The Tribune – Afghan Sikhs see land mafia’s role in blast

Varinder Singh, Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 09 July 2018. Afghanistan’s land mafia eying hundreds of acres of precious land with Sikh gurdwaras may have carried out the July 1 Jalalabad blast that killed 17 Sikh leaders on way to meet the President.

There were reports that the attack may have been carried out by the Taliban or Daish (Islamic State). But both organisations have through emissaries conveyed to the community their concern over the killings.

While a government investigation is yet to ascertain the identity of the attackers, the Sikh community in Kabul has little doubt the powerful land mafia did it, pointing out it has already usurped gurdwara land, assets and properties in villages on the outskirts of Kabul, Jalalabad, Ghazni, Herat and Kandahar.

The announcement by Afghanistan Prime Minister Mohammad Ashraf Ghani eight months ago on transfer of government land worth USD 7,00,000 for Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar in Jalalabad for setting up a school for Sikh children may have triggered the July 1 blast, say local Sikhs.

“The mafia paid USD 4,00,000 as bribe to officials for usurping the land allotted to the Sikhs,” claims Narinder Singh Khalsa, who is contesting the parliamentary elections scheduled for October in place of his father Avtar Singh Khalsa, who was among those killed in the Jalalabad blast.

He says the Sikh delegation was attacked while on way to meet the PM in Jalalabad for government aid for the proposed school.

“Our acquaintances and friends in Ghazni tell us that the Taliban and DAISH have expressed their sympathy for the Sikh victims. They say they have no animosity for the Sikh community,” claims Narinder Singh.

Canada urged to give asylum

Toronto – The Canada India Foundation (CIF) has urged the country to accept Sikh and Hindu minority communities from Afghanistan as refugees following the killing of 19 Sikhs by an IS suicide bomber in Jalalabad.

CIF chair Ajit Someshwar said Canada should help alleviate the plight of Sikh and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan the same way it helped Syrian refugees by giving them asylum in the country.


The Tribune – Kanishka ‘single worst terror attack’: Trudeau

Canadian PM pays homage to victims of London-bound Air India flight blown off mid-air in 1985

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 24 June 2018. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described the 1985 Air India bombing as the “single worst terrorist attack” in the country’s history as he paid tributes to the 329 victims of the Kanishka Flight 182 which was blown off mid-air.

“On this day in 1985, Canadians awoke to news that defied belief, and left our country in a state of shock and suffering,” Trudeau said on Saturday, marking the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism in Canada.

Air India Flight 182, bound for London after picking up passengers in Toronto and Montreal, vanished from the radar off the coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985. A bomb planted on the plane exploded on board, killing all 329 persons on board, including 280 Canadians.

“The Air India bombing remains the single worst terrorist attack in Canada’s history. This horrific act of malice and destruction left families and friends grieving the loss of loved ones, and brought pain that will never completely go away,” the PM said.

“In times of tragedy and testing, Canadians have shown that the values which bring us together – inclusion, compassion, justice, and equality – are much stronger than the forces that try, and fail, to wedge us apart,” Trudeau said.

“Terrorists believe, through cowardly and violent acts, that they can make us question not only our safety, but the democratic institutions that keep us safe. They are wrong. Canadians are for facts and diversity, not fear and division.

Our society thrives on inclusivity and these acts only strengthen our resolve for unity “Canada condemns all forms of terrorism. We stand in solidarity with our allies, and the international community in the ongoing fight to prevent radicalisation and fight terrorism at home and abroad.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my condolences to everyone everywhere who has lost loved ones to terrorism. We also thank and honour those who work each day to keep our citizens, communities, and country safe,” Trudeau said, referring to terror attacks across the world.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said only one person had been brought to justice and there were those still walking free. “The investigation will not be completed until those have been brought to justice,” he said.

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge and a public inquiry later found that the bombings were carried out by the Babbar Khalsa, headed by former Burnaby mill worker Talwinder Singh Parmar.

