Consul General Patrick Hébert
Consulate General of Canada
C413-C416, 4th Floor, Elante Office Complex,
Plot No. 178-178A, Industrial & Business Park – Phase 1
Monday, 10 October 2022
Dear Consul General Hébert,
On this day of thanksgiving when we rejoice in the season of harvest in the northern hemisphere and feast with our friends neighbours and the less fortunate, we as the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) extend our warmest regards and present a token of sweetmeats to you and your staff.
This bonhomie between the Punjab and Canada is cherished by a mutual regard for human rights and preserving native cultures. The relationship between our lands extends back to our native populations being exposed to both the French and British empires, with all their warts and balms, during the 18th and 19th centuries. The membership of the commonwealth has always played a significant link between our lands.
The advancement of humanitarian thought brought about by the creation of the United Nations and its objective of ridding us the scrouge of war, the evil of colonisation and advancing Human Rights and Dignity has further given us a common goal.
We are proud of the great strides that our brethren have made as they have emigrated to your shores. While we have faced the brunt of discriminatory immigrant policy, culminating the case of the Komagatu Maru, we cannot forget the fact that there have been more Sikhs heading Ministries in the Government of Canada than here in India.
We have observed with keen interest how the State of Canada has expanded freedoms and rights of humanity against the state and protected rights of its citizenry against those who wish to subjugate humanity to archaic dehumanising brahminical hierarchies. As such we observe that in recent days the State of Canada has refused to bend its laws to accommodate the demand to have a Sikh homeland, as a hate crime.
It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly upheld the right of Sikhs to think about and demand a homeland as consistent with the law of the land, as the attached ruling states. Asking for and demanding Khalistan, is within the bounds of Freedom of Speech and Expression as enshrined in Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.
The State of India has, contrary to its own constitution, repeatedly attacked minority communities. You will be aware of the military action taken against Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar in 1984, and the State assisted genocide of Sikhs in the same year, followed by the clamp down on Human Rights in the Punjab along with extra judicial killings and torture of innocents in Punjab, which carries on to date. The State of India has also shut down the democratic functioning of our religious institutions. We have not had elections to our Gurdwaras for the last eleven to seventeen years, whereas their constitution states that they must take place every five years.
The current Defence Minister Raj Nath Singh has described the 1984 killing of Sikhs as a genocide in 2014 when he was Minister for Home. We are deeply moved to know that the Ontario Assembly has also recognised the 1984 killings of Sikhs as a state sponsored genocide,
Similarly you will be aware of the hateful manner in which minority communities have been targeted, such as Muslims in Bombay, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, Christians all over India, Nagas in Nagaland and other North Eastern state minorities, Tamils along with many political outfits such as Communists and Tribals.
We are aware that the current Hindu Nationalist led Government of India has attempted to repeatedly browbeat the Canadian authorities to defame Sikhs in Canada, demanding actions contrary to your laws to be taken against its own citizens. Your steadfast refusal not to do so and uphold The Rule of Law has acted as a beacon to those lost in the sea of hate and lawlessness.
An example of the bias inherent in the Hindu Nationalist ideology is the case of Vikas Jood, who was involved in Hate Crimes against Sikhs while studying in Australia. The Hindu Nationalist Government repeatedly demanded that Australia withdraw its cases of Hate Crime lodged against Vikas Jood. When a plea bargain saved Vikas Jood from being charged with Hate Crimes the government made arrangements for him to be returned to India. Jood was given a cavalcade for his “stand” against Khalistani’s, which is how his assault was portrayed, in the State of Haryana. Haryana is the State of India which is infamous for killing an entire village of Sikhs, Hondh-Chillar, near Vikas Jood’s hometown. It is curious that the Government of India never made the same demands of recording a Hate Crime against Vikas Jood to the Government of Australia as it did to the Government of Canada in the recent case of property defacement in Canada.
The recent travel advisory to Canadians has highlighted a sad reality of living in Punjab, a border state. Unfortunately we have been caught between the extreme hatred that exists between the State of Pakistan and India. As you have made aware, Punjab sits astride this strife between nations that has been victim to the scrouge of war, so passionately desired to be rid of by the United Nations.
As you rightly point out our borders are littered with land mines, this has made it impossible for farmers living at the borders to engage in their occupation of livelihood. These communities at the border face grave economic hardship due to the immense restrictions that the armed forces at the border put on their movement. The state of India has never adequately compensated these farmers for fencing and using their lands and restricting their movements. It is also brought to your notice that the border area, 50 Km’s deep, has now been put under the Union of India’s Border Security Force. Which is against the federal spirit of the constitution, federalism being a feature adapted from the Canadian constitution by India.
As a member of NATO, Canada is keenly aware of the situation prevailing in the Ukraine where borders were not respected by the Federation of Russia. We are being advised by NATO member states that the threat of Nuclear war is becoming a reality. However we wish to point out that Punjab has been living under this threat ever since India embarked on the journey of acquiring Nuclear weapons. It is a well known fact that the Indian state used Plutonium and Tritium from the CANDU nuclear reactors gifted by Canada to India to make their first nuclear bombs. This deception of turning a peaceful gift into a Weapon of Mass Destruction has been a mark of shame in the dealings India has had with Canada.
Nuclear war is a distinct passibility between India and Pakistan. This has been evident at various points such as Operation Brasstack a military operation run by India in 1987, the Kargil war,
Balakot Airstrike and recently the firing of a Brahmos missile into Pakistan by India. The tense situation has had a drastic effect on the tranquility and concomitant economic welfare of the Punjab. Instead of trade, as Canada, the Unites States of America and Mexico have shown under NAFTA, we in the Punjab are constantly threatened by an existential nuclear war. We urge you to take cognisance of this threat and work with the international community to find measures to de-escalate and rid us of this existential threat to peaceful and neighbourly co-existence.
Having a consulate of Canada in the Punjab has been an immense benefit to Punjab. Canada’s upholding the Rule of Law, its commitment to Human Rights and peaceful coexistence have made a palpable difference to the well being of Punjab. We are lucky to have a righteous friend who has stood through time, with Punjab. May this be so in the future as well. We are thankful for Canada and extend warm greetings to the Nation of Canada on this day of thanksgiving.
Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar