Times of India: WSO urges Canadian PM to raise their concerns during Modi's visit

Yudhvir Rana


Amritsar:  While a few Sikh organizations having announced holding parallel rallies and protests during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Canada, others have called upon Canadian government to raise their concerns with Modi.

World Sikh Organization (WSO), Canada's legal counsel Balpreet Singh informed TOI on Thursday that they have submitted a brief to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and foreign affairs minister Rob Nicholson outlining issues of concern in the light of Modi's upcoming visit.

"Specifically, we have expressed concern over escalating attacks on minority communities in India, particularly Christians and Muslims, continued attempts to marginalize the Canadian Sikh community by members of the Indian government through baseless claims alleging a rise in Sikh extremism. We will also want an end to intimidation and coercion of Canadian Sikhs by the Indian officials in Canada with respect to the granting of Indian visas," he said

He informed that WSO had urged the Canadian government to follow the recent example of US President Barack Obama in insisting that India should uphold freedom of religion for all its citizens, including religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.

Balpreet informed that they had also rejected India's claims of rising "Sikh extremism" as unsubstantiated and hail Harper's comments during his November 2012 trip to India, clarifying that violence or terrorism couldn't be confused with the rights of Canadian Sikhs to hold and promote political views, including those that governments may find disagreeable.

WSO president Amritpal Singh Shergill said: "Increased trade and economic ties between Canada and India are important for the prosperity of both countries."

However, he said Canada had the paramount duty as an international defender of human rights to encourage India to protect its religious minorities and to uphold freedom of religion. "Silence is the greatest enemy of human rights, and our government has an obligation to ensure that it raises these concerns with world leaders whenever possible," he said.

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