Khalistan referendum campaign rocks Canadian politics

A truck moving with the banner of Khalistan Refrendum. — Photo by the author
  • The vote will take place on September 18 in Canada.
  • Ahead of the vote, pro-Khalistan activists hold truck rallies.
  • The activities angered pro-Indian factions in Canada.

TORONTO: After creating strong waves in the UK in November 2021, the Khalistan referendum – a plebiscite sponsored by the community of an international advocacy group, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) – is now shaking Canadian politics where the vote will start on September 18.

Khalistan referendum campaign – in which Sikhs are asked to answer the question “Should Punjab under Indian rule be an independent country?” – drew fierce opposition from New Delhi, the Indian media and pro-Indian segments of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

While Indian media and NRIs voiced their opposition, the Indian government proactively labeled and equated the unofficial Khalistan referendum as “terrorism” and declared SFJ – the promoter of the referendum – an illegal organization under the controversial Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) of India.

Mega Khalistan billboards are set up across Canada ahead of the September 18 vote.  — Photo by autho
Mega Khalistan billboards are set up across Canada ahead of the September 18 vote. — Photo by autho

Ahead of the September 18 Khalistan referendum vote in Toronto, pro-Khalistan activists are actively organizing truck rallies with Khalistan banners, plastering mega billboards, placards and distributing promotional materials to Gurdwaras in Brampton – the heavily Sikh town around the Greater Toronto Area. Voting will take place at the government-owned and operated facility, the Gore Meadow Community Center in Brampton.

Just as happened in the UK, the Khalistan referendum activities in Canada have also angered pro-Indian factions in Canada who, following the position of the Indian government, label the referendum as anti-Indian terrorism and wish prohibition of Sikh secessionist activities by Canadians. ground, despite the fact that the Canadian Charter of Freedoms and Rights protects the non-violent expression of all political opinions, including seeking secession by referendum.

So far, voting in the Khalistan referendum, which started on October 31, 2021 from London, UK, has taken place in several cities across the UK, Switzerland and Italy and around 450 000 Sikhs voted.

The Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC), a non-aligned group of experts on referendums and direct democracy, oversees the voting process to ensure transparency and adherence to international standards in voting.

The September 18 voting center for the Khalistan referendum in Toronto, Canada is named after Shaheed Harjinder Singh Parha to honor the young pro-Khalistan Sikh who returned to India from Canada to take part in the armed struggle while in course for Khalistan following the Indian army’s June 1984 attack on the Golden Temple. In a police scene, Indian forces extrajudicially killed Parha in 1988.

About Michael S. Montanez

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