The Province – Ontario MP turfed from Liberal caucus after accusing ex-minister Navdeep Bains of extremism

The episode has revived an issue, Sikh separatism, that has repeatedly bedeviled the Liberal government, sometimes souring relations with India

Tom Blackwell

Brampton – Ontario – Canada, 26 January 2021. An MP from Ontario has been thrown out of the Liberal caucus after suggesting that former Industry Minister Navdeep Bains was an “extremist” supporter of Sikh separatism and should never have gotten into cabinet.

Chief government whip Mark Holland announced Monday afternoon that Ramesh Sangha had been expelled in the wake of his latest barrage against the party and government he represents.

The Brampton Centre MP’s remarks came days after Bains unexpectedly announced he was stepping down from cabinet, citing personal reasons that included a desire to spend more time with his family.

In a somewhat rambling interview with Y Media, a Punjabi-language news outlet, Sangha said he was “shocked” to hear that the minister was quitting at a relatively young age, and that the reason Bains offered for his decision “was difficult to digest for me.”

Sangha also said that he had felt pressure from the former minister and the minister’s father. Now that Bains was gone, “I am not a bounded Liberal any more,” he said in remarks the National Post had translated. Then the MP appeared to comment on Bains’ views about the Sikh question.

“If someone says that ‘I am extremist, I am Khalistani,’ and says it in a declaring style, is he fit to be a minister?” asked the backbencher. “I already said that he is not.”

Khalistanis are supporters of an independent Sikh homeland in India, a cause pursued by many Sikhs in Canada and a bone of contention for the Indian government.

But there is no evidence that Bains has declared that he was one or that he was an extremist. He and other Sikh members of cabinet, faced with such allegations in the past, have denied being part of the movement.

The difference this time is the allegation came not only from within the party, but from one of Bains’ fellow MPs from Ontario’s Brampton-Mississauga area, whose ridings are home to large Sikh populations. The constituencies are key electoral battlegrounds, too, swinging between the Liberals and Conservatives.

The episode also revived an issue that has repeatedly bedeviled the Liberal government, sometimes souring relations with New Delhi.

The cause of Sikh separatism – a predominately peaceful movement today despite an outburst of terrorism three decades ago – has divided the Indian-Canadian community, as well.

As soon as the whip learned of the comments, he consulted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and “the necessary steps were taken,” said spokesman Charles-Eric Lépine.

“As we have made clear time and time again, we will not tolerate conspiracy theories, or dangerous and unfounded rhetoric about parliamentarians or other Canadians,” said Lépine in a statement.

“Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for many Canadians to experience suspicions because of their background; we all know where this can lead.

“The Liberal Caucus continues to stand firm against racism and intolerance.”

Yet the accusation of racism was leveled against a politician of Sikh background himself, making the situation all the more unusual.

Sangha said in an interview Monday the move by the party came out of the blue, and that he never had a chance to offer his perspective.

“Thy have not given me any opportunity of being heard,” he said. “They are misunderstanding me. It was just misinterpreted. This type of justice is a harsh response.”

Asked if he had evidence Bains is a Khalistani, he didn’t directly respond. The MP said he is against all forms of extremism, but that he does not have anything personally against the former minister.

He said he thought that as a Liberal MP he was free to express his views.

In the Y Media interview, the journalist also asked about Sangha’s basis for claiming Bains was a Khalistani extremist.

The MP cited discussions of a controversial Public Safety Canada report on terrorism in 2019, which referred to the continued existence of “Sikh extremism.” The Sikh community was outraged at the statement, which many felt maligned the entire religion.

In discussing changes to the report, Bains went further and said it also should not refer to Khalistani extremism, said Sangha. That seemed to betray the then-minister’s own views, he argued.

India Today – The Punjab model of agitations in history, from Vancouver to home

Aside from variations depending on political climate and state response, the model that unfolded in the ongoing Kisan Morcha draws heavily on history.

The success of the Indian diaspora, especially the Sikhs, in Canada is seen back home through multiple lenses. Some take pride – and many unfortunately issue blanket slurs.

