"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.
Super User

Super User

Selfies labore, leggings cupidatat sunt taxidermy umami fanny pack typewriter hoodie art party voluptate. Listicle meditation paleo, drinking vinegar sint direct trade.

 

October 28 marks the 25th anniversary of the custodial murder of Jaswant Singh Khalra.  

The towering human rights defender laid down his life, fighting tirelessly for justice to those killed in an extra judicial manner in the name of the "war against terrorism."

Khalra was abducted by the Indian police from his home in Amritsar on September 6, 1995, and was never seen after that. While an eyewitness testified that he was murdered by the police fifty-two days after being kidnapped, his body wasn't recovered.  

Khalra was among thousands of Sikhs who were abducted and killed by Indian police and security forces in Punjab between the 1980s and 1990s. Most of these people remain untraced and presumed dead. There has been no accountability for senior police officers involved in these illegal operations to deal with an armed insurgency by Sikh separatists who were seeking an independent homeland. 

Sikh men were frequently kidnapped, tortured, and killed in faked encounters with impunity, as perpetrators in uniforms were rewarded with out-of-turn promotions and gallantry awards. In almost all cases, the victims' bodies were disposed of unceremoniously. 

Khalra’s only fault was that he started an investigation into the enforced disappearances. At the time, he was collecting records of those who were cremated secretly in Amritsar. 

Prior to being kidnapped and murdered, Khalra came to Canada in 1995 to raise international awareness about this issue. Even though he was offered a chance to apply for asylum, true to his convictions, he chose to return and continue his unfinished task in the face of threats coming from senior police officers.  

Interestingly, Khalra’s grandfather, Harnam Singh, was aboard the Komagata Maru, a Japanese vessel carrying more than 350 Indian passengers, who were forced to return from Vancouver in 1914 under a racist immigration law. Singh later became involved in the struggle against British occupation of India.   

US-based teacher Gurmeet Kaur has published a book that makes many important revelations about his daring work.

The Valliant Jaswant Singh Khalracontains numerous documents and pictures that bring to life his activism. 

It helps in understanding how India’s claim of being the world’s largest democracy is flawed, since the minorities continue to live in fear in a Hindu-dominated nation. 

Despite being a practising Sikh, Khalra also stood for Hindus who were killed during the militancy in Punjab, and advocated against violence against them.  

He also denounced the demolition of an ancient mosque in 1992, and the subsequent violence against Muslims by the currently ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Although he was the leader of the human rights wing of Akali Dal, an alliance partner of BJP, he pulled no punches while criticising them for remaining indifferent to an assault on the Muslim faith, and distanced himself from the party.  

Khalra was an exceptional hero who believed in the true values of Sikhism, which teaches its followers to stand up for others and rebel against any kind of oppression. He was a part of many pro-people movements before dedicating himself to the cause of Sikh rights. Among these was the revolutionary communist movement of the late 1960s.     

Khalra’s story remains relevant both in India and across the world, as security forces continue to use enforced disappearances as a tool to create terror and suppress any voice of dissent with impunity. Especially when citizens in North America are getting organized against systemic racism and police violence against Indigenous people and Blacks, Khalra’s story needs to be shared widely, to challenge the myth about the tolerance and transparency of the Indian government, which has too many skeletons in its cupboard.  

Kaur’s book is available from Surrey-based Sikhi Awareness Foundation for $20. For more information call Shamandeep Singh at 604 825 8464.   

 

Gurpreet Singh  

Days after a French teacher was brutally murdered by an Islamic extremist, Deepika Singh Rajawat is facing a backlash from right wing Hindu fanatics.  

Samuel Party was beheaded after he shared a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in class.  

While the world has not recovered from the shock, an India-based human rights lawyer is facing threats on social media for tweeting a cartoon depicting the hypocrisy of those Hindus who worship goddesses, but sexually abuse women.   

The Hindus are celebrating Navratri these days. It’s a festival dedicated to female deities that embody women empowerment.  

