The Indian government has asked Canada to stop a so-called Khalistan referendum organized by Sikhs for Justice, a pro-Khalistan group that has been banned in India since 2019 as an unlawful association.
According to media reports, a senior Indian Foreign Ministry official reached out to a senior Canadian High Commission representative saying that the referendum would challenge the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.
The reports also added that next week, the Indian Embassy in Ottawa would also raise its strong concerns with Global Affairs Canada.
The referendum, set to be held on November 6, will follow one that was held in Brampton on September 19, where thousands of members of the Sikh community participated.
Terming the referendum as a “farcical exercise” carried out by Sikh extremists, India lambasted Justin Trudeau’s government for allowing a referendum for a separate Sikh homeland in Punjab.
Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India’s Foreign Ministry, on September 22 said: “We find it deeply objectionable that politically motivated exercises by extremist elements are allowed to take place in a friendly country.”
India brought up the issue after no action was taken by the Canadian government to stop the so-called referendum. The Trudeau government has been reiterating that it respects India’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” but also that it would protect its citizens’ right to assemble and express their views peacefully and lawfully.
This comes in contrast with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s condemnation on September 21 of referendums organized by Russia in eastern parts of Ukraine.