US-based NGO Sikhs For Justice says will not allow Amarinder to visit US, Canada, Europe
By Harpreet Bajwa | Express News Service | Published: 14th April 2017 03:45 PM |
CHANDIGARH: A day after Amarinder Singh refused to meet Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan because of the latter's sympathies for the Khalistan movement, a US-based NGO Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has said it will not allow the Punjab chief minister to visit America, Canada, UK or any of the European Union countries from now on.
But Capt Amarinder Singh has stuck to his stand in the face of criticism by opposition parties in Punjab which lashed out at his 'Khalistan sympathiser' remark against Harjit Singh Sajjan. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a legal adviser to SFJ, said Capt Amarinder Singh's stance is an affront to Canada's peace-loving Sikh community, which supports the 'liberation of Punjab' and creation of a separate Sikh country called Khalistan.
Having a different political views is not a crime, he said. “We are proud to uphold the values of the members of the Sikh community who sacrificed their comfortable lifestyles in Canada and returned to Punjab to participate in the Sikh movement during the 1990s. We will limit the movement of Capt Amarinder Singh to the state of Punjab. If he tries to go on foreign trips, we will hold him accountable for protecting, shielding and promoting human rights violators,’’ said Pannun.
Pannun added, "Even though Amarinder Singh considers himself a member of the elite, he does not understand the meaning of freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Canadian charter of rights. That freedom is exercised by the Sikh community to cultivate popular support for a Free Punjab campaign.’’
The SFG has been campaigning against Capt Amarinder for some time. Back in April last year, when Amarinder Singh was visiting the US, it blocked his attempt to visit Canada. The NGO filed court proceedings seeking an arrest warrant against Amarinder for his alleged culpability in the torture of Sikhs during his tenure as chief minister of Punjab, in 2002-2007.
The advocacy group alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh started the practice of reinstating, promoting and protecting police officials who were named by victims of human rights abuses as perpetrators of torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial executions in the 1990s.
Opposition parties in Punjab such as the Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party and Sikh groups such as Dal Khalsa have attacked Amarinder for his refusal to meet Harjit Singh Sajjan. The Canadian High Commission termed it as unfortunate. But the Punjab chief minister said he would never associate himself with any 'Khalistani sympathizer.'
Lashing out at critics of his `Khalistani sympathizer’ remark against the Canadian defence minister, Amarinder reiterated that Harjit Singh Sajjan and fellow ministers and Sikh leaders in Canada were sympathizing with groups indulging in anti-India activities, notwithstanding Canada’s claims to the contrary.
The chief minister clarified that Sajjan was welcome to attend conferences in Punjab and even visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar but he would personally not entertain the Canadian minister as he had concrete information about his being a Khalistani sympathizer and the son of Kundan Sajjan, a board member of the World Sikh Organization.
The state government would provide full security to the minister and ensure that he gets due treatment as per protocol, he added. Not only Sajjan but other Canadian ministers and MPs, including Navdeep Bains,
Amarjit Sohi, Sukh Dhailwal, Darshan Kang, Raj Grewal, Harinder Malhi, Ruby Sahota, Jagmeet Singh and Randeep Sarai were well-known for their leanings towards the Khalistani movement, said Amarinder.