Deepika Singh Rajawat, who is a known feminist, had questioned the irony of the society that reveres goddesses, but has no respect otherwise for the bodies of women. Her tweet was in response to growing sexual violence against women in India, describing it as ironic that the same set of people who are praying before deities are targeting women with impunity.  

Violence against religious minorities and their women has spiked under the current ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government. Back in 2018, an eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl, Asifa Bano, was raped and murdered inside a temple in Kathua. This was done to terrorise the Muslim community and force them to flee. So much so, the BJP supporters came out in support of those involved.  

Rajawat had stepped forward to take up the case of the victim’s family. Since then, she has been facing death and rape threats.  

Her tweet of Navratri has once again outraged the supporters of Hindu Right. They are seeking her arrest for hurting religious sentiments, despite the fact that she is a practising Hindu, and the tweet was not offensive toward deities at all. It was rather directed at the double faced worshippers.  

It’s time that the global community takes notice of what is happening in India under the BJP government as well.  The silence over what is happening with Rajawat and the anguish over the murder of Party is selective and dishonest.  

Considering the recent murders of free thinkers and rationalists in India, allegedly by the Hindu extremists who have become emboldened under the BJP rule, threats against Rajawat cannot be taken lightly. 

 

A Canadian activist who has been branded as a “terrorist” by the Indian government was honoured at a special event held at Abbotsford Gurdwara on Saturday, October 10.  

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who is associated with Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), a group that was recently banned by the Indian establishment for campaigning for a separate homeland of Khalistan, was presented with a medal by officials of the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Society.  

SFJ is seeking a referendum on Khalistan, which has already led to many arrests of Sikh activists in India. The Indian authorities recently designated Nijjar as a terrorist, and have decided to attach his property in Punjab.  

In order to show their solidarity with Nijjar, Sikh societies in BC came together to honour him on the weekend. Nijjar, who is also the President of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, Surrey-Delta, is outspoken against racism and social injustice anywhere in the world.    

Indian officials have been trying to get Nijjar extradited, based on criminal cases filed against him in absentia. The Indian police have constantly accused him of running an arms training camp in BC, and working in collusion with Pakistan to create Khalistan through violent means. However, SFJ has been asking to hold a referendum on the question of Khalistan, and insists that it believes in achieving its goal through a democratic process.  

The pro-Khalistan outfits in Canada feel that the current right wing Hindu nationalist government in India is trying to demonize their movement and suppress any voice of resistance from minority communities.  

 

 

 

*** 

 

South Asians activists came together on the evening of Friday, October 2, to raise voices against the recent gang rape of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh, India 

Manisha died after struggling for life for two weeks.  

She was brutally assaulted and raped by people belonging to the upper caste.  

Her death has outraged the community of so-called untouchables who have been facing caste-based oppression for centuries. Under the current ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government, such atrocities have grown. Not only religious minorities, especially Muslims, Dalits also continue to be targeted with impunity by the right wing goons.  

On the call given by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI), two dozen people showed up at the candlelight vigil and rally right outside the Indian passport and visa office in Surrey.  

The participants, the majority of who were from the Dalit background, held signs asking for justice to Manisha and lit candles in her memory. They also raised slogans against the BJP government.  

The speakers were unanimous in their criticism of the BJP government which is openly shielding the suspects and patronizing violence against Dalits and Muslims to transform India into a Hindu theocracy.  

Incidentally, October 2 is also the birth anniversary of MK Gandhi, the towering leader of the passive resistance movement against British occupation of India. Gandhi was assassinated for standing up against atrocities on Muslims and for denouncing untouchability by the Hindu fundamentalists. It is a separate matter that he was not opposed to the caste system, because of which Dalit activists find him as an extremely problematic figure. The followers of the ideology of his killers are presently governing the country.  

Among those who addressed the gathering were Dalit activists Roop Lal Gaddu, Surinder Sandhu, Ajmer Singh, Sukhwinder Kaur and Anita, besides Sikh activist Ranjit Singh Khalsa and anti racism educator Annie Ohana. 

IAPI members Tejinder Sharma and Gurpreet Singh also spoke on the occasion, which began with a poem by Amrit Diwana, a well known progressive poet and writer in the Punjabi community. His poem was based on the systemic sexual abuse Dalit women endure in the Indian society.   

