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What’s Khalistan and why has that battle in India created boiling tensions in Canada? Specific Occasions

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An unofficial, non-binding referendum on Punjab independence has stirred up passions which are fuelling a spate of anti-Hindu hate incidents in Canada, an Indian diplomat says

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Lined up reverse one another in a Mississauga, Ont., parking zone, the opposing sides seemed nearly just like the beginnings of a medieval battle. On one aspect was a clamouring crowd waving flags of Khalistan — the unbiased state that some Sikhs wish to see carved out of India. On the opposite had been equally noisy nationalists brandishing the Indian flag.

In between was a relentless explosion of vibrant fireworks, and some nervous law enforcement officials.

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No violence occurred, however the conflict on the South Asian vacation of Diwali final October got here amid a significant, worldwide voting challenge that has unfolded largely beneath the mainstream radar — and infuriated India’s Hindu-nationalist authorities and media.

The Punjab referendum is asking individuals of Sikh origin in a number of international locations whether or not they need the Sikh-majority Indian state to turn into an unbiased nation. Canada was one of many first to carry votes, and organizers claimed it attracted over 100,000 individuals on the primary day of balloting close to Toronto final September.

The battle for Sikh independence and a separate state of Khalistan in India has created boiling tensions removed from India, culminating in a surprising announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday that Canada has credible data that the Indian authorities brokers had been concerned within the homicide of a Canadian citizen in Surrey, B.C. earlier this yr. Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a distinguished Sikh chief, was shot on June 18 exterior a Sikh temple in Surrey.

What’s Khalistan?

Khalistan is a Sikh homeland the activists need created out of Punjab and a few surrounding Indian territory. Cities like Brampton and Mississauga west of Toronto, and Surrey in B.C. — with giant Indo-Canadian populations — are hotbeds of the independence motion.

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What’s going to the referendum accomplish?

The referendum — unofficial and binding on nobody — has stirred up passions which are fuelling a spate of anti-Hindu hate incidents right here in Canada, fees Manish, India’s appearing excessive commissioner, who goes by only one identify.

“We don’t need any violence. We don’t need any violence from pro-Khalistan forces or the Indian aspect,” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of Sikhs for Justice, the referendum’s organizer beforehand informed the Put up. “We’re saying, let’s give votes an opportunity…. We’re combating for our personal political views to be heard.”

After a pandemic delay, voting began within the U.Okay., continued in Italy after which moved to Canada and Australia. The newest vote was held in Vancouver on Sept. 13.

The unbiased fee that Sikhs for Justice created to supervise the method is engaged on a plan to let residents of Punjab itself vote, although it’s assumed New Delhi will block any such try.

Who’re the principle teams?

Sikhs for Justice are the referendum’s principal organizer. However the place Sikhs for Justice touts a peaceable train in free will, New Delhi sees pink. It has designated the group a terrorist group and tried, unsuccessfully, to have Interpol put out an arrest warrant for Singh Pannun, a New York-based lawyer of joint U.S. and Canadian citizenship, main the group.

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Indian media, a lot of it loyal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP authorities, tends to reflexively describe the group and its founder as terroristic.

Final yr, a Hindu temple was defaced in Toronto and a close-by statue of Mahatma Gandhi with pro-independence graffiti.

“They’re utilizing Canadian territory for actions which might jeopardize India’s safety and pursuits,” Manish beforehand informed the Nationwide Put up.  “If the (Canadian) authorities can do one thing about (the referendum) and attempt to stop it, that might be helpful as a result of it solely creates a foul environment and incites violence in opposition to India and Indians.”

A members of the Sikh community casts his vote for the global referendum on Punjab independence in London, England, on October 31, 2021.
A members of the Sikh neighborhood casts his vote for the worldwide referendum on Punjab independence in London, England, on October 31, 2021. Photograph by PA through Reuters/File

So, why has the strain reached Canada?

Help for Khalistan is way stronger among the many Sikh diaspora in locations like Canada than Sikhs in Punjab, the place they make up 58 per cent of the inhabitants.

One distinguished Sikh-Canadian in Ontario, a longtime opponent of the Khalistani motion, beforehand informed the Put up it’s now not secure to voice such opinions publicly due to the independence motion’s energy right here. Asking to stay nameless, the individual mentioned a relative was chastised and his home egged by Khalistanis for relationship a Hindu-Canadian lady.

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The Sikh separatist trigger had largely fallen quiet after years of turmoil that culminated within the bombing of an Air India flight from Canada in 1985, killing 329 individuals.

The assault was blamed on Canadian-based Sikh extremists, enraged by Indian troops storming the Golden Temple — Sikhism’s holiest website — to oust armed rebels in 1984, and the incident’s bloody fallout.

After two Sikh bodyguards murdered prime minister Indira Gandhi, a wave of pogroms noticed no less than 3,000 Sikhs slaughtered by rampaging Hindus.

What in regards to the diplomatic tensions?

Canada lately cancelled commerce talks with India and a proposed Group Canada commerce mission was cancelled over the weekend, however this isn’t the primary time Canada has gotten itself embroiled in India’s affairs.

In 2017, India was furious when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the stage on the Sikh-Canadian neighborhood’s annual Khalsa Day celebration. The looks was the most recent irritation for an Indian authorities reportedly nervous that the Liberals are too cozy with a peaceable however “rising” Sikh-separatist motion in Canada.

India’s Overseas Ministry had beforehand issued separate protests to the Trudeau authorities about episodes of the Liberals’ politicking amongst a vote-rich neighborhood.

— With further reporting by Tom Blackwell

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