VANCOUVER-More than 135,000 Canadian Sikhs cast their votes in the Khalistan Referendum for the ultimate creation of Khalistan, a free and sovereign homeland for millions of Sikhs scattered around the world.
Khalistan Referendum, organised by the US-based Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) group, voting campaign started in October 2021 in the UK and so far the voting has been held in over a dozen European capitals. The previous highest turnout was in Canada’s Brompton five months ago but the participation of over 13,5000 Sikhs at Surrey BC at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara broke all previous records. Several hundred staff, hired by the independent Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC), managed the voting process.
The voting was closed at 5 pm by the PRC as over 40,000 still queued to vote but were unable to do so due to the strict rules around the timing and the international voting regulations. The PRC head Dane Waters announced that given the huge number of people who couldn’t vote another phase of voting will be held on 29th of October in Vancouver. The voting was held at the Gurdwara where leading Sikh activist and Khalistan Referendum Canada’s President Hardeep Singh Nijjar was assassinated on June 18, 2023 by a group of unknown men. Pro-Khalistan Sikh groups have accused the Indian government of being behind the killing of the famous Khalistani activist. Since early morning, thousands of local Sikhs made queues to cast their votes. They were carrying posters of Sikh martyrs and chanting devotional and political slogans in support of Khalistan. The Gurdwara was plastered with wall-sized posters of Hardeep Singh Nijjar who was also president at the same Gurdwara until he was killed. Sikhs For Justice General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun told the huge crowd at the end of the voting that the Indian govt has yet again declared war on Sikhs by assassinating Hardeep Singh Nijjar. He vowed that Sikhs will avenge the brutal killing of Nijjar who was a peaceful activist and believed in democratic means. He said: “Indian diplomats in Canada, Indian intelligence agencies, Ajit Doval, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi are directly involved in the killing of Hardeep Nijjar. India’s political death is a writing on the wall. Sikhs will stop at nothing less than the Balkanisation of India.”
Pannun announced: “We will avenge the killing using political means. We will use our political expression and the might of pen against India’s guns.”
Dr Bakhshish Singh Sandhu, President of the Council of Khalistan, said that the Canadian Sikhs had sent out a clear message to the Indian govt that they will never accede to Indian oppression and will continue their struggle till gaining freedom from the Indian occupation. “The massive turnout shows Khalistan movement is not a fringe matter but a popular demand of millions of Sikhs.” Dr Bakhshish Singh Sandhu welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s blunt statement in Indian where he said he had raised the issue of Indian interference in Canadian affairs with the Modi govt. Ahead of visiting India for the G20 Summit, PM Justin Trudeau had said he will address concerns of foreign interference including those related to India during the G20 summit.
The Canadian govt has publicly accused the Indian govt of “foreign interference” in the Canadian affairs, based on intelligence provided by the Canadian intelligence that the Indian state is involved in interference in Canada where nearly a million Sikhs reside and a large number of them are considered pro-Khalistan and anti-Hindutva.