But few know that if the collective diaspora from across undivided India, or rather Asia, was able to live and work with dignity in British colonies of the white world it was in part because Punjab’s workforce took up the cause and paid a heavy price to achieve it.

No fight, no revolution in history that had its connection with Punjab in India, from the shores of Vancouver to Singapore over 120 years, meant solely for a single community, occupation or a region.

It’s also true that vested interests have tried to colour them with communal brush, mostly unsuccessfully.

That’s how Panjab fought for others

But whenever a Punjab-led protest turned into an agitation, graduated into a movement, and then into a revolution, it eventually forced powers to change course for good.

Aside from variations depending on the political climate and state response, the model that unfolded in the ongoing Kisan Morcha draws heavily on history.

The home-grown propaganda in 2020-21 against it is as vicious as what it was in the early 1900s when white supremacists in Canada nursed strong anti-Asian feelings, especially against the Chinese and Japanese workers.

Anti-Asian rioting in Vancouver in July 1907 resulted in the damage of property worth $36,000.

Around the same time, immigrants were told to leave Canada on their own and move instead to British Honduras (Belize).

Much like Punjab’s present-day peasantry which didn’t take the word “reform” affixed to the farm laws on its face value and instead studied them clause-by-clause, word-by-word, and line-by-line, the Sikh workers didn’t take the Canadian proposal hands down.

They visited the Honduras, studied the conditions and the wage structures and found that the labour was indentured in that British crown colony.

The Sikhs came back and rejected the proposal, in much the same way Punjab’s peasantry has turned down the 2020 farm legislation.

The British Canadian state realized that Sikhs were definitely less docile than the Japanese or the Chinese, and responded harshly.

“Strange to say the Hindus (then a common term for Indian workers in Canada) are looked upon by our people in British Columbia with still more disfavour than the Chinese.

They seem to be less adaptable to our ways and manners than all the other Oriental races that come to us,” wrote Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then Canada’s prime minister, to Lord Minto, the Indian viceroy, in April 1909.

Gurdwaras as centres of activism

The same year, the Khalsa Diwan Society built a gurdwara in Vancouver followed by several other gurdwaras across British Columbia.

Those who object to the use of gurdwaras for political activities impose their own definition of religion on the Sikh community.

Gurdwaras have historically been centres of political and social activism and philanthropy, and not just worshipping and meditation alone.

Much like the present-day discourses on farm laws and announcements about tractor rallies at historical gurdwaras in and outside Punjab, economic issues linked to the immigrant communities were actively discussed in gurdwaras of Canada and the United States in the early 1900s.

Colonial-style propaganda, bias, insensitivity

For the British, sending the Sikh soldiers to the frontlines of the First World War and allowing more Sikhs into Canada became two different things.

When a businessman from Singapore, Gurdit Singh, chartered a freighter, the Komagata Maru, in Hong Kong with 376 emigrants, mostly Sikhs, on board and dropped anchor in Vancouver harbour in May 1914, the passengers were not allowed to disembark.

Events that happened in Canada back then and Delhi’s response to the Kisan Morcha over the past two months share an eerie resemblance.

“The authorities, more racist even than their red-neck constituents, were unrelenting,” wrote author Patwant Singh in his book, The Sikhs, about the incidents that followed the arrival of the Komagata Maru off Vancouver.

“Making a mockery of their own law, they held a fake hearing in which the Supreme Court declined to interfere in the affairs of the Immigration Department; passengers were refused permission to disembark; grapeshot was fired across the ship’s decks; a deaf ear was turned to requests for medical attention for the sick aboard…”.

And this is how The Times (London) justified Canada’s racist treatment of the subjects of the British empire in June, 1914:

“Phrases like British citizenship cannot be used as a talisman to open doors, sophistry and catch logic, the spinning of words or the reading of many books will not help her (India). And she is likely to get little profit out of enterprises like that of which has sent the Komagata Maru to hurl its shipload of hundreds at the door of Canada.”

Braved seas, bullets then, braved winter, water cannons now

On the Komagata Maru’s return to Calcutta, the British Indian police opened fire and killed 19 Sikh passengers and wounded 25 others.

