For hundreds of thousands of Canadian Sikhs, allegations that Indian agents may be involved in the murder of a prominent leader have sparked anxiety and fear.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was “credible” evidence that Indian government agents were potentially linked to the murder of Sikh Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a temple last June.
The Indian government called the accusation “absurd” and its consequences have since deteriorated trade and diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Nearly 772,000 Sikhs live in Canada, according to government data, making the country the second-largest Sikh population outside of India. More than half live in just four cities: Brampton, Ontario, Surrey, British Columbia, Calgary and Edmonton.
Mayors’ responses to the allegations range from urging the federal government to keep citizens safe to silencing, at least publicly.
More than 163,000 Sikhs live in Brampton, according to 2021 census data from Statistics Canada. It is the largest Sikh center in the country.
“Members of a local gurdwara have contacted me to say they are concerned about being on certain lists that could be targeted,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told a city council committee on Wednesday.
The council voted unanimously to send a letter to the federal Minister of Public Safety, federal security agencies as well as provincial and local police asking them to ensure “the safety of all Canadians in places of worship “.
They also voted in favor of sending a letter of support to the Prime Minister and the federal government.
Brown, a former Ontario MP and MLA, maintains close relations with India.
He said in a video posted to X (formerly Twitter) in August that he had visited India 21 times.
The Globe and Mail reported that in 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended one of Brown’s leadership rallies when the current mayor was running to lead the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party .
PKBNEWS requested an interview with Brown. A spokesperson said he was busy attending town meetings.
Global also asked when Brown last spoke to Modi and what message the mayor had for the Indian prime minister regarding Trudeau’s allegations.
No response was received within the deadline.
In fashion now
Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver, is home to the second largest Sikh community in Canada, with 154,000 people.
This is also where Nijjar was shot.
PKBNEWS reached out to Mayor Brenda Locke but did not receive a response by deadline.
In a statement published on Canada and the security of our citizens are protected. I hope this investigation brings Mr. Nijjar’s family the closure I am sure they are seeking.
The cities with the second largest Sikh populations are Calgary and Edmonton., with 49,000 and 41,000 Sikh Canadians respectively.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek did not respond to interview requests. A spokesperson for Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he was busy in meetings.
World Sikh Organization of Canada spokesperson Balpreet Singh told PKBNEWS that it is important that mayors of cities with large Sikh populations acknowledge what happened in their public statements, but that ” The first thing they need to do is ensure that the Sikhs in their towns receive support. »
“It will be important for elected officials to meet with the community and gurdwaras over the weekend,” he said, speaking from Mississauga, Ontario.
He also said that Sohi, who is Sikh and who, according to the Edmonton Journal, was imprisoned in India in the 1980s, and Gondek, whose parents are Indian, are likely in a “slightly” different situation than the other mayors.
“That being said…I think they need to say something. They are well placed to comment on this matter and I hope they will provide their input,” he said.
He also welcomed Brampton’s letter and its call on security agencies to keep people safe.
© 2023 PKBNEWS, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.