Ottawa (June 26, 2023): The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) condemns baseless and false allegations by India of a ‘grenade attack’ on its High Commission in Ottawa. In yet another bizarre attempt to malign and interfere with the affairs of Sikhs in Canada, India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has bafflingly claimed that on March 23, 2023 a “mob of Khalistan supporters” attacked the Indian High Commission in Ottawa in which “two grenades were hurled at the building.”
According to Indian reports, in a clear example of state-driven disinformation, The NIA has named Amarjot Singh, a permanent resident of Canada, as having led the “mob” and having “committed the offence of unlawful activities (terror charges).”
The report published in the Hindustan Times on June 24, 2023, repeats a similar false claim that was published in India Today on June 17, 2023, which claimed that "a grenade was also thrown during the attack on the Indian High Commission in Canada, which prompted the Special Cell to file an FIR under the UAPA and the Explosive Act in this case.”
Sources within the Ottawa Police confirm that while a protest did take place at the Indian High Commission on March 23, there were no reports of violence.
The Hindustan Times story also names Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia and Avtar Singh Khanda in the United Kingdom as individuals who led protests against India in other locations and notes that both have now died. Both Nijjar and Khanda were repeatedly threatened by Indian authorities. Khanda died suspiciously in the UK on June 15 in what is suspected to be a case of poisoning and Hardeep Singh Nijjar was assassinated in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey BC on June 18, 2023.
The primary accused in the fictional Ottawa ‘attack’, Amarjot Singh, is a permanent resident of Canada and is married to the sister of imprisoned Sikh leader and activist Bhai Amritpal Singh. Amritpal Singh, head of the Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab) organization, came to prominence in Punjab with his successful campaign to inspire Punjabi youth to reject drugs and embrace the Sikh faith. Amritpal Singh had also been open and unapologetic in his support for Khalistan, a sovereign Sikh state, as well as highlighting discrimination against the Sikh community in India.
In March 2023, Indian authorities launched a draconian crackdown on Amritpal Singh and his supporters, including the suspension of mobile internet services across Punjab and the arbitrary and extrajudicial detention of hundreds of Sikh youths under colonial laws. After a month-long manhunt, Amritpal Singh presented himself for arrest on April 22, 2023, and was subsequently transported to Dibrugarh Jail in Assam where he is currently imprisoned.
The current Indian allegations have similarities to the false bomb threat against a June 2022 Sikh rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, commemorating the June 1984 Indian army attack on Sri Darbar Sahib in Amritsar. Two organizers of the rally were detained based on a detailed anonymous tip alleging a bomb attack, which included photos and license plate numbers. Ottawa Police confirmed that no explosives were found and the two organizers were released without charges. The source of the anonymous tip was not tracked down.
WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu said today,
“India’s attempts to malign the Sikh community and interfere with the affairs of Canadian Sikhs have taken a bizarre new turn with false allegations of a ‘grenade attack’ on the Indian High Commission building in Ottawa. While we are aware of the peaceful demonstration that took place on March 23, 2023, there were no reports of any violence during the event.
Charging Sikh activists for attacks that never took place is another low for the Government of India, a tactic the Indian state has used in the past to justify the arbitrary arrest or extrajudicial killing of Sikh activists.
Indian media stories of Amarjot Singh, a Canadian permanent resident, being charged in the fictional attack in Ottawa also reference the deaths of Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Avtar Singh Khanda as other individuals who led protests against India. This is a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate and harass Sikhs in Canada. It also seems that Amarjot Singh has been named in order to harass and pressure Bhai Amritpal Singh who is currently being held by India in Dibrugarh Jail in Assam.
We call on Canadian intelligence and law enforcement to monitor this situation closely and ensure that following the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar earlier this month in Surrey, no other Sikh activists are harassed or targeted in Canada.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights of all individuals.