Indo-Canadian organisation asks authorities to act against SFJ over its alleged threat to Air India flights


Toronto: An Indo-Canadian organisation has asked Canadian law enforcement to act against the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) over its alleged threat to Air India flights to and from Canada and elsewhere.

A letter sent by the Toronto-based law firm Brauti Thorning LLP on behalf of the Hindu Forum Canada, called upon law enforcement authorities to “conduct the necessary investigation and take appropriate steps to classify Mr Pannun as a criminal inciting violence and hate speech. We urge his prompt arrest and charging in Canada due to his potential involvement in hate speech and related activities”.

“We believe that such measures are essential to uphold Canada’s commitment to fostering a society that is inclusive, tolerant, and free from the influence of hate speech and its divisive consequences,” the letter sent by lawyer Peter Thorning said. The letter was marked to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Peel Regional Police (PRP).

The letter also referred to a video released by SFJ in September telling Hindus of Indian origin to leave Canada. That video came soon after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons on September 18 that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of Khalistani figure Gardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18.

On November 9, Canadian media had cited both the RCMP and the Federal Transport Ministry as stating that the threat to Air India flights to and from Canada was being investigated. Those investigations were related to a video released by SFJ earlier this month in which its general-counsel Gurpatwant Pannun warns Sikhs, in Punjabi, “Don’t fly Air India after November 19, your lives may be in danger.” That sentence is repeated twice.

In a statement issued along with the video, Pannun called for a ‘Global blockade’ of the airline from Vancouver to London. In a statement issued later, Pannun said he was “calling for a boycott” of the airline and not issuing a threat.

Pannun said on Tuesday that there was “nothing to clarify, nothing to investigate”. He stated that there was no threat of violence to Air India but that of an economic boycott of the airline. He said the threat narrative was an attempt to “delegitimise” the so-called Khalistan Referendum being conducted by the group.

India’s High Commission in Ottawa has already raised the matter with Canadian authorities and has been assured that security for Air India flights at Canadian airports has been enhanced. Air India flies multiple times a week to and from the airports in Vancouver and Mississauga in the Greater Toronto Area.