Following Cabinet Minister Navdeep Bains’ resignation controversy over his alleged involvement in corruption cases, the Liberal Party has removed parliamentarian Ramesh Singh Sangha from the Liberal caucus.
Reportedly, for speaking against Khalistani elements within the Liberal Party. He continues to be an MP, but as an independent one.
According to a report by the Canadian media outlet ‘The Star’, a party source confirmed that Sangha was removed after he made extensive comments in a Punjabi-language interview on Jan. 21, in which he said he doubted his fellow Liberal MP Navdeep Bains quit cabinet and won’t run in the next election because of family.
The news platform also mentioned that Sangha criticised Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan for his extremist sentiments and his connection with the Khalistani elements. Speaking to Punjabi channel ‘Y Media’ last week, Sangha had taken on Liberal MP Navdeep Bains and Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan for their extremist sentiments.
Earlier, in an interview given to a Canada based Punjabi news channel 5AAB he had stated — “There is no doubt, there cannot be two opinions that the Liberal party is pandering (to) Khalistan supporters.”
Further he said — “One thing is for sure, when we raise this issue, it will raise an anti-India slogan or demand the division of India on some ground. In that, ultimately our relations, the Canada-India relationship will certainly develop cracks.”Most importantly, on being asked by the interviewer whether his party had a “soft corner” for Khalistanis or not, he responded — “It does!”
Sangha’s removal from the party caucus had rejoiced a number of Canadian leaders with pro-Khalistani connections even outside the Liberal Party. Speaking to CTV, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh supported the move and argued, “There’s no reason to be building on baseless claims, what he was regurgitating were claims from Indian sources that had no basis, no foundation and it simply erodes trust for no reason.”
Lawmaker Sangha is known as a vocal critic of Khalistani extremism and has been voicing his views across the world with great audacity. During his India visit in December 2018, Sangha, then a sitting MP, had highlighted that Khalistan extremism in Canada was only Facebook-based and there was nothing much on ground in Canada. “There are just about 1 to 2 percent of Punjabis settled in Canada who talk of Khalistan. It is just that they are able to make a lot of noise that gives a perception around voices regarding the demand of Khalistan emerging from Canada”, he had added.
Just like the abrupt and implausible logic “officially” stated as the reason behind Navdeep Bains’ resignation, there is much more that lies underneath the “official” reasons behind Sangha’s removal from the caucus.
An Ontario-based news platform ‘Chronicle Journal’ has stated that though Government Whip, Mark Holland, in an interview regarding Sangha’s removal argued that conspiracy theories will not be tolerated or dangerous and unfounded rhetoric about parliamentarians or other Canadians, he declined to specify what Sangha said to merit his removal from caucus.
On similar lines, the ‘Ottawa Sun’ wrote — “In an interview, Holland declined to specify what Sangha said to merit his removal from caucus.”
This one-way communication by the Canadian government has compelled the free speech activists to criticise the Trudeau government for presenting the one side of the story and silencing the victim to present his perspective. The Canadian media has also reported that Holland confessed about “consulting with Trudeau before taking the necessary steps’. It is being argued that it is due to Trudeau’s involvement in the decision that nobody in the Liberal Party is standing in favour of Sangha and supporting him.
Further, as soon as he criticised Bains and other leaders with a Khalistani tilt, Khalistani elements were quick to launch a campaign for character assassination of Sangha. However, besides arguing his allegations to be ‘baseless’, they have not been able to come up with any tangible and credible argument against Sangha and logical rebuttal to dismiss his allegations over Bains and other Khalistanis are entirely missing.
A newly propped news portal ‘Baaz News’ — launched early this month which articles has pro-khalistani views, has come up with ambiguous content to attack Sangha.At the time when there is a furore against Navdeep Bains on his alleged corruption charges, the timing of launching the website is also interesting.
However, another burning question remains unanswered — what made Trudeau take such a strict action on a two-time Liberal MP who won twice with popular support?