“…the men and women who had braved the seas and bullets to return home undaunted, struck a chord in the Punjab population and helped kindle national resentment against the high-handedness of the ruling power,” Patwant Singh wrote.

Journals, poetry, bards

The publication of the Trolley Times, the new mouthpiece of the 2020-21 Kisan Morcha at Delhi borders, and mini-libraries and book stalls at Singhu during this social-media age also have numerous parallels in Punjab-led movements of the last century.

A footnote in Khushwant Singh’s A History of the Sikhs refers to journals that the Punjabis, Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims alike, produced to mobilize opinion against power abuse by the British.

Among those placed in the shelves of the Berkeley University library are copies of Desh Sewak in Gurmukhi and Urdu by Harnam Singh and Guru Datt Kumar from Vancouver, the Khalsa Herald also in Vancouver by Kartar Singh Akali, Aryan by Dr Sunder Singh, Hindustani by Seth Hussain Rahim, and the Ghadr by the San Francisco-based Ghadr Party.

“Though Hindus, Mussalmans and Sikhs we be, sons of Bharat are we still,” the Ghadr wrote. The Ghadr articles and poems were reprinted in booklets like Naya Zamana and the Balance Sheet of the British in India.

Singers like Kanwar Grewal and Harf Cheema have emerged as the bards of the 2020-21 Kisan Morcha.

Their Pecha album themed around preparing the peasantry for the long agitation ahead over the farm laws had powerful lyrics: “Khich Le Jatta Khich Tyaari, Pecha Pai Gya Center Naal”.

In 1907, “Pagdi Sambhal Jatta” resonated similarly as the signature anthem of a farmer agitation in Lyallpur (now across the border) against three British laws: the Doab Bari Act, the Punjab Land Colonisation Act, and the Punjab Land Alienation Act.

That time too, the farmers had read the legislation clause-by-clause, word-by-word and line-by-line, and found they might well be reduced to labourers, their lands eventually taken away by the more powerful. That too was a collective effort, not for an individual or a community.

Sputnik – UK-Based Sikh Group Khalsa Aid nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by Canadian Parliamentarians

Radhika Parashar

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 19 January 2021. Khalsa Aid was launched in 1999 after its founder Ravinder Singh, a Sikh man of Indian origin was emotionally stirred by the sufferings of refugees living in Kosovo.

The nonprofit charity organisation claims to have helped people affected by both man-made and natural disasters.

UK-based humanitarian organisation Khalsa Aid has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize by two Canadian parliamentarians, Tim Uppal and Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, who cited the group’s aim to provide humanitarian aid in disaster-hit areas and civil conflict zones around the world.

Their bid was supported by the Mayor of Brampton Patrick Brown.

The organisation, which now operates in other countries outside of the UK, including Canada and Australia, said it was humbled by the nomination.

In December 2020, Khalsa Aid made it to the news in India after it set up a “Kisan Mall” (Farmers’ mall) at Delhi’s Tikri border to provide items of daily use for free to farmers protesting against three farm laws in India. But the organisation’s move was met with suspicion in India.

Earlier this month, India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) examined Khalsa Aid officials for alleged ties to the controversial group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which is based in the USA and favours secessionist activities in India.

Netizens noted the irony of Khalsa Aid in January being accused of having secessionist leanings as well as being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

India Today – NIA books Khalistani terrorists for provoking protests over farm laws outside Indian Missions

The National Investigation Agency has booked Khalistani terrorists for provoking protests outside the Indian Missions in the USA, the UK, Canada and Germany.

New Delhi – India, 08 January 2021. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a fresh FIR against Khalistani terrorists and a Pakistan-backed organisation, Sikh for Justice (SFJ), for provoking anti-Indian government protests, including over the new farm laws, outside Indian Missions.

Inputs said large amounts of funds were collected and sent through NGOs to pro-Khalistani elements in India to incite impressionable youth to undertake terrorist acts and also run on-ground campaigns and propaganda.

The three designated terrorists named in the FIR are Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Paramjit Singh Pamma and Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The FIR also mentions unknown terrorists.

Khalistani terrorists were seen participating in demonstrations outside Indian Missions in the USA, the UK, Canada and Germany. In Washington, a Mahatma Gandhi statue placed in front of the Indian Embassy was defaced by Khalistani elements on December 12.