In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan paid tributes to the Kanishka victims as flags at Parliament Buildings, Victoria, flew at half-mast.

“Canadians will never forget this act of terror that took the lives of 329 persons, including 280 Canadians. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims,” he said.–trudeau/610474.html – Sikhs Hold Massive Gathering at Parliament Hill to Remember 1984 Attack on Darbar Sahib

Sikh24 Editors

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 01 June 2018. Canadian Sikhs gathered at the Parliament Hill earlier today remember the victims of 1984 Indian Army invasion of the Darbar Sahib, commonly known as the Golden Temple in Punjab. In June 1984, over 30,000 Sikhs were killed following a wave of violence stemming from the Indian army’s assault 34 years ago..

Members of various Sikh organizations such as the Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar Canada, Sikhs for Justice, Ontario Gurdwaras Committee, Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwaras Council and the BC Sikh Council joined hands to organize a National gathering of the Canadian Sikh Community to pay tribute to the martyrs who laid their lives to protect the sanctity of Sri Akal Takht Sahib.

Bibi Pritam Kaur, renowned Sikh activist and wife of Shaheed Bhai Rashpal Singh, personal assistant to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, was the chief guest at the event. Her roaring speech led the Sikh sangat to resound echoes of the jakaras outside the Parliament Hill.

She acquainted the attendees with continued atrocities against minorities in India.

“The Sikh diaspora that was fortunate enough to escape will never forget those who were systematically killed by Indian soldiers and organized mobs,” said Sukhminder Singh Hansra president of Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar Canada East (SADA Canada).

“While we honour and commemorate the victims, we will also be celebrating the rights and freedoms we enjoy as Canadians. There’s no way the Indian government would tolerate an event of this kind.” said Bhagat Singh Brar executive member of Ontario Gurdwaras Committee.

The Tribune – Two ‘radicals’ held in Batala

Were working at behest of Canada, UK handlers, say police

Ravi Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service

Batala – Panjab – India, 02 June 2018. The police on Saturday arrested two suspected Sikh radicals, operating allegedly at the behest of their foreign handlers, including Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a Canada-based organisation.

The arrests of Dharminder Singh, alias Commando Singh, and Kirpal Singh that came days before the 06 June anniversary of Operation Blue Star were announced by IG (Border) Surinder Pal Singh Parmar and Batala SSP Opinderjit Singh Ghuman at a joint press conference.

The IG said the SFJ had been spearheading the separatist ‘Sikh referendum-2020’. “The organisation has been trying to enlist the support of radicals and gangsters for the referendum aiming at liberating Punjab from the Indian Government,” said Parmar.

The radicals were arrested from Dharminder’s house in Harpura Dhandoi village of Batala district.

They were also involved in “torching liquor vends” at the village on May 31, he said. Apart from Pannun, the other foreign handlers had been identified as Paramjit Singh Pamma and Maan Singh (UK) and Deep Kaur (Malaysia), the IG said.

Both Kirpal and Dharminder admitted that their handlers got in touch with them through social networking sites and were paid money to carry out secessionist activities like spray painting ‘Sikh referendum’ posters and also setting afire liquor vends and other government properties ahead of the Blue Star anniversary.

Dharminder Singh also had a stint with the Territorial Army and before he left it in January 2016, he had become well-trained in handling firearms, which was part of his training regime.

Several spray paint bottles, posters of ‘Sikh referendum’ and two revolvers were recovered from the duo. A case under Sections 307, 438, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC has been registered at the Rangar Nangal police station.

A Qadian resident, Ravinder Singh Raju, is also being questioned for his links with the radicals. The officials said they would divulge the details of Raju’s involvement later. During interrogation, it was revealed that Pannun had also asked the duo to put up referendum posters during the recently held IPL matches in Mohali.

The IG said: “The arrests fly in the face of repeated assertions by Pannun and others that they were not funding any terror activities in Punjab.”

