November 2017.

As far as Pakistani Sikhs are concerned, they are entitled to their ideology and right to belief. And they are on the same page as Sikhs of the US, Canada, UK, Europe and Punjab. Targeting them separately means that Indian is viewing them from the prism of its animosity with Pakistan which is an affront on their basic rights.

Dal Khalsa believes that India providing lists of Khalistani activists and their activities abroad including Pakistan is nothing but a propaganda war. India is consciously making efforts to defame the Khalistan struggle and malign its protagonists.

By deliberately refusing to recognize Sikh aspirations for freedom, India desires to show to the world that this legitimate struggle does not have a base within the community but is a brainchild of foreign powers.

What started with Pakistan, now includes Canada. Sikh bodies across the board from Punjab to the Diaspora have constantly refuted and rebutted all allegations levelled by India.

We reaffirm that Sikh struggle for Punjab’s independence is indigenous by character. Sikhs want the international community and India to grant them the right to self-determination through referendum under United Nations.

India and the world have to change the perception about the Sikh struggle, without which they will never understand the genesis of the Punjab problem. No false allegations or diplomatic strides to undermine the Sikh struggle and malign the Sikh rights defenders and pro-freedom activists will deter the Sikhs from pursuing their campaign for justice, equality and self-determination.

Historically, Sikhs have ruled Punjab, they have a rich historical legacy of being a pro-people sovereign state in this region and we are steadfast and determined to regain our lost glory and self-rule.

India’s dossier to Pakistan on Khalistani Diaspora: Sikh struggle is indigenous in character; India needs to change its perception about it

The Tribune – NDP’s Jagmeet kick-starts drive for Canadian federal polls ahead of rivals

Varinder Singh, Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 18 July 2019. In his bid to gain some ground in a relatively “un-chartered territory”, New Democratic Party (NDP-Canada) chief Jagmeet Singh is undertaking a quick roadshow of some ridings (seats) of Quebec, launching his campaign ahead of his rivals for the October 21 Canadian federal polls.

Jagmeet’s NDP was just holding 15 seats in Quebec. But, he was hopeful of at least increasing the numbers or at least his party’s vote share by holding his road trip.

After kick-starting his roadshow from Montreal, Jagmeet visited Sherbrooke. After this he will be trying his luck in central Quebec ridings of Berthier–Maskinongé, Trois-Rivières and Drummond. These quick road stops will be in nearly half of the 15 seats held by the NDP, but where the party support base has got “eroded” sharply as per some pre-poll surveys.

The NDP, according to a survey, was just enjoying a “meager” 9.4 per cent support in Quebec or at fifth place after Liberals who still hold 32.8 per cent share, Conservatives 23.5 per cent, Bloc Québécois 18.5 per cent and the Greens 11 per cent.

The biggest hurdle before Jagmeet is that he does not apparently have the level of “connect” with people of Quebec which top party leaders like Jack Layton had in the province even as the edge for Layton had come that no other national party was being led by a Quebecer, which won’t be the case this time around.

In Sherbrooke, the NDP had managed to stage victory by a margin of eight points in 2015, when the party had won Drummond by only four points after losing 21 percentage points since 2011. Trois-Rivières was another seat the NDP had barely managed to hold its ground in 2015, with Robert Aubin’s support eroding by18 points.

He also could face a stiff challenge from the Conservatives this time for the latter have put up long-time mayor Yves Lévesque as their candidate.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/ndp-s-jagmeet-kick-starts-drive-for-canadian-federal-polls-ahead-of-rivals/804086.html

Sikh24.com – SFJ lodges defamation case against Indian government in Canada’s Superior Court of Justice

Sikh24 Editors

Toronto – Ontario – Canada, 11 July 2019. The US based pro-freedom Sikh outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ has lodged a defamation case against the Indian government for leveling allegations on SFJ of being a supporter of terrorism and working on the directions of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The move has come in a quick reaction to the India’s step of banning the ‘Sikhs for Justice’.

The SFJ has also sued a mainstream media outlet in this case and has demanded one million dollar penalty charge.

This lawsuit has been filed in the Superior Court of Justice, situated in the Toronto city of Canada’s Ontario province. A firm of lawyers named ‘Stockwoods LLP Barristers’ will represent the SFJ in the Court.

Attorney Nadir R Hassan has said that the Indian government’s statements against the SFJ were extremely defamatory as the SFJ is a respectable human rights body.

On July 10, the Indian government had imposed ban on the US based pro-freedom Sikh outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ (SFJ) which has been campaigning for a referendum in Punjab in 2020. The Twitter account of SFJ’s legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannu has been also suspended on the request of Indian government.

