Tuesday November 29, 2022

Sikhs in Canada to vote in Khalistan Referendum second phase

October 04, 2022

LAHORE: The Sikh group working for an independent Sikh state from India, ‘Sikhs For Justice’ (SFJ) has planned to hold second phase of Khalistan Referendum voting on November 6 in Toronto to accommodate those who were unable to vote in the first phase on September 18.

An announcement by the SFJ communicated to all the Sikh expatriates living across the world, particularly in the US and Canada, said that more than 110,000 Sikhs had voted on September 18 in a massive turnout but thousands of them were unable to vote as the voting ended at 5pm and it was not possible for the organisers to accommodate nearly 40,000 Sikhs who were still in queues as the voting ended.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an Attorney at Law in New York and General Counsel to the SFJ, said that the decision to hold the second phase of Khalistan Referendum was taken on a huge demand from the local Sikh community and with consensus from all the Sikh organisations. “The Canadian Sikhs made history on September 18 by coming out for Khalistan in huge numbers and they will do so again on November 6,” Pannun added.

The second phase of Khalistan Referendum will test India-Canada diplomatic relations as both the countries have been engaged in open warfare since the start of Khalistan Referendum campaign in Canada. After the first referendum in Brampton, both the countries have issued travel advisories against each other, warning their respective citizens.

Before the voting took place in Brampton, Ontario, India tried to put diplomatic pressure on Canada and sent three diplomatic communications to Canada to stop the non-binding voting. The Canadian government told India that it believed in the territorial integrity of the South Asian country but it was unable to stop its own Sikh nationals from engaging in a democratic and peaceful process.

That was followed by the both countries issuing travel and safety advisories to their citizens, taking a jibe at each other. On September 23, India issued a travel advisory and a press release which read: “There has been a sharp increase in the incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada. The Ministry of External Affairs and our High Commission/Consulates General in Canada have taken up these incidents with the Canadian authorities and requested them to investigate the said crimes and take appropriate action. The perpetrators of these crimes have not been brought to justice so far in Canada.”

India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India had raised with Canada serious concerns on the Khalistan Referendum voting on September 18 in Brampton. In a sharp rebuke to India, the government of Justin Trudeau issued the travel advisory exactly four days after India’s September 23 advisory for its students that Canada had become a hub of Khalistan supporters and anti-India activities.