Another thin story about two ‘radicals’ armed with two revolvers, spray-paint and posters

The Tribune – One bomber in Canada Indian restaurant attack may be woman: Police

Mississauga – Ontario – Canada, 30 May 2018. One of the two bombers of an Indian restaurant in this Toronto suburb that left 15 injured last week, was likely a woman, according to Regional Police Superintendent Rob Ryan.

Although police initially said that the two attackers, who put a homemade bomb at the Bombay Bhel restaurant on May 24 were men, Ryan told a news conference on Tuesday that “investigators now believe one suspect could be a woman”.

“There is evidence that has come to light through witnesses and some other video that leads investigators to believe that it just may not be a male,” he added.

“Suspects went to great length to hide their identities,” he said. However, he did not make it clear which of the two persons captured in the surveillance video released by police, was thought to be a woman.

The pictures circulated by the police showed both with their faces covered with cloth and the hoods of their jackets pulled over their head.

While Ryan did not provide any further information at the news conference about the improvised explosive device beyond calling it “homemade”, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said that according to the police, it contained nails, “suggesting it was likely intended to maximise injuries”.

Police agencies in the region were still looking for the two suspects and “it is a complex case and is going to take time to solve”, Ryan said.

Ryan said that the reason for the attack was still a mystery.

“We do not have a clear motive and no one has claimed responsibility” and “we don’t have any messaging during the incident, before the incident,” he said.

“There is nothing to suggest it was a terrorist or a hate crime,” he added.

They also do not have indication if the restaurant or anyone in it was targeted in the attack, he said.

Ryan said that about 30 people who were in the restaurant during the the birthday celebrations when the attack took place, had been interviewed and the restaurant was cooperating with the probe.

The Toronto Star newspaper reported that Bombay Bhel owner, Mohan Nagpal, had a lengthy interview with the investigators on Saturday.

A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page said: “We are co-operating with the police during their investigation at this time as we have no knowledge of motivation for this terrible incident.”

The Tribune – Toronto Blast – Diaspora left shaken, ‘never expected this’

Varinder Singh, Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 25 May 2018. The first-ever IED blast in the peaceful Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has left the Punjab diaspora and others in a state of shock.

The GTA and its suburbs, Brampton, Etobiko and Mississauga, have thus far been considered peaceful. Mississauga has a large Muslim population with Indians, particularly Punjabis, co-existing with Canadians and Pakistanis for decades.

“None of us had ever expected this kind of an incident at a place considered safe for all. We have never witnessed or heard of communal tension here,” Manan Gupta, a Brampton-based community activist told The Tribune over the phone.

Ajmer Singh, a trader from Etobiko, said the incident had left him shattered. “We have been sending our children to restaurants till late in the night without fear. We’ll have to be cautious now. I have never heard of a blast during my 25 years of stay here,” said Ajmer Singh.

Sukhwant Thethi, a Brampton-based Liberal Party leader, said: “I am most concerned for the patrons and staff of my friends at Bombay Bhel in Mississauga. I thank all first responders for their quick action”.–never-expected-this/595341.html – Winter is coming: Why Sikhs need to prepare for the imminent storm

Sikhs in the diaspora need to get ready

Sunny Hundal

London – UK, 20 May 2018. Winter is coming, Jon Snow frequently warned in Game of Thrones. I feel a bit like that sometimes.

Sikhs are a small global community, closely connected to each other through blood, tradition, history and, of course, the internet. And so I want to say that ‘winter is coming’.

The global Sikh community is about to face new challenges and we need to prepare for them.

A few weeks ago I was invited by the World Sikh Organization (WSO) of Canada to speak with others on how we could challenge the negative media coverage Canadian Sikhs had been receiving. But the challenges that Sikhs now face are global, not just in Canada.

I don’t look like a Sikh, nor do I claim to be an expert on Sikhi.

In fact my knowledge of Sikhi is terrible. But I am a keen observer of politics. So I’m offering my views as neither a ‘Sikh leader’ nor with aspirations to be one. I am offering these warnings, suggestions and ideas for debate.

The first storm: tensions between Sikhs and the Indian government will grow again

India’s BJP government knows the power of the diaspora.

