Punjabi Independence Poll Questions India’s Role in Sikh Leader’s Death

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In an unexpected move, organizers of a global informal poll concerning Punjabi independence, have introduced a question comparing the involvement of India’s high commissioner, in the death of a renowned Sikh provincial leader in June, within the province of British Columbia.

Sikhs for Justice, the group behind the coordination of these non-binding polls across several countries focused on the issue of independence, has reported a significant turnout at the first stage of voting in British Columbia on Sunday with more than 135,000 participants. The group announced that the upcoming second stage of voting, scheduled for the 29th of October, will feature an additional query regarding the possible implication of High Commissioner Sanjay Verma in the purported ‘assassination’ of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

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In contrast, police authorities maintain that there is no association between Nijjar’s demise and international interference. Inquiries regarding the latest developments in the investigation have been left unanswered by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

Unfortunately, requests for commentary on the subject of the referendum question have garnered no response from either the High Commission of India in Ottawa or the Consulate General of India in Vancouver.

The separatist initiative of Sikh independence has stirred disquiet within the Indian Government, prompting India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to voice ‘strong concerns’ to his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, regarding Canada’s management of the controversy.

Nijjar, an ardent advocate for a self-governing Sikh nation referred to as Khalistan, was fatally shot outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, on the 18th of June. The case has incited a manhunt, targeting two “heavy-set” shooters and the pilot of a suspected escape vehicle, a silver 2008 model Toyota Camry.

The crime sparked demonstrations outside Indian embassies and sparked allegations of foreign complicity. According to a communique released by India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Modi’s recent exchange with Trudeau at the G20 summit in New Delhi insisted that the future progress of bilateral relations requires “mutual respect and trust.” It revealed Modi’s serious apprehensions regarding the “persistent anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada.”

Imbuing the statement further, it emphasized that the Sikh movement was fomenting secessionism and stirring violence against Indian diplomats. India urges collaborative action from Canada on what New Delhi perceives as a threat to the Canadian Indian diaspora.

The polling station for the referendum organised last Sunday, and the upcoming one to be held next month, is the same gurdwara where Nijjar’s life was brutally extinguished.