 

 

On the occasion of the birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) held a demonstration to oppose growing state violence in India, on Sunday, September 27 in Surrey.

Bhagat Singh was a towering revolutionary who fought against the British occupation of India and stood for an egalitarian and just society. He strongly believed in secularism and vowed to continue his struggle until human exploitation ends. He had predicted that once the British left, power would come into the hands of the native ruling classes, and therefore emphasised on continuing the battle until a classless society was established to ensure emancipation of the oppressed.  

His prophecy was proven right after the transfer of power in 1947; today, the repression has grown under an outright Hindu fascist government led by Narendra Modi.  

Not only have the attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents sharpened, but the rights of the farmers who are the backbone of India's economy, are being stripped in the name of development. Without any consultation with the farmers, the government has brought an ordinance that badly affects the future of rural communities, as a result of which the people have come out on the streets in India.  

Organized in solidarity with the agitating farmers, the rally began with a moment of silence for Swami Agnivesh, a prominent social justice activist who passed away recently.  

Agnivesh, who was a progressive Hindu reformer, always stood for the minorities and the oppressed communities. He was viciously assaulted by the supporters of Hindu Right in 2018. IAPI had organised a rally in his support back then. His picture was displayed next to that of Bhagat Singh on the occasion.  

The speakers unanimously denounced the policies of the Modi government. Among them were IAPI members Rakesh Kumar, Tejinder Sharma, Harbir Rathi, Amrit Diwana, Sarabjit Baaj and Gurpreet Singh.  

Others who spoke at the event were Inderjit Singh Bains from Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Society, independent Sikh activists Kulwinder Singh and Surjit Singh Gosal, and leftist activists Parminder Swaich, Rawait Singh, Joseph Theriault and Ryan Abbott.  

While Theriault is associated with the Communist Party (Marxist Leninist), Abbott is with the Communist Party of Canada and running for the BC Legislature from Surrey-Whalley.  

The participants raised slogans against the Indian state and resolved to continue their fight against injustice.  

Gurpreet Singh  

What could be a better coincidence than her birthday falling on the International Day of Peace?  

Especially when a Bollywood superstar has to her credit playing three amazing roles that were akin to peacemaking between India and Pakistan, this becomes even more important.  

Kareena Kapoor Khan turned 40 on Monday, September 21, which has been declared as International Day of Peace by the United Nations.  

As this year marks her 20 years in Indian cinema, it is worth remembering her debut in Refugee, in which she played Nazneen, a stateless Bihari Muslim woman.  

Nazneen, whose family is seeking a permanent home in Pakistan, has left Bangladesh. She falls in love with refugee Ahmed, who is involved in human trafficking and helps her and her parents in crossing the Indo-Pak border illegally to enter Pakistan.  

As a sider, the film reveals the constant tension between India and Pakistan, which were divided on religious lines in 1947. This resulted in large scale Hindu-Muslim riots, forcing Muslims to migrate to Muslim-dominated Pakistan, and Hindus to Hindu-dominated India. Originally from Bihar, India, Nazneen’s family migrates to East Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh. They are forced to flee for the second time due to fear of persecution from Bengalis.  

Indo-Pak relations have never been stable. The two countries have fought two major wars, including one in 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh. The Indian government tried to take full advantage of the Bangladeshi insurgency, and was partly instrumental behind its separation from Pakistan. Likewise, Pakistan is taking advantage of the militant movement in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir region of India, which has been going through an armed struggle for the right to self-determination. Both countries continue to accuse each other of proxy war and aiding and abetting subversive activities within their territories from across the border.     

One thing can be counted as a legacy of Refugee - Nazneen’s role as a broker of peace between the two hostile neighbours.  

Refugee goes beyond the subject of Bihari Muslims, and highlights how infiltration by Pakistan-trained terrorists in India continues, while Indian Muslim patriots, despite being involved in human trafficking, resist any attempt by Pakistani Islamic extremists to launch Jihad on the Indian soil.   