They knew it in 2002 when UK groups were exposed as sending money to fund hate. They learned more in 2003 when American charities helping the BJP were investigated.

They saw its power when the diaspora lobbied to ban Narendra Modi from entering the UK and USA. They knew its power when they tapped British and American Gujaratis for money and for the 2014 elections.

So Narendra Modi knows that a clash with Sikhs abroad is inevitable.

The Sikh diaspora, unafraid of the Indian government, will keep demanding justice for 1984 and highlight human rights violations. To neutralise such accusations the PM of India has repeatedly accused Sikhs of funding terrorism without proof (in 2015 and 2018, in UK and Canada).

This clash won’t just continue but is likely to grow as the Sikh diaspora matures and becomes more powerful (as I wrote a few months ago).

Modi also knows a clash with Sikhs in India is inevitable.

The party has already whipped up hate against Muslims (in UP, Bihar, Karnataka), and Dalits and Christians for elections.

Why should they spare Sikhs? They want to win elections in Punjab too.

I know it sounds a little bit paranoid, except their script is already playing out in public: The BJP line is that Khalistani terrorists are targeting Hindus and being funded by Pakistan and Sikhs abroad.

The evidence doesn’t exist. But the narrative splits Sikhs and makes Hindus rally to the party. The Congress reaction in Punjab has been to look tougher by promising a bigger crackdown on Khalistanis. The over-blown case around Jagtar Singh Johal looks like a prime example of this strategy.

While the British media largely ignored India’s silly claims, but the Canadian media did not. This effort by the Indian government is only going to intensify, and its aim will be to split the Sikh community.

Why is this suddenly a bigger issue now? Because Modi’s right-wing government is ruthless and its RSS arm has long wanted to absorb Sikhi in its fold.

And because Canadian and British Sikhs have been thrust into the political limelight since 2015.

The second storm: More hostility and tension in the west

Canadian Sikhs are also facing increasing hostility (example 1, example 2) because of this new limelight.

Sikhs are a much larger proportion of the Canadian population (500k out of 30 million) than in the UK (500k out of 65m) or the United States (700k out of 325m). And they are concentrated in certain cities in Canada, so they are more influential during elections.

Every minority group including Catholics and Jews has faced similar treatment in the past, so Sikhs are not alone in that. American Muslims are going through those pains right now. So we have to be prepared for it.

But there are added complications for Sikhs, just like Muslims face.

First, Some leftists and liberals think Sikhs threaten secularism because they are visibly religious (unlike Catholics and Jews). This is a European attitude prominent in France and Quebec.

It’s also why Jagmeet Singh faced some hostility in Quebec. Its an attitude Britain could also develop over time as most people drift away from religion.

Secondly, the British and Canadian media have an inbuilt aversion to any political movement that talks about ‘separatism’ (because of Scotland and Quebec), which is what Khalistan sounds like to them. If they equate Sikh political activism with demanding Khalistan they will naturally be hostile to it.

Think I’m exaggerating? The recent Canadian media coverage has led to protests like this below. Expect these people to grow.

So how should Sikhs respond? Here are some of my suggestions, in brief.

1. Sikhs need infrastructure

Canadian Sikhs are not complacent. They have faced a suspicious media for years so they have advocacy groups such as the World Sikh Organization. The WSO talks the language of human rights and they have been building strong links with other communities for years. The Sikh Coalition in the US has been doing the same.

In contrast, British Sikh groups aren’t as well mobilised, connected or resourced. The Sikh Press Association is one attempt at changing that (which I support), but British Sikhs are nowhere near ready for what is coming.

Sikhs don’t need more Gurdwaras, they need think-tanks, advocacy groups, research organisations. They need Political Action Committees. The coming challenges we face cannot be overcome with guns or praying, but through our brains.

We need to build an infrastructure that is democratic, transparent and accountable. We need to build institutions that can last, institutions that are representative of the gender and cultural diversity of our communities.

