Sikh Groups Upset Over ‘Extremism’ Tag In Report

A Sikh demonstrators takes part in a rally outside the United Nations headquarters to declare the holding of a Non-Binding Referendum to Liberate Punjab, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in New York.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

OTTAWA: Several Sikh organizations in Canada are said to be furious with the federal government for listing ‘Sikh extremism’ in 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada.

They are demanding that the federal government provide evidence to support the claim .

In the Section on ‘The Current Terrorist Threat to Canada’ Ottawa has listed:

• Sunni Islamist Extremism

• Right-Wing Extremism

• Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism

• Shia Extremism

• Extremist Travellers.

Under the sub-heading: Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism, the report reads:

“Some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements. This political movement aims to create an independent homeland for Sikhs called Khalistan, in India. 

“Violent activities in support of an independent Sikh homeland have fallen since their height during the 1982-1993 period when individuals and groups conducted numerous terrorist attacks. The 1985 Air India bombing by Khalistani terrorists, which killed 331 people, remains the deadliest terrorist plot ever launched in Canada. 

“While attacks around the world in support of this movement have declined, support for the extreme ideologies of such groups remains. 

“For example, in Canada, two key Sikh organizations, Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation, have been identified as being associated with terrorism and remain listed terrorist entities under the Criminal Code.

A statement from the Ontario Khalsa Darbar, one of the largest gurdwaras in Canada, based in Mississauga: said “Rather than defending the reputation of Canadian Sikhs and denying these baseless allegations, it appears that the Canadian government is
content to capitulate to Indian demands to crack down on the Sikh activists.” 

Reacting to the report, The World Sikh Organization of Canada President Mukhbir Singh said WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today, “it is deeply disappointing to see the addition of imagined “Sikh extremism” to the 2018 Report…There is no explanation for this addition other than Public Safety Canada having tacitly accepted the false Indian rhetoric around rising extremism in the Sikh community.  

“Sikhs in Canada have repeatedly denied these allegations and no evidence has ever been provided to substantiate them.  Advocacy for Sikh human rights or Khalistan is not extremism and to suggest that it poses a danger to Canada is absolutely ludicrous….

“Accepting Indian allegations of ‘Sikh extremism’ deeply maligns the reputation of the community and has a real impact on the everyday lives of Canadian Sikhs.” The WSO expressed concerns that increased collaboration between Canadian and Indian counterparts may jeopardize the lives of Canadian Sikhs or their family and friends in India.

The B.C. Sikh Gurdwaras Council and the Ontario Gurdwaras Committee, a coalition of 30 places of worship, said the Sikh community had been maligned by the “generalized” accusations, which were “irresponsible and could have wide standing effects on Sikhs throughout Canada.”

“We have to go back at least three decades to find anything. … What’s happened in the last year for the Sikh community to be included? What context can they give us? Why now?” Moninder Singh of the B.C. council  said.There has been no mention of Sikh extremism in earlier reports.