The film ends on a happy note, with Nazneen giving birth to a child on the no man’s land. She therefore becomes a symbol of peace between the warring nations. This happens on the intervening night of August 14-15, when the two countries celebrate their independence from the British in 1947.  

The lyrics of a popular song in the film screened on Kareena carry a special meaning for those who want the two countries to end animosity and make a new beginning. The verses go: “Panchi, Nadiyaa, Pawan Ke Jhonke, Koi Sarhad Naa Inhe Roke, Sarhaden Insaanon Ke Liye Hain, Bhala Meine Aur Tumne Kya Paaya Insaan Hoke?” (No border can ever stop the birds, river or the wind, except humans. What have we achieved then by being human beings?). Such messaging questions the necessity of borders and false lines, and Kareena did her part very well.  

This wasn’t the only time she played as a sort of peace ambassador on the screen. Similar opportunities came years later as she grew up into a seasoned actor.     

Twelve years after Refugee, Kareena performed as Iram Parveen Bilal, a British-Pakistani spy in Agent Vinod, an unusual thriller which had an important theme of how the two countries need to unite and fight against those involved in global terrorism and the arms industry.  

Her husband Saif Ali Khan, who played the title role, was her co-star.   

Iram helps Vinod in his mission against Pakistani terrorists, and lays down her life while doing so. The story ends with a climax about how those engaged in the international arms industry are precipitating terrorism and conflicts in the garb of philanthropy, and how the good people on either side of Indo-Pak border sincerely want to change this and continue to pay the price.  

Iram, the real hero of the film, dies in the line of duty towards humanity and not just one side or the other. She gives her life for the bigger cause of opposing the arms race and weapons of mass destruction, which can affect human life both in India and Pakistan.     

Most remarkable was her role as Rasika, a Hindu woman in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), who comes to the rescue of a Pakistani Muslim girl separated from her mother.   

The story goes like this.  

A Pakistani mother comes to India with her daughter, who has a speech disability. She visits a famous shrine in Delhi to seek blessings for her child. On way back home, the girl accidentally gets down from the train parked on the railway platform and gets separated from her mother. While the train to Pakistan leaves without the child, she ends up reaching Kurukshetra on a freight train. She is discovered by Rasika’s lover Pawan Kumar, who tries to find her parents, but couldn’t. One day she is able to convey to him through gestures that she is from Pakistan. But she cannot convey the exact whereabouts of her family and the Pakistani embassy officials fail to provide any help.    

Rasika’s orthodox Hindu parents want to get rid of her, but Rasika encourages Pawan to do the right thing and not give up until the child is returned to her parents. Pawan succeeds in taking the girl back to Pakistan illegally, putting his life in danger.   

Rasika emerges as a strong advocate for a helpless child from a different community, in a highly polarized environment in which Hindu fanatics harbour hostile attitude toward Muslims and Pakistan. She tells Pawan that she respects him only because he is different from others, and expects him to help the child irrespective of her religious background.  

Rasika is definitely much more vocal and stronger than Nazneen and Iram, and gives hope for a better future in the South Asian region.  

But doing such roles brings many challenges. 

She has been repeatedly attacked on social media by supporters of the currently ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party government led by Narendra Modi. Ever since he became Prime Minister of the world’s so called largest democracy in 2014, the attacks on religious minorities, particularly Muslims, have grown. Since such movies do not fit into their agenda, their outrage is not unexpected, but they have repeatedly mocked her for marrying a Muslim actor, adopting Khan as her last name, and naming her son as Taimur.  

Kareena married Saif in 2012 and gave birth to Taimur in 2016.  

Although it was a registered marriage, supporters of the Hindu Right continue to accuse Saif of luring her and converting her to Islam. This is despite the fact that Saif does not support conversion, and allows Kareena to keep her Hindu last name of Kapoor alongside Khan. So much so, the couple was harassed for naming their child as Taimur, who was said to be a tyrant Muslim invader who conquered India and tormented Hindus. Even though Kareena clarified that she wanted to name her son Taimur, which means "iron", solely because of macho appeal of the word, they are not letting it go, whatever may be the trigger of shameless attempts to bracket them with Pakistan.  