We need organisations that will create the leaders of tomorrow. Every other significantly-sized minority community in Britain has such organisations. Except Sikhs. This has to change.

2. Sikhs need to get much better at internal disagreement

I understand why many Sikhs worry about the Indian government. But this has also had a destructive impact on internal debate.

A community that cannot have a vigorous and healthy disagreement becomes oppressive. It becomes stale and decayed. Sikhs cannot go down that path.

A Sikh community that allows disagreement is more unified than one where different views are suppressed. It sounds paradoxical but its true. We are a global community spread out all over the world and we come into contact with different ideas, cultures and people.

Maintaining cohesion in coming generations won’t be easy. It can only be done by accepting different views rather than trying to drive them out. (I’m not arguing for allowing alcohol and meat at Gurdwaras!).

What do I mean by this?

I mean theological differences should not lead to someone’s turban being knocked off at a Gurdwara. It should not mean that inter-faith marriages get disrupted by threats.

I also mean we should tolerate views we may disagree with or find offensive… Guru Tegh Bahadur gave up his life for the right of Hindus to practise their faith even if the Mughal emperor found them offensive.

The ninth Guru stood up for free speech and freedom of religion, why can’t we? Yet Sikhs protested a positive movie about Guru Nanak!

Sikhs really need to develop a thicker skin.. Barfi Culture was criticised just for publishing this story on how a disabled Sikh felt let down by Slough Gurdwara. Since then I’ve heard many more similar stories from other disabled Sikhs. Should their voices be silenced? Sikhs cannot have an healthy internal debate without a free exchange of views.

3. Sikhs have to better communicate with the outside world

It’s worth emphasising again how little the outside world knows about Sikhs. Changing this had become my brother Jagraj Singh’s mission. He made videos in Spanish, Chinese and other languages so people would hear what Sikhi was about in their language.

Sikhs have to do the same with English. And we have to get better at communicating that through the media. That doesn’t mean issuing more press releases, it means talking to people in a language they understand.

Politically, this means our language has to become universal: human rights not just Sikh rights. We have to stand with other minority groups when they are attacked. Build solidarity.

We also have to stop being hostile towards the western media and see it as a necessary channel of communication, even if we cannot control it. Some of the bad coverage Sikhs get could be improved merely through better media communication and less hostility.


I have no intention of becoming a media spokesperson for the Sikh community, I genuinely don’t. I’m a firm believer that lots of Sikh voices should be represented in the mainstream, even if they disagree with each other.

But I do support Sikh politicisation. Our community has become too obsessed with money and success, rather than wielding our power and using our brains and knowledge for the good of the world.

Just before he fell deeply ill, Jagraj Singh said something important: “Guru Sahib has told us, where ever we are, take hold of power and change!

For whom? Change not for our benefit but, working for the benefit of everyone. Giving food, giving justice to everyone. Sikhs are the ones who are willing to put their lives on the line to give other people freedom.”

I believe its time we paid more attention to that goal.

Outlook India – Canada’s Sikh minister Navdeep Bains asked to remove turban at Detroit Airport (USA)

Navdeep Bains is Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development

Detroit – Michigan – USA, 11 May 2018. A Canadian Sikh minister was asked to take off his turban at a Detroit airport during a security check despite passing through the metal detector without any problem, prompting senior US officials to apologise, media reports have said.

Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, described the incident in an interview with the French-language paper La Presse on Thursday.

Bains was returning to Toronto after meetings with Michigan state leaders in April 2017 and had already passed through regular security checks at the Detroit Metro Airport, but because he was wearing a turban, a security agent told him that he would have to undergo additional checks, according to La Presse.

“He told me to take off my turban. I asked him why I would have to take off my turban when the metal detector had worked properly,” the minister said.

The US amended its travel policy in 2007, allowing Sikhs to keep turbans on while passing during the security inspection process.

Bains said when he travels, he rarely discloses his identity as a cabinet minister, in order to better understand the travel experiences, and frustrations, of people not afforded similar privileges.

The incident prompted Canada’s foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland to express disappointment to her US counterparts.