SFJ lodges defamation case against Indian government in Canada’s Superior Court of Justice

World Sikh News – Panjab peace needs global conflict resolution, not anti-Sikh accusations

Published 1 week ago, Kanwarpal Singh

Despite being proven a debauch by the judiciary and in spite of overwhelming evidence of his unlawful approach to policing, KPS Gill was a darling of the Indian state and the Indian media. All Indian newspapers, including the Tribune, do not spare a chance to eulogise his monumental contribution towards peace in Punjab.

He was the worst human rights violator of the last century in Punjab. His legacy is being forwarded by his son-in-law Ajay Sahni through his writings, who uses prime space easily provided by The Tribune to float unfounded stories of “Sikh Terrorism”.

In a sharp reaction, Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh rebuts his perverted logic and presents the Sikh nationalist view­point.

Despite being proven a debauch by the judiciary and in spite of overwhelming evidence of his unlawful approach to policing, KPS Gill was a darling of the Indian state and the Indian media. All Indian newspapers, including the Tribune, do not spare a chance to eulogise his ‘monumental contribution’ towards peace in Punjab.

He was the worst human rights violator of the last century in Punjab. His legacy is being forwarded by his son-in-law Ajay Sahni through his writings.

First, they called us Khalistanis. Now they have added the word “Terrorists”. First, they blamed Pakistan for supporting us. Now Canada is also on the list. First, they sought sanctions against Pakistan. Now they propose the same with Canada.

All this is being done to malign the Sikh image world­wide and to portray the Sikhs as mindless and violent persons.

The write-up “Canada’s double game” carried in the columns of The Tribune is a deliberate and willful attempt to portray the Sikh struggle for the right to self-determination as a design of some foreign forces.

The writer of this article, Ajay Sahni, who heads the Institute for Conflict Management, is the son-in-law of former Punjab police chief KPS Gill, notorious as the Butcher of Punjab.

While Gill harmed the Sikhs physically by using extra-judicial violent means, his son-in-law is maligning the image of Sikhs with his pen. The article carried by The Tri­bune on its opinion page has stereo­type allegations against Sikhs in tune with the Punjab policy of the Indian state.

The content of the article is full of hate nurtured by the writer and his mentors against Sikhs. He goes hammer and tongs against Canada with­out any proof what­so­ever, in the same vein as the Chief Minister of Punjab.

Not surprisingly, he has a word of praise for Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who has once again started his anti-Canada diatribe by urging the Modi dispensation to approach the United Nations and seek sanctions against Canada.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/canada-s-double-game/792127.html

By continuously questioning the credentials of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues, a section of Indian media and the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh have repeatedly offended the political sensibilities of Canada, a Commonwealth associate of India, and un­leashed a tirade against the Sikh Diaspora which has been making the right moves on Cana­dian soil, raising human rights concerns and endorsing the call for the right to self-determination.

Indian politicians refuse to recognise that Canada is known for its open, mature and vibrant democracy. While in India the right to freedom of expression and to hold independent thoughts is only on paper, in countries like Canada, it is practised in letter and spirit.

The theories and allegations about the Kanishka bombing are oft-repeated and still base­less. Nobody is sure, even after 35 years, who executed the bombing and why.

Let’s be clear: The Sikh strug­gle has a clearly defined agenda. We have our rightful aspirations. We have a political cause to fight for. Punjab belongs to all its citizens, be it Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Dalits or Sikhs. We give respect to all and we expect the same from them.

We don’t believe in senseless and arbitrary violence as like the one perpetrated by the Indian government in Punjab, Kashmir and the North-east.

The Punjab conflict needs a political resolution as per the aspirations of the people, but certainly, not one brokered or suggested by the KPS Gill inspired Institute of Conflict Management.

Sikhs strongly be­lieve that the international community and Indian civil society have a role to play for lasting peace in this region.

Punjab Peace needs global conflict resolution, not anti-Sikh accusations

The Tribune – India to raise SFJ issue with Canada, UK

New Delhi – India, 11 July 2019. The government has expressed its resolve to curb the banned Sikh separatist organisation, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), by taking up the matter strongly with countries where it is active, especially with the Canadian government, MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar told mediapersons at a press conference here today.

The other countries which will be sounded out are the UK and US where SFJ plans to step up its activities.

While the vast majority of Sikhs in Canada share warm relations with India, Ravish Kumar said this fringe group had supported violent extremism in India. The Home Ministry had pointed out that while the SFJ had over 2 lakh online supporters, it was a group of only eight to 10 people and the government had been successful in getting the Twitter handle of its legal adviser Gurpatwant Pannu.