Critics have conveniently ignored how beautifully Kareena is grooming her child to respect both religions equally. Only recently she posted on Instagram pictures of lego Ganesha - the Elephant god that is highly revered by Hindus - made by Taimur. But what can one expect from hate mongers?   

In a post 9/11 environment, when Islamophobia has blinded most of the world under right wing leaders like Modi and Trump, Kareena gives us hope both through her acting and actions in real life. 

 

*** 

 

On the occasion of the birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) held a demonstration to oppose growing state violence in India, on Sunday, September 27 in Surrey.

Bhagat Singh was a towering revolutionary who fought against the British occupation of India and stood for an egalitarian and just society. He strongly believed in secularism and vowed to continue his struggle until human exploitation ends. He had predicted that once the British left, power would come into the hands of the native ruling classes, and therefore emphasised on continuing the battle until a classless society was established to ensure emancipation of the oppressed.  

His prophecy was proven right after the transfer of power in 1947; today, the repression has grown under an outright Hindu fascist government led by Narendra Modi.  

Not only have the attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents sharpened, but the rights of the farmers who are the backbone of India's economy, are being stripped in the name of development. Without any consultation with the farmers, the government has brought an ordinance that badly affects the future of rural communities, as a result of which the people have come out on the streets in India.  

Organized in solidarity with the agitating farmers, the rally began with a moment of silence for Swami Agnivesh, a prominent social justice activist who passed away recently.  

Agnivesh, who was a progressive Hindu reformer, always stood for the minorities and the oppressed communities. He was viciously assaulted by the supporters of Hindu Right in 2018. IAPI had organised a rally in his support back then. His picture was displayed next to that of Bhagat Singh on the occasion.  

The speakers unanimously denounced the policies of the Modi government. Among them were IAPI members Rakesh Kumar, Tejinder Sharma, Harbir Rathi, Amrit Diwana, Sarabjit Baaj and Gurpreet Singh.  

Others who spoke at the event were Inderjit Singh Bains from Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Society, independent Sikh activists Kulwinder Singh and Surjit Singh Gosal, and leftist activists Parminder Swaich, Rawait Singh, Joseph Theriault and Ryan Abbott.  

While Theriault is associated with the Communist Party (Marxist Leninist), Abbott is with the Communist Party of Canada and running for the BC Legislature from Surrey-Whalley.  

The participants raised slogans against the Indian state and resolved to continue their fight against injustice. 

 

A former white supremacist and an author, Tony McAleer was presented with a plaque for standing up against bigotry by the Sikh community on Saturday, September 26.  

He was honoured at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, the exact place where Nirmal Singh Gill was murdered by skinheads in January 1998.  

Gill was the temple caretaker when the incident happened. He was trying to stop the Neo-Nazis who were vandalizing cars at the gurdwara parking lot when he was violently assaulted.  

Although McAleer was not involved in the incident, he has taken moral responsibility for the crime. He has repeatedly said that he can’t claim “zero percent” responsibility, as his hateful propaganda back then must have been a contributing factor.   

As a changed man, McAleer started the initiative Life After Hate, and has been encouraging young people to stay away from the racist ideology.  

His memoir The Cure for Hate: A Former White Supremacist's Journey from Violent Extremism to Radical Compassion,  delivers  startling revelations about his previous life as a white supremacist who hated Jews, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community. 

The story of his life’s journey as a youthful neo-Nazi who once believed that whites were an endangered species helps readers understand where hate comes from. The book also reveals how hate is exploited by white nationalists to rope in impressionable teenagers to be mobilized against minorities. 

Ironically, a Jewish psychologist helped inspire McAleer to abandon his racist ideology. 

McAleer’s book reveals that Gill also tried to resist the attempt of the attackers to steal his iron bracelet, which all practising Sikhs wear as an article of faith.  

At the time of the book launch, he had announced that he wants part of the proceedings from the sale of his book to go to the gurdwara to help the temple keep Gill’s legacy alive. Those who want to be a part of this initiative can order it online through Arsenal Pulp Press—publisher of the memoir—by typing in the code “nirmal”.  