The FIR was lodged after a letter from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to NIA. It read, “The Government has received information that ‘Sikhs For Justice’, an ‘Unlawful Association’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and other Khalistani terrorist outfits, including Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Tiger Force and Khalistan Zindabad Force along with their frontal organisations, have entered into a conspiracy to create an atmosphere of fear and lawlessness and to cause disaffection in people and to incite them towards rising in rebellion against the Government of India.”

According to the FIR, the SFJ leadership has planned large-scale activities to damage government and private property and disrupt essential supplies and services.

An NIA officer said, “The National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act-2019 empowers us to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India.

SFJ and other pro-Khalistan elements involved in this conspiracy, through their incessant social media campaign and otherwise, are radicalising and recruiting impressionable youth to agitate and undertake terrorist acts for Khalistan.”

NIA had last month filed a charge sheet against 16 people in the US, the UK and Canada in connection with its probe into a conspiracy to launch a campaign under the banner of ‘Referendum 2020’ (Sikhs for Justice) for Khalistan.

The Globe and Mail – Sikhs expand their community kitchens in response to COVID-19 hardships

Todd Korol

Calgary – Alberta – Canada – 03 January 2021, When the country first went under lockdown in March, Raj Sidhu knew that his Gurdwara in Calgary would have to find a way to keep its free kitchen [langar] running.

Like many Gurdwaras around the world, the Gurdwara Dashmesh Culture Centre runs a langar, a community kitchen, that provides hot vegetarian meals to anybody who needs one, regardless of race, religion or creed.
Since the 1980s, it’s provided free food to thousands a people a day, 24/7.

“Early on, when we knew our centre wasn’t going to operate like it normally did, but people were still coming for meals, that’s when we knew this could be something bigger and a big opportunity to help the community,” said Mr. Sidhu, the centre’s director of operations.

“Langar is a very pivotal aspect of our religion. Nobody should go hungry.”

The serving of a free meal is a religious practice woven into Sikh tradition. And now, as people deal with losing their jobs and food banks struggle under the pressure of the pandemic, Gurdwaras all over Canada are looking for ways to continue the tradition and broaden their reach.

At the Dashmesh Culture Centre, COVID-19 restrictions meant taking things on the road: The Gurdwara began offering takeout and delivery. During the first wave of the coronavirus, hundreds of volunteers delivered up to 50 meals a day to people in isolation, some in cities that were nearly an hour’s drive away.

More volunteers staffed the Gurdwara’s commercial-sized kitchen and handed out hundreds of meals to visitors through a drive-in service.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Gurdwara has provided roughly 80,000 meals throughout the Calgary area, Mr. Sidhu said, adding that the demographic served has grown.

Before, most people using the langar were of South Asian descent and would eat after regular visits to the Gurdwara. Now the food goes to people from all backgrounds, especially elderly people, students and single mothers. For many, daal, roti and vegetarian curries have never before been part of their diet.

“The food is going to people who really need it, who don’t have a regular steady source of food,” Mr Sidhu said. “So it’s turned into a major food security issue and we’re very happy that we can provide for that.”

Not every Gurdwara has been able to get the word out about their langar as successfully as the Dashmesh Culture Centre.

At the Khalsa Diwan Society in Abbotsford, BC, Jatinder Singh Gill said they used to serve roughly 100 people on weekdays and 1,000 on weekends.

That number has dwindled to about 50 a week, even though the society is still offering free takeout meals. Most people who use the service are truck drivers and homeless people.

“If more people heard about us and came, we would feed them. We would even drop the food off to their houses, we have a car to use,” he said, speaking in Urdu. Donations and food supplies are still flowing into the temple, and they’re eager to provide food for anybody who needs it, including shelters or hospitals.

They have the capacity to make hundreds of meals, Mr. Gill said.

“All we need is people to provide for.”

Andy Sandhu, general secretary of the Okanagan Sikh Temple echoed the sentiment, adding that temples throughout British Columbia would be happy to give away raw ingredients too, if that would help people.