Links on Facebook had also been brought down on India’s request.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/india-to-raise-sfj-issue-with-canada-uk/800610.html

Sikh Federation UK – India’s ban on Sikhs for Justice shows it has no respect for freedom of expression and the basic right to self-determination

India’s ban on Sikhs for Justice shows it has no respect for freedom of expression and the basic right to self-determination

London – UK, 11 July 2019. The decision earlier this week by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs to ban Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) from operating in India shows India’s total disrespect for basic human rights and its desire and desperation to silence the Sikh Diaspora.

SFJ is a human rights advocacy group based in North America that has been highlighting human rights violations and the 1984 Sikh Genocide by the Indian state for the last 12 years and has in the last five years been underlining the right to self-determination.

During the 1984 Sikh Genocide and in the decade that followed the Indian State perpetrated what can only be termed crimes against humanity. Following the 1984 Sikh Genocide the rape, torture, disappearances, fake encounters and extra-judicial killings of Sikhs was nothing short of Indian State terrorism.

Not content with its gross violation of human rights for over a decade the Indian authorities turned its attention by killing human rights activists in Punjab like Jaswant Singh Khalra. He was eliminated by Indian police as he highlighted to the global community 25,000 Sikh disappearances, including unidentified bodies and illegal cremations.

The “Sacrificing Sikhs” report published in November 2017 based on around half of the UK Governments own official papers released after 30 years provides evidence the Indian State was active in the 1980s to try and silence the British Sikh voice of opposition and calls for Sikh independence that followed the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

There is little doubt the Indian state would have tried to do the same with other foreign governments like Canada and the USA to varying degrees of success that no one has yet uncovered to the extent as in the UK. The Sikh Federation (UK) has also in recent years become aware of some of India’s anti-Sikh activities in countries like Germany and Switzerland to try and silence Sikh opposition.

UK politicians have confirmed in 2001 the Indian government pressured the UK Government to ban the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF). The ISYF was the main Sikh organisation operating in the Sikh Diaspora highlighting human rights violations by the Indian State and advocating for an independent Sikh State.

The 9/11 act of terrorism was misused by India for its own purposes to push for worldwide restrictions on the ISYF and bans in India (December 2001) and Canada (June 2003).

In the UK Sikhs have successfully lobbied and used the legal process to have the ban on the ISYF lifted in March 2016 and two months later to have all restrictions lifted on the ISYF across Europe. There has been recent talk that Sikhs in Canada may be legally challenging the Canadian government to justify the continued ban on the ISYF.

The US Administration has stood up to the Indian government and never banned any Sikh organisation, but the authorities have been pressured to act against individual Sikh nationalists. What is abundantly clear is the Indian government has been constantly complaining to foreign governments for up to 40 years about Sikhs in the Diaspora raising human rights violations in India and pressuring them not to engage with Sikh organisations and individuals advocating for the right to self-determination.

Instead the Indian authorities have increasingly pushed with foreign governments Sikh groups, businessmen and individuals that are totally silent on criticism of India or who are pro-Indian as Sikh representatives with whom they should engage.

The Indian authorities are increasingly worried about the in-roads being made by Sikhs in the Diaspora into the highest levels of the political arena in countries like Canada and the UK.

They are struggling to understand many of the Sikh politicians have been born in Canada or the UK or lived most of their lives there and are duty bound to respect human rights and act as champions for the minority Sikh community.

As shown with Canada India has gone to extreme lengths in the last 18 months to discredit the current Canadian Prime Minister and exert pressure on the Canadian government to act against individual Sikh activists with a no-fly policy or try and demonise the entire Sikh community through official reports.

With federal elections taking place in Canada in October 2019 the Indian authorities are unashamedly approaching the opposition Conservative Party to change their position on freedom of expression and those campaigning for Sikh self-determination.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“We want to make clear the Indian authorities will never be able to silence the Sikh Diaspora from highlighting human rights violations and our right to self-determination.”

“Banning Sikhs for Justice in India where it does not exist, pressuring foreign governments to take actions against Sikh nationalists and interfering in the Canadian federal elections are signs of desperation by the Indian regime.”

“Sikhs in the Diaspora are increasingly politically active and media savvy and foreign politicians will find it more and more difficult to appease the Indian authorities at the expense of their own Sikh citizens.”

“In the long run India’s actions will backfire as foreign governments will eventually realise they have more to gain from a large independent Sikh State in the Indian sub-continent than from bowing to the blackmail of the Indian authorities.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)