On Sunday, he presented the cheque to the gurdwara where the portrait of Gill will soon be reinstalled.  

While addressing the congregation he said, “I am here to stand with you and not against you”.  The Gurdwara General Secretary Bhupinder Singh Hothi thanked him on behalf of the community on the occasion. 

Notably, a racist poster had appeared close to the temple premises early this year. McAleer took notice of the incident and had cautioned everyone to remain vigilant against growing hate in the post-Trump political environment. 

Last year, the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara held special prayers for those who were killed in an attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 50 people died in the crime committed by a white supremacist. 

 

 

A Vancouver-based poet has a remedy to survive the current crisis by remaining connected with nature.   

Sherry Duggal, a naturopath and a teacher, has recently produced Pandemic Dance, which is now posted on youtube. The video has generated a lot of curiosity and interest among people grappling with anxiety caused by social distancing and isolation in the time of COVID 19.   

Through her performance, punctuated with expressions of sadness and fear, Sherry makes us travel through what the real world is facing. The video ends with her hugging a tree, and a sense of relaxation all over her face.  

That’s the key message she tries to convey. “That tree I actually hugged will always have a special place in my heart because it shared a moment with me. Nature speaks to you. Go out to nature”, she said during a live interview with Spice Radio. 

She added that Coronavirus is teaching us lessons, including why it is important to be grounded and connect with nature. “No matter how you are feeling. Put your foot on bare grass and bare soil and see what happens”.  

According to her, nature teaches humanity about abundance and giving without asking.   

She also cautioned people to be aware of their prejudices in the light of growing hate because of COVID 19. She believes that if nature does not discriminate, and all races are equally affected by the pandemic, there is no reason for humans to be discriminating against each other.  

Ever since COVID 19 broke out in China, there has been a spike in hate crimes against people of Asian heritage, even in Vancouver. 

Notably, Sherry has previously made a video of her poem on racism. Titled Between the Pages, it is also available on youtube.  

 

Gurpreet Singh  

The recent report on the imaginary Sikh state of Khalistan is full of gaps and lacks an in-depth understanding of the issue. 

Written by seasoned journalist Terry Milewski, and published by the Macdonald Laurier Institute, the document not only fails to tell us anything significant, but provides flawed and weak arguments to suggest that Pakistan has fostered an indigenous movement for a separate homeland for the Sikhs in northern India. 

Sensationally titled Khalistan: A project of Pakistan, the report focuses on an armed insurgency started by the Sikh militants in Punjab, India during the 1980s. The decade long conflict that ended in the 1990s left thousands of people dead.  

The proponents of the movement wanted to carve out a Sikh homeland of Khalistan in Punjab, which shares a border with Pakistan. The campaign was brutally suppressed by the police and paramilitary forces that were given sweeping powers by the Indian establishment to deal with the extremists.  

Apart from state repression, the movement also fizzled out due to lack of public sympathy, because of excesses committed by the extremists on innocent civilians, including the Hindus and their political critics within the Sikh community.  

Although the campaign for Khalistan has lost its popularity a long time back, its supporters in Canada and other parts of the world are trying to keep it alive through gimmicks such as a demand for referendum on Sikh nation in November 2020.  

Interestingly, the report itself acknowledges this fact, and yet it tries to make everyone believe this is a huge challenge, by simply overlooking the real picture.  

Frankly speaking, this kind of research is highly untimely, as there is no serious threat of Khalistan to India at this time. If there is any realistic threat to India, it comes directly from the Hindu extremists who have become emboldened under a right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which is determined to turn the country into a theocracy where all minorities, including the Sikhs, would be treated as second class citizens.  

It therefore seems funny that anyone has taken so much pain to highlight a stale and dead issue instead of examining the situation at hand.  

It is hard to fathom why a person like Ujjal Dosanjh, a former BC Premier and so well up to date on current issues in India, chose to co-write the foreword of the report that says nothing about the present situation in India, where attacks on religious minorities have grown under an intolerant BJP regime.  