“If anybody needs food, they can tell us,” Mr. Sandhu said. “Any local Sikh Gurdwara can cook the food and deliver.”

Many Sikh communities, including the Khalsa Diwan Society, are giving their vast supplies of non-perishable supplies, such as rice, lentils and flour, to food banks, which are facing challenges such as staff shortages and shrinking donations.

In Calgary, the Dashmesh Culture Centre started its own food bank. Mr. Sidhu said that the community is committed to providing food support no matter how the pandemic affects closings.

The Gurdwara, located in a part of northeast Calgary that is home to a large Sikh population, came up with the slogan “No Hungry Tummy” and blasted it throughout social media, where it caught on. Connections with municipal, provincial and federal governments also helped get the word out.

Volunteers were able to continue social distancing while 15 to 20 people worked in the kitchen at once, Mr. Sidhu said. There hasn’t been a single outbreak at the Gurdwara throughout the pandemic.

Demand at the centre slowed in the summer when the economy was bouncing back, but things are getting busy once again.

“Now with the cases going up again, we’ve noticed that the demand is still there,” Mr. Sidhu said.

He chooses to see the positive in the situation, calling it a blessing in disguise because the wider community now knows that the Gurdwara is able to help anybody who is struggling with food insecurity.

“Post-COVID, the message will be there that we’re still here to help, that these meals will never stop and if you’re in need, please visit us and the meals will be provided.”

The Hindustan Times – Canadian think tank MLI slams Sikhs for Justice for filing defamation case

Macdonald-Laurier Institute has said that a civil defamation lawsuit filed against it by the separatist group SFJ is a “meritless attempt to silence public debate”

Anirudh Bhattacharyya

Toronto – Ontario – Candada, 22 December 2020. The Ottawa-based think tank Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) has said that a civil defamation lawsuit filed against it by the separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a “meritless attempt to silence public debate”.

To read the full article :

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I have no idea what this means

The Varsity – No, I’m not white-washed, I’m Punjabi

How I became comfortable in my own skin, despite the barriers within my own community

Angad Deol

“What? You’re Punjabi too?” is a statement I have heard far too often in my life. I grew up in a household that was definitely in tune with Punjabi culture.

Although we didn’t visit the Gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship, quite often, my father made sure that both my brother and I understood the foundation of our religion, the important figures of our culture, and what it meant to be Punjabi.

My proficiency in Punjabi, however, was never the best. I often stumbled in conversations with peers and family members from abroad, leading to a lot of embarrassment.

Some of my friends in school would relentlessly tease me, “How can you call yourself Desi?” “You’re so white-washed!”

That last sentiment especially stung. I hated being called white-washed. No matter what I did, I could never shake that label.

I grew up in Brampton, a city with a large population of Punjabis, especially a lot of Sikhs. Most of my friends shared the same cultural background as me and faced a lot of the same issues, never getting our names pronounced correctly being the first to come to mind.

This is why it hurt to be called white-washed by others. Why are you excluding me? I know exactly what you’re going through!

I often felt as if other first-generation Punjabi-Canadians I grew up with would exclude me because I wasn’t as ‘brown’ as them. I never really listened to Punjabi music for example; mostly because I could hardly understand it.

I was chastised for listening to ‘white’ music, and when my friends would play Punjabi music, I would often get laughed at simply because I didn’t vibe enough.

Sometimes, I would be told that I “dressed too white.” Over time, small comments like this led me to begin to resent my own culture.

When I was 17 and in high school, my closest friend did a spoken word on his experiences as a Black man who was told “he was too white” and how he learned to love himself and feel confident that he was a great representation of his culture, despite what his peers may say.

It wasn’t until then that I realized that I too could feel comfortable as a Punjabi without needing external validation.

From then on, I began to disregard the comments my peers made about me being too white, if they kept putting up barriers between us, as Punjabis, I would tear them down. I began to be much more active within my community, and I was sure to correct people when they said my name wrong.

By the time I came to the University of Toronto, I was comfortable in my own skin, and proudly wore my culture on my sleeve.

During orientation week, one of my group members noticed the Kara, a steel bracelet worn by Sikhs, on my wrist, and told me that this was his first time meeting a Sikh, and how he heard these wonderful things about my culture from abroad.

