Home Consulate Sikhs from across British Columbia rally in Vancouver to protest Indian government

Sikhs from across British Columbia rally in Vancouver to protest Indian government

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More than 100 Sikhs from across British Columbia gathered outside the Indian Consulate at 325 Howe Street today to protest against the Indian government.

The Vancouver protest coincided with Indian Republic Day and the annual protests target the mistreatment of Sikhs by the Indian government.

Wednesday’s protest centered on Sikh political prisoners, many of whom have been imprisoned for decades.

“Countless Sikhs are imprisoned in India under much-criticized laws,” read a statement from the Sikh Press Association (SPA). The laws in question include TADA and UAPA, which are anti-terrorism laws introduced by the Indian government. Some, including SPA, have suggested that these laws have been misused. SPA also says human rights groups have criticized these laws “for the way they obliterate basic judicial process.”

“The issues run deep for Sikhs in Canada, many of whom feel themselves threatened by India’s grip,” said Jasveer Singh, press officer, SPA.

Sikh Press Association

“The protest reminds the Indian government that any action taken against Sikhs in India will provoke a backlash in Canada and beyond. It also shows the Sikhs of India that their Canadian family stands by them. Finally, today’s protest demonstrates to the Canadian government a serious concern for Sikhs in Canada that they should seek to raise with their Indian counterparts.

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Sikh Press Association

“As always, today’s Sikh protest was peaceful yet powerful,” Singh added.

Earlier this year, tens of thousands marched in India’s Punjab region, calling for the release of Sikh prisoners held across the country.

The case of Jagtar Singh Johal

Jagtar Singh Johal’s story is one of the reasons Canadian Sikhs are of such concern.

Johal was a British citizen who traveled to India for his wedding. According to SPA, he was shopping with his wife in India when a bag was thrown over his head and he was “packed into a van”.

“A few days later, he was involved in a murder case. He has since reported being tortured at the UK Consulate. Four years later, he has not been formally charged with a crime.

The allegations against Johal have never been proven in court, and he is one of many political prisoners for whom Sikhs are fighting. Johal’s story sparked protests in many parts of the world.

You can read more about this ongoing situation here.