HomeAmericasPolitics2022: Khalistan Issue A Major Irritant Between India And Canada

2022: Khalistan Issue A Major Irritant Between India And Canada

2022: Khalistan Issue A Major Irritant Between India And Canada


TORONTO, (IANS) – The Khalistan referendum – held in September and November – became a huge irritant in India-Canada relations in 2022 and a major point of friction in the Indo-Canadian community as pro-Khalistan and pro-India supporters clashed in the Greater Toronto Area.

India called the referendum a “farcical exercise held by extremists and radical elements” and asked Canada for “action in this matter.” In a rare travel advisory, New Delhi urged travelers to Canada to be cautious about the possibility of anti-India violence in Canada.

Canada said it supports India’s integrity, but it won’t stop the referendum as its citizens were free to protest.

Though Ottawa is trying to warm to India as outlined in its recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy in which it calls India “a critical partner in Canada’s pursuit of its objectives under this strategy,” Khalistan will continue to be a major issue in India-Canada bilateral relations in 2023 and beyond.

“Though one can agree with Canada’s stand that it cannot stifle free expression, the fact remains that Khalistani activities are a direct interference in India’s internal affairs because most pro-Khalistani elements are now Canadian citizens with Canadian passports. For India, they are foreigners and Canada must rein in them,” said a Brampton-based Indo-Canadian leader, requesting anonymity.

Top Indo-Canadian politician and former Canadian health minister Ujjal Dosanjh thinks that the Khalistan movement is virtually dead but some elements in Canada are trying to keep it alive with the support of Pakistan.

“My sense is that the Khalistan movement is almost dead. Now it is more about Pakistan keeping it alive by supporting these elements,” said Dosanjh who has been a fierce critic of Khalistanis in Canada.

In this dying movement, he says, these elements will do anything to stay in the limelight.

Dosanjh is also critical of India’s high-profile statements on the activities of Khalistani elements in Canada, saying that these statements provide oxygen for the Khalistani elements who are a very small segment of the diaspora.

“India is too sensitive about what happens in the diaspora. By making high-level statements, it is infusing life into a dying movement. This is what Khalistani elements want,” said Dosanjh.

Brampton-based veteran Punjabi journalist Balraj Deol, however, notes that India must toughen its stand in dealing with Canada on this issue.

“Khalistanis have lobbies in all political parties and in the government here. Their religious parades are nothing but political muscle flexing and politicians for them. All this won’t stop.” The Khalistan issue will always remain an irritant between India and Canada, he said.

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  • The current government in Canada must be commended for its reasonable stance on the Khalistan movement in that country. The campaign is vocal yet powerless to make any meaningful political change in India. Eventually, it will evolve into a community service organization for which most Sikhs are committed citizens. The high charged-up response from the Indian government is the modus operand of the Indian intelligence service personnel that they are on the job working and not getting a free ride in a highly livable country.

    December 28, 2022
  • I am not a supporter of Khalistan, and neither do I believe that political views should be practiced within the houses of worship, BUT, must commend Canada for its stand on the Freedom of Speech issue. I remember some 50+ years back, striking a conversation in San Francisco with an American at a bus stop. When I mentioned that I liked President Kennedy, and his remark was, “I may not like what your stand is, BUT, I would give my right arm for you to say what you think and stand for”! Wish some would learn from it!

    December 29, 2022

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