It was the first time I had been recognized as a Punjabi, and I had a long conversation with him about my culture. I felt proud, and for the first time, I got to extend a bridge instead of building a wall.

In the wake of the recent farmers protest in India, in which the state of Punjab has been especially impacted, I have seen a unique unity within my community, which is quite rare.

It seems that, for a brief moment, everyone I know has understood that we all share the same roots and must support the foundation that helped raise us despite our personal differences.

Our culture, our ancestors, and our families’ livelihoods are under attack, and now more than ever, it’s important that we stand together, rather than place barriers between us.

CBC News – Brampton student says college dismissed anti-Sikh remarks made to him as ‘historical fact’

CDI College reopened investigation after CBC News contacted it about Prabjhot Singh’s story

Natalie Kalata

Brampton – Ontario – Canada, 04 December 2020. A Brampton college student is accusing his school of mishandling his complaint about a fellow student after it dismissed anti-Sikh comments the man made to him during an online class, referring to the statements simply as “historical fact.”

Prabhjot Singh, 25, says he was making a presentation via Zoom to his immigration class at CDI College in Mississauga in October when he was interrupted by another student.

“He jumped into my presentation and he said all the people from Punjab are frauds,” Singh told CBC News from his Brampton home.

Singh says the student then referred to the killing of thousands of Sikhs in India 36 years ago following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

“‘I know you are a Sikh, you are from Punjab. Did you forget how you guys were slaughtered in 1984?”‘ Singh quotes the student as saying. He says the remarks were all the more hurtful because some of his relatives were killed in the violence.

Nobody can forget what happened

“Nobody can forget what happened,” Singh explained during the interview with CBC News. “Family members, seeing a person burned alive.”

Singh says he felt threatened, and that the instructor in the class made no attempt to intervene and stop the verbal attack.

“I was feeling ashamed, I was feeling … a victim of harassment,” he said.

But when Singh lodged a formal complaint with CDI College, he says he received a call from the school’s educational manager, Mary Liideman, who said that the student was making comments about a “historical fact.”

Singh also filed complaints about the student’s remarks with Peel Regional Police and with the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO).

The WSO says it wrote to the college explaining the significance of the 1984 anti-Sikh violence, “and the serious nature of the threats made against Prabhjot Singh.”

CDI, a private, for-profit career college with 23 campus locations across Canada, replied that an internal investigation “determined that although culturally insensitive remarks were made, there were no direct threats” to Singh.

The WSO’s vice president for Ontario, Sharanjeet Kaur, calls what happened to Singh outrageous,”however it is equally shocking that CDI College would dismiss threats that reference the 1984 Sikh Genocide as ‘historical fact’ and merely ‘culturally insensitive.'”

1984 attacks called a ‘genocide’

The sectarian bloodshed started after the Indian Army launched an attack on Sikh militants in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a site sacred to Sikhs. Gandhi’s subsequent murder led to a wave of bloody reprisals.

India has said fewer than 3,000 people died in the attacks against Sikhs, but some Sikh leaders say the number is closer to 10,000.

In Canada, Crown lawyers at the Air India bombing trial stemming from the 1985 attack that killed 329 people on a flight from Montreal to New Delhi, alleged it was the work of Sikh militants who were seeking revenge for the temple attack and the post-assassination violence.

In 2018, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on Canada to declare the killings a genocide – saying there is clear evidence the 1984 attacks on Sikhs by Hindus were not spontaneous, but rather organized by the government.

College reopening investigation

After CBC News contacted CDI about Singh’s story, the college said in a statement it’s reopening its investigation.

“Upon reflection it is clear that this did not properly address Mr. [Prabhjot] Singh’s concerns,” wrote Rodney D’Souza, the associate regional director of operations for CDI in central Canada.

The student who made the remarks was sent a warning letter, the college says. He and Singh have since graduated from the Mississauga campus, but the college says it nonetheless “will be following up with staff disciplinary action for lack of appropriate action and sensitivity when the incident occurred.”

D’Souza added that while what happened was an isolated incident, regular mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all staff will also be instituted.