Notably, Dosanjh, who was once assaulted for being critical of Sikh extremism in Canada, recently condemned the violence against Muslims and other minorities in India. Why didn't this report try to put things into the perspective of ongoing attacks on minorities in India? After all, the Khalistan movement was a direct result of the persecution of Sikhs in Hindu-dominated India.   

However, the report conveniently ignores all that.  

When India and Pakistan were divided on religious lines in 1947, the Sikh leadership chose to go with India instead of Muslim-dominated Pakistan. They were promised an autonomous region in northern India, an assurance that was never fulfilled. On the contrary, when the Sikhs asked for a Punjabi-speaking state that could guarantee their independent religious identity, the Indian state tried to criminalize the demand at the behest of Hindu nationalists who wanted to assimilate the Sikhs.  

Nevertheless, after years of struggle, present day Punjab was created in 1966, but many Punjabi-speaking areas went to neighbouring states, after Hindu chauvinists decided to choose Hindi and not Punjabi as their mother language.  

Punjab was even denied its rightful share of the river waters, which hurt hard the Sikh farmers who dominate the rural side of Punjab.  

These injustices led the Sikh leaders to launch another political campaign seeking extra rights to the state, the re-transfer of Punjabi speaking areas, settlement of the river water dispute and protection of their separate religious identity. These demands were not seditious in nature, but the Indian government continued to fail the moderate Sikh leadership. This resulted in the emergence of a militant leader, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who later made the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar, into the nerve center of his activities.  

Accusing Bhindranwale of spreading violence through the precincts of the shrine, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered a military invasion of the Golden Temple in June, 1984. The ill-conceived army operation left many innocent pilgrims dead. This infuriated the Sikhs worldwide and brought a sense of alienation against them. It was precisely after this that the Khalistan movement became stronger. Earlier, this demand was mostly being raised by fringe elements mainly outside India. There were hardly any takers for that, but the military assault on the temple had made their task easier. 

As if this was not enough, thousands of Sikhs were murdered across India in the first week of November, 1984 by state-sponsored goons following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.  The police either remained mute spectators  or openly sided with the mobs.  

These ugly events culminated in the Air India bombing in June 1985. The crime that left 329 people dead was widely blamed on the Canada-based Sikh extremist group Babbar Khalsa.  

By glossing over these simple facts, the report does not help readers understand that the movement originated in India purely because of domestic reasons, for which the blame only lies at the doorstep of government in New Delhi.  

It makes no sense to suggest that it is a Pakistani project. It is not. Nobody can dispute that Pakistan has been trying to take advantage of internal strife in India, whether in Punjab or in Kashmir. But to call this a Pakistani project is laughable. 

Let’s face it - India and Pakistan have never had cozy relations. They have already fought two major wars, including one in 1971 that culminated in the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. The whole world knows that India tried to take advantage of a liberation movement in Bangladesh and supported its insurgents. But to believe that this was a project of India would be living in a fool’s paradise. Bangladesh was imminent, as the Bengali-speaking population was being suppressed by the Urdu- speaking Pakistanis. India only tried to do what any enemy nation does in such circumstances. Similarly, Pakistan has only been taking advantage of the conflicts in Punjab and Kashmir, which could have been best resolved by the Indian state itself.  

It seems the report serves no other purpose than to say something which the Indian government likes to listen. The Indian government has habitually blamed Pakistan all the time. Today, when India is facing international criticism for mistreating its minorities, this kind of report will give them some satisfaction. They have already intensified their campaign against Khalistan, which the government in New Delhi has been trying to club with its enemy next door.  

It was not long ago that the Indian government banned Sikhs for Justice, which is seeking a referendum on Khalistan, and began arresting its supporters for merely distributing posters and using social media to spread awareness about their cause, which hasn’t gained any serious traction on the ground. On the other hand, Hindu extremists continue to target Muslims and other communities at will with impunity.  

The credibility of the report becomes questionable when it begins with the official version of the Indian government on the killing of Babbar Khalsa leader Talwinder Singh Parmar in 1992.  

Parmar was liquidated in a staged police shootout after being arrested. He was never given a fair trial, and was branded as the Air India bombing mastermind after being killed in an extra judicial manner.  

