September 14, 2012 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Vancouver, BC (September 12, 2012) – Indian Overseas Congress has declared that it wants all Khalistan insignia to be removed from Gurdwara’s in the United States and Canada. Indian Overseas Congress president, Vikram Bajwa, a Surrey resident and former candidate for mayor, has appealed to the Akal Takht to issue a “hukumnaama” (edict) banning Khalistan seals and flags from Gurdwara’s in the United States and Canada.
Bajwa stated, “The second-generation NRIs are being misguided by these Gurdwara’s.” He went on to add that he has appealed to the Akal Takth jathedar (head) “to issue an immediate ‘hukumnama’ to remove these insignias because this activity is anti-Punjab, anti-Sikh and no Sikh body promotes this culture.”
Bajwa’s request is an infringement upon Canadian rights as granted by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section Two of the Charter clearly states that all Canadians have the freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression including freedom of the press and other media of communication; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association. Canadian Sikhs are granted the freedom to express their political beliefs via seals and flags in their own Gurudwara’s. Bajwa’s request negates the fundamental freedoms Canadians enjoy and the use of terminology such as anti-Punjab and anti-Sikh delegitimizes individuals who are exercising their democratic rights.
As a representative of the Indian Overseas Congress, Bajwa’s comments are an example of the Indian states commitment to extending its arm of repression into Sikh affairs internally and externally. In a letter to the SGPC, the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh stated that pro-Khalistan activities are “concentrated in countries abroad, like the UK, Germany, Canada and especially Pakistan, where such groups receive a great deal of encouragement from remnant of extremist groups as well as support from other hostile forces.” By depicting Sikhs in Canada as extremist and hostile, the Prime Minister continues to propagate a negative image of a minority residing in a country outside his own borders. Further, when meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Manmohan Singh asked him to monitor the activities of Sikhs in Canada who were supporting Sikh militants in Punjab. This not only divides the Sikh community abroad but creates internal problems as a result of negative propaganda by foreign officials.
The Indian Overseas Congress is in no position to comment on the internal affairs of the Sikh community in Canada or internationally. Their concerns over Khalistan insignia in Gurdwara’s is not only problematic but troubling as the Indian Overseas Congress leaders have never expressed concern or remorse for the thousands of innocent Sikhs who were murdered under the leadership of the Congress party in the 1984 Sikh Genocide.
Canadian Sikh Coalition spokesperson Moninder Singh Bual stated, “It has been 28 years since the initiation of Sikh Genocide in India and thousands of families are still awaiting justice. Rather than focussing on bringing the guilty to justice within the Indian state, the Congress Party and its overseas arm are throwing around baseless allegations and meddling in Sikh affairs globally. The Sikh community is well aware of how to handle its internal affairs and it is about time that the Congress Party looked in its own backyard and held its senior leadership accountable for its murderous and genocidal history involving the minorities of India, especially Sikhs.”
The Canadian Sikh Coalition condemns the actions of such a party and urges the Akal Takht and all other Sikh bodies to ignore these groundless requests made by the Indian Overseas Congress and its representatives.
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