“We feel it is extremely important for all staff and instructors to be aware of how they can best support their students and fellow colleagues through any distressing or inappropriate situations that may arise.”

Dawn – Trudeau’s remarks on farmers’ protest prompt rebuke from India

New Delhi – India, 02 December 2020. India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava in a statement released on Tuesday strongly criticised “some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India”, multiple Indian media outlets reported.

Srivastava was apparently responding to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments from earlier this week in which he viewed with concern the ongoing farmers’ protest in India.

Without naming Trudeau, the spokesman said his comments were “unwarranted, especially when pertaining to internal affairs of a democratic country”.

“It’s also best that diplomatic conversations aren’t misrepresented for political purposes,” he added.

The row started when Trudeau, addressing a Facebook meeting with leaders and members of his cabinet belonging to the Sikh community, said:

“I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers.

The situation is concerning, and we are all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s the reality for many of you”.

The Canadian premier’s remarks, made on Monday, coincided with the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev – the first Sikh Guru and founder of the Sikh faith.

Trudeau addressed the situation in India as mounting tensions between the protesting farmers and the Indian government led to worries and fears in Canada’s own substantial Sikh community.

The farmers have been subjected to state repression, measures which have aroused criticism and furore from the Punjabi diaspora in Canada.

This is not the first time that relations between the two countries have become thorny over issues in Punjab. The politically active Sikh community in Canada is a sticking point for India, which views it with suspicion for supporting the Khalistan movement.

Trudeau had to dispel perceptions in 2018, during an official visit to India, that his administration is too close to Sikh separatists.

The Tribune – Punjabi MPs in Canada, UK condemn use of force on farmers; come out in support

NRI politicians come out to support protesting farmers marching to Delhi

Sukhmeet Bhasin – Tribune News Service

Bathinda – Panjab – India, 28 November 2020.

Non-Indian Residents (NRIs) and foreign politicians have come out in support of Punjab farmers heading towards Delhi.

Along with this, they have also condemned the use of force, teargas, water cannons, and restrictions, imposed by the Haryana and Delhi police.

NDP MLA and parliament secretary of British Columbia, Canada, Rachna Singh shared a clip with The Tribune on the microblogging website.

“I am really saddened by the way #Punjab Farmers are being treated. This is unacceptable,” she wrote along with the video.

Randeep Singh Sarai, MP in Canada, wrote: “The Treatment of Punjab farmers is deplorable.

Farmers are the strength and backbone of the Punjab, and they deserve to be treated with respect. I stand in solidarity with the Punjab farmers”.

Another Punjabi Canadian MP, Sukh Dhaliwal, said: “The right to peaceful protest is fundamental in any democracy, especially in the world’s largest.

I am very disturbed by the treatment of Punjabi farmers in India, this blatant abuse by Indian authorities is unacceptable. I stand with the Punjab farmers”.

Preet Kaur Gill, MP from UK, also shared a clip along with a post stating, “This is no way to treat citizens who are peacefully protesting over the controversial farmers’ bill in India”.

Canadian MP Maninder Sidhu wrote: “Many of my constituents and I are deeply concerned about the safety of our family and friends in India.

The right to peaceful protest is a constitutional right. Farmers in India should be able to voice their opinions and protest peacefully without fear for their safety”.

Another Canadian MP Tim Uppal took to Twitter, said: “India’s farmers deserve to be heard and respected. This is horrific”.

MP from Brampton, Ruby Sahota, said: “The determination and resilience of the farmers is admirable.

In a free and just society one should be able to advocate for their cause without the threat of force being used against them. The brutality being faced by Indian farmers in these images is deplorable”.

Jack Harris – Canadian MP, wrote: “We are shocked to see the Indian government’s suppression of farmers protesting new laws which will endanger their livelihood.

Instead of using water cannons and tear gas, the Indian government needs to engage in open dialogue with farmers”.

Gurratan Singh, an anti-racial activist in Canada, has said: “The Indian government’s use of water cannons and tear gas on farmers protesting mass privatization of the agricultural sector and unjust reform of farming laws is appalling.

They deserve respect for feeding the nation instead of being subjected to state brutality”