The report claims that two other men who died along with him in the so-called exchange of fire were Pakistanis. Considering the poor human rights record of India, where killing political activists in cold blood has become a norm, how appropriate was it  to give such controversial details, which the report did not even try to verify independently?   

The only real evidence about Pakistan’s direct involvement with the Khalistan movement is the picture of Parmar armed to the teeth. Milewski claims in the report that it was taken in Pakistan, which certainly gave and still gives refuge to the anti-India insurgents. But that is not the complete truth. The truth is that the picture was taken during the cold war era, when the US and Russia were engaged in a serious conflict. While Pakistan was on the US’ side, India was in the Russian camp. This was the time when anti-Russia Islamic extremists were being supported by the US in that region. The Sikh militants became allies in their fight against the Russian-backed Indian state, but that by itself is not sufficient to establish Khalistan being a project of Pakistan.  

That reality has changed anyway, with the US and India now allies under right wing governments which repeatedly talk tough against Islamic extremism. Pakistan too continues to suffer at the hands of Islamic extremists and is in no position to openly support any movement like Khalistan, which has lost its charm.   

The Indian state is also involved in double speak. On one hand it uses every tool in its toolbox to obliterate the Khalistan movement, but on the other it recently gave a visa to Vancouver-based Sikh millionaire Ripudaman Singh Malik.  

Malik is a former suspect in the Air India bombing. He was the alleged financier of those involved in the conspiracy but acquitted for the lack of evidence. How come the report is silent about it? Why not blame India for running a parallel project to weaken Khalistan by roping in people with a problematic background? In an interview with a Punjabi TV channel, Malik’s own brother thanked the head of India's R&AW intelligence agency for making this happen. If Pakistani spy agency ISI can be mentioned in the report for supporting Khalistanis, then why not question R&AW for rubbing shoulders with someone like Malik, who until yesterday was seen as an enemy of the Indian government?      

The most offensive part of the report is the way it minimizes the anti-Sikh massacre of 1984, which it tries to equate with the religious violence of 1947 and sporadic violent attacks on Sikhs in Pakistan. This makes absolutely no sense. What happened in 1984 was perpetrated by the state machinery, which is supposed to protect its citizens and not to kill them. To make India accountable for the happenings of 1984 is an obligation of not only the Sikhs in Canada, but of the entire humanity. But until now, the Indian diplomats have been trying to deny the Sikh Genocide.  

One can safely conclude that the report is in line with the narrative of a government which has lost any moral right to raise the issue of terrorism. 

Canadians should rather pay more attention to what is happening under BJP at this time. No less than the Prime Minister, Narendar Modi, brought a suspected terrorist to parliament in the last general election in 2019.  

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was arrested and charged for a 2008 bombing targeting a Muslim community that left 10 people dead. She was part of the module that wanted to establish a Hindu state through terrorism. She was given the BJP ticket to run for office even though the trial was not completed. Modi unashamedly called her their symbol. Isn’t it worth asking why she never met the same fate as Parmar if the Indian political system is really fair?  

Maybe Canadian think tanks and journalists should do some hard work on what’s going on in the name of democracy, instead of raising false alarms about something which has lost its relevance.  

*** 

Page 1 of 26

Latest Tweets

@DaReal2ET H2🌑
@Theghostgaming_ THIRSTY
@AndrewJacklin looking hydrated
@litcapital the moon will share
Follow Twitter on Twitter

Post Gallery

Indigenous activist Cecilia Point and former Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Niki Sharma honoured at annual anti racism event in Surrey

Chuck Puchmayr honoured for bringing a motion against CAA

Historical heroes and robot dinosaurs: New games on our radar in April

Asia's best restaurant has a frustratingly confusing menu of only 17 emojis

TG G6 will have dual 13-megapixel cameras on the back

KJerry's will sell food cream that tastes like your favorite video

Hynopedia helps female travelers find health care in Maldivs

Netcix cuts out the chill with an integrated personal trainer on running

Here's how to make Kevin's famous fish cutlet from 'The Office'