Arguably, Sangha had to pay the price for speaking out against Khalistani extremism and bringing up the issue of promotion of such elements within the Liberal Party. Harminder Singh, father of Navdeep Bains, is a prominent leader of extremist outfit World Sikh Organisation (WSO) and is believed to be controlling the management of numerous religious bodies in Canada. Reportedly, WSO, along with a couple of other Khalistani outfits made complaints to Trudeau’s government in attempts to create pressure to remove Sangha.
In addition, the influence that Darshan Singh Saini— Bains’ father-in-law enjoys amongst the Khalistanis is also considered to be a causative agent behind the pressure mounted on Justin Trudeau to remove Sangha. In fact, Darshan Singh Saini’s name appeared in the investigations of RCMP regarding Air India Kanishka bombings of 1985 in which 329 individuals, mostly Canadians (268), were killed. During debate on an anti-terrorism legislation in the House of Commons in 2007, the then Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented that Bains’ opposition to the bill was an attempt to save his father-in-law from terror charges.
On the development, the WSO commented — “It is unfortunate that Mr. Sangha repeatedly parroted Indian narratives aimed at smearing Sikhs in Canada. His allegations were baseless and shocking.” Now here lies an important observation. The statement issued by the WSO and Baaz News on Sangha’s removal are almost identical!
Input from Canadian Agencies revealed that Baaz News is being run by another pro-Khalistani element, Jaskaran Singh Sandhu, who also claims to be the ‘Director of Admin’ of the WSO. The content uploaded by the news site is also being shared in large numbers with Pakistani origin Canadians with close ties to the Pakistani Embassy as well as a couple of proxy social media handles. Hence,it would be apt to argue that an organised nexus and a propaganda army has facilitated the exit of Sangha.
A similar campaign was launched against lawmaker Ujjal Dosanjh in 2010, who has been calling out Khalistanis and their separatists. The social media campaign launched against him aimed at his character assassination and instigating Khalistanis to murder him.The social media platform were flooded with comments like- “Someone shoot him-ASAP”. He has himself been a victim of multiple lethal attacks by such extremists and nearly lost his life in the attack at his car parking in 1985.
In his statement cum interview, Holland had also commented: “The Liberal caucus continues to stand firm against racism and intolerance .” However , his statement is being termed as extreme irony and absolutely paradoxical as the step to remove Sangha due to his critical views is itself an intolerant move.
Experts have expressed their disappointment over the development and commented, “While they use the liberal democratic systems themselves, they have been trying to silence the voices not conforming to them. The vote-bank politics of the Trudeau government had provided them a huge scope to suppress their opponents.”
Sangha had also earlier criticised the Trudeau government for removing the term ‘Sikh Extremism’ as one of the five major threats to national security of Canada from the government report titled “2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada”. Counter terror experts have been stressing that Canada government will have to realise sooner that Khalistani extremism is a global threat and thousands of innocent lives have succumbed to terrorist attacks by the Khalistani extremists. For example: only between 1981-1995, Khalistanis butchered at least 11,696 civilians and martyred at least 1,746 security force personnel in India, precisely, in Punjab. According to the data of South Asia Terrorism Portal, between 1981 and 2015, at least 12,000 civilians have lost their lives in Punjab due to Khalistani terror in Punjab.
A sociological expert we spoke to argues that this should also be seen as a Political party succumbing to nepotism as most of the Khalistanis that Sangha has been criticising, happen to be second or third generation Canadians enjoying the political influence of their respective families. On the other hand, Sangha, a self-made man who moved to Canada in 1994, rose through the ranks of the Liberal Party after earning a law degree, establishing himself as a successful attorney, and gaining an immense popularity amongst citizens of Brampton, is seen as a threat to their hegemony in the Brampton region.
The development has invited unfathomable criticism for the Liberal Party, domestically as well as globally. A couple of Hindu and Sikh Canadians that I spoke to have termed the move as an ‘authoritarian’ one and expressed that the Liberal Party is soon going to lose popular support amongst these communities through such moves. It is pertinent to note that those communities have been traditional Vote banks for the Liberal Party. Pollsters have argued that the move might take five lakh Hindu voters and an equal number of Sikhs, who are critical of the idea of Khalistan, away from the Liberal Party, if this continued exodus of anti-Khalistanis from the Liberal Party does not stop.