Ottawa: As Khalistani activists in Canada have grabbed headlines after the Amritpal Singh incident in Punjab, many fear that the pro-Khalistani sentiment is rising in the country.
“What did the promptness of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, MP Sonia Sidhu, and others in tweeting about the Punjab situation after Amritpal Singh`s incident and ban on Internet services, say? It was done at the behest of radical vote banks,” says a Brampton Sikh entrepreneur, requesting anonymity. He says the majority is silent because of fear of reprisal.
“Nobody opens their mouth against the Khalistanis who enjoy political patronage. Any leader who says anything against them is banned from entering gurdwaras and joining Vaisakhi parades,” he says.
“When events such as the arrest of Amritpal Singh happen, Khalistan supporters bombard the offices of mayors, MPs, MPPs, and ministers with messages, forcing them to issue hasty statements or tweet,” says an Indo-Canadian restaurant owner in Toronto.
The restaurant owner claims that Khalistanis are luring and using new students from Punjab to further their agenda. They brainwash these students while helping them with jobs, accommodation, and food, he says.
“The students are being roped in for Khalistani demonstrations. In return for helping these students, the radicals ask the parents of these students in Punjab to help pro-Khalistan activists in the state,” says the Toronto restaurant owner.
Ritesh Malik, the national convener of the Canada-India Foundation which has been targeted by radicals as being pro-RSS, blames the political appeasement for the rise of anti-Indian sentiment in Canada.
“Politicians must stop playing identity politics. A criminal is a criminal — not a Sikh or a Hindu or a Muslim. By supporting these elements, ministers and MPs are playing dangerous games and harming Canada which needs India more than ever now,” says Malik. Brampton Punjabi journalist Balraj Deol also blames the Indian government for emboldening Khalistanis by deleting their names from the blacklists.
“The Modi government started this process in 2015 to win over the Khalistanis, but it was done without any thought. This action disheartened many moderates here who opposed the radicals. Today, we see the consequences of the Indian action,” he says.