LAHORE: The Sikh community staged a protest in Lahore on Wednesday against the Indian government in response to the killing of a prominent Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a vocal advocate of the Khalistan movement, in Canada.
The Sikh community emphasised that Indian intelligence agencies were involved in targeting Sikhs globally, calling on the international community to take note of India’s acts of terrorism.
Speaking to the media, former member of the Punjab Assembly, Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, asserted that India was involved in the assassination of the Khalistan leader.
“Indian government is fearful of the Khalistan referendum and is resorting to targeting Sikhs, but Sikhs have a fundamental right to peaceful and democratic struggle for Khalistan,” he added.
He said that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has provided evidence of India’s involvement in the killing of Sikh leader, adding that India has long been accused of spreading terrorism.
The Sikh community also raised slogans against the Indian government and demanded that the international community must take notice of the atrocities and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against Sikhs by the Modi government.
Since the rise of BJP government, incidents of oppression and violence against Sikhs and other minorities in India have increased significantly.
Tension has grown between Canada and India after PM Trudeau said on Monday that his country was investigating “credible allegations” about the potential involvement of Indian government agents in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has rejected outright Canada’s suspicions that New Delhi’s agents had links to the murder.
Khalistan is the name of an independent Sikh state whose creation was the goal of a bloody Sikh insurgency in the 1980s and 1990s in India’s northern state of Punjab, during which tens of thousands were killed.
As the ruling party at the time, Congress led the fight against the separatists and eventually suppressed the insurgency.
But it took the lives of key Congress leaders Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984, and Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, who was killed in a bomb blast by Sikh separatists in 1995.
Sikhs in Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States support the separatist demand and occasionally stage protests outside its embassies.
Canada has the largest population of Sikhs outside the Indian state of Punjab, with about 770,000 people reporting Sikhism as their religion in the 2021 census.