Both undersecretaries for the US homeland security and transportation departments apologised for the incident. – Father of Apartheid: How Gandhi de-humanised black Africans

Here’s the story of how African thinkers are constructing the narrative.

Pieter Friedrich

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 13 April 2018. For years, controversy has brewed around Gandhi statues placed outside India. On several continents — Europe, Africa, and North America, people of all backgrounds have stepped forward to protest the Indian political figure.

In Ottawa, Canada at the University of Carleton, a statue installed in 2011 has galvanized student leaders to demand its removal.

In November 2017, an African student at Carleton published a letter in the student newspaper saying, bluntly, “Remove the Gandhi statue.” Kenneth Aliu, president of Carleton’s African Studies Student Association, believes history has been twisted to conceal Gandhi’s racist past.

“His proximity to whiteness as one who continually espoused anti-Black rhetoric is, perhaps, one of the reasons behind his apotheosis,” writes Aliu. He explains, “For you to deify Gandhi, some people have to be erased from history. You don’t engage with how his activism as a whole was detrimental to certain segments of society.”

Controversy centers around the argument that Gandhi was the “father of apartheid”, a shocking claim to make about a person who is sometimes valorised as “the greatest man who ever lived”, and that he systematically de-humanised black Africans while living in South Africa from 1893-1914.

Here’s the story of how African thinkers are constructing the narrative :

Calgary Herald – ‘We call this our home’: Family of elderly man, MP Obhrai believe attack was a hate crime

Deanna Montalvo

Calgary – Alberta – Canada, 06 April 2018. An elderly Sikh man was attacked in the city’s northeast, and his family believes he was the victim of a hate crime.

“It is absolutely important when these incidents happen, that we highlight it, and we expose it, so that we can then address the issue on how to tackle this intolerance that exists,” said MP Deepak Obhrai during a press conference at his constituency office Friday morning.

Harjit Singh Rai, 91, was attacked, unprovoked, on March 16 at around 1:15 p.m. in the No Frills supermarket parking lot at 5401 Temple Dr. N.E.

Rai opened his car door and was allegedly confronted and pushed by a man in his mid-40s. Rai asked the assailant why he was pushing him, only to be pushed again and knocked to the ground, causing his turban to fall off.

A man was arrested at the scene in connection with the attack after running into the store, and is charged with one count of assault.

“I personally think, after talking with the family, that this was a hate crime incident,” said the victim’s son, Suritam Rai.

His belief stems from the fact that Rai was the only turban-wearing Sikh in the parking lot that afternoon, he did not know the assailant, there were no other victims and no apparent dispute at hand.

“My dad is 91 years old. He’s not young to create problems, and in his life, he has never had anything like this happen to him,” said the son.

Rai sustained injuries to his hand, shoulder and head, but due to his turban, his head injury “wasn’t that bad,” said his son.

“We call this our home. If living in a country for 35 years, then you end up in a situation like this, I’m pretty sure everyone else would feel pretty bad as well,” he said.

Thanks to the quick action of bystanders and police, Rai was taken to hospital, where he was treated for his injuries. He was released the same day.

Obhrai can’t recall an incident like this ever happening in his community, which he’s been politically involved in for the last 21 years; nor can the Rai family.

Nevertheless, Obhrai said the incident is cause for concern and he wants to “ensure the message goes out that all Canadians should be treated equally with respect in our country, and that these kinds of incidents and behaviour are not the Canadian way”.

The World Sikh Organization expressed deep concern about the attack on Rai, citing it as the second attack on Sikhs in Canada in March.

“We have repeatedly warned that intolerance against Sikhs is on the rise in Canada due to recent, false accusations of extremism and radicalism against the community. The removal of the turban is considered a very serious insult,” said vice-president Tejinder Singh Sidhu.

“We hope that this crime is fully investigated as a hate crime. It is important that members of the Sikh community remain vigilant in the wake of these attacks,” he said.

Obhrai described the victim as a highly respected individual in the community and a personal mentor.