Friday, March 16, 2018

Canada's NDP Championing Khalistan?

"I condemn all acts of terrorism in every part of the world, regardless of who the perpetrators are or who the victims are."
"Terrorism can never be seen as a way to advance the cause of any one group. It only leads to suffering, pain and death."
"It wasn't by chance that Sikhs were the most sacrificed, or the people who died the most for the freedom of South Asia."
"I absolutely think it's a fundamental right of all people to be able to self-govern, to have sovereignty. It's something that's recognized by the United Nations, and there should be no fear to expressing your position on that. I support the referendum, absolutely."
Jagmeet Singh, leader, New Democratic Party, Ottawa
 NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been on the defensive this week after videos emerged suggesting his association with advocates of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been on the defensive this week after videos emerged suggesting his association with advocates of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.  (Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo)

"One [perception of Sikh identity] is about sovereignty, explicitly and uncompromisingly. It endorses the superiority of our culture, our language and our ideals. It is about Sikh spaces and Sikh institutions."
"And it endorses violence as a legitimate form of resistance and survival."
"[The other embraces conformity and] commodification of our culture."
"It's an unfortunate reality and it's something that is distressing to us as a community, because the Sikh community is a peace-loving community. But at the same time, we're not a pacifist community."
"If you want self-determination, you're going to have to take up arms ... and that's the only route to independence."
Shamsher Singh, National Sikh Youth Federation (NSYF) London

"These are people who still advocate violence. They're trying to disturb the peace in India's Punjab state."
"So the focus is on a very, very tiny minority. That's the sad part."
"[Jagmeet Singh's presence at Sikh separatist events will] haunt him."
Shinder Purewal, professor of political science, Kwantien Polytechnic University, British Columbia

The new leader of Canada's federal New Democratic Party is a Canadian Sikh and apparently a Sikh who is firmly ensconced in the religion, but more than that, an advocate of Sikh autonomy. When India underwent partition and Pakistan was created out of India, followed by Bangladesh breaking away from Pakistan, it was a vicious, violent and bloody event with Hindus and Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims assembling in raging mobs against one another. The Punjab region was divided between India and Pakistan. And it seems that the holiest site in Sikhism was left in Pakistan.

Yet it is upon India that giant democratic nation of 1.3-billion people comprised of many ethnic groups, languages, cultures and religions against whom Sikh nationalists with their dream of achieving a separate, sovereign Khalistan have turned their anger and demands. India has accepted the Sikh presence as an integral part of the Indian sub-continent, absorbed as it has so many others. But a violent, fringe group of Sikh extremists keep the raging fires of anger and resentment alive, plotting conspiracies and engaging in violence.

The federal NDP notorious for its pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel stance appears to have found itself a new leader with a pro-Khalistan, anti-Indian adversarial approach such that he lends his presence and his support to the Khalistan movement, a violent one that threatens, coerces and destroys, both property and lives. Even as Jagmeet Singh condemns violence and terrorism he is present at events which plot and celebrate both. He has lent his voice to the chorus of anti-Indian sentiment.
Jagmeet Singh at a 2015 rally in San Francisco. Sikh Roots

He has attended meetings such as that of the U.K.-based National Sikh Youth Federation in London, one event titled Sovereignty and Polity, advocating for an independent Khalistan. He has deliberately refused to condemn the Sikh Canadian known to have been behind the Air India terrorist attack that killed 326 people, most of them Canadians, on a flight to India. A new video has come to light of his attendance at a rally in San Francisco calling for the creation of Khalistan.

Clips of Jagmeet Singh have been obtained with his speech before an audience relating to Sikh principles of equality and "independence, of sovereignty". Shamsher Singh of the NSYF has explained that "Sikhs do not accept that [Talwinder Singh Parmar, the Sikh Canadian known to have been the mastermind of the Air India bombing] was responsible for the Air India bombing", that Jagmeet Singh's comments indicated that he "understands the complexity of the issue", and nor "should he be criticized for his support for Khalistan or voicing his dissent against India".

An absurd assertion on the face of it, and virtually meaningless considering the source. Since elected leader of the federal NDP, Singh has refused to stand down from his position of self-determination being a basic right. The reality is that although he is leader of the NDP, and Sikhs are proud of their political smarts and that their large presence in Canada has resulted in quite a few among them being elected as Members of Parliament and chosen by the Trudeau government for Cabinet positions, it is Canadian interests and politics that should be consuming the attention of Canadian Sikhs, not their quarrels with India.

Left to right: Harwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh and Jagmeet Singh at an event hosted by the National Sikh Youth Federation, which advocates for an independent Khalistan.YouTube

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