VANCOUVER, CANADA: Pro-Khalistan Sikh community leaders firmly believe that India cannot stifle their voices, noting an exceptional tenfold increase in the community’s dedication to freedom.
The increase, particularly among the youth, has been visible following the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar — a prominent Khalistani activist, leader of Khalistan Referendum’s Canadian Chapter and local leader of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) — three months ago by suspected Indian agents, the leaders maintained.
SFJ, the organisation running the Khalistan Referendum campaign worldwide, decided to hold the voting on Sunday (today) at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in the Surrey Delta.
Nijjar was the president of the same Gurdwara and was also assassinated there. The slain Sikh leader was on India’s “most wanted” list and the Indian government had seized his assets back home and registered dozens of false cases against him.
President of the Council of Khalistan Dr Bakhshish Singh Sandhu and Secretary-General of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Bhupinder Singh Hothi, anticipated a substantial Sikh community turnout.
Dr Sandhu highlighted that the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara is a special place for the Khalistan referendum, as it was the site where Nijjar was allegedly murdered by the Indian agencies on June 18, 2023.
Dr Sandhu accused the Indian government of involvement in the assassination of the 46-year-old Nijjar, who was tragically killed outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, Canada.
Notably, a reward of INR 100,000 was placed on his head, as declared by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) earlier this year. The NIA had levelled charges against him for his involvement in terrorism-related activities and his alleged role in waging war against India.
Dr Sandhu welcomed the decision of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to initiate public investigations into foreign interference, including those linked to India, expressing his satisfaction. During his visit to India for the G20 meeting, Trudeau had previously announced in a statement that if granted the opportunity by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he would address the issue of eliminating foreign interference in Canada.
In response to a question, Dr Sandhu pointed out that similar referendums have already taken place in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, and Switzerland. Now, it is happening in (another city of) Canada, where there is a significant Sikh population.
Hothi confirmed that the Canadian police and intelligence services were investigating Nijjar’s killing, which, according to him has further re-established the fact that the Indian Hindutva establishment didn’t like the Sikhs in any form and would go to any length to eliminate them.
However, he said, Sikhs were more determined than ever before to fight for their separate homeland called Khalistan. Hothi expressed strong disapproval of the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar and pointed out that India’s assumption of suppressing the Sikh community’s voice was mistaken.
He highlighted the remarkable tenfold increase in the community’s determination, particularly among the youth, to attain freedom.